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Monthly Archives: December 2020

it’s a cycling day

You can see how difficult it is to maintain physical distance 😀

Now that rowing fixtures are behind us, our week is marked by cycling: usually group rides on Monday and Wednesday for Dr B, and whatever can be fitted in for YoungB. At this time of year when we’re all not at work, knowing there’s a ride helps to maintain focus. The other day, YoungB took himself off to the beach (tough life, huh?) and today he is out hiking with a mate. Before he left, he checked to make sure it really is Wednesday. It must be because Dr B is, indeed, out on one of his group cycles. Me? I’m just doing energetic housework, and walking in the backyard here and there and now and then as part of other things. I’ve delayed my second load of laundry so that I can include the Bs’ sporting clobber. Is my halo shiny, or what?!

I brought the bin in, too. There’s been a wonderful Aussie-moderated Facebook group this year with the underlying premise that in 2020, our bins went out more than we did. The group will close on 31 December, now that we are over the first wave of COVID-related restrictions. We are not yet free of COVID. Like influenza, it is likely to become endemic and there will be epidemics here and there, now and then. Even with the development of vaccines, we have a long way to go. Here in Australia because we’ve hitherto had so few cases, complacency is easy; but it is not helpful. I do my bit, because I understand why we’re being asked to take precautions, but I admit to getting a fair amount of arthritic ache from keeping my fingers so tightly crossed when I read about people who appear to have missed that memo.

In any case, if you’re in a part of the world that’s warm enough, may you find a good spot of beach to walk along while ensuring physical distance but maintaining social cohesion. If you’re somewhere cold, take cheer in knowing that the sun is on its way back to you.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2020 in Health

 

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quiet days

Home-pickled olives, the neighbourhood’s finest

Whatever you celebrate, or don’t celebrate, I do hope that you’ve managed to find some joy at the end of this very strange year. We’ve been unusually quiet, but fine with that. The Bs were out on their motorcycles today. YoungB has a farewell party to attend later, so they weren’t away for very long. Of course there was a load of laundry magically doing its thing in their absence.

Youngest Aunt hosted the usual Boxing Day lunch, and we enjoyed the fruits of her labours and her garden. In a nice symbiosis, the olives in the photo are from a neighbour’s tree, which hangs over the fence. The neighbour is happy that the olives don’t go to waste. DrB has been raving about the excellence of this year’s batch. Youngest Aunt and Uncle had foraged locally for porcini during the season. The dried, stored and later reconstituted mushrooms were showcased in lasagne, whose sheets were homemade by Youngest Aunt. Youngest Uncle helped with turning the handle, he said, so that they were able to achieve a good rhythm that led to consistent output thickness: teamwork for the win.

Youngest Aunt has always been a good cook, but – like most of us, and particularly when she was in full-time paid employment – time poor. Now that she is retired, and with the added incentive of having to stay home during lockdown, she has been able to refine some hitherto unused, or rarely used, skills. She acknowledged that gadgets such as a dehydrating oven are now an essential part of her kitchen. We were all extremely grateful for her expertise, dedication and hard work.

Did homemade feature from our end? Yes, there were handmade face scrubbies and a shower puff. Oddly enough I didn’t take any photos of the shower puff; and that might or might not have been the precise pattern I ended up using. There are many good video tutorials on YouTube. The one I made was blue with a white crab-stitched edging, somewhat like the face scrubbies. It took me almost a week to make, I think, but felt longer because it was one of those rapidly multiplying stitch totals that never seem to end. I used Bendigo Woollen Mills 10-ply cotton, but can’t remember what size hook.

That’s about all I seem to have done. I wrote no cards this year, except for one or two to accompany gifts. I didn’t post anything, and with the convenience of e-gifts and e-vouchers there was no necessity to do so. Perhaps next Christmas – yes, there’s likely to be a next one and it will be here before we’re ready for it, same as every year – we’ll be able to present things in person. In the meantime, we’re safe and not as isolated as many. We have much to be grateful for.

Year’s end is astonishingly close. May it be one where we can raise a glass to the fact that we survived this extraordinary year as we toast what must surely be a better coming year.


 
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Posted by on December 27, 2020 in Crochet, Food, Musing

 

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Uuuuh, yeah, about that – what?

It’s probably time to get the tree happening, too 🙂

Oh, was that another weekend? Has Monday already gone? Was yesterday Tuesday, and the recycling bin’s last outing for the year? Meaning today is Wednesday and Dr B is out cycling? Yeah, all of that! We’ve been busy this week, with plenty to show for our efforts. Even so, I still feel completely inundated by laundry. Well, that never changes or goes away, does it? Ditto to housework. YoungB decided it’s barbie season, so he dressed appropriately – note, not necessarily wisely or particularly safely – when he was cooking last night’s meal, albeit in the kitchen not under the pergola: very short shorts, BBQ tongs in one hand and an echo in the other!

