We crashed Scott’s cousins’ camping site in Walkerville for a night after Christmas. We weren’t there for long but had a lovely time hanging out with the cousins and their kids. We hiked up to the lookout, looked for crabs in rock pools, identified birds. I love that area.

Not really the best year… we spent at least part of 7 out of 12 months in lockdown here in Melbourne. I got pretty depressed, especially when I thought about how long it had been since I saw my family, and how much longer it was going to be.

However we have really learned to take advantage of what you can do when you can do it and still managed to squeeze in a fair amount of fun stuff.

Some good things that happened in 2021:

  • We still managed to find new places to explore in Victoria. We went to Bright, Echuca, Pyalong, Warburton, Little Desert, and Walkerville (post to come). I think the only corner of the state we haven’t visited yet is Mildura… maybe next spring? There’s a good birding area near there.
  • I got to go to Adelaide twice.
  • I made a lot of new friends through a Melbourne Discord group.
  • I picked up a few new hobbies: photography, knitting, pottery, weaving, and bird watching.
  • The Dees won the AFL Grand Final.
  • I became Australian.

Work has been fine. We were pretty busy, but I am lucky that my hospital is a “clean” hospital and we don’t actually have any covid patients. Occasionally we have to put on all the PPE for unvaccinated patients, or lung scans, but in general I have it pretty easy compared to many other healthcare professionals.

Same questions as last year:

PBs: snatch 47kg -> 47kg, C&J 55kg -> 58kg. My back squat also improved a fair bit. Not bad for mostly training alone in the garage I guess. I’m glad my clean and jerk improved but I wish I didn’t waste a snatch attempt at my last comp and didn’t get to try for a new snatch PB. I knew I could do it! Hopefully we get to compete more often next year.

New board games: Only one… Caverna. Thank you to Vicky and Pat for mailing all their children a gift card to buy something to cheer ourselves up during the darkest part of lockdown 6.

Books: I didn’t read that much this year. I spent most evenings trying to get dopamine from endless Instagram scrolling. I have lots of books on my list to read next year though. Here’s the few I did read:

  • Sins of the Brother: The Definitive Story of Ivan Milat and the Backpacker Murders – Les Kennedy and Mark Whittaker – disturbing, interesting, not the best to read right before bed
  • American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins – page turner, people hate this book though?
  • Anxious People – Fredrik Backman – hard to get into at first because writing kind of weird I think – didn’t finish
  • Boy Swallows Universe – Trent Dalton – writing a bit funny and hard for me to follow but then got good, Australian
  • Nothing To See Here – Kevin Wilson – strange one, i liked it
  • The Midnight Library – Matt Haig – corny, predictable
  • The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller – someone on instagram tricked me into a reading a mythology book! I wish everything I had to read in school was written like this.

Great New Recipes: Again, didn’t really cook that well this year. Just didn’t have the energy. But here’s a couple:

Oh and a cheddar update for Rosemarie: I just cut open the bag, which had a disturbing amount of liquid squishing around with it… and NOOOO… it smelled like winey-cheese-barf. Did not try. I put it in the bin.

2020 Thoughts: Super grateful that we had our own comfortable house to lockdown in. Grateful that neither of us lost our jobs. Grateful for my home gym and remote coach. Grateful that the hard work all Victorians did during the winter lockdowns paid off and we actually get to enjoy our summer Covid-free (so far). Come on vaccine. I would really like to see my family again.

Well we got the vaccine at least… Scott and I are both triple vaxxed as of a few weeks ago.

Last years goals: Whatever man. Just survive. (yep, accurate.)

2022 Goals: I dunno. Not get covid?

2021 Final Thoughts: This year is finishing off pretty nice… the weather is great, we got to have a normal Christmas, and it’s summer fun times all the time. The government has completely changed their stance on covid and now we’re just letting it rip? We’ll see how this goes. I’m just hoping it lasts because we have a few big things planned in 2022 and I REALLY hope they don’t get cancelled.

South Australia finally decided to open their border, JUST in time to squeeze in a quick visit to see Cassia before they moved to Spain. By chance we already had a few days booked off at the same time to go camping at Bear Gully, but we cancelled that booking and decided to roadtrip to Adelaide instead, via Little Desert National Desert, which is about half way between Melbourne and Adelaide.

One of the creepier giant things in Australia. Near Grampians National Park.

Tis indeed a dry place. SO MANY FLIES.

Thank goodness it also had a river flowing through it because it was FLIPPING HOT when we were there. The water felt amazing and also gave us a break from the flies. We spent many hours floating on our water hammocks (in our full body bathing suits), something that I have been craving for the last couple years.

