328/2020

The most excellent ganching commented on the last post:

I am intrigued by your bedroom window comment. How has replacing your windows improved the view?

The old windows were this really strange type of double glazing, there was quite a big gap between the panes and they were sealed-not-sealed. This meant you couldn’t access for cleaning, but also meant that *stuff* like bugs could get inside, and exciting cultures of mould and mildew could take hold. The opening itself was quite tiny, so impossible to access the outside for cleaning (it’s quite high up).

Before

After

I hope the improved water-tightness is as spectacular as the improved view.

320/2020

Wait. How do I do this again?

xxx

It’s been somewhat chaotic in ThePalalce(OfLove) over the last couple of weeks as we had that small room built for Don and most of the windows replaced.

I really have no idea how people cope with major renovations – so much dust and mess! And we’ve had the usual “I haven’t seen that before”, and timelines blowing out as a consequence.

We had to play a kind of house-tetris moving the contents of rooms into other rooms as work progressed. We’ve concluded that despite fairly ruthless decluttering, we still have way too much stuff.

There’s still some work remaining, but the results are far exceeding expectations. Looking out the window in our bedroom feels like being in luxe hotel! The view is utterly spectacular!

Irrespective of the marvellous view, we desperately need to organise new window coverings in the next little bit – there’s way too much light and we’re exposed to the whole world. Nobody needs to see that.

xxx

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of giving up drinking!

Honestly, one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. The improved mental health! The increased money in the pocket!

I really does seem that the more years that pass, the greater the benefits.

xxx

We had a virtual quarterly all hands meeting at SML last week. To everyone’s astonishment LadyPenelope (CEO) announced that he was, well there’s no other word for it, commanding us back to the office in February. This even though SML performed better by most measures when working remotely.

The announcement was followed by a presentation from Bobs about how our new systems allow us to work from anywhere – which left everyone rather puzzled. “You can work from anywhere – as long it is the SML office”.

The general sentiment is quite mutinous, even at senior levels.

And yes, all very well for Lady P who has a large pleasant office of his own and who lives within walking distance. The rest of us would be working in open plan, shoulder to shoulder – sweatshop style. And the prospect of public transport – hideous!

298/2020

The refunds for our flights in November (Thailand) and December (Japan) were processed this week.

I assume it will be quite some time before we can travel internationally again. But it was brilliant while it lasted and I’m really grateful to have been able to do as much as we did.

The big challenge now is to find domestic vacation spots, quite competitive given that most people are similarly situated. I suspect we’ll be spending quite a lot of time exploring our local area and hey, new windows with the money we are not spending.

xxx

This week after three months of solid stitching I completed that cross stitch sampler for adorable pregnant colleague. All that remains is to launder and frame.

It took quite a bit longer than I’d anticipated and I’m rather pleased with myself for keeping at it. I suspect I can use this as a metaphor for a whole bunch I things.

Retiring to the Not-Craft Room each evening and stitching while (re)listening to audiobooks has been really soothing and has definitely cured me of that nightly endless mindless scrolling on my phone.

Don has requested a cross stitch piece for his soon-to-be-built music-listening room. Supplies have been acquired.

I have absolutely no plans to make this an ongoing hobby.

xxx

That week of annual leave was marvellous and I really should have taken two as I was just getting into my groove. I didn’t do much, but that was just what I needed.

I have some accumulated time off to take from various Project Sulfur activities. I’m thinking of possibly working four day weeks in November.

Actually after writing that, I’m totally going to work four day weeks in November.

xxx

Hope all is well with you.

286/2020

Yesterday morning Don and I put the bikes in the back of the car, drove down to the Cooks River cycleway and went for our first ride in THREE YEARS.

It was an absolutely beautiful spring morning and was really one of those it’s-great-to-be-alive moments. We took it pretty easy and rode 11(ish)km. It had been so long that there was a little re-familiarisation with the road bike gears required. I’d forgotten how much I like being on the bike in the outdoors. Infinitely preferable to sitting on the exercise bike which if I’m honest, I really don’t much care for.

