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Archive for the ‘Just life’ Category

It’s summer. It’s late December between Christmas and New Year. I’m with family. Normal transmission shall resume later this week.

Some snaps from the last few days:

Our view at dinner tonight
Dinner at the beach
A Christmas Day walk
My swimming spot yesterday
Christmas Eve sunset
A tui

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An occasional series, every few months.

Reading: Since my last update, I’ve only read a few books, but quality more than made up for a limited quantity. It was about time! There were some highlights:

Scrublands by Chris Hammer, set in Australia, it deals with the mystery of a mass shooting. You can feel the heat, hear the kookaburras, and see the dry dry land. There are other books in the series, and I plan on reading them too.

The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw is a lovely book set in both Japan and France. It was not at all what I expected, but having visited Japan two years ago, I loved imagining the environment too.

My Mess is a Bit of a Life by Georgia Pritchett is a fabulous and funny memoir written as therapy. I didn’t know anything about her until I read the book (someone I respect recommended the book, but I cannot remember who it was), but you don’t need to know her to enjoy her.

Apeirogon by Colum McCann is my book of the year, recommended by a former bookclub friend. It may well be my book of the last few years. It is the story of two real life characters, based in Israel and Palestine, who became united in loss. The style of writing here is unique, with sometimes paragraphs of only one or two sentences. I am wary of gimmicky writing, and not always as impressed as I am supposed to be. But the arrangement of the paragraphs, the way seemingly irrelevant issues are brought into the story, then made relevant with a devastating fact or sentence, meant that the structure of this piece worked perfectly for me. It had me in tears. It had me furious. It had me smiling. It took me back to the heat and sounds and food of Israel in June. It taught me about birds and migration. It was unforgettable.

I got Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason from the library, after reading a review by another blogger back in May. I finally got around to reading it, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. A review in The Guardian (I think) called it hilarious. I would not describe it as hilarious, dealing as it does with mental illness. But there are funny moments, moving moments, and I didn’t even find the darkness to be too depressing, whereas there have been other books recently which I have abandoned because they have been so miserable. I’m not quite finished yet, but once my iPad is charged, I should be able to finish it later tonight.

Watching: We’ve been out to a few movies over the last couple of months, watching the latest James Bond with masks (the first time I have needed to wear a mask at the movies), Free Guy (with Ryan Reynolds and Taika Waititi, and most recently a Marvel movie I keep forgetting. Oh, that’s right, it was Eternals – maybe that says it all!

We watched the lovely and heart-warming Australian movie with well-known Australian and NZ actors, Rams, on one of our streaming services, have watched Billions, rewatched The Good Place and now I’m rewatching How I Met Your Mother (when I need some “happy place” comfort watching). The Half of It was a lovely teenage movie on Netflix too.

We’ve enjoyed a couple of short series from the UK – Vigil, and Departure (two seasons) – and we’re now figuring out what to watch next. There are quite a few options, but we think we’ll watch Power of the Dog, by NZ director Jane Campion, either on TV or at the cinema.

Listening: Nothing new, really. The usual radio programmes of course. Though my husband and I did listen to the audiobook of Bad Science on a recent road trip. It’s quite funny, but fascinating, even if it wasn’t really teaching us anything new.

Following: The usual. Progress (or lack of progress) with COVID-19 and vaccinations across the globe. News. Photographers I envy. Yes, exactly the same as last time!

Drinking: We’ve recently rediscovered a taste for Pinot Gris. It must be spring!

Cooking: A friend and I shared making seven-course degustation menu (3 ½ courses each), when I did a capsicum (red pepper) bruschetta, a smoked avocado and salmon stack, and homemade passionfruit ice-cream with langue du chats biscuits. Other than that, though, I’ve really lost my cooking mojo recently. I haven’t made bread in a while, and my regular repertoire of dinner dishes seems to be shrinking. I have plans to change this, but haven’t actually done it yet. And because of weather and my husband’s mates changing golf habits, I haven’t even had any pasta and chardonnay nights this spring yet. Hopefully I can report more positively next edition.

Eating: The asparagus this spring has been lovely, and we’ve eaten a lot. Also avocados, as my brother-in-law accidentally left me with a big bag when he passed through recently. I used avocados to create the afore-mentioned dish with smoked salmon and rocket and gremolata for our degustation, and they have regularly on my breakfast or lunch menu, usually on a flaxseed and spelt toast spread with marmite (a good breakfast), or in a sandwich at lunch. And now it is tomato season. Yay!

