Lockdown Life

Since we have returned to “normal” life, after our adventures, we have been in lockdown with the rest of Melbourne and Victoria. My husband misses his weekly golf games with his mates and looks forward to when he can do that again. I am quite happy and occupied at home. We are both fully vaccinated.

Images during lockdown life 2021

These are some of the things I have been doing:

  • Family History Research

After decades of saving bits of information, stories, and photographs, I am finally compiling it all and see an end in sight. A bonus has been the remote access to the Ancestry Database. This has allowed me to fill in lots of gaps and extend my tree.

So far, I have found 22 ships that our ancestors arrived on, mostly from England, Ireland, and Scotland, one American, and one German. Three convicts on my side and one convict on my husband’s side.

Some of the ships my ancestors arrived on emigrating to Australia

I have one mystery that I cannot solve, and he is a key ancestor. I have found him in England and found him in Australia, but I don’t know when he arrived exactly somewhere between 1851 and August 1853. Perhaps there is a major misspelling somewhere that has not translated well into the digital files.

The excellent course I completed online through Future Learn has added a richer dimension to my research. I know what I am doing. Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree, Future Learn UK.

  • Exercise
    • Walking within the five-kilometre restriction. This can include a solid upward walk with views of the bay. Logging these on Strava gives an added interest.
    • Cycling along the foreshore track now and then.
    • Unfortunately swimming at the local pool is not allowed at the moment. We look forward to when we can go back there regularly.
  • Creating
    • I finished an oil painting that I had on my easel for too long. Marg’s elephant at Salvia Court. And started a new painting.
    • Cooking lots of yummy food that we then have to share between the two of us. Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue Pie, Apricot Sour Cream Tart. Practicing for when our family can get together once again.
    • I practice playing my piano occasionally.
  • Media consumption
    • Reading The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes. His interpretation of those early years offers only stories of flawed humans, on all sides of the equation, trying to survive on this Earth. There are no heroes in this tale.

Searching for Phosphorescence

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird explores ideas around the things that can lift us when life gets us down.

She begins poetically with the enchanting existence of phosphorescence in the natural world. I loved her descriptions of lit-up underwater creatures and this drew me in.

Julia goes on to talk about people who seek the deeper beauty that exists in this world: storm-chasers, divers, forest bathers, silence seekers, tree huggers, cloud appreciators. I relate to these ideas as here she validates my own deeper yearnings and life pursuits.

With my smartphone handy I enjoyed looking up more information about the people and ideas Julia mentions: Nick Moir, Robert Hoge, and others.

Julia touches on feminism and her own indecision about using her hard-earned title of ‘Dr.’. Her ideas on ‘lookism’ I appreciate and needs more exploration generally.

My interest waned a little when she discusses religion but given where she was in her own precarious battle with cancer, I understand.

Returning to the initial ideas of searching for phosphorescence in the underwater world was a nice way to close the book and reignited my own sense of wonder.

Retired Life

So what have I been doing since I left Library Land?

It is amazing how fast each day goes by and I fill the days with things I love to do. Such as writing, cycling, walking, knitting, sketching, playing my piano, reading, listening to music and podcasts, taking photographs, yoga, making healthy plant-based meals, and more. #retiredlife

retired_life_activities

Reflections of 2018

Once again, prompted by Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity, I look back on the past year to recall what went well and what didn’t go so well.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8651

What went well:

