Equinox

Did you know that at 8:58am this morning (GMT+11) it was the equinox? Which means that for that if the earth continued at that exact tilt, day and night would be of equal length. It means that until winter solstice, days will just get shorter and shorter. It’s also a supermoon tonight. This one is called the Worm Moon for a reason that doesn’t mean a lot for Australia – apparently it’s around the time in the northern hemisphere when the ground would start thawing and earthworms would begin coming to the surface. These two things coinciding feels a bit… prophetic. I wonder if Nostradamus had anything to say about this. Apparently it won’t happen again until 2144. It’s always an odd kind of feeling, experiencing something and realizing that you will never – can never – possibly experience it again in your lifetime.

Apparently the word equinox actually has nothing to do with horses, as I initially suspected, but is derived from the Latin aequus and nox, which mean equal and night, respectively. Now you know. And I have yet another bit of impractical trivia to add to the collection.

A few things are happening:

Posie is being adorable (see evidence). Actually, all the animals are. Clover has taken to sleeping cuddled up to me every night, and Plato is shockingly confident about his place in the household, based on how often he will just sleep in the middle of thoroughfares like he owns the place, knowing that nobody is going to step on him. We are having some challenging times though with Rupert, on a few fronts – dementia, pneumonia and some new continence problems. We are hoping that it’s just a result of him coughing too hard, but researching belly bands all the same. All part of loving an old dog, I guess (it’s still so worth it).

Our washing machine broke weeks ago, and the particular spaceship-of-a-unit that we chose can’t get delivered until next week. Not having a working machine and having to take everything to the laundromat has been kind of shocking, in that I now realize what a huge amount of laundry our household generates. Delivery and install day can’t come fast enough. If only for getting to test it out for the first time – apparently it sings a little song when it’s done (how sad that that is so exciting?).

I got my ears pierced. It’s all pain and bruising and leaking now, but I will feel like such a grown up when I can finally change out these starter studs and actually accessorize earrings with my outfit. I spent years psyching myself up for it, and it ultimately wasn’t that bad – they say it just feels like a pinch, and it was true. I went to a proper piercer who used a needle rather than a gun (I read that guns basically force a blunt object through your ear, and thus create more trauma than a sharp cannula needle), so maybe that helped.

The summer kitchen garden has well and truly run its race. The chilies are still going strong, my eggplants still have a bunch of flowers on them, but the cucumbers and tomatoes are totally done. I didn’t have the best growing season overall, and I’m not sure why… but I’m leaning towards needing to enrich the soil a bit more next time, perhaps. I am still very much a beginner gardener. For this next while, I’m going to try to diversify so I don’t end up with a glut of something I will easily get sick of. I want to grow spring onions, garlic, kale, fennel, broccoli, broad beans, parsley, radishes and cabbage for sauerkraut.

Last of all, I am absolutely convinced that Duchess Kate is going to have another baby soon. I mean, look at this:

Finally, a Beach Day

On the weekend, I went to a quilting workshop with Mum, run by Anni Downs. The style was completely unlike anything I’d done before – it’s muted and a little bit country, but not in that fussy, dark, 90s American way – more of a naive, whimsical sort of style. It seemed like everybody else in the class had a good handle on the techniques we used, but I had no idea. I had never done applique before, not even once, so I felt very out of my depth. Everybody else just somehow knew how to trace in reverse or use Easy Fix, so I was so grateful for a little one-on-one attention to explain these basic things. I eventually figured things out and discovered that I might even have a bit of a knack for this sort of thing. My block (so far) looked lovely and everything was neat and tidy. I got a lot of compliments on my work, even if I was falling back to my usual habits of criticizing everything I’d done for not being supernaturally perfect. I was surprised at how much I achieved in the class, and the best part of all is that I feel equipped now to take on the entire quilt, even though it will take me forever with how exacting I get about my stitches. I’ll post some photos when I’ve got something to share.

But it was a fun day. And somebody who worked at Amitie thought I was seventeen, so that’s always nice too! Although it could have been the fact that it was forty degrees outside and all my makeup melted off, so maybe the impression was less “young fresh newborn baby supermodel gazelle” and more “sweaty bedraggled unkempt scrappy teenager”.

After the class, Nathan met me in Torquay and we went to the beach, meeting Dad and Patrick there. It didn’t start out very well – Nathan was in a terrible mood and was a total storm cloud, because he thought it was too hot to go and was already on edge and drained because of a stressful day. It was extremely hot, but what could be better than to dive into some bitingly cold water on a blisteringly hot day? He begrudgingly marched from the car to the shore, barely talking to me, but it all melted away once we got in the water. It was my first time at a surf beach this year, and it was everything. The conditions were perfect – icy water, absolutely clear like a tropical postcard, long periods of flat calm that was perfect for floating around, punctuated by some big waves, perfect for diving under.

Nathan has a bit of a habit of being grouchy and not wanting to do things, only to change his mind and decide “this isn’t so bad after all” once I’ve dragged him into action. Then he’ll act like he was never a stick in the mud, that he was enthusiastic about it all along. It’s frustrating, and it would be nice to just enjoy things without a little drama beforehand, but that’s how it goes. On the way home, I just felt so satisfied to have finally had a really, really good beach day. As we were drawing closer to the end of hot weather, I kept feeling this frantic edginess, like I couldn’t bear for summer to be over when I’d barely had a taste of it. After those two hours in the waves, there was a little more closure – I’m more ready for autumn now.

And now it’s Monday, time to start all over again.

One last thing – I have a favour to ask of you. Yes – you, reader, if you’ve even made it this far, if you even exist. If you are reading this, please leave a comment below. It can be anonymous if you like, but it would be nice to know if anybody at all reads this thing. Tell me a joke, or tell me something you love or hate about this blog, or tell me what you would like to see more of. Just let me know if you exist, so I can know whether or not I’m just typing into the void. Thank you!

