Sunday, June 25, 2017

Visiting Canberra

Monday:

We lived in Canberra for 15 years before we moved back to Sydney - I hadn't been back for a visit in the year and a half since we moved. Tim had taken Jasmine back to visit friends a couple of times, and he's been back there for work too. This past weekend Jasmine wanted to go to a friend's birthday party there - they've kept in touch this whole time - and Tim wasn't keen but I decided I was ready to return. I'd had no interest before this - when I move on I move on!

It's a three hour drive, we got there just before lunch time Saturday for the very end of the party - the time had been changed a couple of days before, too late for me to change all my plans and bookings even if I'd been willing to drive up Friday night which I wasn't - and left Jasmine with her friend for the weekend. My first item on the agenda was Kingsley's for lunch. It has fried chicken, much like KFC but not as greasy and I loved it the whole time we lived in Canberra. (Also nicest roast chickens, but I was craving the southern fried.) It was still tasty, but turns out 'not as greasy' is still very greasy! I ate most of two pieces and felt a bit nauseated. Oh well, maybe I'll stop craving it now!

There was a stationary store that sells my favourite pens a block away so I popped in there. I can get them in Sydney but not anywhere near where I usually shop. They are a bit more expensive than normal ball-point pens but I love them because they are 0.7mm instead of the usual 1.0mm, usually it's hard to find fine point like that other than felt tip. I've bought quite a few over the past few years but of course they keep mysteriously going missing from my desk. It's like teaspoons and socks. Some little gremlin somewhere likes to eat them. How often do you use up a pen before it disappears? Never?!

I drove past our old house. Apart from some pot plants by the front door I couldn't see any changes. It was the back of the house that really needed work, but I didn't dare creep around and look. It didn't feel like home at all, I got a cold grey vibe from it.

I drove down to the lake and went for a walk, it was always my favourite place for walking. As I had rather expected, there was a very cold wind off the water, chilling my hands, ears and nose. Winter in the mountains. I lasted for 20 minutes before I went and had a cup of tea at the library café.

Here we see the National Library from the vantage of my lake walk...

After my cup of tea I joined the library tour. It was only of the public spaces, unfortunately, but it included some interesting information. I knew that the book storage goes several stories underground, but I didn't know that that part of the building is much wider than the above ground part. It stretches out under the lawns and car parks. The tour guide lady also took us into the national treasures gallery, stuff like Captain Cook's writing desk from his ship and personal log (he "discovered" Australia for England, not counting the Aborigines who'd lived here for tens of thousands of years or the Dutch who visited the other side of Australia before Cook got here).

I did enjoy the tour but I was glad to go at my own pace around the other exhibition there, of Japanese woodcuts (illustrations) from traditional novels. The art was interesting but the best part was the little summaries of the books they were from. Like: a man falls in love with a peasant girl but his family forbids him to marry her because she's a nobody so he becomes a monk. Then he finds out that she is actually a noblewoman, but it's too late. So he commits suicide. So she commits suicide. Sounds a bit like Romeo and Juliet. Lots of moral tales, like the woman who leaves her husband for a rich lover then eventually comes back but her husband and son don't want her back and she learns the error of her ways. The pictures are apparently all full of symbolism; the pattern of her dress means this, surrounded by autumn leaves means that, two children in the background means something else. Fascinating.

Time to move on to my next appointment at the National Museum. I had time for a slice of chocolate raspberry cake - turned out to be the only really delicious food I had all weekend, and it was the only unplanned one! - before going to my Virtual Reality session. It was an underwater dive on the Great Barrier Reef narrated by David Attenborough, taken with a 360 degree camera. We were in swivel chairs so we could easily look around in every direction. Then there was a bit about earliest life in the sea, showing us trilobites and eight-foot long sea scorpions and stuff. Very enjoyable. When I took my feet off the floor it felt like I was floating around.

It was starting to get very cold. I booked into my modest hotel room then walked a few blocks to my favourite Chinese restaurant which we used to go to often and ordered my favourite dish (Shan Tung chicken). In the past it had varied from moderately spicy to very spicy. This time I think they forgot to put in any chilli at all. Bland bland bland. Walked back to my hotel in the freezing evening air and snuggled down for the night. Luckily The Fifth Element was on TV.

In the morning it was still hovering around freezing so I stayed in for a while and had leftover Chinese for breakfast. Bland is ok in the morning. I finished the book I had with me then checked out and went to Questacon, the interactive science and technology museum. Lots of interactive stuff to do. I used to take the kids there a lot, we had an annual pass. It was more a time-killer this time, somewhere inside in the warm.

