So on the weekend, I went to Brisbane for a writer’s conference that I had been waiting all year for. I managed the flight like a total pro and was feeling pretty pleased with myself, and then… disaster. I woke up on Friday morning feeling like utter death and it did not get better for the whole weekend. It was even severe enough that I had three nosebleeds, which is big considering I’d never had even one before. Judging by the big fevers involved, the severity and the length so far, it is almost definitely the flu… which is kind of ironic, because I managed to get the flu last year on my way home from the same conference. Maybe I’m just not meant to frequent airports in winter.

I came home on Monday. Nathan was a total prince and drove all the way to the airport to collect me, bearing pillows, blankets and a mask so I wouldn’t pass the germs along. I’ve spent the days since living in pajamas and making all sorts of lovely honking and snarfling noises. Best part: I read some articles about how this is apparently Australia’s worst flu season ever, and rushed to call my parents to tell them to get the vaccine. Except they both already had it. I had not. Which is why I am now sick. After last year, you think I would have learned.

But apart from that…

Game of Thrones is getting really good. I am bursting with theories.
Jamie’s Italian was not as good as I thought it would be.
Good god, weddings are expensive.
My ongoing oyster craving enters week three.
Writing plans for the next quarter finally feel on track.
My roses are pruned, fed and covered in baby leaves – exciting.
We joined a farm CSA to be more mindful and ethical about our meat consumption.
I have a serious love for things that come in little blue boxes.
Far out, I’m almost thirty.
Nathan installed The Sims 3 on my laptop and I’m having the best time micromanaging the adventures of Johanna, Posie and Rupert. I mean, Juniper, Pancake and Rootbeer.
… and I am now the proud owner of a sparkly gold mermaid tail that will be gracing the esplanade at Eastern Beach this summer.

But more on that when it happens!

Little Bits – After the Rain

  • I saw a huge rainbow this week. So intense, and you could make out every distinct colour. I wish that there was a camera capable of capturing how bright it was. Pity it was over a horrid patch of industrial land near the highway. A rainbow this beautiful deserved to be over a verdant rainforest or some friendly cows grazing on buttercups, or something.
  • It’s almost spring! I hate this time of year so much, so it’s especially welcome to know that we’re so close to the finish line. Bring on shorts weather!
  • Speaking of finish lines, it’s also nice to think that there will be a time – very soon – when I will never have to plan a wedding again (fingers crossed). Lots of people have said that a small wedding must be easier to plan, and I definitely thought that was the case before I started, but it’s not at all. For everything that needs to be organized, it’s still exactly the same amount of emails, phone calls, researching, agonizing, stressing. Just a smaller number of people.
  • I bought a gigantic rug yesterday. It’s cream. I am not sure yet whether this is a brilliant idea or a terrible one. My rationale is that Rupert’s incredible shedding will blend in with the rug and I won’t constantly see the hair five minutes after vacuuming, like I did with our old black and white rug. But I am wondering how much time I’m going to spend on my hands and knees wiping away dirty paw prints. We’ll see when it arrives!
  • I’m off to my second ever writing conference tomorrow, which means getting on a plane. I don’t think there will ever again be a time that I don’t hate flying.
  • I’m growing garlic again this year – three types. It’s frustrating because it takes such a long time (9-ish months), but it’s so worth it. The bulbs I harvested last year were small, but full of flavour and quite hot. I roasted half and turned the rest into garlic butter, and froze it all in ice cube trays. This time, I think I’ll just turn it all into garlic butter, or maybe garlic and herb butters. It has been so amazing for garlic bread, on baked potatoes, for sauteing prawns… it’s just really good.
  • So, I hoped my little heart out that the Easter bunny would bring a chicken coop for the backyard and that didn’t happen, so now I’m pining all my hopes on Santa. I would love some pet chickens, and I’m sure the pups would love to eat omelettes for breakfast every morning. To be completely honest though, I’m kind of afraid of chickens though. They are kind of like baby dinosaurs, but they also seem so fragile.
  • Our honeymoon disaster has been averted and Nathan can come after all! I was completely prepared to suck it up and either go alone or not at all, but his boss insisted that a honeymoon was something unmissable and that his work projects could pause for a bit. He still has to come home earlier than me, but it will be very nice to have some time to relax together. Though we still have totally mismatched ideas about what constitutes a holiday, so I’ll be going off on some little solo adventures while Nathan drinks cocktails by the pool.
  • Something very special is coming in the mail today. I’ve been stalking the tracking information for weeks, and it looks like today is that day (or it better be – otherwise I’ll have to wait until I get home next week). It’s technically my birthday present and I won’t be able to use it for a while, but it’s like the pinnacle of my childhood fantasies. I think I’ll be keeping it to myself until I can actually show it in action though.
  • I love my suitcase. It’s sitting in the lounge room right now and I can’t help but admire it. You know in the old days how people would have those leather trunks covered in stickers from all the places they had been? Well, mine doesn’t have stickers, but it’s already full of memories. Despite my fear of flying, I just really love travelling. I’m really hoping there will be an opportunity next year to bring Nathan to Taiwan. It came up in conversation on the weekend how there can be places that you barely lived in, have spent such a short period of your life in, but when you get off the plane, you’re home. I feel that way about Taiwan.

