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Planning your best life.

Do you want to live your best life? What does that even mean? Have you ever felt that if you did everything you were supposed to do, to keep yourself fit and healthy, you would run out of time? Is it even possible to fit it all into a standard 24 hour day?

Screenshot 2019-10-25 21.39.39
Got any plans for July yet?

All those things like daily exercise, adequate sleep, cooking healthy food from scratch from the organic produce you bought plastic-free from the local farmers’ market, saving the planet by not wasting stuff, feeding your worm farm, and staying in contact with your friends and family!

All these potentially optional activities overlay the fact that many of us actually have to go out and earn a living for a significant portion of the day, as well as the time taken to commute.

For those of you with families and children, you have to add on yet another layer of complexity as you juggle the mental load of managing family life.  Like shopping, washing, housework, organising kids and their activities etc etc. etc….

Is there a silver lining in the Global Pandemic?

No wonder so many people have found a silver lining in the “Great Global Quarantine of 2020”. The wide scale and permitted (nay encouraged and lawful) rolling back of activities and the fact that you have a very good excuse for not running around frantically, has given us that breathing space to see another way.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the change in the Corona Zeitgeist as people began to realise there was a quieter, slower (dare I say it more meaningful) life to be had.

But how can we maintain a slower pace of living in the long term? We do have to get back to work eventually.  Soccer training, ballet lessons, and book club will be back on sooner than we want it to be. (By the time this is published, normal may well have returned!)

You need to plan for slow living if you want it! I don’t just mean planning your activities but sitting down and thinking about who you want to be in 20 years time.

Empty Calendar
No events! The P&C meeting was cancelled too!

 

Setting your lifestyle climate.

Perhaps we need to look more at our lifestyle-climate rather than always being focused on the current lifestyle-weather? Climate and weather are different ways of looking at our physical environment. One is long term, the other, short term. We are familiar with using these terms when we are talking about the temperature outside and whether it is raining or not.

“Though they are closely related, weather and climate aren’t the same thing. Climate is what you expect. Weather is what actually happens.” 

For many of us, we have crammed so many things into our daily life we are experiencing shit-storms every day! The weather is crap! Just like the global climate change that is causing our planet to heat up, the expectations of modern life have caused our own lives to warm up to intolerable levels. We beat ourselves up by comparing ourselves to others.

The lockdown has shown us we can move to someplace with a better climate! Where things are not so busy.  Where things are not so hectic, and where you don’t have to yell at your kids to get ready for piano lessons!

We let so much of our lives just happen without thinking about it. In general, we set short term goals, if any. We worry more about the weather, and less about the climate.

It’s time to balance our lifestyle-climate so we can manage the life-style weather. We need to map out what we expect and want from our lives more deliberately and only do those things that make the daily weather manageable.

Look at the big picture

I am advocating taking a bigger picture view of your life. To make a calculated plan. Not just go from day to day and pile stuff on. To accommodate the things you think are important and to not put too much pressure on yourself when you end up having pizza from the box in front of Netflix because you can’t be arsed cooking lentils again!

For instance, if you decide that exercise is an important part of your lifestyle-climate, look at it long term.  Perhaps you don’t get a chance to exercise every day but if you look back over the year and see that you exercised more days then you didn’t, then that’s a win.

If you managed to cook healthy meals for 80%  of the 365 days – that’s a win!

Avoided plastic and waste most days?  That’s a win!

Kids involved in one activity? That’s a win!

Made a plan? That’s a big win!

P1070642Jordan Montana
Your plan need not be rigid, but should not be so flexible it blows away with the first breeze. It needs to be anchored by strong roots.

Next week, I will share my lifestyle plan. You may be surprised to know, I do have one! (sic). I sometimes need reminding to stick to it!

 

Is dandruff seasonal? 

During the summer months, I don’t have an issue with dandruff but in the winter I have to be more careful about wearing black. I wondered is dandruff seasonal?

I asked Katrina, my hairdresser, about it and her answer was yes and no.  It isn’t seasonal as such, it has more to do with the temperature of the water we use to wash our hair.

