Times Are Changing

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It is 7 years since I wrote this post.  The essence of it was about rearranging the wardrobe in the spare room but the aspect which I want to discuss further was the fact that we had just hosted our first Air BnB guests.

We were first introduced to Air BnB by our daughter and used it on our first trip to the USA in 2012.  Since then, we have stayed in Air BnB accommodations all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Singapore, Mauritius and Canada as well as in cities and rural areas in Australia.

In the spirit of the sharing economy, in mid-2013 we decided that we would offer our spare room on Air BnB.  We have not had huge numbers of guests due to our location and somewhat limited appeal but we have enjoyed hosting guests from all over Australia as well as many international guests.

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We had never really decided if or when we would cease to host on Air BnB.  Like so many other aspects of life in 2020, our hand has been forced with the appearance of COVID19.  Since our guests are in our home and share space with us, we decided to immediately suspend our listing until at least the end of August.

The hiatus created by COVID19 provided space for us to consider the future of our Air BnB hosting and it was some degree of sadness that we made the decision not to resume hosting as travel restrictions are gradually eased.

As well as the obvious continuing risk of COVID19, there are a multitude of reasons that have combined to lead us to our decision.  These include:

  • acquiring a new dog in the future
  • desire for more short-term travel
  • want more flexibility in activities in retirement
  • being able to welcome friends and family to stay at any time
  • physical demands of changing an extra bed frequently
  • additional cleaning that is required

The experience of being an Air BnB host has been amazing but it is time to move on.

Time Out

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Things have been quiet around here for a couple of days because despite the limitations due to COVID19 we managed to get away for a couple of days.2020-06-27 01It was great to see some different scenery and catch up with a couple of friends along the way.

If you would like to know more about our short break and see some photos, please pop over to my travel blog, Somewhere, Anywhere.  The blog covers our planning and travels, mostly overseas, for the past 8 years.  This is the link to our latest jaunt.

Multipurpose

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Our house is not huge but there is plenty of space with only 2 of us living in a 3 bedroom house.  We have the luxury of a dedicated guest room which is listed on Air BnB as well as being available for family and friends.  The other bedroom is primarily my sewing and craft room, however, I do have a single bed with a trundle bed in the room.

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The beds are not shown in this photo but are along the wall on the left-hand side.

Yesterday I did some minor rearrangements to turn this room into a bedroom for our 2 granddaughters who a visiting for the last week of the school holidays.

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The sewing table has been moved.  I added a towel rail and a small desk which are normally in the guest room.

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The repositioned sewing table allowed space for the trundle bed.

The girls have their own bedroom with minimal disruption to the household.

Finding Balance

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It is a little over 6 months since I finished work and I am now beginning to look at how I manage my time at home.

While I was working it was the time available which dictated what I achieved at home.  However, now that has all changed as my time is my own.

The first 6 months were taken up with the final preparations for our overseas trip followed by 9 weeks overseas then it was less than 2 months until Christmas and a road trip and family Christmas.

My activities can be roughly divided into the following categories (in alphabetical order, not priority):

Cooking – meal preparation – sometimes in bulk
Exercise – aquarobics, gym and walking
Gardening – growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs
Household maintenance/renovations – usually in conjunction with GMan
Online/Computer – blog, Facebook, emails
Relaxing – reading, music, television
Routine housework – making bed, washing, ironing, sweeping, vacuuming
Sewing – clothes, mending, patchwork and Boomerang bags
Socialising – book club, film society, theatre, friends, family, Air BnB guests
Shopping – groceries and miscellaneous
Travel – local, interstate and overseas

By their very nature, housework and cooking tend to occur everyday.  Formal exercise is twice a week but I am trying to include either some walking or gardening every other day.

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I try to find time for some gardening, relaxing and computer work each day.

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Sewing and socialising usually happen several days a week.

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Shopping is as little as possible but groceries are mostly once a week.

