When it’s as hot as hell…

I sometimes wonder what it must be like to live in a place where it snows. In my mind, it would be a pretty experience, like walking around in a postcard. It would be fun, cool to walk around in, and I love the idea of wearing winter clothes for months on end (because I have some awesome fake furs in my vintage wardrobe). I never think about melting puddles, getting the washing dry or where you would get fresh vegetables.

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And I suppose, people think that way about being in a hot climate. Endless summer evenings eating outside under shady trees, trips to the beach and not a care in the world. Well, today it’s been super hot in Adelaide, South Australia. As in 41C which is 106F, so I thought I’d share a bit about what it’s like.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13: Beachgoers cool off during a heat wave at Glenelg beach on January 13, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia. Temperatures are expected to be over 40 degrees celsius all week with health authorities warning the young and elderly to remain indoors.  (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 13: Beachgoers cool off during a heat wave at Glenelg beach on January 13, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia. Temperatures are expected to be over 40 degrees celsius all week with health authorities warning the young and elderly to remain indoors. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Firstly, you can’t go to the beach. Mainly because you would die of heat stroke, and also because getting to the beach involves driving in  your car. If you can’t find a park in the shade, your car ends up being around 150F if you leave it in the sun.

The evenings are too hot to eat outside and there are heaps of flies. Your makeup can’t stay on, and all your clothes get sweaty and disgusting.

Even turning on the cold water tap can be dangerous. The water can come out super hot and burn you if it’s been sitting in the pipes in the sun.

Leaving your washing out all day can wreck fabrics, but on the other hand, everything dries in about 15 minutes.

And you can’t sleep at night. Lying in a pool of sweat is gross and everyone gets tired and grumpy.

On the plus side, you can stay inside and watch lots of TV. It’s almost impossible to use an oven, as it heats up the house too much, so you can slink around the corner to the local pub and not have to cook. Everyone talks about nothing but the weather, so you have a mutual ground to talk about.

I find myself counting down the days till autumn, wishing I lived in a cold climate. So to everyone around the globe experiencing extremes of weather, good luck. Do your best to keep sane, and know that this season too will pass…

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Goodbye 2016

Yeah, don’t let the door slam on your arse on the way out 2016. What a shitty year. I’m not the only one that feels this way, and I’m so looking forward to 2017. In the meantime, I hear you asking ‘Jane, what have you been doing?’

Well, I’ve decided to give sewing a go. I purchased a wonderful 1970s Singer sewing machine and I’m reading a great book on how to sew. One of my main concerns has been getting things to fit. Once you hit anything past 35 years of age, chances are your figure isn’t going to be standard. Deciding not to be defeated by this fact, I got my friend to come around and help me make my very own dress form after seeing it done on Youtube. What this entails, is putting on a tee shirt then getting your very patient friend to wrap you up in duct tape. Yup, you end up feeling like a storm trooper, but once you are wrapped and ready to go, your friend cuts you out and you stuff the duct tape shape with wadding, and et voila!! You have your very own custom-made dress dummy.

My advice is, don’t do it on a hot day. It’s quite full one being strapped into your tee shirt in duct tape. I lost a fair bit of hair at the back of my neck when it got caught in the tape, and it’s almost impossible to move once it’s all been taped onto you. I laid on the floor so my friend could cut it off, but getting down there was quite the journey.

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As 2016 departs, I like to think I’ve learnt some new things about life. Mainly that kale smoothies and kombucha tea are not miracle workers. That learning anything new (sewing, crochet, writing a book) is going to take time to master. You have to brace yourself for failure and slow improvements as you make your way. And lastly, that finding happiness in the things around you will make you healthier on every level, and is far more effective than a sauerkraut infused, fair trade, organic, vegan, raw-before-four salad any day in my books. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and a fabulous 2017.

Learning from your mistakes

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As the year draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the art of learning, because I’ve tried a few new things. This year I’ve learnt how to crochet, begun how to learn the art of sitting with people and listening (pastoral care), and am re-learning how to sew. I haven’t touched a sewing machine in 30 years… Someone summed it up beautifully when they pointed out, when you begin to learn anything new, you will have the vision of where you want to be (sewing a ballgown for the MET gala) versus where you actually are (a polar fleece pillow for the ferrets’ cage).