According to Katrina, “Dandruff is just dry skin like anywhere else on your body but the hair traps the flakes and it can’t get away. In the winter, we use hotter water and this dries the skin more so you end up with more dandruff.”

People with oilier hair and hence less dry skin have less dandruff but are likely to use hotter water and wash their hair more frequently. Hormones can also affect the amount of dandruff a person has.  People with thick hair also tend to get more dandruff for two reasons – extra hair traps more flakes and there is also less airflow around the scalp.

To help with this type of dandruff you can try massaging your scalp. Massage stimulates the skin and increases blood flow and the secretion of natural oils which will moisturise your scalp. Using cooler water will also help.

For some people, dandruff is more than just dry skin. More serious forms of dandruff are caused by fungal infections, psoriasis or dermatitis. To deal with these issues you will need to use medicated shampoos. These shampoos can strip the colour from your hair so Katrina recommends you use them every second wash.

There are plenty of fancy treatments around but more natural ones include massaging small amounts of tea-tree oil or coconut oil into your scalp to improve hydration.

Here are a few websites that give you some ideas of how to deal with dandruff.

Nine home remedies to get rid of dandruff https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ways-to-treat-dandruff

If you’d prefer a more medical approach have a look at the video and information provided by the American Academy of Dermatology.

 

PS I warned you the Sunday Post was going to be a lucky dip of ideas!

Cracker Night no more.

Here’s a link to a post I wrote two years ago! I noticed it was getting a bit of traffic so people must be looking for stories about Cracker Night.

This weekend is the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend again. As was the case two years ago, there’ll be no fireworks tonight. COVID restrictions are almost all lifted but large gatherings are still prohibited. Even without COVID19, I doubt I will hear many crackers tonight.

It’s no longer a thing. In my childhood, it was a huge event, eagerly anticipated. We would save up to buy crackers for weeks. It was not without its problems. This article from the Sydney Morning Herald points out the inherent dangers.

The Sad Case of the Vanishing Cracker Night

 

Snapshots from Wollongong – Wollongong

W is also for Wollongong

It’s been a little while since I posted in my Snapshots from Wollongong Series  and like I said in the  Snapshot for Woonona, Wollongong has more than its fair share of suburbs starting with W. The heart of the city is itself, called Wollongong.  I live in Wollongong.

The suburb of Wollongong

This is the biggest the “big smoke” gets in the Illawarra! As well as being home to more than 18,000 people we have the Mall, the Municipal Buildings, night clubs, the CBD, restaurants etc. There is a small art gallery, as well as the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. There are lots of commercial offices with doctors, architects and the like. Wollongong plays host to the State Headquarters of the SES. There is a large regional  Police Station and Courthouse. If you have business to do, no doubt most of it will be done in Wollongong.

Wollongong City Infographic

There is one long beach, Wollongong City Beach, which stretches down to Port Kembla. The southern part of this beach is called Coniston Beach. City Beach is patrolled in the season. Coniston Beach is not patrolled but it is a dog-off-leash area, so it’s very popular with pet owners. If you would prefer not to swim in the open ocean, head to the Continental Pools which are on the foreshore walk known as the Blue Mile.

a long beach with a dark cloudy sky
Wollongong’s City Beach Looking Towards Port Kembla

Belmore Basin, the area nestled between the Breakwater Lighthouse and the breakwater itself, is a great place for families to enjoy the outdoors with cafes, a sheltered swimming area, pretty scenery and play equipment. This area is the hub for many of our city’s celebrations such as Australia Day. The other big park, McCabe Park, hosts events as well such as Viva La Gong and the annual celebration of the city’s multicultural community.

The northern end of Keira Street has many restaurants including Caveau, our only “hatted” establishment. Corrimal Street also has a concentration of restaurants. The mall has recently been refurbished and is now a great open space where you can enjoy markets on Fridays, and Eat Street on Thursdays. You might like to look at the interesting street art – the Palm Trees. Residents are still scratching their heads about that one!