Finally it was time to go and meet Caroline, my best friend from Canberra. We had lunch at the arboretum, I used to go there a lot to write as it has lovely views. Our lunch table was right by the window.
The view was great, the company was excellent, unfortunately the food (yet again) was a big disappointment. Oh well. I had two lovely hours chatting, I don't really care that I left most of the meat on my plate. Beef cheek that was gelatinous yet tough. Urg. I ate the vegetables and ignored the meat.

I picked up Jasmine from her sleepover then we had the three hour drive home. I was pretty tired by the end. Family was over at our house to play Dungeons and Dragons, just the boys, but also my four year old niece Emma who was bored out of her skull and latched on to me as soon as I walked in the door wanting attention I was too worn out to give. I just wanted everyone to go home so I could have a quick dinner and collapse. But they were there for another hour. I ended the weekend exhausted and grumpy. But otherwise it was a nice couple of days.

After weeks and weeks of 'finished by the end of the week' promises, our tiler turned up and finished putting the paving down in the narrow corner bit. He still has to finish the grouting and then seal it all. 'By the end of the week'. Sigh. It looks nice though.
Haven't heard any more about the heat pump issue or when the interior of the pool will be finished.

Jasmine is home sick today. Down with a cold or flu, she was starting to get sick yesterday. I always let her stay home when she asks because she so rarely asks - she loves school. Aiden would stay home every day if I let him.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Library tour

Wednesday:

I decided to combine exercise with a tour of the local libraries. There are eight in the area, if I get a job with local council I could end up working in any of them. Of course I have been to my own local library many times, it is within walking distance and right next to my shopping centre. I have also popped into the main library (much bigger) once but I will include that on the tour to get to know it better. I am in the extreme west of the Shire, it is probably 30 minutes drive to the other cardinal points.

Today I went due east, to the coast. I deliberately parked a long way from the town centre and had a lovely 30 minute walk along the shore, there is a great walkway all along there. It is well into winter here and back in Canberra it would have been unbearable to walk near the lake with the frigid wind coming off it, here there a warm sun and gentle sea breeze. I was comfortable in long sleeves with no jumper, a little too warm by the time I got there.

I wandered around Cronulla library a bit. I noticed four staff members, the two doing the shelving both very young. It looked very new and modern, part of a new-looking community hub building. Not really my style, but it would be nice to work so close to the beach! There were plenty of people using the library and walking along the shore today, but not many on the beach itself - just seagulls.
But there were surfers in the water, bobbing up and down like black seals. Presumably in warm full-body wetsuits.

I walked 30 mins back to the car, it had warmed up and my clothes seemed much too hot now! And I'd decided lunch could wait, it wasn't even noon yet, but as soon as I left the café district I suddenly got very hungry. By the time I got back to the car I was hot and tired and ravenous and not enjoying it nearly so much.

I had thought to fit in three libraries today but decided to cut it down to two. I parked near a big shopping centre and ripped into a quesadilla (yum) then walked to the music shop to buy Jasmine a new reed for her clarinet then to library number two. Much smaller, smaller even than my local Menai. Very quiet, only a few people there, and one staff that I saw. It is near a major shopping hub but tucked away out of sight.

I walked back to the shops and did a quick grocery run, then drove home. In all nearly 12,000 steps, and the day isn't over! I'm pretty tired and my hips are a little sore. Hmm, did the physio say something about not doing too much to start with? I've started wearing my Fitbit again and I'm loving looking at all the reports on what I'm doing. The physio is supposed to email me my exercise program but hasn't yet. I should still do my hip stretches.

Exercise

Tuesday:

I saw the exercise physiologist today. We had a good chat about my current limitations (shoulders and hips) and she gave me some stretches/strengthening for those as well as talking about reintroducing cardio into my life. She wants me to start dance again (on the Xbox at home) because it is cardio with a wide variety of movements, whereas a lot of cardio is very repetitive and doesn't use the whole body. She gave me a little fitness test so we can compare next time (in a month). With that, and going through the hip stretches and free weight lifting, and walking there and back I really feel like got my exercise in today! Actually my hips feel quite tired.

She had an interesting suggestion, that the hip pain could be a hang-over from the pelvic problems, after two years of pelvic pain before it was resolved the muscles could be overtensed and sensitive from trying to protect me. In which case the stretches should help quite quickly. I will be very happy if it's not arthritis!