Camp shrimp stir fry.

We went for three short hikes. We were hoping to see different birds due to the different landscape and area but spent most of the time swatting flies instead. Some of the hikes had information sheets available though with lots of fun facts, which I enjoyed.

We learned about the Malleefowl, an endangered bird that makes stupidly complex mound nests out of sticks and sand and then lets it decay and compost to get it to the exact right temperature to incubate the eggs. Didn’t see any, as expected.

We decided to stop in Dimboola for a post-hike ice cream. I noticed an error on their sign post…

This guy was waiting for us back at camp. What a ridiculous bird. How can a wild bird be so big??????

Scott spotted this guy from the car as well. I had to get a friend to help identify. It’s a red-rumped parrot, even though we can’t see the red rump at all. He also had a beige female friend as well, but I cropped her out of the pictures haha.

There were a few Eastern Rosellas flying around camp too, but they were hard to get a good picture.

The campground was very quiet the second day so the bouncy boys came a bit closer. Scott took those pictures before I woke up.

We left fairly early the last day to get a good start on the rest of the drive to Adelaide. We didn’t know how long the border check and required covid test would take.

Quick photo stop at the Pink Lake of course! So salty!! Crusty AF! So cool!

October was much less depressing. Things are finally getting back to normal here in Victoria.

Our allowed radius increased to 15km so we finally got to try Moon crullers. They were very good and very pretty, but very very oily. I think I enjoy regular Lune stuff better.

We walked off the crullers in Yarra Bend Park. We were trying to find red-rumped parrots but didn’t see any.

Scott got a bunch of supplies to get into resin casting for a belated September home-based #SMAJ activity. We tested it out by casting a little metal bird thingy, board game pieces, and a soy sauce bowl. I’m trying to sculpt something to cast next but I keep getting distracted.

I did finally finish this C2C crochet blanket. I made the eight squares a looong time ago but have completely forgotten how to do it and had no interest in re-learning, lol. So instead I cobbled a blanket together with random coloured double crochet borders and stripes. I know it looks ridiculous but whatever, it’s DONE.

We met up with Jemma and kids in a park in our overlap zone for a picnic. They enjoyed throwing the frisbee into the trees and getting Scott to get it back.

I mentioned in my last post that we went to a specific area that my friend told me about to try and find tawny frogmouth but didn’t find any. Literally that night I’m lying in bed and I thought I could hear one?? They make like a MOOP MOOP MOOP MOOP sound. It sounded sooooo close and I got up to look out the window and I thought I saw something fly off.

So the next night I hear it again and Scott and I went outside to see where the sound was coming from and he was sitting up on our antenna!! He comes to our house almost every night! We call him Gawny the Tawny and I love him.

I became Australian! I wasn’t expecting my ceremony to be until at least January, and probably later because of lockdowns, but then I got an email that said they would be doing the ceremony by zoom in a couple weeks!

The mayor of our council talked a bit, and then we all said the pledge together, and then she said we could each introduce ourselves and say something about our journey to becoming Australian and what it meant to us to be Australian, which gave me a heart attack because I wasn’t prepared for public speaking.

Scott took the afternoon off and decorated the house, and cooked us kangaroo burgers for dinner, and the whole family gave me a gift card to get an Akubra hat. It feels so nice to have it done. I have already registered to vote and submitted my passport application!

The garden has not been going as well as last year at the same time point. It’s been COLD, so a lot of things didn’t sprout. It has also been WET, so everything that does sprout gets eaten by snails. It has also been WINDY, so everything is battered and bent over. I thought it was going to hail at one point so I ran out and put the laundry basket over my tomato seedlings!

At the moment the zucchinis look like maybe they are big enough to survive the snails, the salad stuff is growing fine, and the roma tomato seedlings look ok. The rest are pretty small and slow (chilis, beans), or still non-existant (herbs, eggplant!!).

I finally got to go back to the gym!!!! This is the thing that made me feel normal again. Also I swear I get like a 10% bonus in the gym. (Sophie says really it’s a 10% deficit in the garage.)

Oh and there was a couple weeks before the gyms were allowed to reopen that we were allowed to go to people’s houses so I got to at least train with Sophie in her garage a few times, which was great as well.

October #SMAJ was a day trip out to Warburton. We got delicious pies for lunch and then went for a walk along the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail. It was nice to be out in nature but nothing super particular to photograph. On the way back there were like TEN kookaburras flying around and laughing at us! I have never seen or heard that many at the same time, it sounded crazy and chaotic!!