  • My days that I spend with my granddaughter are filled with exploration, discovery and fun. We walk, read, swim, play, tumble, ‘cook’, sing, draw, and play the piano.
  • Our new granddaughter arrived in November and the calm I feel when I just sit and hold a baby is so full of love and peace.
  • A warm holiday in the sun at Noosa with my husband, where we caught up with family.
  • The 2Cellos concert in Melbourne.
  • MOMA exhibition at the NGV with my daughter.
  • Returned to Portland for the launch of their refurbished library. Caught up with colleagues and friends. Remembered how far it is to drive there!
  • Netflix
    • Secret City
    • The 100
    • The Bodyguard
    • The Killing
    • Line of Duty
    • Animal Kingdom
    • Lots of others
  • Books read
  • Podcast favourites
  • Author Talks that I organized as part of my work at Frankston – the highlights:
  • Completed the Branching Out Certificate with the State Library Victoria.
  • Local champion for the Libraries Change Lives campaign and attended the launch at North Fitzroy Library in September.
  • Finished my personal Family History Scrapbook.
  • Continue to enjoy retreating to my house, surrounded by native birds, I feel like I live in a bird aviary. The sea breezes carry the sounds of the sea to blend with the birdsong.
  • Playing my piano.
  • The team of people I work with are supportive and dedicated.
  • The recruiting process for new staff is an experience I enjoy, especially when the results are beyond expectation.

What didn’t go so well:

  • Work continues to be unstable, changeable, and challenging. This is partly due to the changing nature of public libraries and how people consume media. Also state and local government priorities change in response to community needs.
  • I have little free time due to work commitments and the daily commute.
  • I have not exercised enough.
  • Road cycling is not something I do much of now.
  • I had several Basal Cell Carcinomas removed from my neck.
  • A winter cold resulted in a persistent cough that has been hard to shake.
  • I have not done enough yoga, meditation, or walking.

Go deeper in 2018

It’s great to have an overarching focus, theme or motivation to dedicate a year to. And I like the ideas offered by Leo Babauta and David Cain about ‘going deeper’.

David sees it as a mark of maturity and here he explains the parameters of his idea:

“No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started. You improve skills rather than learning new ones. You consume media you’ve already stockpiled instead of acquiring more. You read your unread books, or even reread your favorites. You pick up the guitar again and get better at it, instead of taking up the harmonica. You finish the Gordon Ramsey Masterclass you started in April, despite your fascination with the new Annie Leibovitz one, even though it’s on sale. The guiding philosophy is “Go deeper, not wider.” Drill down for value and enrichment instead of fanning out. You turn to the wealth of options already in your house, literally and figuratively. We could call it a “Depth Year” or a “Year of Deepening” or something.”

Leo has taken hold of this idea and adopted his own list of rituals that include: meditation; fitness; healthy eating; yoga; etc. He asks:

“Are you willing to live with constraints of your own? Are you interested in going deeper or wider? What would that look like for you?”

So my thoughts around this and ideas for 2018 are:

  1. Meditate daily using Insight Timer
  2. Yoga twice weekly
  3. Plant-based cooking and eating
  4. Piano practice daily using all the music I currently own
  5. Walk, swim and cycle regularly
  6. Finish the Family History scrapbook that is almost done
  7. Write in my journal and on my blog
  8. Play and swim with Lily
  9. Work of course and this takes up most of my time
  10. Read the content saved to my Feedly list for professional development and creative inspiration
  11. Practice French using the books I have
  12. Read the books from my bookshelves or from the local library. My Goodreads challenge is set for 50 in 2018 and I have already finished 4four this month
  13. Cook recipes from the cookbooks I already own
  14. Plant more things in my garden
  15. Paint pictures using the ideas, canvases and materials I already own

Square eyes

“You’ll get square eyes if you watch so much TV.”

This was a familiar catchcry from my mother to me when I was a child. And I admit I loved watching television. Brought up on Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, Skippy, and Get Smart, I am a product of the television generation. Later in my teens I would hurry to get my maths and physics homework finished in time to watch the Monty Python TV series.

Back in the 50’s when TV first arrived in Australia my father was an electronics nerd and built a crude TV with the screen and not much else, by his description. When I said to my parents at three years of age, “I see two TV’s!”, they realised I probably needed spectacles; and I have worn them ever since.

FullSizeRender

How viewing has changed though! We are in the midst of huge change. Since we had the NBN connected I don’t often watch the mainstream TV channels anymore, instead switching over to Foxtel or streamed channels. Binge watching series favourites such as House of Cards, Suits, and finding new creations such as The OA, in between episodes of Game of Thrones, have transformed my weekends into marathons that do indeed make me feel like my eyes are getting squarer. Surfing the YouTube content is a pastime sure to waste untold hours that could be better used. Now I’ve heard of Gregg Braden just because he cropped up in the YouTube feed, and many others via Oprah’s hyped-up Super Soul Sessions.

