things you think will be cool until you are faced with them

I was randomly placed on the jury roll for NSW late last year.

Since then I’ve been called up for a 13 week trial, a 26 week trial and a 24 week trial – all of which I’ve fortunately been excused from with a supporting letter from Bobs. The gist of the letter being that SML is small, I’m leading Project Sulfur during this period and there is no-one else to replace me.


project sulfur – visual representation

Based on the experience of others, I knew the summonses were going to arrive with increasing frequency until I turned up at court. And sure enough, earlier in the week I received yet another letter – for another 24 week trial. Seriously who has a life that they can take almost 6 months from?

This time the compelling letter from Bobs did not work.

I received word on Friday afternoon that “my reason was not accepted”, so I will be turning up late September begging and pleading to be put on a shorter trial. In addition to the career damage in missing 6 months of a project (sulfur is a BIG opportunity for me), there’s significant financial disadvantage if I am put on any trial that lasts beyond 10 days. SML is required to make up the difference between my salary and the very meagre jury stipend for that period, but beyond that one is expected to survive on very little.

I could definitely get into a hysterical spiral here about all the other issues this will cause, but I’m trying very hard to be zen about it. Hah! just writing that made me spiral a bit.

I’ll prep all I can with more supporting evidence, but in the end this one is in the lap of TheUniverse!

I expect I will spend a good amount of that late September day in tears and/or hyperventilating.

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brain work


pretty delighted by this photo – my afternoon commute

After a break of 180 days (coincidentally the same day I hit 1000 days on the no drinking), last week I decided I’d give instagram another bash.

While I infinitely prefer blogs and endlessly carp on about missing the old days of blogging, I do very much like keeping up with my Imaginary Internet Friends. And unfortunately the majority have mostly abandoned blogging, but are reasonably active on the ‘gram.

I’ve greatly culled the list of people I’m following, set myself to private and am eschewing hashtags. I’ve also kept notifications disabled.

So far I’m managing and feeling positive about it – whether this vibe continues will be interesting. Well, interesting to *me* – undoubtedly rather less interesting to *you*.

If you’re into an endless stream of cat photos and miscellany (but let’s be honest, mostly cats), I’m mme_carolbaby.

xxx

As part of all that reflecting I’ve been doing, I’ve really want to prioritise getting back to doing more creative *stuff*. I’ve lost this in recent years – looking back through the archives I once did all manner of crafty things, where did that all go? I’ve somehow developed such bizarre perfectionist tendencies which make it difficult to commence anything.

There’s been WAY too much focus on worky work in recent years and I’m now experiencing a lot of that pretty standard mid-life questioning of “what is my identity outside of being a mother and wage-slave?”

Anyway, I’ve made a small no-pressure list of things I’d like to explore over the next year or so and stuck it to the noticeboard next to my desk. I made a great start with the kintusgi class and I’m keen to do more. I’ve abandoned the monthly facial in favour of craft-classes and supplies. It was exceptionally lovely treat for those seven months, but I’m keen to move on to something different. And hey, I’m old and wrinkly, and I live in a very harsh climate. Pretty much nothing I do is going to turn back any tides – and I kind of want to use those $ expand my brain a bit.

The list:

+ cabled jumper of the dastardly pattern
+ a mary walker phillips-type knitted piece
+ patchwork quilt made from quirky tea-towels
+ another flouncy skirt
+ another bagggy dress
+ more kintsugi
+ more embroidery
+ resin class
+ glass class
+ ceramics class
+ drawing class
+ boro class
+ silver class

I’ve discovered textile artist which is full of astoundingly talented contemporary textile artists. I’ve found this incredibly inspiring and have lost a good amount of time reading. I mean look at the work of Amanda Cobbett – dazzling!

Now I need to get on and do something!

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four digits

Minor sobriety milestone today!

