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Archive for the ‘Just life’ Category

Right Now (#13)

I haven’t done one of these for five months!

Reading: Not much. Not for a long time. I’ve been reading articles and newspapers and blogs, but few books. Travelling tends to accentuate that tendency too, as during the day we’re doing things, and in the evenings we’re out for dinner and walks, or I’m backing up the photos I took during the day. I’m hoping to get back into reading. I have so many “expired” books from my library in my reading app. I’ve started a dozen books this year, and finished only a few! Hopefully in the next few months I’ll get back to it.

Watching: Didn’t watch anything when we were away in May, but since we’ve come back I’ve been catching up. It doesn’t help that the cable TV box we have had for years is being replaced this week, and I’ve had to clear everything I had recorded. Watched the final series of Keeping Faith, which was excellent. Great acting, interesting story-telling, and quite a good conclusion. Yesterday I binged the four episodes of a documentary called Hillary made about Hillary Clinton’s life through to the end of the 2016 election. Enjoyed that too.

And of course, it was the French Tennis Open this weekend. I stayed up on Friday night to watch the men’s semi-finals, and ended up snatching half-hour naps before and between the two matches, and missed most of one set of the Nadal vs Djokovic match because I fell asleep on the couch! Last night I watched the Finals (a great match), that started at 1 am our time, and I finally got to bed about 5.45 am. I seriously need an afternoon nap now!

Listening: To very little again. A lot of our travel in May was in areas with poor radio or internet reception, and so we were just listening to some of the road trip music I have stored in my phone. I’ve been enjoying catching up with national radio articles since I got home, and once an injury to my leg has healed up, I hope to get back into some audiobooks, or even – shock, horror! – consider getting into some podcasts (as normally, I just can’t find the time or inclination to listen to them).

Following: The usual. Progress (or lack of progress) with COVID-19 and vaccinations here and across the globe. News. Photographers I envy.

Drinking: Enjoyed some good wine on our trip at some fancy restaurants in major wine producing areas. We decided we should splash out occasionally on some nice bottles, rather than pay money for average bottles we’d rather not drinks.

Cooking: It’s been a struggle getting back into cooking after a month (almost) away. It’s been nice doing my Thai favourites – Thai fried rice, and Green or Massaman curries – since we got home. I’m need to experiment with new recipes, as I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. Or just revive some old favourites I haven’t made in ages. I’d like to do a bit more baking too, as – other than the occasional loaf of bread or batch of cheese scones – I’ve not baked all year, and there’s something about homemade biscuits or slices.

Eating: Too much, probably! That’s what travel does for you. We appreciated some wonderful restaurants in Queenstown, both fancy AND casual, trying variations on Asian and Pacific food as well as more traditional fare. It was cold as well, and so instead of a salady thing for lunch when we were travelling, I’d end up trying a southern specialty, a cheese roll, or a  traditional kiwi meat pie. And if we stopped for a break when we were driving, it was too tempting not to have a slice or a custard square with a coffee. Sigh. So all these things are off the menu right now! I am however looking forward to making more soups this winter for lunch. Warming AND healthy. And I plan on making a big batch of pumpkin gnocchi to freeze soon too.

Wearing: My winter uniform of black jeans and black thermal top under jackets or coats or the occasional cardigan. I can dress it up with scarves or jewellery, which is fun.

Appreciating: Our trip. I was so grateful for New Zealand’s beauty, our COVID-free status at the moment, the fabulous weather (even when it snowed, it didn’t affect our travels), and the fact that my husband enjoys these travels as much as I do, and is patient when I want to take photos. We had over three weeks away enjoying the stunning South Island, when we never got bored, loved the scenery and the old gold-mining towns and the lack of crowds and the new places and the old memories. I even enjoyed the freezing frosts at my sister’s house! Oh, and here’s a travel tip: three weeks was not enough!

Anticipating: So many projects I want to do. One is a bit boring (decluttering) but must be done, others are about house maintenance/renovation (kitchen, entrance way, our bedroom etc), one is about blogging (watch this space), a couple about photos and photobooks, one is about language learning, and a few other ideas are slowly percolating. I’m also looking forward to spending some time with a friend who has just taken a break between contracts, and will be free for lunches and adventures (I hope!).

Trying: To grow my hair. It’s passed the really awkward stage when my kinky grey hair was too short to straighten, and so looked like your average old-fashioned 80-90 year olds’ style. Sigh. I’m trying to figure out when to go get it cut to coax it into the shape I want, but think I’ll give it another month at least.

Checking: My health. I’m doing the compulsory regular check-ups that were due this year all in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed all will be well. I know how lucky I am to be able to afford one of these checks on health insurance, and to get another as part of a national screening programme.