I’ve learnt you have to accept that you are undergoing an apprenticeship in doing it wrong, until you know how to get it right. After a meltdown at my sewing machine this afternoon (the bloody threads kept breaking!), I’ve really taken on this process. I’m going to get it wrong for a long time before I get it right. I remember the first real dish I tried to cook. It ended up being a disgusting vegetarian dish of basically raw potatoes in horrible sauce. Nearly 30 years on, I can cook almost anything. Ahh, the journey. I think that’s what makes a lot of people old. Being too scared to learn new things. It’s really humbling to sit at the bottom of the mountain, but without that vision of what you want to be able to do, you won’t have any journey to take. So, I think the coming year is going to be very interesting in terms of ‘learning’.

I really want to learn how to sew and make my own clothes (goodbye mass consumerism), I want to continue learning french (hello nearly 300 days straight on Duolingo. I could probably order a beer in french now), and I want to learn how to light up my miniature dollhouse. Middle age is typically represented by women going crazy for craft. But you know what, going crazy for new learning is pretty fucking fabulous!

Not to mention writing my next book!!! So on that note, I hope you all have a happy run up to Christmas. It’s not the happiest time of the year in my personal history, and I know there are many others out there that feel the same. I guess that’s what I like about learning new things. It makes me feel alive, when things like Christmas just make you feel … sad. So, get out there and find your new thing you are going to learn next year. It will make you feel fabulous.

Where had the year gone?!!!

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Am I the only one asking, ‘where did the bloody year go?’ Last time I looked, it was July and now they are saying it’s only three weeks till Christmas. Luckily I have the Xmas tree up. Although, I’ve had to mount it on a very high coffee table, because we have a ferret who has made it her personal mission to pull the tree over… Well Jane, I hear you say, what fun things do you have to share with us?

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I’ve decided to only keep things around me which give me joy (thanks Marie Kondo). I was early for an appointment yesterday, and there happened to be a big junk shop near by. Look what I found!! It’s meant to be a butter dish, but I’m going to use it to store my pins for my sewing projects.

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Then I found this. It’s an 80 year old cooking book. I couldn’t resist, especially when I opened it up and saw this.

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To Mother, from the boys, 1936.’ If that didn’t tug on the heart strings, nothing else would. Anyway, I purchased it, then discovered lots of loose recipes, and scribbled notes within the book. What a treasure, a real echo from the past. I think I might even do some cooking from it and see how it turns out. So on that note, let the countdown to Christmas begin, and may you keep cool, calm and collected and enjoy what is left of 2016.

 

 

A change of season

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This is not what you want to greet you when you walk into your wardrobe, amongst your carefully collected, much loved vintage clothes. My wee ferret Lottie has a climbing fixation, and it’s driving me crazy. But I digress. Winter is drifting into spring here in South Australia, and it’s been an exciting time. We had a TOTAL blackout of our whole state two weeks ago. Everywhere!! There was chaos in the city because all the traffic lights, ATMs, petrol stations and shops were closed down. All the country towns were blacked out – we were the laughing stock of Australia. I think over 1.2 million people were without power.

Us oldies knew what to do though. Luckily my muse and I have a gas powered stove. We hung a torch above the oven and proceeded to cook every evil, fattening, fabulous thing in our deep freeze and fridge (because by the morning it would probably be off). We had a feast of curry puffs, minced beef with bacon and a bottle of tequila. On reflection, the tequila probably would have kept if it had been thawed a little, but nonetheless. I still have an ancient landline, connected to a phone that doesn’t run off electricity. I called friends interstate, and they told me what was happening from their news updates on the TV. It was great. I also sat in my car in the garage (I wasn’t going out into the mayhem of the roads), and listened to the AM radio, which was still broadcasting. A fairly early, fat-fuelled, drunken night was had by all. I’m thinking the maternity wards will be very busy nine months from now…

Last week we had a week of hot, hot temperatures. I packed up my winter wardrobe – dry cleaned all my coats, washed and packed away all my winter tops and dresses – only to have us plunge back into freezing temperatures this week. I’m wandering around in the only two outfits I can be bothered to wash again. Life is so unpredictable.

