Thursday, January 31, 2019

January 2019, a strangely full month.

January is a strange month. So much holiday and yet by the end of the month I'm fully back at work and holidays seem forever ago. Not to mention summer school and maitland alive, and of course all the projects I got obsessed with.

Beautiful swims to start the year. I got deaf in one ear and it was severely blocked for 5 days. Just when doctors are all shut. But eventually I got good tools from chemist and unblocked it myself in 2 days.

New Year's Eve didn't go according to plan but I was OK with that. Heather, George, JK and I went to Julie's place for wood fired pizza, intending to go to the fireworks afterwards (there wasn't going to be time but oh well) but we were delighted to see a spectactular electrical storm pass over us, which also cancelled the fireworks so we didn't miss out on anything and had a memorable light show. As well as pizza and cocktails and chocolate cake. We also watched the midnight fireworks on TV but they were disappointing. Would not stay up for that again. The soundtrack was abysmal and they didn't do the golden waterfall off the bridge. 10/10 for the storm and pizza though.

It rained so much in the storm that the bucket I put in the backyard collected a good lot of rain water for the mossy rock Elsie gave me!

Church uni kids organised lawn bowls to farewell Rachel who was my Tocal/Bachy friend this year. Good to hang out with people I don't spend a lot of time with.

I was very creative with my Boxing Day Sales shopping this year, I went online and got some Australian bird fabric from Nerida Hansen sale, and 7 watercolours and a tray. The paints are a big investment, one of those expensive things I've avoided for ages because the gap between the student paints I use and the proper paints is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. But I did some research and got the Liz Steele sketchers kit from Daniel Smith plus a green Liz also has in her kit. A very useful set of paints.

I was not immune to Marie Kondo on netflix. It has been a while since I culled the oldest clothes so I decided to do the "all your clothes on the bed" experiment. I don't know if her method is any better than the normal way of culling, but anyway I culled. I am encouraged not to buy any MORE clothes, having seen this on the bed. And it's not even that many clothes compared to the show.

I did odd jobs, like I fixed a broken keyring with earring tools, and I replaced a toilet seat.

And then it was time to drive to Katoomba for Summer school. Saturday was hot and I drove in the weekend peak traffic in Sydney, but I visited G to drop off her Christmas present and get a cutting, and she made a lot of effort and did a very refreshing morning tea which was a big relief.

When I got to Katoomba I had a headache and it was very hot and there was nowhere cool to escape, I went to JK and Maddie's house for dinner though which was nice, I almost napped, and we picked raspberries right from their backyard.

This is the house I stayed in with a church couple and some singles. It was strange, but the people were nice. Much more relaxing for me than organising 7 women.

I took the moss rock and it got rained on all week! After Saturday it cooled down and I really enjoyed the rain and mist and coolness.

It was my best summer school in years in terms of energy. Either just a fluke of my body or due to easier housemates, I don't know. I had one night of cramps that I stayed home, but I went to every other session and did lots of tech team and had good catch ups. I didn't have the usual feeling of having to pace myself and rest and fight depression.

I got obsessed with shopping for the perfect raincoat, but have not yet purchased.

I also got obsessed with Japanese Maple trees, I may plant one.

ON Friday I got sick. A sore throat, then aching as I drove back to Maitland. I watered the plants and went to bed. I barely got out of bed on Saturday, super achy, and my parents bought food for my empty fridge. Maitland Alive sent 5 people over to use my shower and I lay on the bed while they watched TV and showered. On Sunday I felt a bit better and found an after hours GP nearby to get antibiotics for my throat. Took Monday off, and then went back to work.

I was expecting to enjoy the benefits of last year's decluttering but the ball had snowballed in my absence and a whole wall was removed. In the below picture the orange cones mark where the office used to end. We now have a bigger office and new neighbours.

I created a colour palette.

And on the Friday before the Australia Day weekend when I was alone in the office, I watched youtube tutorials and made an animation of a stick person jumping and kicking a ball in Adobe Animate.

Maitland Alive people were lovely as usual, we watched the Indian Pacific train on TV for a couple of nights and then we played Rummikub.

And now the big event of the month!


A before photo.

Builder on Monday, digging holes for posts.

End of day 2. And I faced a terrible dilemma, because it was too low. It made backyard feel small and crowded.

When you looked out the back door you saw beams and rafters really quite low.

I hate to be difficult, and make the builder do more work on such hot days. I had a very anxious night. But the builder was very agreeable and suggested he could replace these two poles near the house and raise the end up so the roof would slope. I specified the supporting beam to be level with the bottom of the eves.