Some activities cross over such as aquarobics and socialising.  I also try to combine activities and errands to limit the number of trips I make into our local town (8km away).

From time to time a particular activity may demand a substantial block of time to the exclusion of almost everything else but I generally try to keep a mix of activities each day or so.

 

 

 

Decision Time

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This is my first post for 2020 but it does not seem right to be wishing you a ‘Happy New Year’.  The bushfire disaster in south-eastern Australia is worse than ever, with more confirmed deaths and property losses.

If anyone asked me where I have been in the 5 days since my last blog post, the best answer would be “in limbo”.  We made our way to stay with extended family in Canberra.  After record-breaking heat (44C) yesterday, the capital is now covered with a blanket of thick smoke.  Several locations, including Old Parliament House, the National Gallery and Questacon are closed and people are being advised to stay indoors.  Unfortunately, the smoke seeps into everything but our problems are minimal compared to the areas which are directly impacted.

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As you can see from the map below, Canberra is semi-surrounded by fires.  The yellow markers are active fires, red is emergency and the blue ones are contained.  In some cases a single marker indicates a fire which has burnt an area in excess of 150,000 hectares (about 370,000 acres).

Fire Map

Some of our extended family are in areas closer to the fires so we are constantly trying to keep track of the progress of the fires.

We plan to leave Canberra tomorrow morning and drive home over a couple of days.  The western part of New South Wales is not in the high danger area and where we live is south-east Queensland is well away from the current fires.

However, we are still at the beginning of summer and these fires may be just the beginning of a catastrophic fire season as most of the entire country is drought-affected and tinder dry.

Please stay safe wherever you are.

 

That Was 2019

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I am writing this on the final evening of 2019 in a motel room in Rutherglen, a small town on the Victorian side of the Murray River which forms the border between Victoria and New South Wales.

Rutherglen is not where I expected to be tonight.  We were supposed to be in Bermagui on the south coast of New South Wales, however, it is right in the midst of the horrific bushfires raging in the south-eastern corner of Australia.

This photo is from Mallacoota on the coast near the Victoria/NSW border at about 10am this morning.

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I have gone back and re-read the 34 blog posts I wrote in 2019.  That is only about 1 post every 10 days on average.  At the end of 2018 I mentioned that I was going to have all of my photos sorted in 2019.  That did not happen.  The content of my 2019 posts is interesting.  They generally focus on my interests – gardening, cooking, sewing, op shopping and trying to be self-reliant and minimise our carbon footprint.  However, the posts from the latter part of the year tend to reflect the increasing concern over the climate crisis and my personal connection to it.  These included having a bushfire evacuation plan as well as growing food in extreme heat and saving our precious rainwater.

One event which I did not post about was the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) which has held in Madrid earlier this month.  Angus Taylor, the Federal Energy Minister, represented Australia, however, his prime effort was to block any real progress on global climate action.  As a result, Australia was singled out as being one of a handful of countries who set out to thwart the process.

I am reticent to use the word ‘unprecendented’ but that is the best description of the massive bushfire emergency which has been menacing almost every state and territory of Australia over the past 2 months.

Climate change did not cause the bushfires.

Climate change is contributing to the conditions which have allowed bushfires of the scale we are now witnessing to occur.

If the last day of 2019 is any indication then 2020 is not going to be a happy new year for many Australians.  My fervent wish is that my fellow citizens are all safe.

Many of us have worked diligently for years to make lifestyle changes to reduce our personal carbon footprint but our governments will not take action.  The Murdoch media and fossil fuel industries constantly facilitate climate denialism.  This cannot continue.  My New Year’s resolution is that I will take whatever action I can.

I make no apology for this post nor the fact that there will be more blog posts which focus directly on the climate crisis in 2020.  These will be balanced with important positive actions.  We must all do this together.

And one final comment.  Please read this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

Back in Town

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We have been home for 4 days and things are returning to normal.  While I don’t suffer greatly from jetlag, I did feel generally tired for the first couple of days which I think is simply travel fatigue.