I can’t even recall why we stopped our regular habit of weekend cycling. We both agreed it’s something we’d like to get back to – though not in our formerly somewhat extreme, somewhat obsessive manner.

xxx

First bushfire of the season this weekend – in the Royal National Park which is about an hour(ish) south of here.

The skies are thankfully clear, but the smoke smell seeped through the cracks in the evenings. And I’ve had my usual physical response (post nasal drip – pah!) and feel quite oogy.

I’ve had this brilliant post from Fiona Edmonds-Dobrijevich about her experience in the South Coast firestorm of last summer, open in the browser on my phone since January. It’s spectacularly well written – if you’ve not seen it, worth a look.

All bits crossed that we don’t have a similar spring/summer to the last one. Send rain.

xxx

I deleted my blog stats plug-in this week and have no plans to reinstall or replace. I felt almost instantly more positive about blogging after doing this.

It was all bots and spam commenters and made me despair of the InformationSuperhighway and humanity and honestly, I’d rather just sit in a bubble of delusion and pretend they don’t exist.

Likewise I’m still off both news and instagram, and I cannot say I miss either.

xxx

After owning the bright red couch for over 9 years, I finally broke open the leather conditioning kit that came with it and cleaned and conditioned the couch. It was of course quite a simple undertaking – why do we turn these things into insurmountable challenges?

In other Palacely maintenance ordered a roll of carpet underlay from a seller on eBay last week, it arrived very quickly (the shipping cost more than then roll) and yesterday I replaced a roll’s worth of the very mangy and water-damaged underlay in the NotCraft room – by myself! Full disclosure, I did need Don to lift the corner of the bed for a minute.

I felt very powerful and immensely clever. All for less than $100.

The carpet itself is still revolting, but we’re waiting until all the other work is done before even tackling those.

xxx

One more week left at SML until I have a week off. No particular plans other than a couple of lunches, maybe some crafting, maybe some time with my head in a book. I may buy things.

278/365

Project Sulfur went live on Monday – on time, on budget, within scope, and ticked the quality boxes. A rare thing indeed for a large IT project – five separate systems, quite complex integrations between each.

Feedback from external stakeholders has been very positive – one messaged our CEO to say the stakeholder-facing component was a thing of beauty. VeryHighlyPaidConsultant told the CEO he could recall a more successful program and in addition to the expected hurrahs for Bobs (Sponsor) and FCFC (Program Manager), name-checked Ringo (my SML IT counterpart) and I. Which was unexpected and great for the profile.

Of course the few loud and toxic dark forces in the business will never be satisfied and complain about everything (unkind people might say they still carry some bitterness about being overlooked for the project team).

The prospect of returning to the business is rather daunting. We’ve been working at a fast and structured pace for a few years now. SML is slow-paced chaos with occasional bursts of unstructured frenzy at best.

The past few weeks have been High Energy, weekends non-existent. It’s surprisingly challenging to wind down now that we’re done.

Fortunately we have a 3 day weekend and I have a week off later in the month – which hopefully will get work out of my head.

xxx

A few weeks ago we embarked on a somewhat ruthless de-cluttering effort to make space for the hideously expensive and possibly futile efforts to make us water-tight.

Nothing was off-limits. I discarded all of my itchy, static-y, ill-fitting garments and destroyed every diary and notebook I owned. The latter was utterly and incredibly cathartic!

We now have a much bigger hole in the wardrobe and had the not-delightful experience of having brick-coloured water pouring down the walls of the not-sewing room as drainage holes were drilled in the facade above.

Advice is to do nothing in the way of improvements to that room for at least six months until all types of weather have been thrown at it. I’ve scraped off the bubbling paint caused by the brick waterfall and will replace the sodden and ruined underlay (which was in a pretty ghastly state anyway).

Next up – replacing all the windows on the east side in early November, then possibly covering the upstairs balcony with some pergola type thing – this will hopefully reduce the extreme weathering which isn’t doing the leaks any favours.

xxx

Made Ottolenghi’s Iranian vegetable stew with dried lime last night. Tasty, but not a lot of bang for buck and likely not to be repeated. There was quite a bit remaining, so I’ll attempt to bubble-and-squeak that during the week.