And now I love it! Sloping is even better than flat! It feels lofty and gracious.

After a week or so I decided definitely to paint it and got some weathershield samples. I tossed up between matching the colourbond fence and the greyish trim on the house, and decided on the greyish colour.

I bought 4 L of weathershield which is enough for 2 coats (surface area about 16m2). I also got some paint swatches for my sister, who just bought her first house and it used to be a rental so they had to do floors and paint.

This is the house they moved out of. The last rental in the Green family! And a frugal one it was too, a tiny fibro cottage. They new house is very nice, lots of storage and a backyard with potential and lovely neighbours. Lots of blessings.

Anyway back to my pergola. I borrowed Dad's ladder, and its pretty scary using a ladder, you really do need someone to hold it steady but anyway, I managed to paint the whole thing in 4 hours on the public holiday when it wasn't a super hot day, and I didn't drop a whole tray of paint at any point.

It's very messy work, and I had a sleep in the afternoon, I have never needed a nap so bad I crashed so fast.

A last few odds and ends. Coralie had a leaking tap while I was at work so I guided her to turn off the mains, and changed the washer when I got home. I'm a pro at taps now.

I quite enjoy this instagram account of sarcastic posts about singleness. Such things can lead to bitterness, I usually prefer to ignore everything to do with marriage and singleness and just live my best life, but this girl has a light touch. I resonated with her post about telling doctors you have a sexless life. It's called thedtrblog (DTR means Define The Relationship, I had to google.)

I did a little more macrame so I can have 2 at the office now. I took my string of hearts to work and I plan to grow G's cutting in the other one. The moss is also at work, because of the air conditioning, FYI. The moss is very needy.

And there we go! So much happened. I left out anything I didn't take a photo of as well.

Overarching mood at this point: 1. not sure what to do about the mirena with all the days my stomach is upset. I have 4 or so hours of irritable bowel symptoms nearly every day. Makes it hard to concentrate at work, sometimes prohibits doing things. I'll try and persist for one more month. 2. Housemate absent so much I almost live alone, and I'm feeling a bit lonely and flat sometimes. I've lived alone in the past, I can do it, but I haven't got it right at the moment. Maybe being unwell every day is affecting my joy in life too. So, mood is, I could get depressed probably, but I'm not.

Percy is my loyal housemate, always happy to hang out on my lap or my armchair next to me and watch TV. He's sitting on my knee right now while I blog. He's in a chill mood lately, not biting or screaming as much.

I've got a year on a page, because the next few months have some key big things to organise. I want to write this on nice paper but haven't got around to it, but January is well ticked off! February begins tomorrow. Cello and home group and everything starts up and the year is truly happening.

Monday, December 31, 2018

December decluttering and carols.

December was much quieter for me at work. Found it hard to focus, I'd already done my end of year push and finished some big projects so work was light and easy, wrapping up odds and ends. Therefor I turned my attention to decluttering the compactors and surrounding junk corners. I instagramed every day the things we found and rehomed. Old posters, chemical safety things, a box of wheels, things for soil testing, a box of rocks, book display stands. It was a huge job, but doing one thing a day made it easier to decide. THe options for each item were
  1. Find someone who can use it (eg chemical safety things to chemical trainer)
  2. Find a place where it can be stored with other things like it (eg stationary)
  3. Sneak it into a storeroom for someone else to deal with later (eg the metal things we have no idea what they are)
  4. Throw away
  5. Consolidate (the files that actually need to be kept but can be moved so they all fit in the 1 compactor not spread over 2)

Kate joined me for this fun project. By the last day of work, we had got rid of so much stuff that we were able to let others take away a whole empty compactor, the biggest declutter of them all! It's going to be used to store machinery things in a shed somewhere. It just goes to show that plugging away one thing every day will eventually do great things.

I didn't grow my plant collection too much, but I repotted some small ones and kept everything alive. I did however start macrame, made a plant hanger to give to G for Christmas and bought an ivy to grow in it which is at my house until new year and she takes it home. Macrame is satisfying and easy. But you have to stand up otherwise the long ends get tangled.

The Christmas functions happened of course. I made peppermint bark for a work party, would not make this again but it was effective for this one time. There were 3 different secret santas which is always stressful. Plants were the hot gifts this year.

At Sal's place where we had our team Christmas do, she showed me this lovely painting an artist did of Tocal which she and Nathan had bought. Inspiration. Meanwhile yesterday I threw away the landscape I started last month that isn't working. I'd rather start fresh than try and fix something failing, when canvases are so cheap.

