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Monthly Archives: December 2019

same old year’s end

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Last year’s Boxing Day pavlova; but this year’s looked very similar and tasted just as good ๐Ÿ™‚

On Boxing Day we attended the annual “family and friends get-together” at Youngest Aunt’s. Some of those attending are, for us, more “friends by extension”, whom we really do see only that once each year. As you’d expect, we always have plenty to catch up on. Annual photos of the event indicate that we are mostly creatures of habit when it comes to food and clothing, and life is none the worse for having that comforting familiarity.

Our usual contribution is pasta – either fresh homemade or good quality dried – but this year we took bread (from one of Adelaide’s many Italian bakeries). In the spirit of sustainable gift-giving, our present to Youngest Aunt and Uncle was a tin of homemade biscuits. They looked scorched, but didn’t taste at all burnt – so that was a bit weird – and were pronounced by all present as very toothsome. YoungB would be happy to take some with him for his New Year holiday up the River. As worthy a cause as he is, I simply don’t have the energy to stay up late to tackle the baking when the house is a little cooler. That may have to be something we do in the new year.

May all your festive cooking and outputs be tasty and toothsome ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2019 in Food

 

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Christmas Down Under

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YoungB helped with the decorating this year. I loved how he was able to leansout and casually pop the star in its position ๐Ÿ™‚

We had a thoroughly enjoyable, if exhausting, Christmas Day: coffee and panettone for a late, leisurely breakfast; opening presents; a long Christmas lunch to which everyone contributed varying amounts of effort; and then – well, I just collapsed in a heap and YoungB took himself off to the beach! Dr B and Eldest Aunt watched TV. In the evening, we sang, then sat around and took turns to read aloud the first few stories from Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo. All in all, a lovely way to spend time.

However and whatever you celebrate, I hope you’ve been able to spend time meaningful time with loved ones.

 
 

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oops – lost the title!

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Ooh, look at all that keyboard real estate ๐Ÿ™‚

Recently, Youngest Aunt and her friend and I had a rehearsal at the church where, in a few weeks, I’ll be accompanying them as they sing at a wedding. It’s one of the city’s older churches, built in a less secular age, when you might have expected it to be filled each Sunday. I doubt if it’s ever full nowadays, although Christmas might see that singular exception. Many folk emerge to sing at Christmastime. I’m one of them, although it must be admitted that I sing all year – Christmas carols, too. But I’ve explained that before ๐Ÿ™‚

We had a longish first rehearsal, nutting out a few performance tweaks. At our second rehearsal, Dr B provided a critical, listening ear. The organ is a fixed point, so we put our heads together as to what we thought was the best location for the performers: one where they could see as well as hear the organ but also one where they could project out into the nave without being drowned out by the organ.

The bride and groom – who were also at the second rehearsal – pronounced themselves ecstatically happy. Well, there you are. That’s all that counts. Right?

May all your rehearsals prove equally as satisfactory ๐Ÿ™‚

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Posted by on December 23, 2019 in Singing

 

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why I might stick to fabric

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Our hand-built pots and handmade Christmas decorations: Youngest Aunt’s nicely embellished efforts on the left; my plain ones on the right. I think I’ll end up with good colour depth on my purple stars ๐Ÿ™‚

Youngest Aunt and I recently attended a pottery workshop, which was enormous fun. It was also utterly demoralising to have youngsters throwing pots as if they’d been at it for years while we struggled. In our defence, it was a first for both of us, whereas some of the youngsters had previous experience. And sometimes, one of the advantages of youth is that it is fearless: mistakes don’t matter, because clay is malleable. Youngest Aunt and I were probably trying to get it right first time because, well, we’re aware that life doesn’t always give you second chances. You could say – and there’s no pun intended – that we are more set in our ways. I would also contend that neither of us is totally inflexible.

We hand-built a pot apiece and made some Christmas decorations. We also tried our hand at throwing a pot on the wheel. I appreciate that a greater level of experience would improve the overall artistic experience, but at this stage my reaction is that I’d be better off sticking with fabric. The pots are still at the pottery because, although firing was included in the cost of the workshop, that couldn’t all be done on the same day. We will have our masterpieces in time for them to provide a Christmas giggle. And, you know, for my purple stars to be given a spot on our tree.

May all your decorations have good colour depth, too, whether they’re fabric or clay ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2019 in Health

 

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high maintenance?!

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I think they’re much higher maintenance!

Recently, I casually mentioned to the Bs that I would need a suitcase for a couple of days away that involved an overnight stay. I didn’t mean a large one, just carry-on size. YoungB demanded to know when I’d suddenly become high maintenance? You what? Me? Yeah, not likely.

In principle they’re right, but I no longer have a backpack that’s large enough. So I ended up taking a small backpack, a shopping bag with my shoes in it, another with my swimming clobber, another with my craftwork – a small bag of crochet, because I thought that might be easier to pick up and put down than any knitting I have on the go – and yet another with food. R-i-g-h-t. That would have all fitted into the suitcase I had in mind, and been a lot easier to carry.