We have almost finished the worst of the dusty work, so it may well be time for me to plonk the tree somewhere in the lounge room (location varies from year to year). It won’t be such a nice tree as that little branch of wild cherry that Grandpa cut many, many years ago – and it certainly won’t smell as good; artificial trees never do – but it should assist with the festive mood. Right?

I was out and about yesterday, doing a few unavoidable bits and pieces. As I was on Youngest Aunt’s side of the city, I dropped in and had lunch with her. We’ll see each other again on Saturday, but it was good to have a chat without the pressure of other people and – for her – the need to be constantly keeping an eye on things, however surreptitiously. It’s a lot of work to host a family get-together, as she does annually on Boxing Day. We sorted out what my household’s contribution will be this year, noting that it’s usually pasta – often homemade – and an accompanying sauce. This year, she and Youngest Uncle want to showcase some of their dried porcini, so we’ll take something different. Easily done. That’s on today’s shopping list.

I was delighted to see, and truly appreciate, that lockdown led to her purchasing a brand new coffee machine. We had several rounds, so I can say categorically that it makes a good brew. I note that she, also, has her coffee beans delivered. These are good outcomes from the lengthy lockdown: keeping people employed and maintaining customer service, while ensuring that vulnerable community members such as Youngest Aunt are staying at home. Not to mention, of course, the plus of ensuring you don’t run out of coffee!

On that note, I should stoke up our coffee machine so I can fuel up for the decorating ahead. May your fuel also be appropriate for the task at hand 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2020 in Family history, Food, Health

 

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the organised coffee-holic

Back in July, coffee kept us going.

You would think we’d never run out of coffee. Although it is a rare occurrence, it does happen. I was chatting with Middle Aunt today about things Christmas, supply lines and the like, and she told me that Eldest Niece has her coffee delivered, partly to ensure that she never runs out.

Dr B has been working physically hard all weekend, mortaring up holes in walls while I had another go at fixing a few drawers in the sewing room. He and I took our afternoon coffee break as part of a shopping excursion. We’re luckier than Eldest Niece, in the sense that we are close to shopping till fairly late most nights, so we could do a mercy dash should it be necessary. She is not, and would struggle to find something suitable.

We are encouraged to wear masks, given that we are in a populous area that extends beyond family. She is not likely to need masks, given that her circle of contact extends beyond family only to include others living in the same or nearby (small) towns. We all swipe our phones wherever we are. It comes down swings and roundabouts, and everyone corssnig their figners that things don’t worsen with regard to the latest eastern flare-up of COVID-19.

When it comes to coffee, we’re plainly outmatched by Eldest Niece. I am in awe of her organisational dedication to ensuring that she never runs out of her favourite brew.

My your supply line also be assured 😀

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2020 in Food, Health

 

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gathering of the sisterhood

Lifting the lid on the helping hand 🙂

At a recent catch-up with long-time friends, I noticed that we were more subdued than usual. Overall, we’re feeling completely out of sorts and fed up. We detest being tethered to, and by, our mobile phones and the amount of checking-in we need to do. That I accidentally forgot my phone was perhaps the most cogent comment on that paradigm that you could want. And we’re all acutely aware that things are once again looking worrisome in the east.

It is true that, whether our work has been face-to-face or WFH, we have weathered the good and the bad of whichever was our lot at any point with a reasonable amount of grace and a modicum of good humour. We agreed that there has been much to celebrate, particularly with regard to the births and marriages that brought new family members. Those occasions have involved celebratory alcoholic beverages whose consumption certainly assisted more broadly with the maintenance, or otherwise, of equilibrium. We agreed we’re all resilient and resourceful and that 2020 was not necessarily the sum of, or even particularly reflective of, our life experience.

We also acknowledged that we have been extremely fortunate to have had so few COVID-19 cases in our country and even fewer in our state. We know there has been, there still is, a pandemic but we have largely avoided its effects. So we might be grizzling, but we’re doing it low-key. While we are all hopeful that 2021 will be better, the uncertainty that continues to surround Christmas travel arrangements and celebrations makes unbridled optimism unwise. We raised our glasses and toasted to a better new year; but see my earlier comment about eastern considerations.

I anticipate that hope for a better new year will be a global phenomenon, even allowing for the good parts of 2020 and completely ignoring the many government shortcomings that have contributed to its insanity.