Once I listened to commercial radio stations like 3XY for hours in my room, or later in my car driving to and from University. The first music album I bought for myself was The Essential Beatles on black vinyl. Nowadays I am an avid podcast listener, preferring to choose my content free of awful advertising that disturbs my serenity.

A typical evening’s viewing consists of something like an AFL football match on the big screen, my husband searching GumTree on the Mac on his lap, and me with my earphones plugged in to my iPad watching Suits or Utopia. I wonder if my highly connected father, who was an expert in HAM radio and Morse Code, would enjoy this lifestyle of multiple screens.

Given that I have taken on the challenge to #glamblogweekly I must accept that some of my content might ‘suffer’.

Re-imagine your truth with IN-Q

I am listening to a podcast by Rich Roll, hearing him talk to IN-Q. I am inspired by their discussions about vulnerability, authenticity, honesty, and truth. IN-Q is a modern-day poet of note, rubbing shoulders with Cirque du Soleil, President Obama, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and others.

Poetry is a beautiful genre that allows people to share their stories and speak their soul. ~ IN-Q

As a teen IN-Q wanted to be a rapper, and his poetry reflects modern day America. It is raw, witty, intelligent, spiritual, gritty, and moving.

The man with many hats

So these past three weeks (indeed this whole year) have been life-changing, defining, difficult, enriching, surprising, sad, busy, purposeful, supportive and a privilege – for me.

We left our jobs. We sold our house and most of our stuff. And we moved into my father’s house to be with him as he battled Mesothelioma. My transition was from a full-time, employed, busy, professional, to a full-time carer giving medication around-the-clock and worrying as my father got weaker with each passing day.

Stanley Frederick Smith passed away this morning at about 5am in hospital. I had seen him yesterday, and he gave me a huge smile when he opened his eyes and saw me – a gift. But I felt his time was limited. It was so sad to see such a clever mind be limited by illness and drugs: so sad to witness your own father grow weak.

Of course I knew him as my father, but as I sorted through his files I got to see more of the person. He was a funny bloke who loved a joke. He loved to stir, rile and rouse others. His wit, puns, and jokes were a constant source of entertainment for others. But he was not a clown.

He cannot be defined by one label. He wore many hats. He was: a professional; a manager; a boss; a methods engineer; a car lover; an artist; a friend to many; a president; an organizer; a leader; a committee man; an active member; a foodie; a cook; a HAM radio nut; a Morse code practitioner; a photographer; a joke teller; a conversationalist; a talker; a geek; an intellectual; interested in physics and astronomy and mathematics; a life long learner; a language learner; a family man; constant companion to Margaret; a life participant; an independent thinker; and a kind person.

18 Stan xmas no mo 90s copy

His files were full of jokes, photos of classic cars, caravans and caravan trips, people gathered in groups eating together, and people enjoying each others company. He was a people person.

While his time has ended and he is probably reunited with my mother, my own life journey pauses between life chapters. We will mourn, pay tribute, share stories, then sort out the accumulated possessions and legalities. Then begin the next phase….I have some ideas.

Points of perspective

Here I list some of my random thoughts and impressions after one year in this new location and lifestyle (in no particular order of relevance or preference):