Wearing: Well, today feels like winter again, so it’s long sleeves and hoodie, but otherwise I have been digging out summer shirts and pants, and I even dug out my sewing machine, and mended some favourite ¾ pants that I’ve had for years, and another pair that I bought on sale at the end of last season, then discovered they were frayed at the side seam. So I’m feeling quite proud of myself. I’ve done a bit of shopping too, after a good six to eight months of no new clothes.

Regretting: Procrastinating about a dress I was thinking of buying last week, and now that I have decided I want it, it is no longer 30% off! Argh!

Appreciating: My fellow citizens, as we are close to 90% (of eligible) vaccinated nationwide (expect to get there next week). There are of course a few vocal anti-vaxxers, anti-government protesters, but they are a small minority given that figure.

Contemplating: Where to live in our retirement. It’s one thing if we can travel, as I had plans of living overseas for longer periods than we would normally. But if we can’t, we need to build a life either here (where our friends live, but where the weather is pretty awful) or somewhere else. And if it is somewhere else, where?

Anticipating: Summer. I’m looking forward to the pohutukawa blooming, and driving north at Christmas. It will be so lovely to see my sister and niece and Jeff the Dog again, as well as BIL and the cat. And to have summer barbecues, and do some summer reading.

Loving: Our gorgeous country, after a couple of short trips away in October and November. It was lovely to get out of town, and do some different things, walk in beech forests and lava fields, and explore vineyards.

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

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Previous Novembers

Previous – an occasional series reviewing what happened in previous months

Novembers have been an active month for me, pre-blogging, but since that too. A key theme in my November blogging has been about visits to Charlie, or having visits to or from her parents. That has continued this year too, even though Charlie herself hasn’t featured yet. Hopefully we’ll get to see her sometime in the next few months though. Other common November topics include spring – the joys of it or the disgust that it hasn’t arrived – and the ritual of getting up in the middle of the night to watch international rugby from the northern hemisphere. We’ve already done it twice this month too, but shouldn’t really have bothered!

Back in November 2009, my first year on this blog, I was busy doing Nanowrimo, writing a first draft of a novel which has since languished in a file waiting to be edited, I attended my first and last (so far) football game, and complained about men at work, in particular, those blustering bullies we all know and do not love! I do not miss them.

November 2010 included a post about Bangkok, a November memory there, and anticipating a trip there over Christmas and New Year. I haven’t been back to Bangkok since, and no immediate plans to do so. But I’m always hopeful.

November 2011 included snippets from my travels in Europe a few months earlier, talked about travel photography and my memories on the wall; a wall which I was going to update at the beginning of this year, and hasn’t been finished yet! And there was a national election, the prospect of which did not excite me! But I was grateful for our very short election campaigns.

In 2012, November also reviewed my October travels that year, a birthday year, when we visited South Africa. My blog is filled with photos of lion cubs and giraffes and baboons, to name a few. And there’s a happy reunion with an AFS friend.

2013 proves to me that November blogging is developing a theme, as I’d just returned from five months overseas, and it was all about getting back to normal, seeing my home town with new eyes, and getting back into blogging. I enthusiastically attempted 30 posts in 30 days. Note that I haven’t done that this year! Though I always like the daily blogging discipline.

The next few years are unexciting, continuing the recurring November themes. But overseas Thanksgiving celebrations prompted some bittersweet gratitude posts, even as I was watching my mother’s final decline. In 2016, the Kaikoura 7.8 earthquake struck, and gave us a big shock here. It’s been five years now, and the landscape in parts of Wellington have changed as a result, as landmark buildings have now disappeared as a result.

In 2017 I discovered audiobooks.

In 2019 I was suffering travel envy. Little did I know that we were about to enter an enforced period of no international travel. Whilst countries are all opening up, travel now will be in a new environment, and I’m not rushing to experience that. Not just yet.

But by 2020 I was enjoying the delights of travelling in my own country, having just spent three fabulous weeks in the northern half of the country, learning why it has always been such a popular international destination for the rest of the world.

There are always positives and negatives in November, I know that well. But a review of my last 11 years posting here remind me that life is good, and gratitude is important.

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