 

The WIN Stadium, which is home to the St George – Illawarra Dragons (a rugby league team)  is a stadium with a capacity of 23,000 is right on the beach and next door to the Wollongong Entertainment Centre. Elton John played at the WIN Stadium in 2019. I think there were as many people sitting on the beach enjoying his music for free as there were inside the stadium! This is also a great precinct for a conference.

Continental Pools, Wollogong Harbour
The Continental Pools

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The Little Lighthouse - Wollongong
Lighthouse at sunrise

There are two lighthouses, a working harbour, a teaching hospital and a golf club. The dominating feature though is the apartment buildings that are being built at a prodigious rate. Seventy-one % of the people living in Wollongong live in apartments.  The cranes are busy building more.

Wollongong also has a series of very good street murals which I have written about previously.

One of the features I really enjoy about Wollongong is the presence of good Op Shops, my favourite being the Salvos and then Lifeline.

Wollongong has certainly shaken off its “country town” persona and is a modern and cosmopolitan regional city. Many people will still travel up to Sydney for entertainment, but for an Old Chook like me, Wollongong has enough going on to keep me quite busy!

Soup Season: Winter, a time for great soups.

I am getting excited because we have entered soup season! Who doesn’t love a good heart-warming (or is it gut-warming)  soup? I enjoy both creamy and chunky versions.

Soups have so many advantages:

  1. They are a great way of using up those close to expired vegetables lurking in the bottom of your fridge.
  2. They are economical and can make ingredients go a long way
  3. They are usually easy to prepare, but that, of course, will depend on the recipes that you choose.
  4. They are versatile and flexible. How many varieties are there? Google “soup recipes” and you get 672,000,000 hits! No doubt there are lots of double-ups but still, that’s a lot of soup.
  5. They are filling, especially with some nice crusty bread
  6. You can freeze them for later.
  7. You can add in all sorts of good for your gut ingredients.

I make lots of soup in winter. Lots! I always have the image of the Seinfeld episode with the Soup Nazi in my mind as I cook. I hear that fellow yell out “No soup for you!” but change it to “Yes! Soup for You!” A few years ago I even had the idea of doing a new blog based entirely on soup! I still might do that. It was provisionally entitled Sunday Soup Sessions.

Here are a couple of my favourites.

Harira (Moroccan lamb, tomato and lentil soup)

Lots and lots of good things in this soup. I am not sure if it would work so well without the meat.

Lamb Soup
Those Moroccans sure know how to make a good soup!

 

Orange Vegetable Soup

I make up my own recipes and it’s a bit hard to give the precise list of ingredients for these.

A case in point is this pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot soup spiced with ginger and turmeric.

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The ingredients and method could be roughly translated as

Ingredients
  • Pumpkin – as much as you have depending on how much you want to make – cut into cubes
  • Sweet potato (orange variety) –  about half the amount of pumpkin – cut into cubes
  • Carrots – about the same as the sweet potato – cut into chunks
  • Stock and water – I would have used chicken stock but vegetable stock would be fine. How much…well that depends on how many vegetables you are using! At least a litre.
  • Tumeric – powdered or fresh, grated
  • Ginger –  fresh grated
  • Onion – at least 2 – sliced
  • Garlic – 1 tablespoon-ish
  • Olive oil
  • Lime juice to serve.
  • Feta cheese for garnish
Method
  1. Fry the onions and garlic in the oil till soft
  2. Add the turmeric and ginger and saute for 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Add the veggies
  4. Stir around in the oil to coat and saute for 2 – 3 minutes
  5. Add enough stock to partially cover the veggies
  6. Put the lid on and simmer until the vegetables are tender. (maybe 30 minutes?)
  7. Use a stick blender to blend in the pot, adding more stock/water as needed to get the right consistency. Or transfer really carefully to your jug blender/mouli thingy and blend till smooth.
  8. Adjust seasoning
  9. Serve with lemon or lime juice and garnishes as you like.

Have you got any soup season recipes to share?