One thing I struggle with is her wanting me to start slow, even though I understand it is better for my unfit body and much more realistic that I will actually do it. But there is part of me that says it is not enough! That a little bit isn't worth doing and won't make any difference. But I have to trust the process. And actually do the exercises!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Neighbours

Monday:

Dramas with the unfinished pool continue. We're waiting for the team who do the interior surface to recover from illness and catch up on their backlog, no idea how long that will take. That was supposed be the last thing directly related to the pool itself (not the landscaping) but...

Today I got an official letter saying there had been a complaint from a neighbour about the pool's heat pump, saying it might be a noise nuisance and do we have approval for it.  !!  First of all, the f*cking thing has never been turned on so how can they complain about the noise already? It supposed to be the quietest available, a brand new model, but to be honest I have no idea how noisy it will be. But neither do they. The neighbour was not named, but I assume it is the one the heat pump is nearest - also the only neighbour we actually know. It is not near their house, it is up the back of the property. On the other side of the fence is their pool. Over the back fence is also a pool, if it was those neighbours. I mean, WTF?

Oh, and if it was either of those neighbours (and who else could it be) there are a few things we could complain about if we were the type. But I have no intention of getting into escalating neighbour wars.

And secondly, what "approval"? I have spoken to the pool company, who are following it up for me, and they said they have never had to get approval or had any problems before. I can't find anything on the internet with a quick search about having to get approval for it. But there is probably a local council rule somewhere. Oh boy. What fun.

Of course the tiled area next to the pool is still "almost finished" as it has been for weeks. Every week the tiler promises "by the end of the week". I swear I didn't have this much trouble with tradesmen in Canberra. I think our tiler got behind due to illness and is now juggling a lot of jobs and we are just low on his list of priorities. It's all very disappointing.

In hopefully good news, I got my job application in for that part-time library assistant job. Applications don't close for another week so I won't know for a while if I got an interview.  Who wouldn't want me, right? But I haven't done a job application for a long time, I'm a bit out of practice. Both the people I asked were happy to be my referees.

I'm more used to my change in hairstyle, it's ok. Very pale blonde though so my dark blonde roots are going to be very obvious! And my sister-in-law was here for dinner and said something about my hair getting so long when I'd just had a dramatic (I thought) amount cut off! But usually I have it pulled back and now it's out around my face.

I have sleep apnoea, diagnosed three years ago, and I was compliant with my CPAP at first but really dislike it so haven't used it consistently for ages. It's important because it keeps me breathing at night, but I just can't sleep with it on. Today I had a consultation with a specialist dentist about getting a mouthguard made that holds my jaw forward which is supposed to help keep the airway open. I don't know though, it cost about $1200 and no guarantee it works. Like most of my other health issues, my sleep apnoea would probably be resolved by me losing weight. Wish that was as easy as it is to say.

My hips have been bothering me a lot, on and off. I'm seeing an exercise physiologist tomorrow. I wonder if she'll tell me to lose weight too. Good advice, really.

To end on a happy note, next weekend I'll be taking my daughter on a visit back to Canberra to a friend's party. Tim has taken her a couple of times but I didn't go, I haven't been back since we moved. This time I'm taking her and have lined up a few favourite people and places. Should be fun. But very cold! It's nearly mid-winter here and Canberra in the mountains is much colder than Sydney on the coast.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Blonde

Friday:

Well I may have a few weeks break between semesters but I am certainly keeping myself busy! All those things it was hard to find time for before. As I've said before, I don't know how people who work full time (and maybe have kids as well) get time to do anything!

I picked up my timetable for next semester, although "picked up" doesn't really describe the process. Lots of students there milling around queueing up to see teachers. The three subjects I didn't do in first semester are still at the same inaccessible times, so I'll be doing those online, plus two face-to-face subjects from second semester. I'd rather the balance was more in favour of face-to-face, but if I do get the part time job I suppose I'll be glad.

I'm still working on that application, it's been many years since I had to write one! The teacher I asked happily agreed to be a referee, I haven't heard back from my editing colleague. If I have to ask another teacher, which one? One is on long-service leave now, one is a bit scatty, one got my name wrong twice recently and I'd be worried she wouldn't know who I am, one only teaches me online... I'm hoping Cathy still has the same phone number and gets back to me!

I had another dentist appointment, for a filling, and saw my doctor to get referrals to a nutritionist and an exercise physiologist. I have also booked in to see a specialist to consult about maybe getting a mouth guard made for my sleep apnoea instead of the CPAP that I never use.