Little Bits – Last Days of Summer

  • The kittens are out of the bathroom almost full time now – we only put them away at bedtime or if we’re going to be out for hours. Everybody has acclimatized and it’s feeling very harmonious right now. I’m still not there with adoring them, but I’m getting there. At least 50% of the time, I’m glad we got them and feel happy that they are a part of our little family. The other 50% of the time, they are snacking on my maidenhead fern. We’re working on it.
  • I’m realizing, in my old age, that self-care is actually pretty important. This doesn’t necessarily mean things like long bubble baths or shopping sprees, but little things. I am currently typing this blog post with an eye mask on, and it feels luxurious. Later I’m going to cook Mongolian beef for dinner so I can eat something delicious without feeling gross afterwards. Tonight I will put moisturizer and socks on my feet before I go to bed and wake up feeling like a newborn baby angel from the ankles down. Next week, I’m going to go to yoga and stretch myself out. All self-care, all important stuff.
  • Olivia Colman won Best Actress at the Oscars and I’m so happy for her. She said something like “I hope my kids are watching because this will never happen again”.. and it’s kind of true, and it makes it more magical that it could have happened to Hollywood elite or the more ‘usual’ choices, and instead it happened to her (and well deservedly, too).
  • I had the best appointment with my eye surgeon yesterday and a really positive plan is in place. I will be having botox injections in the muscles of my eye – probably in a few months when I have a better schedule for recovery time. I may have to wear an eye patch for a few weeks. Surgery is still a possibility for the future, but not right now. I might talk some more about this later.
  • We are finally planning on Taiwan trip, and oh boy, there is pressure. It’s essential that Nathan falls in love with it as much as I have, and there’s so much to show him. We are deliberately going in autumn so that the heat and humidity won’t be so oppressive. I hope he loves it, I think he will. I mean, there is food, of course he’ll love it.
  • I can’t believe summer is almost over. It has gone so fast, I’m not ready. I’m trying to pump myself up by reminding myself of all the perks of autumn (not getting sunburned! soup weather! time to plant bulbs! not too hot to exercise! cardigans, scarves and layering!) but it’s hard – I haven’t even made it to a surf beach this summer, which kills me. Hopefully this weather will last a few more weeks, at least.

Struggletown

It has been a hard week. Apart from one good night, I was averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night. Then, with the puppies and kittens, it was just bananas. Oh, and Nathan was in Canberra, so it was all on me. A regular daylight hour would look like this:

Sit down to get some writing done.
Get up – somebody has jumped on the dining table; Posie barks.
Sit down.
Get up – the water bowl is empty.
Sit down.
Get up – Posie needs to go outside.
Sit down.
Get up – Posie needs to come back in.
Sit down.
Get up – the kittens have knocked over a lamp; Posie barks.
Sit down.
Get up – the mailman knocked on the front door; both dogs bark.
Sit down.
Get up – the kittens have gotten tangled in the cords behind the TV; Posie barks.
Sit down.
Get up – Rupert needs to go outside.
No, just tricking, he just wants a treat.
The cats heard the treat packet, and now they want a treat too.
Sit down.
Get up – Rupert really does need to go outside this time.
Sit down.
Get up – the kittens are scratching the furniture; Posie barks.
Sit down.
Get up – Rupert needs to come back in.
Sit down.
Get up – Rupert and Clover are fighting; Posie barks.
Go and fetch the crate; set it up; put Rupert inside.
Sit down.
Rupert is upset and whining for my attention; Posie barks.
The phone rings.
The kittens jump and drag their claws down the curtains; Posie barks.
Look at the clock, look at my word count, and despair.
Go insane and jump out the window, running far away, never to return.

There were a few stretches here and there where everybody was asleep and it was heavenly, so I did eventually get some writing done. Which was just as well – I had a deadline this week. I had to submit work for a masterclass I am attending in April, and it was nerve-wracking. I can’t say too much, other than that this class is a golden opportunity. It’s a very big deal. It wasn’t an ideal week to have such a big deadline, but I got there in the end and I’m so proud.

I can’t wait until I can finally share my work, or be able to say “you can buy my book at X”. It will be indescribably sweet.

Oh – it was also Valentine’s Day! I was completely taken by surprise when a lady knocked on my door with flowers and treats (as in, completely taken by surprise – I was in pajamas, looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards). Nathan wasn’t here, but he still made it lovely. And I also did Galentine’s oysters and Pimms with Mum and Caitlin, any excuse.

Year of the Pig

Last night, we had a big family dinner. Dad made two types of broth – spicy and not so spicy – and we cooked all sorts of things on the tabletop, like tofu puffs, pork, beef, prawns, scallops, fish and mushrooms. In Chinese, it’s called 火锅 (pronounced huŏguō) – also known as steamboat, hot pot, or shabu shabu in Japan. It was fun, but sweaty! Sometimes it’s such a drag living in the southern hemisphere and having all sorts of cozy wintery holidays fall in the middle of our hot summers. But c’est la vie, still fun.

I’ve started thinking more seriously about a Taiwan trip. One thing I have to do is really work on my Chinese – when I returned in 2016, I was speaking (very slowly and extremely simply) to most people within a few days, but I’m kind of concerned that I’ll have stage fright if Nathan’s with me. It’s so hard to stay on top of a language that you have no daily opportunity to practice. Sometimes – rarely – I will have dreams in Chinese, but it has been more than a decade now since I actually studied it. I will confess that some of it is an ego thing, because it’s pretty nice to be able to say “I speak two languages”, but it’s also a practicality thing – Chinese is the second most spoken language in Australia, but aside from that, Taiwan will always be my second home.