I’m very keen to expand our repertoire of non-meat dishes, so the quest will continue, though perhaps with recipes requiring less exotic ingredients.

I cooked while Don watched I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Call me a philistine, but I absolutely loathed it.

xxx

The most excellent Dame Eleanor posted this quote during the week and holy goodness it’s on point:

“It is wonderful how much news there is when people write every other day; if they wait for a month there is nothing that seems worth telling.”

This is probably the biggest posting gap I’ve had for a very long time and I’m astonished that I once found something to post about every day.

250/2020

Spring isn’t messing about this year – boom! Blossom, new growth and of course pollen and moulted cat hair everywhere.

And itching, so much itching, puffy eyes and face, and more itching. I stole some of Don’s antihistamines this morning. It’s helping a little.

Interesting how you can develop these intolerances in middle-age – or maybe it’s no longer spending my days in a sealed environmentally controlled box and being more exposed to fresh air?

xxx

Long time readers will be aware that the ThePalace(OfLove) has been leaking pretty much since we moved in – because this is possibly the dodgiest warehouse renovation in Sydney.

And just as one leak is expensively fixed, another issue will fill the gap [repeat, repeat, repeat]. Lately it it’s been the drain which runs inside the cupboard in Bessie’s old room. There’s a breach in the pipe (due to the dodgy installation) which has caused part of the cupboard floor to rot away, the paint to peel from the walls and a whole bunch of damage to the carpet. The drain pipe is also way too small for the purpose, so the gutter occasionally overflows causing water to pour through the ceiling.

It’s been getting worse lately, so we had our favourite plumbing co around to assess. This involved holes.

JuniorPlumber tried an interim fix (which worked – hurrah!), but had us believing we’d have to rebuild half ThePalace(OfLove) to properly remediate the issue. This caused us not a little anxiety.

BossPlumber came around the next day and was like – yeah nah, (still very expensive) X and Y should sort it. We had a builder mate of Don’s boss come out the next day to quote on the rebuild, he recommended we go with BossPlumber’s solution. Given Builder Mate was here anyway, we’re having him quote on some other work around the place.

We decided a while back that we would prioritise holidays over home improvements. But now that travel is off the table for possibly years and years, and we’re at home most of the time we’ve reassessed a bit. And it’s probably sensible to get the big ticket fixes done now rather than when we have no money in retirement.

We’ll be living in chaos for a bit, but hopefully will be able to hear rain at some point without it triggering panic.

xxx

I’ve written before of how I have this ridiculous predisposition to deprive myself of *things*, which is something I’d really like to work on.

But sometimes it is helpful to ban stuff. I completely stopped reading the news about three weeks ago and the impact on my stress levels and mental health generally has been pretty dramatic.

I now let other people be bringers of news to me, so when they say for example, “have you heard X?” rather than my former “Yes! And let me tell you additional information about X because I am so plugged in!”, I’m more “No! I haven’t! Tell me about it”, which lets both them and me feel good.

You should try it – even for a little bit.

xxx

In this same depriving myself of *stuff* vein, I banned myself from chocolate a couple of months ago because my clothes were becoming uncomfortably tight and I was feeling leaden and flat. Yes, banning food is indeed the antithesis of intuitive eating.

After sitting with the ban for a while, I realised the chocolate wasn’t the problem. My nightly habit of eating something for dessert when I wasn’t at all hungry was the problem. I stopped. It’s made a huge difference.

Next I’d like to get away from this mindset of using food as a reward/treat – it’s a hard day – have some biscuits! you’ve done a good/hard thing – have a cake! I mean these things don’t actually need “rewards”, do they? I may as well say: I’m alive – have a block of chocolate!

It sounds utterly loony, but I’m trying a short meditation as one alternative – quiet, calm time is pretty helpful. Some quiet time hand-sewing. Reading a couple of pages of a book. Sitting outside taking in the sky. I’m learning to make a proper cup of chai on the stove-top – delicious and calming.

