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Monday miscellaneous

I’ve been spending the last month furiously planning our next trip, only to find that we’d probably left it a bit late to start. So now we’ve put that trip on hold, and have chosen a new destination, so I am starting from scratch again. These initial phases of travel planning are frustrating, as I have to learn new geography, time zones, currencies, places. Not to mention, I have to switch to studying a completely different language for the trip. I effectively have to completely relearn a language I last studied in my first year of university. Somehow, I don’t think that the “A” I got then is going to help me much now, so many decades later!

On the bright side, though, when we do revert back to the original plan (as we fully intend to do so) I will already have 75% of the information I will need, and I know where and when we want to go, when I need to book, and when the cheap deals all come out!

On Saturday it was the third anniversary of my mother’s death. I had to spend the afternoon at a memorial function for one of my husband’s aunts. It was a lovely afternoon, remembering his aunt who was always a favourite, and seeing cousins (including my husband) get together for the first time in years. But it felt weird to be unable to honour my mother by mentioning the anniversary or by talking about her. But I knew – as set out in the Circles of Grief principle – that this day was not about me. I’m thankful I remembered that. Mum would have been proud.

 

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Reading: I’ve finally finished The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, which is my first book of the year and my first book in a long time. I read only half of my 30-book target last year, a dismal performance that I hope to improve on this year. I’ve just started The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq (NOT the one by Alan Greenspan! and hope it won’t take me months to finish! Blogging and family events last year really sapped me of any reading energy or motivation, but this year I am already finding that I more time and enthusiasm for books and blogs. That makes me happy.

Watching: I’ve also just finished watching The Australian Open (tennis) every night, so I’m trying to get back to a more normal daily schedule. Before I got sucked into the tennis, I was binge-watching The Good Place, a fun comedy with equally fun plot twists that was just what I needed. There’s a lot of good quality TV about to start up. There are all the Oscar films to catch too. But with the hot sunny weather at the moment, it seems wrong to hide inside in the dark to watch a movie. Mind you, we might be seeking out the air-conditioning of a cinema soon.

Listening: I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Eddie Izzard reading his memoir Believe Me. It is really lovely. He’s reading the book, but he’s adding a whole lot of spontaneous footnotes, which are funny and often really touching. I am thoroughly enjoying this as I go on my walks around my suburb’s hills.

Following: I was following the tennis. There is summer cricket on, but I’m not really a cricket fan. And I’m fed up with politics, so right now I’m just following writers and people I know and like and admire, and on social media I am following a few photographers who inspire me.

Drinking: Lots of water. Today I’ve made some fruit iced tea (or it will be iced once it cools enough to add the ice) to keep me hydrated (and to replace lunch). We’ve enjoyed some of the scrummy wines we bought when in the South Island just before Christmas too. Brennan Wines is my new favourite – they do some lovely wines, and we had a nice vineyard lunch there too. Unfortunately, they’re a smaller producer so as yet I haven’t seen their wines here. (Note to self: Must go check out some of the wine stores.)

Eating: Seasonally. And of course, at this time of year, there is wonderful produce. My favourite summer vegetable medley is on the menu tonight, with eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, and cherry tomatoes dressed with mustard and balsamic vinegar. Yum.

Anticipating: We have a wedding anniversary next week (one that ends in a five), and so we’ve booked a favourite but expensive (so we haven’t been for a couple of years) restaurant for dinner. Then a week later we have a family wedding to attend, which will be nice because I’ll get to see my two nieces who live in Australia. And we plan to head over the hill at some stage to enjoy the vineyards and olive groves with friends. So February is looking like a happy month.

Contemplating: How I want to spend (and fund) the next five years or so of my life.

Loving: The relative freedom of the warmth of summer, the ability to get out in nature (we went for a walk on a new track yesterday), and the long summer evenings. Summer in Wellington doesn’t last too long, so we’re soaking it up (whilst complaining about the heat at night) while we can.

Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series.

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Whilst this week marks the time when perhaps most New Zealanders are back at work, there are still many on their summer holiday, waiting to return until next week – giving them a full month break – or the week after, which is around the time that the school terms begin. So I often excuse myself when I don’t get back into a normal routine until February! This year though, I want to start getting into a routine this week.

The first thing in setting a new routine is a To-do List. It’s different from resolutions, which I always think are doomed to fail. Here is my 2019 To-Do List:

  1. Declutter 2019 things from my house in 2019.
  2. Finish the projects that were optional in my photography course last year, and join a local photography group.
  3. Study Spanish for a minimum of 15 minutes a day for the first four months.
  4. Plan a trip to Peru (and maybe some surrounding countries).
  5. Refocus attention on my two regular blogs.
  6. Earn some money somehow.
  7. Continue to lose weight through diet and exercise.
  8. See friends more often.
  9. Read more books.
  10. Start the To-Do List today.