Apparently Scott helped build this bridge with the army in 2000.

Unpictured stuff… there is a lot because I keep forgetting to take pictures when I’m with other people. It takes so much more of my mental energy to remember how to socialise again.

  • My friend Steph moved to Canberra so we had a goodbye picnic. Well technically two side-by-side picnics because we were still only allowed to meet 1 friend outdoors at that point, lol.
  • Family dinner at Brett’s. We still can’t have fam dinner at Scott’s parents house because that is too many visitors. But if the house that we go to has more than 2 people that live there then it’s NOT too many visitors. Even though it is the exact same people. Get it? Haha. A couple more weeks and we should reach 90% double vaccinated and then I think the last few restrictions go away.
  • Went out for lunch with Ash and Charlie. Unfortunately we were up on a raised balcony and it was flipping freezing. But the company was nice.
  • Scott can play bowls again. He also got a pair of rollerblades and has been skating around parking garages.
  • We did N95 mask fit testing at work. About time eh? Apparently I have a very average shaped face because I passed the first 4 mask types that we tried.
  • Finally got to go to Costco and re-stock all our staples. And finally got to have a massage. I still haven’t been brave enough to go to any other stores though, it’s been bonkers busy everywhere.

Not the best month tbh. Still in lockdown. Everything still closed and still can’t see anyone. Although it was exciting when our radius doubled from 5km to 10km. :/

I still decided to take a week off from work, and Scott took a few days too. Even if we can’t really do anything it’s still nice to have a break from working. We spent the week cooking elaborate foods, doing a lot of crafts, watching ER.

Here is a bunch of jumbled pictures from the last month.

Making chicken wontons in my dumpling sweatshirt.

At home hotpot with leftover wontons, lots of mushrooms, tofu puffs (didn’t like them though), and veg. The broth was sooooo spicy.

Ottolenghi harissa eggplant and beef kofta. This was very very good.

Rice paper rolls with basa, mango, lots of veg, rice noodles, coriander and mint, with peanut dipping sauce.

I decided to paint the wall in the garage on my week off. I wasn’t sure how hard it was going to be so I kept my plan pretty simple. I kinda think it looks like a public library now though…. I’m not that happy with it. I might add a bit more to jazz it up a bit more maybe. Or maybe I’ll just paint over it and start again.

Scott’s parents sent us a card and some money to buy something to make us feel better. We decided to spent it on Caverna, a board game we have been wanting for a long time. It’s a bit like Agricola 2.0. I like it so far.

Scott trying to attract birds?

We were trying to find tawny frogmouth but all we found were a lot of rainbow lorikeets and mynas.

I fell off my bike. By biking straight into the boom gate at work. It really hurt.

However the Dees winning the Grand Final cheered me up after my accident. It was a great game. We started off strong in the first quarter, then the Dogs pulled ahead in the second quarter creating some tension, then part way through the third quarter the Dees kicked approximately 1000 goals and absolutely dominated for the rest of the game. By mid way through the fourth quarter we actually could relax because we were so far ahead.

Of course I’m sad that we couldn’t go to the game either here or in Perth. I’m really hoping that they are still good next year and we can actually go and experience the excitement in real life. The games should have great crowd atmosphere next year with all the Melbourne supporters coming out of hibernation.

The fam sent us an awesome charcuterie box for the game.

What I thought was going to happen when Maxy hoisted the cup with Goody after the win. (Or that Goody’s arm would get ripped out of its socket.)

I sewed myself an apron because I splash food on myself while cooking all the time.

I ordered a cheapy weaving loom off ebay for fun. It is pretty relaxing to use and works up way faster than a lot of my other types of craft hobbies. Dunno if it’s my new favourite thing or anything but it’s alright. Anyone need any coasters?

Nice flowers on a walk around our neighbourhood.

SITTING IS ILLEGAL.

Scott figured out how to crochet adorable baby hats! He has a new project in mind but the yarn is backordered and the postal system is paralyzed at the moment so it might not happen for a while.

Other unpictured stuff:

  • we planted some of our summer crops: carrots, zucchini, herbs, spinach, lettuce, sorrel, chinese eggplant, beans, chilis. It’s all started ok except the eggplant still hasn’t sprouted.
  • I did an online trivia night with my internet friends. It was fun. We won.
  • Still squatting a lot in the garage. Strength program is going pretty well.
  • I actually got called in to work. My third time in three years, lol, super different than my old job!! I just need to get called in three more times and then I can buy myself the RF 100-400mm lens I have my eye on. Might take three more years….