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Archive for the ‘Just life’ Category

I have a lot of posts half-written now – or perhaps, less than half-written. But they’re not ready to go, and today I’ve been distracted with other chores, so I thought I’d share a photo or two from a very pleasant walk I took at the end of last week with my husband. When the wind drops in Wellington in spring, it is time to grab the opportunity and get out and walk. This year we’ve been trying to find new places to walk, because – perhaps due to the lockdown – I’m a bit sick of walking around my neighbourhood, frankly. For years we have been driving over a particular bridge at the beginning of a valley, and I’ve looked at the river and the walking paths along it and thought or said or both, “we really should walk up there one of these days.” But the decades passed, and we always drove on, needing to check in with the in-laws, and getting caught up there. Now that they’re gone, though, we felt free to park under the bridge, and take a walk.

It’s a simple path, made for dog-walkers and human walkers and cyclists, along a river. There’s nothing strenuous about it, but perhaps that’s the point. It is relaxing, we were surrounded by green, with trees with new spring leaves lining the river, and on the other side of the path, a couple of paddocks, a driving range nearest the bridge, and an expensive golf course next to the path. This was the adventureland of my husband when he was a child, before the driving range, and when the paddocks still had cows and sheep, and before the bypass was built on the other side of the river.

In the midst of some small rapids on the river was a fisherman, casting his line out into the calmer water. We tried to imagine what he was hoping to catch. “There aren’t any fish in that river!” my husband exclaimed. But the water was crystal clear, running down from the mountains without travelling through farmland or industry, and so it would make sense that there are a few. We were passed by the occasional cyclist, a jogger with a very tired dog, and we never caught up to the woman pushing the pram way up ahead of us. We eventually turned and walked back to the car. The exercise was good to have, but better than that, we had time to breathe some fresh clear air, enjoy the sun, and feel some peace.

Note: I did not play with the colours at all on these photos. It really was that green.

Can you see the fisherman?

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Right Now (#11)

Reading: Unlike my last Right Now post, I’ve been struggling with reading the last two months. I’ve been reading blogs, of course, and the newspaper (with our now digital subscription), and lots of articles, but I want to get back to books. I have quite a few out from the library (digitally of course) at the moment, and I need to finish them! There is one book I have been spending a lot of time on – does a book of knitting patterns qualify, I wonder, for my Goodreads total this year? I’m now six books behind schedule to reach my target of 40 books this year. I’ve read 23 so far, which isn’t that bad, I don’t think!

Watching: I’m still sticking with my daily safaris on andbeyondlive or Wildwatch Live (on youtube and Fbk) most days. They are timed perfectly for me, right as I prepare dinner. I prop up my iPad or phone, and get transported away to the African bush and savannahs. In recent months, they’ve added in live streams from the Masai Mara and the Great Migration, which have been fascinating.

Other than that, we watched the Netflix series Dark, which was hard to keep track of, as there were multiple characters at different ages and times and dimensions. I used the pause button frequently, as we tried to sort out who was who and when and where. And Money Heist, which my husband forced me to watch. This Spanish phenomenon is entertaining and we needed to find what happened, so I watched it all. Apparently they are filming the final series now, so at least there will be something new. And I watched I’ll be Gone in the Dark, which was a fascinating documentary series about the Golden State Killer and based on the book by Michelle McNamara, the journalist who investigated him.

We went to a movie a while ago with friends. It is the only one we’ve seen since before COVID, and it was really nice to do something normal. It was Tenet, which was perhaps even more complicated than Dark!

My husband and I are addicted to the Australian version of Masterchef, for the third year running. There are a LOT of episodes, and we watch it together at dinnertime. It’s a bit like the Great British Bake-Off, in that the people all seem very nice, they’re extremely supportive of each other, and the producers concentrate on the food and not trying to play the contestants off each other. It’s feel-good TV, except for last night, when one of my favourites was eliminated.

And I’ve been bingeing on a comfort series that I’m not going to name.

Listening: To the wind through our trees as we’re in the midst of a few days of gale force winds. The house is shaking regularly – a good thing that houses in Wellington are designed to move! It’s windy even for Wellington, and that is saying something. And as usual, I have our national radio programme on in the background, where they’re talking about how cold it will be tomorrow. It’s why spring is probably my least favourite season.

Following: Actually, this should be about what I’m trying NOT to follow. I’m trying not to follow the NZ election (three weeks time) and the US election, but without much luck. I’m not very good at ignoring articles, and I’ve always wanted to be on top of all the issues and understand them. But I get so frustrated, so I’m trying to step back!

Drinking: Tea – lots of herbal teas (a superfruits tea, green tea, chamomile tea) and Earl Grey, and the occasional coffee when we go out.

Cooking: I’ve been trying to step away from the baking – this is a good thing! Although I have made a ciabatta bread recipe a couple of times that have been quite successful, and cheese scones about once a month. On the weekend, I made a Thai dish that I loved eating for dinner when living with my Thai host family. It is called Mu Palo, essentially a pork belly and hard-boiled eggs stew in a five-spice (and other spices) and soy sauce. (Vegetarians could just have it with the eggs.) I’ve only made it a couple of times, as it requires some ingredients I don’t always have on hand (coriander root, for example), but it is delicious, and brings back memories, so I think I’ll make it more often.