I celebrated with a short walk and a very excellent pie at the pub (and the purchase of a lamp at ikea).


celebration pie

It has been a long (long!) time since I’ve felt like consuming anything alcoholic, but I do enjoy these little celebrations of significant dates.

(Even felt remotely human for a while there – nary a sniffle or cough – perhaps the end is in sight?!)

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cough, sneeze, sniffle: august goalz

I’ve now entered the second month with this cold.

I’m much (much!) better than I was, but still have the occasional cough, runny nose and husky chest (channelling my inner darth carolbaby). And a Giant cold sore (second of two Giant cold sores). And cuts and nicks all over my hands which are taking an age to heal. And my skin is horrifically dry. In essence, I’m falling to bits.

GAH!

I speculated during the week that stress is manifesting itself physically, which I guess is preferable to being a mental wreck. I don’t actually feel at all stressed, but perhaps I would if I was not ill.

Rather than wallow in it, I’ve attempted to do very gentle things to slowly improve my health. Last Saturday for example, I took a gentle 45 minute stroll around the neighbourhood. This felt glorious during and after. Unfortunately the next day my cold symptoms returned with a vengeance – so perhaps even gentle strolling is too much.


killer slow stroll last weekend

Possibly allergies to pollen and such? I’m giving it another week before I head to the doctor.

I think this inability to recover is what I get for ever-so-slowly letting exercise fall by the wayside. First I abandoned running, then weekend cycling, then the daily 100 pushups|situps|squats, then cycling to work, then yoga, then the exercise bike, then walking to work. You get the idea. That and my formerly quite disordered eating have left me much (much!) less healthy than I realised.

Last week Vincenzo and I recently re-instituted a health and wellness challenge in our team and dragged out the template we used from July 2016.

A sample of my activities from one of the weeks:
+ Run > 5km
+ Bike ride > 40km
+ 100 push-ups

You what now? My mind, it boggles – 3 years later and this level of activity seems completely inconceivable.

My sole focus for August is to become well! And perhaps ramp up to some gentle activities in September.

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soft core july: fin


what a naughty adorable poppet (<3 that phone camera!)

Momentary appearance from my not-literal sick bed** to reflect on those soft-core July intentions.

Given that I was unwell for half the month (just as recovery is in my sights, I’m struck down again – it is Very Tiresome and has happened twice now) and that I was aiming for chill, I did reasonably well.

Though if I’m honest I forgot about half of these – I’ll carry them over into August – along with GET HEALTHY!

+ get out in nature minimum 3x per week
NOPE! The weather has been spectacular and I did get out for a few excellent lunchtime walks, but not with the frequency I’d hoped. Illness did rather put paid to that toward the end of the month.

+ endless embroidery: complete year 13 | frame it!
YES! It’s hanging on the wall next to the bed and I’m delighted by it.

+ knit one row of jumper per day
Started, knit 5 rows of pattern, stopped, repaired cable crossing wrong way. Stopped again.

Realised that pattern is not entirely the same as the photograph – the pattern has the diamonds starting at the point after the ribbing, the photograph mid way. I prefer the photograph. Other than that, I’m finding the pattern in quite challenging in other ways (outlined here). I’ve a mind to write it out as I would prefer to knit it – that would probably be good for my brain.

+ sit for 2-5 minutes each day and write Japanese notes
NOPE! I absolutely will get back to this.

+ one night per week without internet
NOPE! Though I have had some nights where I’ve sat quietly and read a book, it’s not been in any formal, structured way.

xxx

** I have lost the whole zen “this enforced rest is a gift! what an excellent time to relax and reflect!” and now am somewhat (a lot!) grumpy and slightly champing at the bit to get moving about.

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work to be done: two

ARGH! How can I have another cold already? Or possibly a recurrence of the same cold?