If these things work as we ramp up to switching on Project Sulfur at the end of the month, they will work in all manner of other highly charged situations!

243/2020

Already?

I’m assuming it’s hazard reduction burning and that bush fires haven’t started already. But of course who knows in these crazy times?

Also a lesson that I should not walk outdoors without a mask on smoky days. Blergh, I feel rather dreadful as a result.

How soon we forget!

xxx

I’m uncertain what The Universe is trying to tell me but today I found another phone on my morning walk. I also found a drivers licence.

The phone and the licence do not belong to the same person.

Must have been crazy-wild times in my suburb last night!

xxx

Sadly my DFH course wrapped up this week. Those 12 weeks passed incredibly quickly.

Naturally all this inner-work is a journey and whatevs, but it was a fantastic place to start. I loved it utterly.

At the very least it’s definitely gone a huge way toward curing my pretty toxic productivity addiction – totally worth the price for that alone.

xxx

I spent a good deal of time yesterday copying photos from my phone to computer. You’d think this would be simple, and indeed it used to be so, but lately iphones and windows do not play at all nicely together.

Here’s that periodic reminder to back up (all) your stuff, kids!

229/2020

I suspect I’ll look back from the future and wonder what I did in the last three weeks.

Not a lot, Future Self, not a lot.

xxx

We’re at the tricky part of ProjectSulfur where everyone is going bonkers and stress is high. Yes, it does indeed seem that we’re always in some tricky part of the project.

I’m the only female in the project leadership team, the others are old white dudes, mediocre bossy old white dudes – who think they know it all and aren’t afraid to let you know it.

It’s super-exhausting. Sometimes I dream of a new glorious career that is not IT adjacent, but I fear this dominance of bossy know-it-all mediocre old white dudes is not at all limited to IT.

There’s quite likely no escape.

xxx

I took Wednesday off and suitably masked, went into the city for a bit of light shopping and a solo lunch. It was lovely, almost normal. It was nice to exchange idle chit chat with shop assistants. I felt relatively refreshed afterward.

I do need to find a re-useable mask which suits my rather large Western nose for such outings – so much squishing.

After 257 days I abandoned my clothes shopping ban and bought two pairs of pants, a dress and a hoodie. I’ve said it before, but I don’t know why I try to challenge myself to go without things I enjoy. Almost like I want to punish myself or that I think I am undeserving of nice things. Okay, it’s exactly like that.

I’m working on it. The DFH course (sadly only 2 weeks remaining) has been spectacular for getting this work started. The big challenge will be to keep it up after the course is over.

xxx

In surprising news, one of my stone pine seeds sprouted!

Amazing prehistoric type shape! Crazy to watch it unfurl!

No sign of movement on the dragon tree.

I took the maples from the fridge and shoved in seed raising mix yesterday. I’m not entirely confident with these – maybe the seeds sort of disintegrated, because I couldn’t really find any in the soil. Still, if anything sprouts it will be a delightful surprise!

xxx

Making fair progress on the cross stitch sampler for the team baby. I may have been slightly over-ambitious (who me?) picking this particular design.

At the moment I’m enjoying it, but I suspect the enjoyment will not last to completion. I’ve made a pact with myself that I’ll abandon if I start hating it and buy a gift instead!

Because I hadn’t quite appreciated how much my eyes have deteriorated with age, I treated myself to a magnifying light which is utterly amazing. It will make all manner of future projects so much easier.

xxx

After two years (plus a couple of short covid extensions), Joan’s time in the UK is almost at an end. In a couple of days she’s off to Switzerland to stay with her boyfriend Ovi for a bit.

I’ll be a little more comforted when she has safely arrived. I keep expecting another lockdown of borders and I’d hate for her to be stuck again.

No idea when we will see her in person – getting back into Australia is astoundingly expensive, if it can be done at all.

xxx

What are the odds of finding a phone in the street on your morning walk and when trying to locate the owner, discovering that your ex-husband (who lives about an hour away) is one of the contacts?