Yesterday I had a peek in a couple of op shops (thrift shops) and picked up this top for $1.  It was marked as $4 which seemed reasonable to me but when I took it to the counter it turned out to have a blue label and was reduced to 25% of the original price.

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The top appeared to be in excellent condition with no marks or wear.  It was several sizes larger than what I wear so my plan was to refashion it.

This is the result of a couple of hours work.

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It is a little shorter than would be my preference but otherwise I am very happy with my handiwork.

I also bought this maxi-dress for $8.  It was brand new with the original tags which showed the price as $60.

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Once again, it was not my size, however, I could not resist the jade green fabric.  I unpicked the dress to maximise the amount of usable fabric and I now have the equivalent of about 2 metres of 120cm wide jade green viscose fabric.

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I am still debating as to how I will use it but it will probably be a dress or perhaps a pair of wide leg trousers.

What would you do with the fabric?

A Month Later

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It is just over a month since my last blog post on 19th March.  The following 2 weeks were somewhat frenetic with work and also getting ready to head off on holidays to Mauritius on 1st April.  If you missed that bit of detail you can catch up with the travel news and photos on my other blog, Somewhere, Anywhere.

We arrived home yesterday morning after a 36 hour stopover in Singapore.  It was also my birthday.  Unlike my milestone birthday last year, this year was fairly low-key.  We had dinner with my sister, brother-in-law, brother and mother last night. It was lovely to catch up with them and to have someone else make dinner for me.

The weather has cooled down somewhat in the few weeks we have been away.  However, heavy showers of rain are making it a challenge to do the inevitable pile of washing that we brought home.

Cooler weather also meant that I can consider meals other than the inevitable salads.  Today we did some shopping to restock some necessities – fruit and vegetables as well as milk, cheese and Vegemite.  I spent $30 at the greengrocer, including a cauliflower for $4.  This is the upper limit of what I will pay for a cauliflower but it is still good value.  With the addition of stock powder, an onion, salt, pepper and smoky paprika I made a pot of hearty cauliflower soup.  That $4 cauliflower made 4 generous dinner serves plus 4 smaller serves suitable for lunches.  8 meals for about $4.50 seems like pretty good value to me!

Cauliflower Soup

1 full cauliflower (medium)
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons stock powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika

Lightly fry the onion in a large saucepan/stockpot.  Remove the outside leaves and separate the florets from the stalk.  Finely slice the leaves and stalk and add to the pot.  Continue to fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the roughly chopped cauliflower florets, seasonings and enough water to just cover the vegetables.  Cover and simmer for at least an hour and add extra water if required.  Blend until smooth and serve.

Tonight we had a big bowl of soup and some buckwheat pancakes on the side.

The remaining soup has been portioned up and is ready to go in the freezer.

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And the rain is pouring down – again!!

Wardrobe Audit – January

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At the beginning of January I turned all of the coathangers in my wardrobe around.  The idea behind this is that once an item has been worn you replace the hanger in the correct manner.  This provides an easy way to identify those items which have not been worn.

Since the past month has been recorded as the hottest ever start to the year in Australia, it is no surprise to find that jackets, cardigans, jeans and trousers were not worn in January.  Of the seasonally appropriate items, there are a couple of tops and 3 skirts which have not yet been worn.  I am sure their time will come.

The other thing I decided to do was not to buy any new clothes in January.  This was not entirely successful depending on your definition of ‘new’.  I bought 3 items that are new to me during the month.  We have a local recycle boutique which I check out from time to time.  I am fairly selective and only choose pieces that are absolutely perfect for me and I could not go past these.

Patterned cropped jeans

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Sleeveless cowl neck top

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Long sleeve white linen shirt

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Although none of them had tags attached, I am pretty sure that they are all unworn.