And that’s about all right now. Endless lists of little bits seem to be the thing for me these days. It’s been a long time since I didn’t feel totally scattered. Getting past the wedding will be such a load off my shoulders. This honeymoon can’t come fast enough.

Little Bits: Knit, Bark, Break, Swim

Photo from B*witched concert. Just before some girl spilled her entire bourbon and coke down the back of my dress, all over my legs and in my shoes. And then draped herself all over me saying, “I’m sooooo sorry baaaabe”. Not impressed.

  • I desperately need a haircut. Like.. I haven’t touched my hair since October. My fringe (unless I hairspray it like crazy) is like sad little curtains hanging down by the sides of my face, like pigtails on a dog. The situation is dire.
  • Posie will not stop barking. It’s absolutely incessant. It seems like everybody in our street is having deliveries or renovations done – she doesn’t like the squeaks and beeps of trucks and vans. I feel sorry for our neighbours that have to listen to her constant barking, as well as me yelling at her to stop barking all day. I feel so bad having to get angry at her all the time especially when, in her mind, she’s just being an exemplary guard dog.
  • I’m knitting again, finally. The emerald cotton Debbie Bliss moss stitch cardigan that I started last year has disappeared off the face of the earth, so I’m trying something a little simpler, a little quicker (so I can get it finished before I lose this as well). A cherry red pixie pointed baby bonnet. It’s extremely cute, and I’m such a slow knitter that if I want my future children to have anything finished by the time they arrive, I need to be knitting now!
  • I really don’t think that Adele needed to ‘share’ her Grammy with Beyoncé. I hate that she felt that she needed to or that she should. She had every right to be fully proud of herself and herself only without deferring to a ridiculous cult of personality that is based around a whole lot of hype and a flimsy talent. Adele is the real deal, she deserved all of that award.
  • Our wedding plans have changed drastically again. It was becoming apparent that we would have to choose between certain things, and we basically chose ourselves. Some people are going to think this is selfish, and I guess it is – but selfish doesn’t always mean bad. And on our wedding day, the only essential people are Nathan and I because we’re the ones getting married – everybody else is a non-essential bonus, their presence is a privilege for us and for them. If we are the most important people in this equation, why shouldn’t we choose what we want?
  • My brother Patrick has a broken leg from tripping over. I feel awful, and I’m sure that my parents do as well, because it’s been broken for over a week and he only just got medical attention for it. Which is mostly his own fault because he wouldn’t go to the doctor (he has an intellectual disability, so these things can be a huge challenge). But how awful to be laying in bed with a broken leg for a week, with only Panadol for the pain.
  • I went snorkelling last weekend with Dad. It was a little scary – sea grass and seaweed freaks me out a bit, after my Poppy told me a ‘fact’ about how seaweed was a creature that would wrap around your ankles and try to drown you, given the chance. But we saw some fish! Black and white stripy reef fish that flitted and hid from us.
  • Posie and Rupert now have their own instagram account, due to popular request. Now that they are Famous on the Internet™, I’ll have to get a bit creative about taking photos of them!

Little Bits + Posie in the Gardens

I was baking my own tortilla chips earlier today (curse this horrid diet). They had to be cooked in several batches because our oven is awful and wrecks every baking tray we put in it. Now, I can’t shake this edgy feeling that something is still in the oven that I have to babysit or else it will burn.

Aside from that, 2017 reading is not going very well. My particular brain chemistry situation is a blessing and a curse; if a book catches me at the right moment, I will devour it in a day and not stop for anything. The rest of the time, I will start a page with good intentions then find myself flying right over paragraphs without picking up a hint of meaning – then I backtrack and the same thing happens all over again. All while suddenly wondering about whether the word ‘dandelion’ refers to different species of plant in different regions, or daydreaming about delicious Alsatian (the region, not the dog) cuisine that I read about the other day, feeling the urge to google why I always get eczema on my left foot but never my right. ANYWAY.