 

Furious Fiction 11 – May 2020

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

Another First Friday rolls around and here is my entry for May’s Furious Fiction, the Australian Writers’ Centre’s monthly competition. Like last month we are still in lock down, although restrictions are beginning to be lifted in most places. Hopefully, not too soon. My heart goes out to the people of America who are now suffering the most.

As I’ve said before this competition is a fun activity with a terrific prize. You can read about it on their website.

Basically, it’s 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

The criteria for May were:

  • Your story’s first word must be FIVE.
  • Your story must include something being replaced.
  • Your story must include the phrase A SILVER LINING (‘a’ or ‘the’ is fine).

This month I was able to achieve my aim of getting Frankie in front of the judge. I also realised in my first chapter of this story our protagonist’s name was Charlie and somewhere along the line I switched it to Frankie. Ah well, from now on our flamboyant dresser is Frankie!

This month’s entry was submitted on Sunday morning about 9 AM although it was essentially finished on Saturday afternoon. 496 words.


Andrea’s Surprise

‘FIVE YEARS? You’ve GOT to be joking? Because I wore brightly coloured clothes? FASCIST!’ Frankie shouted as the gavel hit the sound block.

‘ORDER!’ Judge O’Mallory shouted back, ‘Bailiff! Take him down!’

‘Five years? I can’t! I’ll die!’ Frankie pleaded with his barrister. ‘Please! Do something, you’ve got to appeal!’

The barrister nonchalantly scratched the itch under the horsehair wig as the door slammed on Frankie and the din of his wails receded.

Do the crime pal, pay the time! Andrea thought. Frankie had been a difficult client. He had flouted the law several times, had already served time and here he was again only a few months after he had been released. He shouldn’t be surprised.

He was a recidivist.

He deserved it!

Didn’t he?

On the other hand, these Fashion Police and the Fashion Laws were getting a little out of hand. She couldn’t help thinking it was just another “-ism” oppressing the poor.

Well, it didn’t really matter what she thought, it was the law!

The bubble surrounding her reverie popped as Andrea caught the eye of her learned colleague across the aisle, winking and nodding his head ever so slightly toward the door. Although her own reaction was equally as imperceptible, the message was received loud and clear, and thirty minutes later Lloyd and Andrea were shouting seductively at each other across the noisy crowd in a bar. Crime Does Pay was a very popular venue for the lost souls of the legal fraternity. There was no colour there, only a sea of grey. The black gowns and white jabots replaced by the sedate and State-sanctioned garb that kept the law off their own backs.

They could let their hair down, but not their guard! No-one was safe from the Fashion Police. No-one.

 ‘What I don’t understand,’ Lloyd bellowed above the ruckus, ‘is why you take on these cases in the first place, Andrea?’

She had liked the look of Lloyd, but the more she got to know him, the more she realised their values were not aligned, and maybe looks were not enough. But then, it was Friday night, and it beat going home alone.

 ‘You know I can’t resist the underdog!’ she laughed.

 Lloyd pulled her close, ‘Ready to go? I’ve got a real surprise for you tonight!’

Andrea was perched on the window sill of the hotel room, high above the sparkling harbour. She smiled at her reflection, knowing the pink negligee was irresistible. She sipped her Moet and in her best bedroom voice called out,

‘Where’s this surprise you promised me?’ 

Lloyd emerged from the ensuite, naked. Naked except for a black cape with a silver lining.

He twirled.

The cape sparkled.

She gasped.

It was then that Andrea realised the real benefit of money was not buying expensive things, but rather a way of enabling you to hide your own vices and avoid detection.  Crime did pay –  her!

‘Now, that’s what I call a surprise!’ she cooed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pelicans

Lake Illawarra

Pelican Portraits

The COVID19 movement restrictions are being lifted in NSW and we are all getting outside more. Getting back to “normal” and exploring our still clean environment. I went out last weekend for my first photo safari for a very long time. I wandered along the shore of Lake Illawarra and took some rather nice portraits of pelicans.

Pelicans are lovely birds. Big and ungainly on land, but magnificent flyers. Their broad wings carrying their heavy bodies effortlessly.