Finally, I moved three items out of my wardrobe.  The first was a pair of jeans I bought in 2012.  They have had a lot of wear and are getting pretty thin as well as somewhat faded and stained.  They are are now in the pile of clothes to be worn around the house and when gardening.  Similarly a sleeveless tshirt top has seen better days so met the same fate.  A pair of white shorts went in the bin as the elastane had all given way and they were not in a fit state to be used or donated.

All of this wardrobe activity takes place on a background of the knowledge that my clothes needs will evolve with my upcoming retirement in a few months along with plenty of travelling planned.

As always, I will only be making carefully considered purchases.

I will continue to monitor and report on my progress during the year.

Far From Perfect

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2019 is nearly upon us and although I am not one for New Year’s resolutions it is a good time to start with a clean slate and perhaps set some goals.

While we were at the beach for a week I had plenty of time to give this some thought.  I have already started but my goal for 2019 is to have my photos sorted, culled, labelled and catalogued.  Any long-term readers of the blog will know that this is not the first time I have tried this but in 2019 it will happen.  I fully expect that this project may well take most of the year.

When I mentioned my goal in an online group I received a request ( a little tongue-in-cheek) about doing the same thing for other people.  While I will be well-occupied doing my own I can offer a few tips that may help you get started and assist in avoiding some of the pitfalls that have tripped me up on previous attempts.

Photographs are a way of preserving memories and we will all do it differently.  There are digital files – most common these days, prints in albums, a digital photo frame and photobooks.  They probably all have their place but whatever you do, you need to be able to locate and enjoy your photos as well as sharing them with others.

1.  Ask yourself what you are aiming to achieve.  This may determine how you approach the task.

I want to create a pictorial record of our lives which will be of interest and potentially useful (eg: family history) for future generations.  It needs to be accessible and fun to look at also.

2.  Decide on categories.

My broad categories include Holidays, Family, Blogs

3.  For digital files, create a naming convention which works for you.  It is important to remember to remember how digital files are ordered.  For example, if you number things as 1, 2, 3, 4 etc it will end up being 1, 11, 12, 13……………….19, 2, 20, 21 and so on.  To avoid this you need to know approximately how many items will potentially be in your sequence and number as 001, 002, 003 etc which will give you up to 999 in correct numerical order.

I use a numeric prefix for each photo before the description, otherwise they will be sorted alphabetically.  My London folder from my UK holiday might look like this:

01 Tower of London
02 London Bridge
03 Houses of Parliament
04 Paddington Station

4.  Specialised naming conventions may be relevant – or not.

All of my blog photos are in separate folders from the general photos and are named as follows yyyy-mm-dd 00.  The date relates to the date the post was published and the number is the first, second or third photo in the post.  This way I can locate them in the future if necessary.

5.  Decide what is really worth keeping.  Refer back to point No. 1.  Remember that the photo you took 1, 5, 10 or more years ago may simply not be of any value to you or others now or in the future.  Be prepared to be ruthless and discard those images that are duplicated, very similar to another or that you cannot remember the details.  If you can’t remember or identify a photo now it is not going change in the future.

6.  Make sure you identify people in your descriptions – memories fade as the years pass.

7.  Photographic negatives are not required if you have a print.  Discard old negatives.

I am sure there are many more things to consider but these are a few to get you started.

Once I have sorted the digital files which include hundreds of prints that I scanned a few years ago, I will then move on to the various piles of prints which are semi-categorised and stored in packets in a shoebox.  I am aiming to only have digital files which are all named and sorted.  Your goal may be a little different.

Here are some examples of what you may want to keep.

This is a perfectly pleasant scene but it does not really hold any specific memories for me and it would not be of any benefit to future generations.  As an aside, it is overlooking the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and was taken in 1982.  I only know this because of the other photos in the series and the particular trip was taken when our elder daughter was about 3 months old.

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On the other hand, the photo below is one of the first photos taken which includes all of my siblings.  This holds a special place in my heart and with the addition of the names and a year would be both a special memory as well as a valuable resource to my descendants.

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