Eating: I’m trying to eat healthily. My husband and I like to go out for lunch occasionally, usually for a late brunch or for some Asian food we’ve been craving. The asparagus is arriving in the supermarket – I’m looking forward to that!

Wearing: Apart from the fact that it is supposed to be freezing tomorrow, I have been venturing into spring clothes – or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I’ve been leaving my winter coat and scarves at home a bit more often.

Anticipating: The beginning of Pasta and Chardonnay Thursdays this week, after changing to Daylight Savings time on the weekend (and the beginning of my husband’s evening golf sessions, when I am free to eat whatever I want for dinner). I’m hoping the Antarctic storms that are set to wash across the country will be gone by then, because I’m already thinking about which recipe I will use!

Trying: To keep up with exercise, but I hate walking in the wild winds we get in spring, as my eyes stream with water, my ears get cold, and I can’t hear my audiobooks! So I’ve been working out in my living room, to various youtube videos.

Adjusting: To life without father-in-law. Since we moved to Wellington 30+ years ago, we’ve made a point of always visiting the in-laws. And in recent years, he has been extremely dependent on us. It’s weird not to have to check in on him regularly and visit, though of course we still have to sort out the house, which is not going to be a small job.

Loving: My latest hobby. Over the last month or two, I’ve been playing around with knitting and crocheting, reviving skills I had back in my teens, and last used at least 25 years ago. I knitted a cute fluffy bunny for my niece who had her first baby in August, and really enjoyed it. I told my sister (her mother) that I’d knitted and she had responded, “I can’t imagine you knitting!” Huh! Then I saw that a friend in the UK (who is newly into keeping bees) had crocheted a beautiful beehive blanket, and was inspired to see if I could still crochet. Then I remembered that my sister-in-law had asked me last year to make a crazy tea cosy for her, even though I hadn’t knitted since the 1990s! I never got around to it, but recently bought an ebook of Really Wild tea cosy patterns. I’ve made four now – my sister-in-law will get a couple (I’m pretty confident she never reads this) for her birthday, and my niece and I think I should give a really wacky pattern to her mother, just to prove I can knit!

Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series every few months here on A Separate Life.

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Since leaving full-time work in the early 2000s, dealing with childlessness, and becoming a self-employed consultant, a Board Chair, a volunteer from home, and a blogger, my budget changed, my body ballooned, and in some ways confidence in my style dwindled. “Calm. Sophisticated. Professional. And a little bit daring and fun.” That’s what I said in my previous post about my clothes, and how I wanted to present myself to the world. But when I didn’t feel quite so calm, or professional, I didn’t really replace these words with anything else.

Up until about 2010, I went through a few good years – I grew my hair for the first time, and for the first time in my life didn’t mind having photos taken of myself. (One of the reasons I’ve decided to embrace my natural colour is to try growing it again.) I used Penny’s lessons to be able to buy some cool, more casual clothes at less expensive shops. (Penny did supply the infamous inside-out dress of 2009, though.) My trip to Spain in 2007 was the first overseas trip where I truly dressed the way I wanted to dress, and was happy to pose for photos. (No, you’re not going to see them!)

But in the last ten years, the truth has been that I just don’t need a lot of clothes. Apart from Board meetings, and the occasional client meeting, I have been living and working from home since 2002. Work dried up in the last seven years too, which means my clothes budget has shrunk, even if I haven’t. I have managed to find that things that look okay, but few items that make me feel good. For the last ten years or so, I’ve had a winter uniform of jeans (blue and black), black thermal tops or the occasional merino top go under a cardigan or interesting knitted jacket. I dress it up or down with fun costume jewellery or brightly coloured scarves. I feel okay in winter. I still look kinda like myself, though more boring than I want.

Summer, though, is a different matter. Summer clothes and colours don’t always hide my body or flatter it in the way my winter clothes might. I cut my hair short again too (before we went to Europe and the Middle East in the height of summer – it was a good decision, as I can’t stand hair on the nape of my neck in the heat), so photographs once again emphasise my lack of symmetry and are again frequently a source of embarrassment. Never comfortable with heat, as a larger woman of a certain age I particularly dislike it now. Summer makes me want to hide. The best part of last summer, which was quite miserably cool, was that I could wear a coloured denim jacket over T-shirts almost all the time!

I think I feel more boring as a result. Or perhaps my clothes actually reflect how I feel. A lot of it is related to the elephant in the room, which is me, the elephantine woman. I’ve lost some weight over the last couple of years, but have a long way to go, and it seems to be an endless battle. I’m working hard on it – but clearly not hard enough. I was always slim and athletic when I was younger, and I still think of myself (ridiculously now) as tall(ish) and slim. It’s the very false image of myself that I hold in my head. So it’s not just a case of my outside (my clothes) not matching my inside (my personality), my outside body doesn’t match my inside body either.

As a result, I’ve lost much of the style that made me feel good. Even though, in these last 15 years, I’ve learned so much more about myself, have found myself in many ways, and feel much more comfortable with myself. So the outside does not really match the inside, which is still figuring itself out anyway as life continues to change. My clothes don’t reflect my personality. Or maybe I’m scared that they do? My body doesn’t match my brain. My clothes don’t reflect my idea of who I am or want to be. My style is stuck in a bog of disappointment.

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