They eyed off the human fisherman with cheeky stares.

P1930901pelicansLake Illawarra fishermen

A humanist eulogy

I recently did a course through Future Learn on humanism. One of the set tasks was to write your own eulogy from a humanist standpoint. That is, there is no afterlife and once you’re dead, you’re dead. It’s a viewpoint I feel quite happy with. Don’t worry I am not planning on dying anytime soon. I hope that I am around for many more years to come!

A eulogy for Robyn

Wow! What a life! What a life my friend lived! She lived with passion, enthusiasm and vigour. She was never afraid to try something new. To create a challenge or set a goal. She annoyed us with her special projects and obsessions. She annoyed us with her bossy and dominating personality but still, we loved her energy and drive. Her get up and go! Her pizazz! 

Well, her get up and go has finally got up and gone and her chirpy voice with it. We are sad at her passing but OUR lives are richer for her being here and we pause today to celebrate that life. That temporary cohesion of elements and energy that combined in a unique way  and in this time-frame, to make the human we called Robyn. 

Robyn’s one life was, in the end, a life well-lived. She tried each day to make a difference to someone or some cause that needed a little boost. She had kind words to say to those who would listen. She had new tricks to learn and she kept us entertained. 

Robyn’s philosophy of life and death was a simple one. 

We start from nothing. We end as nothing.  But our life is our everything and it is not for nothing. 

For her, a life well lived was one that leaves behind a string of memories and inspiration for those of us who remember her.  We remember her travels. We remember her photos and quirky little movies. We remember her stories. We remember she couldn’t type to save her life and was hopeless at editing her own work! But these things did not stop her from getting out and having a go. For being brave enough to put her thoughts out in the world. 

In her autumn years, she supported the plight of older women, The Old Chooks. The older women marginalised by society who became vulnerable, homeless and forgotten in a culture that values youth over the beauty of a caring soul. She asks that you support charitable causes that help older women rather than put flowers on her burial place. 

Robyn’s motto “Be Invincible, Not Invisible” will live on in her memoirs and autobiographical short films. 

Robyn’s last wish was for you to stand here with her one last time, to enjoy the good food her family have prepared and add one small memory of your time with her to the slips of paper and add it to the jar being passed around. 

She asks you to move on, think of her fondly and know that she’s looking forward to becoming fertiliser for those trees!


I know some of my posts have been a bit dark lately. Don’t worry, I am not feeling dark. I am grateful that I have a secure job in an “essential Industry”. I am grateful that I am still healthy and have plenty of food in the cupboard.

If you are feeling dark and need help, please reach out to services such as Lifeline

Stay Calm and wash your hands!

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

a deep pink and yellow peopny

Today is my 59th birthday. I guess getting older beats the alternative! I’ll be at work. I won’t be doing anything special. My lovely family and friends will ring me,  send texts or Facebook messages and wish me good luck for the year ahead.

I greet the day with a little trepidation. I like to use my birthday as a trigger to take stock and reflect on what I have done over the past year.  2020 has certainly been interesting so far!

About 2 1/2 years ago I set myself an ambitious list of 60 things to do before my 60th birthday. I don’t think I am halfway through yet. I made some modifications when I realised some of them were not SMART goals and I had no real control over whether they were achieved or not. I modified them again to align with the Year of Zero Goals.

There are a cluster of about 15 that I will be doing in the days leading up to the actual day and involve the celebration trip I plan to take.  I am happy to leave those on the back burner. I may refine them further.

There are two goals, dear reader, that you can help me with. I set a goal to reach 1000 followers on this here blog and 500 on my Instagram account. I am not even halfway there! It’s taken my 3 years to accumulate the readers I have. The curve is not rising steeply enough and at my current rate, I project I’ll reach 1000 by 2027!

I am therefore asking for a tiny little birthday gift from you all. Please introduce and recommend my blog to some of your friends.  They may enjoy the crazy ride of unconnected stories as much as I do writing them! 

Make an old(er) lady happy on her birthday!

Me