So, as we slide into summer and Christmas, I’m left to ponder yet again, where did the year go? And what did I do in this year? But before I answer those questions, I need to figure out how I’m going to keep Lottie from climbing up the Christmas tree next month. Yup, I put the tree up on November 1st. I bloody love all the decorations and it takes so long to put them all away, I want to enjoy them. I’m thinking I’m going to have to find a really big box to perch the tree on. I wonder what Jesus would make of it? And Lottie! Well on that note…

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Advice To My Younger Self

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Lots of people seem to write these letters to their younger selves, but frankly, I think a lot of them are quite unrealistic. It’s hard to think about writing to a self that existed before spell check, the internet, Instagram or selfies (or even before fucking texting). It was a different life, but even so, the basics seem to remain the same. So, this is what I would say to myself, if I was looking back 25 years (I would be 27).

Get a fucking grip. You are hot and the world is your oyster.

Unfortunately, you often can’t see that this is the truth when you are young…

So, maybe I would say this. The road ahead is long (if you are lucky). The years ahead may be difficult, but the best may be yet to come. Never forget, you are important. You count as much as anyone else on this planet. God gets to experience the world through your eyes, and no one exists on the planet like you. That makes you very special, so you cannot, for one moment, doubt your importance.

That’s probably all I would say. And yeah, have some great sex along the way, and drink the wine you like, and as many martinis as you fancy. But balance it out with Dandelion Coffee. Wear tight clothes while you can. Travel lots. Don’t worry about being married. Revel in yourself. The journey goes really fast.

Lots of love,

Me

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An Expected Journey

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I only have a couple of things on my bucket list, and one of them is to do a long drive somewhere on my own. Don’t ask me why, I just always wanted to do it. So, after upgrading my car for the first time in eleven years, I decided to go visit one of my beloved friends and her twin boys in Castlemaine, Victoria. For non-Aussies, that’s a round trip, across state borders, of 1,250kms. Here’s the map my muse (hubby) printed out for me. The blue line was the intended route, but once you get to a certain place in Victoria (fucking Horsham. Let’s just name it), then there are a couple of ways you can get to Castlemaine. Or so I thought. The trip was great for the first six hours. It was around the time I hit Horsham that it went pear shaped.

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The road signs in Victoria are pathetic. I’ve drawn in the approximate route I ended up taking, which added another 100kms onto the trip, and another couple of hours. Who knew that there are no significant sign posts to Castlemaine, and who knew that trying to read a map was so pointless? On the way home, I just pulled over in the small towns and asked people where to go next.
img_1360The trip was fabulous. I had so much fun with my friend and her little ones. I now know all the verses of ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ and could probably recreate Thomas The Tank Engine’s Useful Word Book from my memory. Lots of gin was drunk, lots of talk was had. There’s nothing like catching up with an old friend.

So Jane, I hear you say, what amazing insights did you glean from your bucket experience. Let me share the following with you.

  • Often, if you follow a map you’ll get lost. Especially a google maps print out.
  • Celine Dion CDs will get you through the scariest backroads you find yourself on when you are a long way from home.
  • They make great pies and pastries in country towns, and the public loos are pretty good too.
  • And it’s true. There’s no place like home!!

An unexpected journey

 

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be a patient, when I’ve been looking after people as a nurse. How hard is it to wee on a bedpan? Do those clexane injections really hurt as much as people say, and what does it feel like to have a bed bath, and be completely naked in front of someone you don’t know (excluding experiences from my 20s when I was a single girl!)

Little did I realise that I was soon to find out. I had to have pelvic surgery this month, and after some post-operative complications, I found myself smack in the middle of relying on people to help me do the most basic of things. What I found, was that most of the nurses and doctors were incredibly kind, that people do come through when you need them, and that my muse (husband) is capable of talking at me for two hours non-stop about sport when he comes to visit.

After a turn for the worse, I ended up in Intensive Care. Now, for any nurse, this is going to be a challenge. ICU usually means you are on a knife edge of becoming really bloody sick. I was terrified. In the small hours of the morning, after no sleep, I started crying. I had discovered what it’s like to wee on a bedpan (horrendous and very messy), and I also now knew what it was like to have 40 litres of oxygen blowing up your nose. The nurse suggested I watch the TV on the wall in my little cubicle to distract myself, so in amongst all the bleeping machines, I turned it on. I think it was 4.30am.

