trials of a manageress

Conversations with new team member** …

Conversation 1

Me: oh, you cycle? cool! what do you ride?

New Team Member: you wouldn’t have heard of it.


Conversation 2

Me (on hearing his daughter had just finished university):
oh wow, that’s crazy! my youngest just completed a design degree too!

New Team Member: oh but mine did honours

Me: (ffs, is this what we’re doing now?):
gosh, what a coincidence! so did mine!


** older guy, previous long term role in senior management at small high-profile organisation, pivoting into different area, reporting to me. We had some reservations when recruiting, but decided to take a chance because of his experience and because he sold himself incredibly well.

Yet another lesson that if it is not a HELL YEAH, it’s a no.

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Finally, finally a couple of weeks ago we had the two non-functional air-conditioners replaced!

As is always the way with any maintenance on ThePalace(OfLove) this was of course not entirely straightforward.

I can’t quite remember what the actual diagnosis was, but [whatever] meant that we needed replacement pipes? drains? … something like that.

This meant that the unit in our bedroom needed relocation and the installers had to cut into the walls to access the various bits they needed. Never mind that there is a perfectly functional services duct less than 50cm away – the original builders had ignored that and gone through the walls. Of course they had.

We’re now left with some rather interesting … ehancements … to our bedroom.

I saw the empty space now above the bed not as a diabolical mess potentially costing quite a lot to repair, but as an opportunity to acquire new artwork – and serendipidously we had a VIP pass to Sydney Contemporary for that very night.

Surely TheUniverse was telling me to buy art?!

Alas, despite best intentions (though fortunately for the bank balance) what the TheUniverse was actually telling me that we needed a pleasant night out and rather than buying art we should save our pennies for repairing those multiple holes in the walls and ceiling! At current rate of pace that should be some time in 2024.

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We’re members of an our state’s automobile association, which is well worth the annual subscription to cover us for breakdowns, flat batteries and the like.

Our membership includes a bimonthly (if that’s the word I want for every two months) magazine which appears to be next to impossible to unsubscribe from and contains such amusements as curmudgeonly letters to the editor about the lack of adherence to road rules**, pensioner travel package deals, car reviews, and advertisements for hideously expensive realistic baby dolls and nationalistic jewellery.

And this month, an advert for a simple mobile phone for the elderly!

And from the testimonial of Mrs Emily Jones (… if that’s her real name) …

The EasyPhone should be awarded gadget of the year for the over 50s

Over 50s? You what now?

It’s so simple to use. I normally need my son to show me what to do, but not with this phone.

You know that horror-face emoji? Consider that inserted here.


** I can actually totally get behind the majority of these curmudgeonly letters #getoffmylawn

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I’ve just hit the 6 month mark with this go-round of yoga. This is by far the longest I’ve ever kept at it – and if I can’t run, it’s my second best option!

The studio around the corner does iyengar – which is all about doing things properly, correct form, building up slowly and using lots of props (blocks, bolsters, blankets). I realise how ridiculous my previous attempts were – especially trying to push myself too hard to be all extreme and competitive**. Now I’m focussed so much on trying to be correct that I barely pay attention to anyone else. I could do without the 6:15am starts though.

Future yoga goals are with suitably long time frames:

+ Janu Sirsasana (head to knee pose) – April 2019
+ Chaturanga Dandasana – June 2019
+ Salamba Sirsasana (head stand) – December 2019
+ Adho Mukha Vrksasana (hand stand) – April 2020

** golly! all the stupid and exhausting things I did to try and prove that I was worthy … of … something.


And quite the sobriety milestone today!

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One of my #smallgoalz for the weekend was to finally complete that pink cowl I started back at Easter.

and we’re done

It’s now blocking, but despite careful handling I rather fear it has stretched beyond what’s wearable.

And of course the temperatures are now such that a cowl will really not be required for many many months.

I need a sensible (somewhat challenging) knitting project – that I will actually get some use from!

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leave for too long and you forget how to string a sentence together

After keeping at it for a few weeks, I think I’ve finally found my groove with the library and the return to analogue books. I seem to have picked up my reading pace and I’m taking a fairly ruthless approach – if a book isn’t doing it for me, I’ll abandon and move on to the next.

One pretty obvious positive with the library is access to lots of books at zero cost. Kindle books are actually pretty cheap, but free is obviously a whole lot better! Of course not entirely free as I’m indirectly funding the library through tax and rates, but hey I’d be doing that anyway.

It feels like I am accessing a diversity of reading material that I wasn’t from the amazon store. While there are undoubtedly many (many!) times the books on amazon compared with the local library, I’m invariably recommended the same type of pretty awful stuff (and have learned that any book with a variant of “gripping thriller full of twists” appended to the title is to be avoided). Random browsing on the site yields very little of interest either. I’m enjoying the novelty of aimlessly wandering around shelves for an hour or more randomly grabbing books.