We took the pups to Ballarat on the weekend and it was an experience. We may need to just concede defeat that they are never going to sit nicely with their seatbelts on when there is an alternative of jumping all over me. Also, the air conditioner refused to work the whole time except for the last five minutes, so I turned up sweaty, windblown and covered in dog hair to an extended family picnic. That was great. Posie loved the Botanical Gardens – she is a dog that must smell every flower.

I’m so glad we finally have a working air conditioner in our house. Last night, we set up an inflatable mattress in the living room because it was seriously like 28°C outside at midnight, and our bedroom would have been much hotter. I watched Martha Stewart’s Cooking School until 2am, drooling over things that I don’t even like. Why do eggs always look so delicious, even though I know I don’t like them? They are so sensual in their silkiness, the way that the yolk oozes and coats everything like a perfect sauce. Even scrambled, Martha Stewart managed to make something that looked cheesy-without-cheese, fluffy and gorgeous. I kind of hate that I don’t like eggs. It’s so ridiculous and I will confess that I think it’s silly when people write off an entire food category not for an allergy but simply because they don’t like it. Eggs look so good, but I know that as soon as that texture gets in my mouth, I will gag. It’s an irrational, uncontrollable response. Sometimes I can trick myself by making scrambled eggs with so much cheese, bacon and herbs that I can’t even really taste the egg, but egg by itself, I will always gag or throw up. I can dip soldiers into egg yolk, I can eat Hollandaise and meringue, but there is something about eggs by themselves (probably the whites) that I just can’t handle. But that’s going to change. 2017 will be the year that I eat an egg, all by itself. And I will enjoy it. Baby steps though – I’m going to start with frittatas and omelettes first. But I’m determined to be a person that likes eggs, especially since I am hassling Nathan to get some backyard chickens.