 

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Good-bye, 2018

This year has not been my favourite year. Mind you, neither was last year (with the brief exception of our wonderful trip then to Iceland, Norway, and the Baltic states), and the year before was worse! Surely I’m due for a decent year next year?

That said, I have been grateful for many things this year. We had a lovely week’s break in a part of New Zealand we had never been – I wrote about it here – and another week away (thanks to some frequent flyer miles/airpoints about to expire) in South Australia in September.

Our recent road-trip to the South Island to spend Christmas with my sisters was really special, and I ended up blogging about it almost daily elsewhere (starting with this post here), and posted photos on Fbk and Instagram (where I am @ travellingMali).

Back in January, I noted a number of projects I intended undertaking this year. I’m pleased to say that I stuck with my year long (well, 11-month?) photography course. I have some projects from it that I want to complete properly, and some lessons I need to do again, but that is the sign of a good course. I highly recommend it. Whilst I knew how to use some of features of my camera, and knew the basics about aperture and shutter speed, this filled in a lot of gaps, and I feel so much more confident with my camera. The course online is free (and begins in January, April and I think September), and there are two books for the course which you can buy online. I did, and thought they were worth it. Go to A Year with My Camera here to read more and sign up.

I have written about my gratitude for my daily blogging project and fellow bloggers over on x 365 Take Two. But I’m also grateful that people here still visit, read and comment. In total, on my three blogs, I have posted 485 times this year on my three blogs, a feat I have no intention of repeating this year. It was fun and exhausting and sometimes plain crazy! I do intend to be much more attentive to A Separate Life here next year, and I have a few other projects that I’m keen to attack too.

However, I do have to admit failure. I started enthusiastically with my 2018 in 2018 project, intending to declutter my house of 2018 things. I decluttered my bedside table and my undie drawers, and they have been a delight to me all year! But about two months in I faltered, and never got back to it. So I’m going to roll it over, to 2019, and start anew tomorrow. (Okay, maybe Thursday.) It is, after all, only a matter of decluttering five-six things a day, and I have so many papers and magazines and recipes etc that need to go that I should be able to do this. That’s the plan, anyway!

I did declutter a lot (ie thousands of emails) from my email inboxes, but I still have a long way to go! That at least began a better habit of filing or deleting emails, though again I have been slack the last month or so.

This post is breaking all the rules of Microblog Mondays, except the most important one, which is to blog. So I’m thinking that maybe next year I might not adhere so strictly to the eight-sentence rule/suggestion. (Am I the only one nuts enough to do that?)

So, we now only have six-and-a-half hours left of 2018 here in NZ. You’ll probably read this when I’m in the next year, and you’re left behind. But I’ll be there waiting for you, and will be very happy if or when you join me back here in 2019.

Happy New Year!

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Season’s greetings

It is Christmas Eve. After a few cold, stormy days, the sun is shining again, and the temperature is in the mid-20s, so I’m having a cool drink in the shade, and, of course, blogging. The menu for tomorrow is planned, and everything is ready in the fridge. My two sisters are chatting outside, the men are having afternoon naps, exhausted at all the organising their wives have been doing. Littlest niece is watching youtube videos in her bedroom, and the two dogs are snoring. All is calm.

I love these quiet moments, when I get to relax, and think of the people I love; those here, elsewhere, real life, and real life online, those met and unmet. Cheers to you all.

 

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Happy Things

Over on my daily blog Take Two x365, December’s theme was to be no theme, a free-for-all. But along the way we had discussed a theme of Happy Things, and that seems to have been universally (and happily) adopted. It’s a nice way to end the year of blogging every day.

One of my favourite Happy Things is travelling in my own country. I’m doing that now, an early summer holiday, beating the rush. So I’ve been blogging about it. Go and check it out. And apologies for the brevity of this post.

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Where* do you want to go?

Over a decade ago, I began a travel planning business. But just as it was kicking off, other (much better-paying) work dominated my life, and I sadly neglected this little business. It has been inactive since then. But I’d like to reboot it.

The theory is the same. Travel planning (itineraries etc) is extremely time-consuming and the choices these days can be overwhelming, so why not let me do it for you?

Check out Travel Unpackaged’s website. It needs work, but is operating now. Regard this as a soft launch. And I’d love feedback on the idea.

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* Yes, I reposted this from my daily blog over on x365TakeTwo.

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