Today I had my hair cut and coloured. I was "growing it out" and haven't been to a hairdresser since we moved a year and a half ago. But I decided really long no longer suits me. And I'm naturally blonde but getting darker with age so I wanted to go lighter. Well, my hair is lighter and shorter! I don't think I like it. I think I look older, the pale gold reminds me of little-old-lady white hair. It's shoulder length now and isn't sitting how I want. I don't feel glamorous at all. Hopefully it will settle into something I like.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Last exam

Tuesday:

I had my last exam for the semester this morning, I was well prepared and I expect high marks. I now get a three and a half week break before next semester, except I have to go all the way into the city again tomorrow to get my timetable for next semester which is a bit of a bugger. There is a special compulsory session for it. I did knock on the head teacher's door today just in case, to save myself a trip of over an hour each way, but she wasn't there. Oh well, my schedule is a bit complicated due to my part-time-ed-ness. I'll probably end up doing some of the second semester classes along with the ones I missed from first semester, with the new intake of students.

Anyhoo, while I was there today another student remembered what part of Sydney I'm from (the TAFE is right in the city so we come from all over) and mentioned there are jobs going at the public libraries here, one full time and one part time. Or possibly more than one of each, I suppose, they could be interviewing for a few. I hadn't been looking for work yet, being only a third of the way through the course, but this is too good to miss, being local and part time. It is an entry level position (library assistant, shelving books and helping customers) so I will eventually be overqualified but it would be a great foot in the door and a way to get experience. The job description specifically says that "working towards" qualification is fine. If I get it I will have to drop back my studies even more and take longer to finish but I think it would be worth it. I mean, the whole point is to get a job eventually. Of course there is no guarantee I will get it!

The application requires two referees which is tricky. Since I left full time work 15 years ago I've raised children, written a book, earned a degree and half another qualification, and set up my own business as a freelance editor. None of which give me a "supervisor". Luckily I did do a short editing stint for a government department and I should still be able to contact my supervisor from that, she was also the president of the local editing society which I was active in so I think she would remember me. That was four years ago. The only other referee I can think of is getting one of my current teachers to do it! I think that will be ok. I just have to give a phone number (obviously with their permission) they don't have to write a report.

Hmm, I need interview/work clothes! What do aspiring librarians wear? Glasses obviously. Cardigans? Flat heels thank goodness. Beige twin set with pearls....

Friday, June 9, 2017

Uncle Max

Friday:

My Uncle Glenn (dad's younger brother) called this afternoon to say my Uncle Max (his and my dad's elder brother) died today. It took me a few moments to sort out in my head who he was talking about. Went I was very little I saw him occasionally as he lived just down the road from my grandparent's farm, "next door" but quite a hike for short legs; his five boys were all considerably older than me so I didn't visit there much. I have one clear memory of Uncle Max being there when I walked down to see if the younger two boys were available to play with. That is really my only memory of him! When he and Aunty Dawn divorced he moved away and later remarried. Uncle Glenn says he was at dad's funeral two years ago but I don't remember seeing or speaking to him - after 40 years we probably didn't recognise each other! Or maybe he spoke to me and I don't remember. Dad visited him regularly and passed on any news. He had been in ill-health for years and he was 86 so his death wasn't unexpected.

Funny story (I think) about Aunty Dawn who continued to live there, when I visited dad once a few years ago I went into the local store which she ran (tiny town, about 120 people, with one general store and one pub) and thought the lady looked vaguely familiar so I asked "Are you my Aunty Dawn?" and she said "I don't know, am I?" I thought that was an odd way to answer! I explained who I was and she said she was, indeed, Dawn Lockwood.

I am at the pointy end of the semester of study, I now only have one exam left, all other assignments and exams done. I was quite worried about the exam this morning, by far my most difficult subject, and I'd think I had it but then do some more questions at home and get a lot of them wrong! Pretty sure I had it mastered in the end. I hope. We'll see when I get the results.

My other stress is the continuing saga of the tiler, doing the paving next to our almost-pool. Or not doing the paving, in actual fact. It's been seven weeks now, when I chose him partly because he could do it straight away. Excuses have included sickness, sprained ankle, running out of tiles (twice) and now the weather. It is mostly done, but I am in some doubt as to whether it will ever be finished.

The fencing has been approved by council (verbally, still need paperwork) which means we can finish the pool, surfacing the interior. When it stops raining in a week or so.

I've had a cold or mild flu all this week. Hopefully that is over now.

Long weekend this weekend!