Thirteen Things That Are Not My Honours Thesis

toe hair

  1. Rupert is the strangest dog that ever lived. Have you ever seen a dog grow such long hair from inside his feet? It sprouts between his paw pads. Nowhere else on his body does he have this alien long hair. I used to trim it short but the cut edges made him itchy and he would bite at his paws constantly, so now I just leave it. I love the fact that it’s even a bit curly, it’s so delightfully bizarre. I like to think that he’s dusting the floor as he runs around the house, like that dog/duster thing in the original Alice in Wonderland movie.
  2. It is not responsible, constructive or admirable in the slightest to order Domino’s and eat pizza for three days straight because I couldn’t get organized enough with groceries and Nathan hasn’t been home to say “seriously?”. Bad Johanna, fifty points from Gryffindor.
  3. I weeded a big section of the garden last week – it took about five hours and I feel so smug about it. Just ignore the weeds literally everywhere else growing as tall as your waist – let’s just focus on that one garden bed. And my broad beans… they are flowering! Surely that means that beans aren’t too far away. My sister and Dad told me a horror story about some rare deadly disease that you can get from eating too many broad beans – I just wonder how many is too many. I’m happy to be a guinea pig if it means all-I-can-eat pasta primavera and broad bean hommus.
  4. Mum and I are off to Bali next month, as a joint 60th/30th birthday trip, just a year early (so it won’t clash with wedding/honeymoon stuff next year). It’s sort of a sequel to a trip we took in 1997, when I turned 10 and she turned 40 and we jetted off to Hong Kong for the weekend. I’m dreading the flight, as always, but it will be so nice to travel together. It never fails to make me laugh how much snobbery you can encounter when you mention Bali, mostly from people who’ve never been but will happily brag about going to Thailand like it’s somehow so much classier. I love Bali, it will be my third time and I’ve never really encountered anything obscenely trashy or tacky there*, but I’ve never gone searching for it either. It just seems so incredibly short-sighted to write off an entire island and culture because you don’t like a few aspects that are very easily avoided. It is very cute though how much Mum is worrying over what to wear. Nathan was the same the first time we went. He was convinced that he couldn’t go to a restaurant unless he was wearing long pants and closed shoes. Everything is so relaxed there, he shouldn’t have worried about it at all. Mum always looks fashionable and put together – she could wear a potato sack with the right lipstick and accessories and still look more stylish than most people, so I think we’ll be fine.
  5. It’s magpie season and I’ve already been swooped, for daring to go in my own front yard. He came from behind and bumped the back of my head (no scratching or pecking, I think his chest hit me) then landed on the fence in front of me, staring at me like a challenge. I yelled at him and waved my gardening tools at him, which is apparently the worst thing to do, and he just stared me down like he was saying: you think you’re safe in your own yard, think again, I own this suburb until November. So, I’m googling strategies to get him to leave me alone. First, a bike helmet. Second, sticking cable ties or drinking straws in all the vents of the helmet so they stick up like battle spikes. Third, breaking a CD into pieces and blu-tacking the reflective pieces all over the helmet. I’m going to look like a madwoman – I can maybe handle wearing this contraption in my yard, but walking the dogs? When our usual route goes past a school full of teenage boys who already yell things at me through the fence? I don’t think so.
  6. The Bachelor is usually one of my guilty pleasures, but I just cannot this season. All the ‘characters’ are so boring. It has been weeks and I still can’t tell the girls apart or remember their names. The conversations between Richie and the girls are so vapid and banal that I haven’t yet been able to concentrate long enough to watch an entire episode without ending up doing something else instead. I don’t care in the slightest who he ends up with, I can’t even pretend to care – it is that bland. Oh Keira, come back – the peasants need you!
  7. Insomnia is hitting hard this week. Like not being able to sleep until five a.m. and getting woken up by barking dogs at sunrise. It really sucks all clarity out of your head and makes you ache all over. My worst bout went for weeks of not sleeping for more than an hour or two, and staying awake all night every night. I’m sure this will go away as soon as Nathan gets back, but I can feel it happening again tonight. It’s almost 2am and my brain is practically twitching with excess energy.
  8. My mailman is the best. Because I do a lot of shopping online, I see him several times a week and he’s always good for a chat. He tells me about his rescued battery hens and about how he builds ‘bee hotels’ as homes for native bees, and never fails to refer to Posie as ‘he’ no matter how many times I say ‘she’.
  9. I miss Taiwan. I always miss Taiwan. So many of my daydreams are devoted to relocating there, living in the mountains, drinking Heineken green tea lemonades and rescuing ALL the dogs. I miss Tango as well. Apparently she has learned to haul herself up stairs now, as well as down. So proud. I really hope there is a way she can come here. It would make me ridiculously happy to walk down the aisle next year with both my girls; Posie and Tango, trotting and wheeling along in front of me, both bedecked in flowers and smiling like crazy.
  10.  Speaking of the aisle, we had a setback – my number one venue choice has no wheelchair access to the first floor, and deliberately choosing something that would mean my grandmother – the one who I am named after – would be excluded, is just not something I can do. So we are scouting closer to home, but this has opened up new possibilities. Thinking… giant colourful pans of paella and an ice cream truck. We’ll have to see if this can be a reality, but it’d be nice!
  11. It’s a matter of days until I’m 29. Every year of my twenties has shocked me, but this is literally the last gasp of my twenties. This is anti-ageing cream and daily sunscreen territory. This is being vague about my age from now on. This is wondering whether hot pink vinyl Lipsy wedges are ‘too young’ for me. This is avoiding hangovers at all costs because they are so much worse these days. This is dismissing anybody under the age of 25 as ‘practically a teenager’, even if most people when first meeting me think I’m in that age group too.
  12. But our actual birthday (yes, it’s the same day) will be low key fun. We are staying home with our dogs – our favourite place to be. There will be Karen Martini’s Syrian chicken, Veuve Clicquot and a Freddo ice cream cake, if they still exist. We will have to watch two movies because we won’t be able to agree on just one – I nominate Steel Magnolias or How to Make an American Quilt, he will probably choose some Godfrey Ho monstrosity or The Room.
  13. I’m gearing up to write something big. I still haven’t absolutely settled on a plan of attack, but I know it’s going to have to be just diving in. I have scores of novel synopses on my laptop that I couldn’t commit to because I felt like some aspect of plot was not absolutely perfect, therefore it wasn’t worth wasting time seeing it through. But it’s becoming apparent that this approach is crippling my ability to just get it done, or even start at all. So the new plan is to write a 200 word blurb outlining my main players and primary conflict, and just go for it and let it evolve as I go. I want to finish a manuscript by the end of the year. It doesn’t have to be my best – so many writers didn’t hit their stride and actually get published until their second or third completed novel, but it just has to be done.

*I lie – one time in Legian**, I saw a bunch of little people in the back of a ute throwing flyers at people to come to a ‘dwarf tossing night’. Real classy. But honestly, we were so tame in Bali. We swam, did cultural activities, went scuba diving, ate some amazing food, drank all the cocktails and watched cartoons in bed. There is no greater pleasure in life than laying on a hotel bed in your underwear with the air con on full blast, eating pizza and drinking beer, and watching Clarence with the man you love (only would have been better if P+R were there, too). I’m sure there are streets full of squawking teenagers vomiting and punching on in the street, but we never saw anything like that. Everything we saw of Bali was just… nice.

** First time we went, I sincerely thought that Legian was pronounced like ‘legion’ until somebody said it Leg-ee-uhn and it clicked. But I came across so many people making exactly the same mistake so I didn’t feel totally stupid. I still cannot pronounce Ubud.