Lo and behold, there was Celine. My Celine. Anyone who has followed this blog would know that Celine Dion is my idol. If things ever get really tough, I say to myself ‘what would Celine do in this situation?’ And there she was, smiling out at me, talking about finding strength in the bad times, and then singing a song. She looked so brave and happy, that I knew this was a sign from the Universe, and I knew in that moment, that I was going to get better. My nurse thought I had gone quite mad when I told her this, but I don’t care.

Later that morning, the doctor came around and told me that I had staged an almost miraculous recovery. By the end of the day I had been moved to a private room and while still being observed ever hour, was not in danger anymore.

And now I’m home, feeling heaps better, and so grateful for all that I learnt along the way. I can’t imagine how much better at my nursing I’m going to be, and I realise how much a kind word means to people when they are down.

But most of all, I know that if I ask myself the question ‘what would Celine do?’ I’m going to be just fine.

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More Magic From Marie Kondo

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Last post I talked about Marie Kondo, and her book on tidying up your house. At first glance, she does seem a bit mad, but I’ve spent quite a bit of time applying her principals (principles?) to my belongings, and I was shocked to find that her system does indeed change your perception of yourself.

Her basic method is to examine every single bloody thing you own and ask yourself ‘does this spark joy in me?’ If it doesn’t then you have to let it go.

It’s quite a confronting thing to do. I got rid of so much stuff from my bookcase and wardrobe alone, that I physically felt ill when I took it all to the second hand shop. I didn’t feel ill because I was letting it go, there was something else at the bottom of it, but I couldn’t figure it out.

The next day I went to see my best friend (BF), and while I was telling her about how I felt, I suddenly blurted out that I’d held onto a lot of things I didn’t need, want or like in my life because I didn’t want to hurt the people (mainly family) who had given me the stuff I didn’t want. Their happiness was somehow deemed more important than mine, so I held onto a lot of their crap so I wouldn’t upset them. And with that, I burst into tears.

It was never about the ‘stuff’.

Marie also says that letting go of things you don’t use in your life, gives them the opportunity to do what they were created for. That hit a big chord too. I’ve been in a profession I really don’t want to be in for over ten years now (nursing). It’s feels like I’ve put myself in the back of a drawer and not let myself be used for what I was designed to do.

And strangely, this week I’m finding a new road to go down which may very well take me where I would love to go.

So, if you are looking for some insights that might very well put you on a different path, then I suggest you read her book. Be warned though, it works.

Give Your Socks A Holiday!

IMG_0712“The socks and tights stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday.’ Such is the wisdom I am finding in a book my friend put me onto. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. At first, I thought she was mad, but within a few chapters of her book, my muse and I had rearranged our lounge and I was eyeballing my sock drawer, with a promise to the socks that I would Youtube this lady and learn how to fold them with more respect (so they can have a holiday in their drawer).

And I do find myself talking to my clothes.

For many years, I had the sort of shape that meant I could never have a wardrobe I could be excited about. Big boobs. That’s all you need to know. At times I was a tiny 17kgs lighter than I am now, but even back then, I couldn’t get clothes to fit me, or clothes that made me feel good about myself. If you are outside of the circle, in any way, shape or form, society lets you know it. It’s a constant reminder that ‘YOU DO NOT FIT IN’ (literally). I spent years hating myself, what I looked like and wishing I could be different

All that changed last year, when, after returning to nursing, my budget went to hell in a hand basket. Our government seems to be hellbent on casualising the nursing workforce. Essentially this makes you into a day labourer, and your shift can be cancelled an hour before you are due to turn up to work. You can’t plan for anything, and if it happens enough, you can’t pay for anything. So, enter the local Salvation Army op shop. There, I found a world that meant for $10 or so, I could start to be bold, find things from other decades which fitted me!!! And, I began to build up my confidence, which had been worn down to nothing over the decades.

Nowadays, it can take me an hour to get dressed, as I examine my lovely friends who now hang in my wardrobe. Bright coats from the 70s, groovy jackets from the 80s and all manner of lovely items which make me feel attractive and happy again. For the first time in my life I don’t want to lose weight. I’m happy where I am, and I LOVE my clothes.

To the point that I am prepared to give my socks the holiday they deserve. So, no matter how you feel about yourself, try to find something that makes you feel good. For me it was a 1970s dress made in London, that I purchased for $12. And I have never looked back, and I have never felt better about myself.

It can take a long time to accept yourself for who you are, and what you look like. But when you do, it is absolutely fabulous!!!!