Quite a trippy experience.

xxx

I’ve successfully managed to avoid the relentless news fire-hose for a week now. My sleep is much improved as a consequence.

Even after a week I feel staggeringly ill-informed, but I wonder if that’s actually a bad thing.

Likewise probably not a bad thing to be staying away from the internet generally. It used to be such a great place, but now I think on balance, not-so-great and to be largely avoided for leisure.

xxx

I hope things are well with you.

208/2020

Oh yeah, I have a blog.

Random miscellany ahoy.

+++

We’ve just ticked over into 4 months of remote working. I feel like my body is moulding into the the shape of my chair, but otherwise I’m loving it.

Don is back in the office two days a week, which has been very weird to adjust to. No signs of us heading back in – the option is available on a quite restricted basis, but only 3 people in 100 have taken it up.

I’ve been driving a bunch of engagement stuff across SML on slack since we went remote, which has been pretty well received across SML – and recognised at Board level (*shocked face emoji*). People are connecting in ways they never did when we were office-bound, which is lovely. But holy!goodness! it’s really quite exhausting and takes a ton of mental energy and eats up non-work time. This is likely why I’ve been absent here. Need to work out some balance.

+++

In other SML news, this week Vincenzo received a very well deserved promotion, which he’ll take up at the end of Project Sulfur. We’ve been working together for eight years since he was a fresh baby employee in his first office job. It’s been incredibly satisfying being involved in his development and I’m wildly excited for him. It will be fun to be peers.

+++

We’ll have our first team baby at the end of the year! Mildly terrifying because the employee in question is Joe/Frank’s age. I adore her and she is completely wonderful and way too much like I was at the same age (clever, capable, outspoken, bossy). And in an astoundingly progressive move from SML, we offered her a permanent role knowing she was pregnant. I’m determined that we will make her working mother experience the best we can.

I wanted to make something to celebrate it, so I ordered in supplies for a Harry Potter counted cross stitch sampler. I haven’t done counted cross stitch for maybe 25 years! While I’m never going to make anything cross-stitchy for myself, baby stuff is super-cute. I’ve gridded up the fabric and am waiting for thread conditioner to arrive before getting started. I recently used beeswax to coat my thread for stitching some felt coasters and now understand why everyone raves about it – tangles and pull-knots begone!

+++

Though I’ve started a dozens of sample chapters, I’ve only read two books in the last 4 months:

+ Jeff Noon: Falling Out of Cars . Very slow bedtime read at the beginning of iso – such a wild ride and utterly an appropriate book for that crazy time (discovered via the all my stars newsletter)
+ Leigh Stein: Self Care – described as a satirical novel about the wellness industry, which pretty much covers it.

Enjoyed both.

This is really unlike pre-covid-19 me who forever had a book in her hand or ears.

+++

Don has taken a wee trip up the coast to play golf for a week, holidays being out for me right now because I need to be around for Project Sulfur which rolls out early October. I will definitely be in need of a break after that!

We’re trying to embrace the idea of doing what we can, when we can – because who knows what tomorrow will bring?

194/2020

Minimalist weekly update.

Things are slowly opening back up here: Don’s now back in the office two days a week; I met with my team for a pub lunch on Friday to farewell a colleague; I caught the train for the first time in almost 4 months; Don and I have been out for a couple of casual meals and one very fancy dinner.

Compliance with health directives varies both from businesses and individuals and the sense is that all this freedom is not likely to last. Melbourne has seen a resurgence in coronavirus cases and is now back in lockdown for at least 6 weeks. Surely only a matter of time before we’re in the same situation.

+++

That lower back is still giving me some trouble, but is nowhere near as agonising as it was last week. It occurred to me yesterday that I should engage my abs when bending down so I don’t put so much pressure on my back. Why it has taken 30-or-so years to realise this is one of those mysterious mysteries.

+++

MY DFH course continues to be brilliant – and is definitely one of the better things I’ve done for myself. The most recent talk was on toxic productivity and inner critics – lots for me to unpack there!