Pax, sisters 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2020 in Health

 

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snap, in more ways than one

Take 3, actually – with cafe

In this instance, I blame the dentist for my broken specs. She picked them up to return them after my appointment and, snap, the arm fell off. Precisely as it fell off last year! Obviously, being right-handed, I put pressure on that point, no matter how careful I am to hold the specs by the bridge when I’m cleaning them.

Luckily, Dr B had insisted on driving me to my dental appointment, so I didn’t have to worry about trying to see through some lopsided botch job to drive home. We went straight to the optician. I was half-expecting I’d need to make an appointment for new specs (I’m just about due some). But, would you believe it, they still have that frame in stock (it must be popular). What is more, I think it might be either the colour of my original frame (which wasn’t available last time) or something very similar. In any case, it’s a much nicer colour than what I’ve been wearing for the last year or so.

As I keep saying, once they’re on my face, I don’t care what colour they are because I don’t see them. Having said that, I note that the helpful assistant sad they matched the blouse I was wearing. There you are.

If your specs have also snapped, may your replacements match your favourite blouse 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2020 in Health

 

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fabulous even when fuzzy

This lighting was deliberately soft

As well as the annual Santa-update-photo, I sometimes get little videos. Their quality is often poor, but they are greatly prized for showing how the children are growing, and what new developmental milestones they’re achieving. These are things that simply weren’t around when we were children. Photos were rare enough.

You might make a case for Super 8 movie cameras and the like being able to capture some of that, but they were the province of people with a lot more money than my family ever had; and, even then, were perhaps for more momentous occasions such as family weddings, or perhaps recording travels.

When YoungB was younger, and certainly when he was rowing, we had SLR cameras as well as a video camera. Later transfer of video to a safe storage medium was often challenging for a variety of reasons, and definitely Dr B’s province. Everyday things were ephemeral, but we tried to capture them in stills so that we could share with family separated by distance.

Nowadays, we whip out a smartphone and hit “record”. As I said, the quality is sometimes less than stellar; often actually fuzzy, as opposed to being simply the result of some artistic endeavour. But when we and the children are far from each other, it’s wonderful to have those little everyday moments captured at all.

I hope your incoming Christmas news and visuals are pinpoint sharp. And if they’re not, I hope their value quite overrides their lack of quality 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2020 in Family history

 

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growing despite setbacks

It blew over and kept growing anyway

It’s been a day where Dr B has worked on home maintenance and I’ve more or less taken care of laundry and the kitchen. He made the pizzas tonight. I mean, there are rules around cultural appropriation. Right?!

It’s been entertaining to receive some “Santa 2020” photos, with Santa physically separated from the children by a variety of means including extra large seats or piles of parcels. Most people comment that they’re weird. I see them as historical documents. Some years from now, people are going to wonder what that was all about. My observation is that the children seem happier sitting with their parents, but what would I know? The children are growing, and the annual photos prove that. Santa might sometimes be happier, too, without the children screaming quite so loudly.

The agapanthus are also growing, although they are now well past their best. One was broken by wind, two others bent over but didn’t break. The one in the photos is practically horizontal with the ground, but still blooming beautifully.

If you’re horizontal, I hope it’s from choice and not the effects of a gale 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2020 in gardening

 

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turning my back

Somehow, he’s flipped

Imagine you are standing there, looking at that door. I didn’t turn Santa around, but that’s about my take on where I am right now: with my back to the workplace. I’m officially on leave until next year. I anticipate that I might get a few calls next week, and I have said that’s okay. Leaving detailed updates can be problematic, but I have done my best.

Meanwhile, I hope Santa is heading indoors for a cool cocktail, because that’s about what I’m planning to do. If cocktails are your thing, may you also be heading towards one 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

easy listening

Bring out the choristers and carols

YoungB volunteers at a local Italian radio station every now and then. With a few other younger Italo-Australians, he hosts a two-hour segment that’s a mix of music and chat in both Italian and English. I’m one of their most devoted listeners, to the point where I set an alarm to ensure I don’t miss the show. They were all in fine form today, full of Christmas silliness. Guh-roan. Yes, that time is very near.

Today would have been my office’s Christmas lunch, had we been at the office. You might agree that virtual celebrations wouldn’t quite cut it, so we managed without. YoungB, of course, is back at his physical workplace. Yesterday, they held their Christmas lunch at a spectacular winery in the Adelaide Hills. Obviously it’s time bring on the tinsel and silly hats, I suppose.

Although I personally don’t care about Santa’s opinion, people tell me he’s checking his list. I’m sure that the elves are all busy and the reindeer are limbering up for their long journey. The very least we can do is sing a few carols to get them in the right frame of mind 😀

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2020 in Musing

 

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