TheUniverse obviously thinks I need a little more enforced rest and Thinking time, so who am I to argue? So a bit more on those Thinking Thoughts …

In those recent “what will we do in our retirement?” discussions with Don, I mentioned I’d like to spend time taking all manner of creative-type classes. Later after thinking on it, I realised it was kind of dumb to wait to do anything about this. Apart from the fact that we’ll have significantly less disposable income in retirement, wouldn’t it be better for me to begin investigating activities I might like to do now? Why wait until #2026 to start?

And I did precisely nothing about following it up.

And then I read the end of procrastination which cemented my thinking. Enjoy the journey! Devote time to the the things that align with my values! Carpe the whatevs and take action now instead of waiting!

And still I did pretty much nothing to progress it.

FINALLY after a whole lot of Sick Day Thinking and inspired by the excellent anyresemblance’s recent flower arranging class, I signed up for kintsugi at my local Community College.

All the materials, including the pre-broken plate, were provided, so I just needed to turn up after work on Wednesday evening with an apron to protect my clothes.

I’ve never done any sort of craft class before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect (and was ever-so-slightly concerned that I’d be the only old lady). But I really, really enjoyed it! It was a great and diverse small group of people and really positive and enthusiastic vibe.

We used a modern kintsugi method with epoxy, putty and brass powder (the traditional method uses lacquer and takes many, many weeks) and were encouraged to take pix of our progress – but obviously I needed no encouragement to whip the phone out.

The highly summarised steps below – there was quite a bit of un-photographed digging and scraping:


first step – file a channel into the edges of your broken plate


second step – 2-part epoxy your plate together and washi tape around the channel


third step – fill the channel with 2-part adhesive putty


fourth step – paint 2-part epoxy over the putty and sprinkle with brass powder


fin

Let’s just say I’m not going to win any kintsugi awards any time soon, but I am so very glad I went!

We got to keep the tools and brass powder, so later in the week I grabbed some supplies (including wee plates to break) to practice on with the idea that if I improve, I’ll sign myself up for a proper class using the traditional method.


supplies

I now also have quite a list of other classes I’d like to try – from resin, to weaving, to enamelling, to drawing, to boro, to soap making, to glass platter making.

I’m so accustomed to teaching myself to do things, but I could definitely really get into this more structured creative learning!

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protip #01

If you’re running low on coat hangers, check your baby girl’s recently decluttered cupboard before running out to purchase more.

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60before60: #10 complete my endless embroidery | don’s something special – FIN!

Finally (finally!) after 20 months, I’ve completed the endless embroidery! I wrapped up the stitching last weekend, framed it today and I’m pretty happy with the result.

HURRAH!

Well, kinda sorta completed it. Obviously being an endless embroidery, it will technically never be finished. My plan is to remove it from the frame on each anniversary and complete that year. So I don’t have to dig it out in September, I’ve cheated a bit and gone ahead to the end of Year 13. That’s 4,749 days or 4,749 tiny hearts!

The background to this project is in this ancient post. Executive summary: a tiny heart for each day since our first date, kind of inspired by the utterly brilliant work of Rieko Koga and Christine Mauersberger.

Yes, it’s very, very sappy. But hey, I totally own my sappiness – though my past self would be kind of appalled at this.

Getting to this point took quite a bit of patience and attention; sewing hearts in careful groups of ten stitches so I could keep count; getting through many audiobooks; stitching at the beach, at my desk, on the bed, the couch; recovering the red hearts when half of them fell out; realising I’d added an extra day to three of the later years; only stitching in daylight because my eyes are old; only stitching wearing glasses because my eyes are old; protecting from interested kitties!

On with the pix-or-it-didn’t-happen (though I don’t think the photos really quite do it justice).

The linen is quite light and delicate and I’ve left it crumpled. It reminds me a bit of an elderly map – which I guess you could say it kind of is if you’re of that way of thinking.


frame – without glass only for the photo


gold heart to mark the wedding!


red heart to mark anniversaries!