I helped set up our church street party carols. Thankfully it was lovely weather again (hot for the setup but cool for the evening carols) and it was a good evening with lots of people from the community amongst it.

We borrowed a truck for our stage this year.

I finished the watercolour of 2 chickens for Taire to give for a Christmas gift. I was pleased how it turned out! Very cute and dainty.

I decided that my beginner set of watercolours needed to be upgraded, if I get more requests for commissions it'd be nice to have strong clean professional colours. So on Boxing Day I did some reasearch and online shopping. The student set I have was $15 for 24 colours. The set I got was 6 colours for about $70 ON SALE!! They better be good! But they will last me for my lifetime I reckon. Watercolour is mostly water. I was thankful that I knew about Liz Steel and could buy her recommended starter set of paints.

The biggest event of December for me is my Carols in the Garage, it was the 3rd time this year. I invited friends from work for the first time, and a good number of Sydney friends came up for it. It was the same music as last year, with Julie on violin and Julia singing. There were 34 people which was biggest so far. Next year I need to do the garage set up the week before not the day of the carols, because it was much too tiring! But thankfully Kim, JK and Ann Marie were a lot of help with making salads and cutting out the new carol books and washing up and all those jobs. G went to a lot of effort to make the trip up despite her health which is amazing. I am so blessed by friends and friend's friends!

Elsie gave me a mossy rock for Christmas. It's struggling in the heat.

I was super tired after everyone left. We had family Christmas on Sunday, with JK, which was nice, but then it felt like Christmas really was done and it was strange that it was still in the future. Julia and Luke had their first Christmas with Luke's family.

I had a strong urge to catch up on movies, so we saw Bohemian Rhapsody on Christmas Eve, and JK and I saw Holmes and Watson on Boxing Day. The latter was quite dumb mostly, a few clever nods to Sherlock tropes though. JK stayed with me through Sunday to Thursday for both Christmases. We had pies and wedges for family lunch at my place on Tuesday Christmas and played rummikub.

We went to my favourite cafe in morpeth for breakfast on Thursday and it was surprisingly quiet, we had the best table with the best view and had a healthy breakfast and cup of tea. We took books as well. I have so many books I am trying to work through them these holidays. I've got a knitting murder mystery from the Mudgee trip, and I borrowed Redeeming Singleness and need to return it at Summer School, and I am also reading Enjoying God along with Ros, I got us both that. If I finish those 3 before work goes back, I'll be happy.

In the afternoon we went for our first holiday swim! Its swimming most days from Christmas to Summer School.

My big hat that I got custom made is still the star of summer.

I've got a blocked right ear and I'm slightly deaf. Hazard of swimming with ear wax. Stomach still not great from Mirena, had upset guts nearly every day of the last month.

I'm well into the holidays now, losing track of which day it is. It's hot, so lots of swimming. I'd also like to do some sewing, I borrowed patterns from Heather and mum to make shirts with cool bird fabrics from Nerida Hansen (my other Boxing Day sale purchase online). I'm excited to make a shirt from black cockatoo fabric. This is me instagramming my draft shirt I have been making out of old shirts, to test the patterns before I cut my special cockatoo fabric.

Oh the other thing I almost forgot was that I had the builder back to measure for the pergola which is going to go ahead since the bylaw was finally passed. The builder is planning to build it on 14 January, so not quite a complete achievement this year as was my aim, but so much progress to be this close anyway!

So that's it! Today is new years eve, tonight Georgina, JK and Heather are going to Julie's place to swim in her pool, make pizzas in her pizza oven, then go over to the river for fireworks. Living the dream. Tomorrow the girls will leave and Coralie will come back and I'll have a few days more to swim and craft before Summer School starts on Saturday.

Regarding how 2018 went, how I grew and what I achieved, I have no desire to reflect. Yesterday in the sermon at church Erich said what would you rate 2018 out of 5 stars, I think 2 stars, there was a lot of sickness and death. Highlights of the year were Julia's wedding and my family and friends, all the love in my life, and I guess I'm glad that I made time for oil painting and gave paintings to people. Beyond that I just want to move on really.

Regarding how 2019 looks and what are my goals and dreams, nothing. I'll just go back to work and do the same stuff. Keep on trying to balance time for all the things. Grow things on my pergola. Live alone again after Coralie gets married. Buy some bigger couches maybe. Can't be bothered aiming for real progress! No new year reflecting, goal setting or self improving. But only spending time in God's word and with people and nature and fiction of all mediums.