Loving: Being home. Knowing that, after this week (when we have a few appointments), I have projects to occupy me that will also hopefully give me a real sense of satisfaction when (not “if”) I finally finish them!

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

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I’ve been doing some cleaning out of boxes of junk in my office, and came across a few things that made me smile:

  • The farewell card from the company I chaired, when I resigned to go to the Middle East and Italy. Aside from the lovely messages from the staff, and the gift of a beautiful silk scarf (which is currently in my handbag to help out with any unexpectedly cold autumn days), they all provided their favourite travel tips for Europe. The tips included favourite places in France, eight Kiwi cafes with the best coffee in London, a cottage in Oxfordshire, a pub in Essex, and a patisserie at the bottom of the steps of the Sacre Coeur in Paris, a b&b in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, recommendations for shopping in Dubai, information about border crossings into Israel, and recommendations about Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan.
  • A letter from my mother (she’s been gone five years now) talking about her recent trip to visit me, and the birthday surprise we gave her (a visit from my younger sister as well, and a performance of World of Wearable Arts). It was two years after my father had died, and she had been suffering anxiety, so the holiday away was just what she needed. She sounded enthusiastic about learning to use the computer and was about to start lessons, she was going to an exercise group, and had joined a tai chi group too. It was only a few years later when the Alzheimer’s started affecting her, but it makes me happy and proud of the efforts she made to build her own life after 50 years with my father.
  • Genealogy information of my mother’s family, which I didn’t realise I had. Pays to look at every document in a box full of junk.
  • Postcards from all over Europe, sent by British friends we met in Bangkok in the early 90s.
  • A recipe for Sponge Drops, a very traditional light sponge in individual cakes (drops), sandwiched together with cream and raspberry jam. I might just have to make some sometime soon.
  • The itinerary for our first trip to South Africa more than ten years ago, for my husband’s milestone birthday. It was an amazing trip, so highly anticipated, and lived up to my expectations so wonderfully that we went back for my own milestone birthday a few years later, and I was hoping to go back again next year for another such birthday. I’d been hoping friends and family might join us then too, but whether we will be able to or not is anybody’s guess at the moment.
  • An article about the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust winning a UK National eWell-Being Award for its website and messageboards that built a community. I used the site and then volunteered on the site for a decade.
  • Cards and drawings from Charlie, when she used to have an amazing time visiting us.

I still have lots to sort through. I wonder what else I might find?

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For 18 years we had at least one cat. We got them as kittens in 1993, shortly after we returned from Thailand, and almost immediately after we had moved into our new house. This house. One of the things that made me feel that the house was right for me was a cat lying in the sun in the window when we first visited. Cleo and Gershwin were good cats. They tolerated being fed at different hours in the evening, we had a fake Christmas tree every year and the worst they did to it was redistribute one or two ornaments on the floor overnight, and they never destroyed our curtains or furniture. Gershwin had a drooling problem, and Cleo liked to tap the bedroom door to be let in starting at about 6 am, but these were minor issues, and we loved them.

Gershwin gave up the ghost when we were in Malaysia on holiday in 2010, and we had Cleo alone for almost another year. The house seemed empty without them. They were part of so much of our lives. They saw us through good times, and comforted us during bad. When they died, we took some time. We had been travelling at least once a year, and wanted to continue to do that without worrying too much about putting cats into a cattery every time. With two, it got expensive, even though all the different catteries cheated and put them both together (which was never ideal), and they always took time to adapt when they got home. Anyway, we took a break from cats.

After our six month Middle Eastern/European trip in 2013, it might have been a good time to get cats again, as it led into quite a long period of no big trips. We didn’t know this would happen at the time, of course, but I had some health issues, we had a lot of eldercare issues both in this city and elsewhere, I broke my ankle, and then there was a pandemic! So it could have been a decent time to still have cats.

Post-pandemic, and now with no responsibilities keeping us here, we hope to have a few years of intensive travelling, but we don’t know yet if that will even be possible. After that though we might be able to get a cat or two – but the fact that they can live till they’re close to 20 means that they are a big commitment. And their care issues become much more complicated in their later years. Would I cope? Would I be able to have cats if we (or one of us) had to move? After all, in 20 years time, we will (if we’re lucky) be in our later years too. What if new cats weren’t as easy as Cleo and Gershwin?

We’ve always said we’d like to have cats again. (Funnily, two days after I’d written the first draft of this post, we passed a pet store and my husband suggested we go in and look at the kittens.) I miss having cats around the house. There’s nothing like having a cat in my lap, or snuggled up next to me on the bed or the couch, or purring loudly curled up in a box behind my desk when I am here blogging. There are real mental health benefits to having pets too, especially as we age. Sigh. I am definitely a cat person. But I’m a bit worried. Have I missed my cat window? I hope not.

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