May all your suitcases be ideal for their intended purposes ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2019 in Crochet, Health, Knitting, Travel

 

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the broad inspiration

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Funeral pyre stuff, with Tyrian purple cape.

I hope those long-ago cast members don’t mind my sharing this, which I happened to find after I’d made my current version of the costume.

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Different, but definitely a close relative ๐Ÿ™‚

If I’d allowed myself more time, I might have made something closer to this tunic style. I suspect that would also have required wider fabric. Most saliently, anything that required vast amounts of time was never going to happen. Right?! Right.

No more fancy dress nonsense now until Christmas. May your plans for that be making rather more progress than mine ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2019 in Sewing, Singing

 

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cobwebs

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We managed Christmas in the middle of a building site. And I’m still using the same carol books ๐Ÿ™‚

Our house has more than a few cobwebs, not only because I’m pretty bad at remembering to get rid of them but also because, thanks to our raked ceilings, they are often in such high places that they’re not terribly obvious. I get the brush out now and then if I happen to remember.

When it comes to brushing away mental cobwebs to learn some new-to-me music, I have to admit that remembering is something my fingers don’t do as well as they once did. Youngest Aunt and a friend are singing a couple of hymns at a wedding in January, and asked if I would accompany them. I’m more than happy to do so.

Youngest Aunt didn’t have printed music for either of the hymns, but they are not particularly difficult. I managed to locate both via online sources. One was simply the words and melody with a chord chart. I don’t claim great expertise in that area, but it wasn’t beyond me to work out, and Dr B – who is, after all, a composer – gave me a couple of helpful tips. All I need to do now is practise to make sure my fingers can deal with the bits we tweaked!

While I was able to find online versions of the second hymn, they were all more complicated than what Youngest Aunt’s sung version suggested. My idea? Ask Middle Aunt, who is a practising – as in, current – church organist if she had access to the music. Enquiries elicited the response that, yes, she did. A PDF arrived via email the next day. Don’t you love technology when it works?

I’m swapping between them, to keep my mind and fingers nimble, but they’re surprisingly similar and I have had a few tired moments where I can’t make the transition from one to the other without also making mistakes. Hence the practising ๐Ÿ™‚

With regard to the photo, taken at YoungB’s first Christmas, we really were in the middle of a building site. I might add that, 80 per cent completion of the pergola notwithstanding, the circularity of being unable to do things – because A is clogged and B needs to be cleared but B is packed to the gills with C and until A is empty it won’t change – is still with us, these many years later.

May all your building projects be truly completed when they are finished ๐Ÿ˜€

 
 

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if that’s what it takes

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Coffee will keep you going!

In the large office where I work, folk occasionally decide they just can’t be bothered coming to work. While I genuinely appreciate the necessity for mental health days, which is how I’d describe that sort of leave, and I would like to have that luxury, I doubt if such an attitude is in my DNA. More importantly, it’s the sort of behaviour that would swiftly relegate us to the poorhouse.

So there’s one distinct downside to the present day gig economy: while being told at every turn to look after our mental health, increasing numbers of us are in precarious employment, which means that many of us frequently turn up to work when perhaps we shouldn’t. And sometimes, it simply means that too few of us carry far too much workload because, well, the work still has to meet deadlines. Yeah, right.

You will, I am sure, appreciate why I described a recent whole-of-staff wellbeing day as a deeply cynical exercise. The best wellbeing gesture might be to give everyone the day off on full pay, or to make all those contract positions permanent: you know, to treat your staff as if you really valued them and wanted to look after them. It won’t happen, I know. And people voted for this government!

In any case, I turned over the calendar this morning. It’s now December; officially silly season. Our family is already so overwhelmed by conflicting engagements that we’ve decided we may have to send Dr B to represent us at one cultural event, because YoungB and I will be at other – separate – events. Having a lifestyle takes a lot of effort. Right?!

As to getting in the spirit more broadly, well… Is there a tree? Yeah, nah. Advent calendar? Yeah, nah, and that’s been the case since the new, larger TV was installed, because it’s so low that there’s now nowhere to hang the calendar. Door wreath? Uuh, that would also be a no.

Will those things happen? Some of them might. It’s a pity the Advent calendar no longer works, because that was something easy and instantly festive. I will drag out the door wreath and tree, and slowly prepare some festive bits and pieces. Eldest Aunt is the one most likely to grizzle about their absence, and she will once again join us for Christmas. You can see why that calls for more effort than I might usually make: whinging adults are enough to sour anyone’s seasonal cheer!

But there’s always coffee to keep things in perspective. Photo is a macchiato – just one of several, I admit – downed during a long catch-up with cousins in town yesterday. We had a thoroughly enjoyable few hours, reminiscing and forward-planning at about the same rate as food and coffees went down.

May your days be filled with similarly good beverages ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2019 in Musing

 

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