  • Have settled into this new life
  • LOVE the new vistas
  • Needed this change of scene more than anything
  • Miss my kids and parents achingly
  • Feel I have escaped the “ratrace”.
  • Realise I am not a “country person”.
  • Have not seen evidence of the fabled “country charm”.
  • Am amazed at the lack of world view by many country-folk.
  • Feel a sense of impending doom.
  • Have seen/experienced the effects of the population/cultural explosion/collision in Melbourne and want to warn the locals of the approaching tsunami.
  • Feel like a foreigner in my own country.
  • Have read the local history of Portland and realise how this has shaped the culture of the town.
  • Love the look of the old buildings especially those made of stone.
  • Always feel sad at the sight of another dead koala on the road and wish I could protect them.
  • Love the local bird life.
  • Still want to live in France (not sure why) but realise the culture/population problem is far worse there.
  • Am looking forward to settling into our new house.
  • Feel proud of what we have achieved with our building project.
  • Miss friends, workmates and lifestyle on the Mornington Peninsula.
  • Portland is a “blokes” paradise.
  • Love the regular trips to Melbourne on a small (20-seater) plane.
  • Appreciate Melbourne more as a visitor.
  • Miss regular and varied choices of movies to see at the cinema.
  • Have not established a regular exercise routine yet.
  • Feeling healthier as a probationary vegan.
  • Enjoy listening to audio books in my car as I travel the country highways.
  • Love the weather – the wind, the cold, the rain. Sunny days are gifts.
  • Love living beside the wild open sea.
  • Enjoy the variety and challenges of my job.
  • Have made some new friends.
  • Grateful to have a constant companion/friend/husband to share this with.

Food for thought

Food is one of life’s great pleasures. I have always had a hearty appetite and yet, like so many people, my experience with food has been a journey of discovery, understanding, and getting to know which foods and drinks best nourish my body.

My interest in healthy food began during my teens and I tried to convert my family to whole grain bread and less salt. I accepted the intellectual argument against cow’s milk and still choose soy milk when I can, but without fanatical avoidance of all things dairy. Your Life in Your Hands by Professor Jane Plant  offers an extremely convincing argument against all dairy foods.

Over the years I have been my own guinea pig and tried: food combining; vegetarianism; Leslie Kenton’s raw food; Dr  Sandra Cabot’s books; Eat Right for Your Type; the CSIRO diet; and the rich European style of eating. I think that the CSIRO diet comes closest to a sensible, nutritional, balanced and manageable plan for eating for life. Balance, portion control, and variety are the keys.

It can be confusing and even more so when we are “fed” on TV The Biggest Loser closely followed by Master Chef. On the Biggest Loser they plead with us to exercise, diet, and stay away from fatty foods, shunning butter altogether. As a society we are fast heading towards chronic obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in alarming numbers.  Then Master Chef tantalises our taste buds and challenges our culinary skills, all the while piling on the butter, fats, and sugar.

Recently I read somewhere that there could be a connection between migraines and gluten in the diet. This is new to me, but seems to make sense. Often my migraines feel triggered by poor dietary choices and particularly if I’ve been eating too much carbohydrate in the form of bread or pasta. So I ransacked the library shelves for books about gluten-free cooking. This led me to the book “Gluten-free girl” by Shauna James Ahern and her blog. Reading her story made me feel very sorry that as a child she was fed a very poor processed American diet. There must be so many people living in the wealthy West brought up on poor nutrition. Yet we are so lucky in Australia to have so much fresh produce easily available; and so many different cultures to learn from and eat as they do.

The theory behind Eat Right for Your Type by Dr Peter D’Adamo sounded right to me when I read it years ago. He states that wheat in particular is bad fuel for people with my blood type. Wheat is the food containing gluten that is so widely used in our diets. It is very difficult to avoid wheat and its products I found.

So on to my next experiment in order to find a diet that nourishes me, keeps me healthy, and does not add excess weight. For breakfast today I made Sweet Quinoa (organic) Fruit Compote from the book Wheat & Gluten Free. It was not bad but required far more cooking time at breakfast than I am accustomed to, and has left a strange aftertaste. For lunch I had avocado, salmon, cream cheese, and salad on a corn wrap. Time will tell how successful I am at finding alternatives to wheat and the impact this has on my health and BMI.

It is not only important to try new ideas and foods, but also to listen to your own body. Only you can feel how food is affecting your body. We are all indeed different, live different lives, and have differing nutritional needs. While vegetarianism may intellectually be a good idea, not all of us are suited to this regime and soon become starved for protein and iron. Your body will soon tell you, so take notice.

Let food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” ~ Hippocrates