When I learned to embroider as a wee girl it was considered vitally important that the back was as neat as the front – so for this project I took the opposite approach.


back – i quite like this side too

I didn’t fix my starting or ending stitches either and left the threads loose which is also against the embroidery law. This subversive approach is what led to those single red hearts dropping out – quite the nightmare to repair!

Despite the tiny dramas, I enjoyed this so much that I’m planning my next embroidery project. This one will be based around trains from our three trips to Japan. This project is likely to be endless too, because we’ll definitely be returning. Fortunately I’ve recorded all that train data because, well that’s what I do.

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work to be done: one

What’s up with all that reflection and thinking? Lately there’s been a lot of it.

It started with the realisation that my my July plan to eliminate all snacks from my diet on top of my existing efforts at intermittent fasting was really disordered and kind of insane.

So I started reading about emotional/binge-eating, which lead me to the tons of podcasts and blogs on intuitive eating. This eventually landed me at the original intuitive eating text – Tribole and Resch: Intuitive Eating.**

Lots of this resonated with me. While I am really quite happy with my current size, my thinking around remaining slender and food generally is completely bonkers. I spotted myself in many of the examples mentioned in the book – identifying food as bad, last suppers (eat all the chips now and tomorrow I’ll be good!), treating minor slips in “good eating” as excuses to eat All The Things (I’ve had a piece of chocolate, I may as well eat the family-sized block | I’ve had a spoon of ice-cream, so I may as well eat the tub – in one sitting!). Wow. I could go on and on.

But this example from chapter 2 really hit home for other reasons:

Ted clearly did not see himself as a dieter, merely as a careful eater. Yet it turned out that he was an unconscious dieter. Although Ted was not actively dieting, he was undereating to a level where he was nearly passing out in the afternoon … In the mornings he would go for an intense hilly bike ride for one hour, then come home and eat a small breakfast. Lunch was usually a salad with iced tea … By suppertime, his body would be screaming for food. Ted was not only in severe calorie deficit, but also carbohydrate deprived. Evenings turned into a food fest! Ted thought he had a “food volume” problem with a strong sweet tooth. In reality, he had an unconscious diet mentality that biologically triggered his night eating and sweet tooth.

Yikes! I totally am Ted. Or a fairly close approximation of Ted. However unlike me, Ted was actually eating breakfast and lunch – however meagre. All I was consuming every day until I arrived home in the evening was two coffees (one french-press with a splash of milk, one macchiato), a pot of green tea and maybe the occasional orange.

Gosh – maybe my increasing ditziness and struggles to think clearly are not from old age and stress, but simply because I’m not fuelling my brain?

GAH! WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?

So obviously as a first step I began eating lunch. Admittedly a pretty small lunch!


half-sandwiches are excellent when you don’t have much appetite

And then because paying $5 for half a sandwich is quite ridiculous, I’ve started making my lunch.


slightly bigger, probably normal-sized lunch

And magically, since I started this new regime, I’m no longer eating us out of house and home each evening. Please insert the eye-rolling emoji of your choice here.

I’ve still a long (long!) ways to go with this and much work to do, but I feel about 80 billion times better already – both mentally and physically.

xxx

** The book wasn’t available at either library, so I figured $6.28 wasn’t going to send me to the poor-house and bought the kindle edition.

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can’t credit the drugs


neighbourhood camelia

The two days in bed was exactly what was required and I was much improved afterward.

I was unusually sensible and continued to take it relatively easy for the next week. There was much rest, reading and doing not-a-lot. Well doing not-a-lot physically – there has been very much Thinking, Reflection and Assessment/Reassessment. I’ll bore you with those insights at another time!

Recovery was astoundingly speedy given how unwell I was. I have subsequently been cheerful and positive in a way I’ve not been for a very, very long while. For many consecutive days! It’s surprising and wonderful.

Whether happiness is due to recovery, all that thinking or that I’ve had minimal contact with Bobs over the last two weeks has not been determined.

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