And because of the relatively small typeface size in analogue books, I’m needing to wear my reading glasses a lot more, which means that … well, I wear them. To supplement my proper glasses, I’ve bought a bunch of inexpensive reading glasses (of the same prescription) to store in strategic locations around ThePalace(OfLove) and a pair for my bag. This positive habit has meant that I’m wearing glasses in many other suitable situations – on the computer, on the phone &etc. And amazingly – *rolls eyes* – those headaches have magically disappeared.

I did return very briefly to ebooks when my pre-order of Kristi Coulter: Nothing Good Can Come from This: Essays was delivered to the kindle. Adored it, love her writing and the subject matter is obviously pretty close to my heart! Recommended.

Sadly, as much as I have found my way again with paper, there’s nothing quite like being able to press on a word and have the definition pop up. I had to break my flow several times with this book and take to my phone.

and lambent means just what you think it would in the context – radiant, glowing – other new-to-me words include sedulous, coeval

Fortunately most of my reading is not so high-brow, but I’d quite like to get it there.

Yesterday I picked up my latest (third) haul:

1. You don’t have to live like this : a novel / Benjamin Markovits
2. The woman in the window / A. J. Finn
3. Under the net / Irish Murdoch
4. A severed head / Iris Murdoch
5. The book of souls : a Detective Inspector McLean novel / James Oswald
6. Things we nearly knew / Jim Powell
7. The laughing policeman / Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
8. The haunted man [sound recording] / Bat for Lashes
9. The annual 2017 [sound recording] / Ministry of Sound Australia


And the second haul – added for the permanent record:

1. What Katie ate : recipes and other bits & bobs / Katie Quinn Davies
2. Diary of a bad year / J. M. Coetzee
3. Commonwealth / Ann Patchett
4. So Frenchy, so chic [sound recording] : unofficial soundtrack to the 2017 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival
5. So Frenchy so chic [sound recording] : unofficial soundtrack to the 2018 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival
6. The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie [videorecording]

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first world problems

My first working-from-home-one-day-a-week was blissful. I smashed through the grocery shopping in record time and threw on a casserole to slow-cook and fill ThePalace(OfLove) with deliciousness and warmth. Sure, I worked until about 10pm, but the trade-off was totally worth it.


I expected things to continue in this vein or perhaps even improve. Hah!

The next few weeks were kind of crazy and it was all I could do to get out the door to the supermarket, and shopping took much longer – not at all helped by the travelator at the shopping centre being out of commission for three weeks. Efforts to incorporate the slow-cooking into the day were causing no end of stress – and resulted in very late dinners or scrambling to find a replacement and carrying over the casserole to the next night.

Today was probably my least satisfying experience to date – involving a bunch of calls, extremely tight deadlines, collaborative prep for a presentation tomorrow (I hope what they say about bad rehearsals is somewhere near true), being dragged into other people’s extremely tight deadlines, trying to negotiate other very aggressive future deadlines with 10 different people, and then a bunch of number crunching admin (otherwise know as investigating someone else’s screw ups and not actually my job anymore) late into the night.

In amongst this choas I managed to make it to the supermarket, butcher and fruit&veg and put on that casserole (Nigel Slater’s rib ragout with pappardelle) quite a bit later than I’d hoped. When I grabbed the freshly bought pork ribs from their bag I noticed a rather unpleasant odour. I’m often hypersensitive to this sort of thing – so tried to ignore it and kept at the prep. But it niggled at me and the smell wasn’t really dissipating even after rinsing the ribs off and patting dry. Checked with Joe/Frank and he was non-committal – possibly/maybe (is that what pork smells like?). Mentioned it to Don who was still at work and he agreed I was probably overreacting. All was good and I left it to simmer for an hour (of three) and went back to my enslavement. When Don arrived home, he was all “dinner smells great!”, then lifted the lid of the casserole, wrinkled his nose and said, “oh ummmm yeah, I see what you mean”.

Reader, we ordered pizza.

Lessons learned:
+ it is ridiculous to assume I can do everything.
+ even managing to get the shopping completed is a huge win, I don’t need to cook extravagant things too.
+ be extremely wary of patronising that butcher again (not the first time something like this has happened – expensive lessons).

In related news, SML is stressful and I am currently eating all my feelings. I should probably stop that.

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of course it got me

Ugh! That incipient cold became full-blown during the week and I’ve felt all sorts of miserable.

I’d estimate that it’s been around two years since I’ve had a cold. I’ve generally been able to head them off with lashings of vitamins (and quasi-vitamins) and rest. I was really starting to feel quite smug that I’d found the secret to cold avoidance – hah! Thanks Universe – good to keep me grounded.

Thankfully I’m now into the coughing stage (from the most unpleasant nose-dripping-like-the-proverbial-tap stage which lasted many days), so it shouldn’t be long until this is over. However I’ve also now developed a delightful giant cold sore, which will likely be with me for the next few weeks – perfect!

Of course this means that I’ve missed those restorative yoga sessions that I was very much looking forward too. Ah well, next month.

I suspect that it’s the lack of regular cardio that did me in. I really need a run – even a short one. And SML has been the usual chaotic chaos, which is probably contributing to the low resistance to whatever germs are passing by.

Today I’ve been laying about ThePalace(OfLove) in a slothful state reading my library books, which is no bad thing at all. ThePalace(OfLove) could probably do with a clean and I’m ignoring all thoughts of the all-day workshops ahead of me on Monday and Tuesday, which might get quite … tense? tiresome? maddening?

I’d forgotten that sometimes the publisher tells you lovely wee stories about the typeface in analogue books. Everything I read on the kindle is pretty much in helvetica – so reading a paragraph or two about a typeface is soothing and wonderful. Could all this reading be the start of my own personal technology backlash? What might I foresake next?

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a random collection of weekend things – also i am not getting sick

Another of those weeks which just got away from me.

I can report that I did everything on the last weekend to do list. Well except the worky-work. I was inspired to abandon that by a comment from the excellent james. I liked not having that hanging over me so much that I didn’t bring my laptop home this weekend and I’m hoping to continue this trend for the indefinite future. SML gets enough of my soul during the week, I need to carve out some quality sanity time.

I was pretty glad to get to Saturday morning yoga (starting off the day right!). Spring is definitely almost upon us as it was fairly packed, you really have to get there about 15 minutes early to get a decent spot – even then it can be touch and go. It’s back bends week and he worked us quite hard. I felt pretty awesome afterward and slightly regretted skipping Friday – skipped because I woke with another gosh-darned horrible headache and took the opportunity to go back to sleep until 7am.

Don returned from golf around lunchtime and because traffic was appalling, we walked down to one of the local pubs to grab a quick lunch and some dark Mexican beer for the chili I was planning for the afternoon.

ginger beer and beer beer

adequate chicken burger – i really wanted a salad, but the menu was bare

I discovered refinery29’s money diaries and became quickly sucked down a rabbit hole. I’m definitely less about the money more about the diaries – they’re just like mini-blogs! It’s probably no secret that I find how other people live incredibly interesting and I love these – even though I am old enough to be the mother of the majority of the diarists. Many have such a similar voice that I’m occasionally questioning their veracity – even as I start to write like that myself. Possibly this style is contagious, similar to how you pick up accents after being around people with accents (or maybe that’s just me?).

Spent the afternoon making chili for dinner and puff pastry for the chicken pot pie Don had planned for Sunday then sat about watching footy (and being astounded that the Ducks won their game) and generally slothing about.

I finally finished my first library book! Going back to reading analogue books has been extremely interesting. I would have easily polished off this stack of library books by now if they had been in e-book form, but as it is I’ve completed only one! Will have to renew the stack.


Sunday is the only day we go to yoga together, the others are me solo indulging my new Enthusiasm. Back bends again – this is not as spectacular as it sounds, it’s more about the stretching than contorting and flinging selves backward. Next week is restorative which involves lots of draping selves over *stuff* and holding poses for a long time. This *is* as excellent and spectacular as it sounds. I will definitely make it to those four classes – even if Wednesday and Friday mean getting up at 5:50am (ugh).

We were planning to wander down to the park to watch the local baseball grand final this afternoon, but it was terribly windy and quite cold, so we nixed that idea pretty quickly. I feel like this was wise because I feel like I may be getting a cold. Probably this is due to being trapped in interminable meetings in small rooms with consultants who have colds. And WHY (OH WHY?) DO PEOPLE** LEAVE USED TISSUES ON THEIR DESKS? There is a bin right there, dude! And tissues are plentiful – here, have my spare box!

What we did do instead was go look at air-conditioners and booked a home site visit for Wednesday. This will give us an installation quote, which is likely big $$$ because the units are on the very, very tall roof. The unit in our bedroom has been out of commission for a couple of years and I don’t think Joe/Frank’s has worked in the 6 years we’ve been here. I keep reading that we’re in for a really hot next couple of summers, so I think it’s time. Sorry environment – I promise we’ll use them sparingly. We did look into getting our existing ones repaired, but apparently that’s a no-go. Stupid planned obsolescence.

While out we looked at new beds. A super-fabulous high tech bed machine assessed us and advised we should go for a plush mattress. Our current mattress is like a plank, so little wonder we find luxury hotel beds so marvellous. We tried some beds, we fell in love with a bed. Thankfully and sensibly, we left the store without a bed.

Then we started on our FY2018 taxes – yikes – there will be no $8,000 beds in our immediate futures (amazingly comfortable or not).

I spent the rest of the day scoffing cold-and-flu tablets and vitamins, resting, knitting more pink cowl and reading more money diaries. I was very thankful to Past Me who spent last evening making that puff pastry. The pie was delicious and very comforting!

** such as the senior consultant with the staggering daily rate who is sitting at the visitor’s desk adjoining mine.

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achievable achievements

This weekend I intend to:

+ worky-work – for one hour maximum
+ go to yoga on Saturday and Sunday
+ read my library books
+ make this favourite cake from a long-missed blog
+ develop a ruthlessly practical garden plan (well, to be fair it’s more of a balcony plan)
+ take a good hard look at the garage clutter
+ get stuck back into the knitting I started at Easter

easter knitting – this pattern

If I can manage even 1/2 of this instead of mindlessly sitting in front of my computer for hours on end, we’ll call it winning!

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