I was finally able to make it out to one of the Birdlife photography group outings! They get together once a month and it always seemed to be on a day that I couldn’t go. But this time I could. We went to Lysterfield Lake. I was a bit scared to go, but there were plenty of friendly people, and at least there is an activity… so you don’t have to talk the whole time. It wasn’t the best conditions for birds or photography so I didn’t get any great pictures but it’s still nice to get out and get some birdwatching practice.

Scott got me tickets to Cirque du Soleil Crystal for Christmas last year and it was finally time to go! We liked it, it was neat to see the new stuff they could do with the added ice element… like big long swooping things while hanging from ropes and stuff. And Scott liked the hockey boys doing jumps and flips. I thought the actual circus stuff wasn’t near as precise as a normal Cirque show though. The story was pretty weird too.

We had galettes beforehand at Roule Galette. Scott had beef bourguignon, and I had a potato-y one and a mulled wine. Lovely.

My friend Bis’s birthday dinner wish was for us to go out and everyone had to pick a dish to share. It was great. This was half the food.. I should have waited until everything arrived to take a picture but at that point I was too busy stuffing my face. I picked a soft tofu dish.

Melbourne was playing Hawthorn so we sent a message to Shaun to see if he wanted to go to the game together (he goes for Hawthorn). He said sure, meet us at this park at this time. We arrive at the park and there are like 20 children there and many adults. Turns out it was Shaun’s son Finn’s birthday party and everyone was going to the game together!! Cupcakes were a nice surprise!

So we ended up watching the game with Donna’s family too. A fun day. And Melbourne won.

I saw this meal on an Instagram reel. It was delicious!

Bendigo Woollen Mills sock yarn socks are done! I’m quite pleased with them. Socks are a great travel project because they’re so compact.

I learned how to do two-colour knitting by making a vaguely Melbourne-themed hat. I tried making a pom pom for it but I tied it wrong and it exploded everywhere. I didn’t really like how it looked anyway. I would like to get a navy faux fur pom pom but haven’t found where to buy that yet.

My next project was to finish up a kids jumper that Vicky started about ten years ago for Beau. He’s about six feet tall now but luckily there are two other small kids that it can fit now. It was a fun challenge for me to figure out where she was up to in the pattern and finish it up.

Unpictured stuff:

  • I went to a nuc med day conference down on the peninsula with a couple coworkers. We saw a guy with a motorized golf bag!!
  • Used the movie tickets I won from getting a written compliment at work to see the Barbie movie. I liked the movie but I was annoyed that most of the punchlines had been spoiled already on the internet/TV/radio/literally everywhere.
  • My weightlifting friend came back from Canberra/USA and it has been so nice having her at training again. We even got the old Phoenix ladies out for dinner one night too, which was lovely.
  • We’ve been playing pickleball pretty much every Sunday. Scott and I did a lot of practice together to prepare for an upcoming tournament.
  • I actually got called in to work on the weekend. Quite rare. It was a tricky case too. Thankfully my boss is very nice and volunteered to come in with me and press the buttons on the computer for me so I didn’t have to get gowned and ungowned a bazillion times.
  • Apparently we went out for dinner for a #SMAJ event but we didn’t take any pictures and I can’t remember what it was.
  • Japanese brunch. Trivia. Knitting club. Weightlifting training.

When we first booked this Canada trip we thought we’d only be able to see Rosemarie on the weekends so Scott and I booked a three day kayaking trip way up at the Northern end of Vancouver Island with North Island Kayak.

The weather and water conditions were perfect. No rain at all. Mostly sunny with one moody misty morning. At some points the water was like glass! I kept yelling out “How is this the ocean???!!”

We saw tons of humpback whales in the distance from the campground but didn’t end up seeing any orcas. The orcas were behind schedule… yay climate change.

The other people in the group were friendly.. we had a Brit couple, a Swiss girl, an older Canadian man, and our guide was a young Canadian dude. We didn’t have to do any of the cooking or cleaning, and our tents were already set up for us with humongous elevated sleeping mats. It was all very luxurious.

I lost my mind a little bit when I found out they made dairy-free Nanaimo bars for me.

My arms definitely got tired, but thankfully Scott is a machine and just kept paddling, while I took FREQUENT breaks. Basically we’d do about one to two hours of kayaking at a time, broken up by meals and snack breaks. And it was at a verrry relaxed pace. Over the three days we went the entire way around Hanson Island.

One of the most memorable parts for me was when we kayaked through this little crevice at low tide. The rock walls on both sides were covered with super droopy sea anemone and urchins that were now out of the water. The looked like snotty testicles. Never seen anything like that before!! We went through twice. That’s where we saw the giant morning sun star fish as well.

While we didn’t see any orcas or bears we did still see tons of wildlife. I loved when the eagles flew over us, and kayaking past the rock sausages (seals).

BC is great.

We did a lil weekend away on Phillip Island to see the penguins.

We had a traditional bakery lunch of pies and vanilla slices in Cowes. Then we went for a stroll on a short boardwalk in Rhyll to kill time before checking into our Airbnb. We saw wallabies and birds and interesting fish, all within one kilometer!

Then we drove out to the Nobbies. As usual it was very windy. We saw one penguin hiding underneath the stairs. Then it started to rain so we ran back to the car.

We took an alternate route from the Nobbies back to the Penguin Parade that was actually great. A winding dirt road along the coast with sweeping vistas and tons and tons of Cape Barren Geese.

Picture from the Penguin Parade website.

You’re not allowed to take pictures at the Penguin Parade so I don’t have any of my own to share from that part. But it was so cool!!

Paul picked for us to do the Guided Ranger Tour option. When we arrived we got taken to a special room where we got headsets and binoculars, and the ranger started giving us information. Then we slowly walked out to a special viewing area where we watched the penguins come in out of the water, and then we walked back along the Penguin Highway where you can see them up close, all while getting even more information.

I think only 20% of the penguins come out of the water near the general viewing area, and 5% came up right to us, and the other 75% came out near the Penguins Plus grandstand that was near where we were.

I thought we were going to see maybe like 200 penguins but we saw 2000!!! (1999 on the beach plus the one under the stairs at The Nobbies.) There were penguins everywhere. They were very cute. We especially liked watching and listening to them slap slap slap across puddles. They also make lots of weird noises.

If you think we look over-dressed… it was forecasted to rain a lot!! And it was freezing. So we wore a lot of layers. But we got super lucky and it didn’t rain at all! #blessed

Pretty pleased with my sweet new t-shirt as well. It’s a two penguin moon!! :D

Then we had Vietnamese food for dinner in Cowes, watched a bit of footy on TV, and went to bed. The next morning we had a lovely breakfast in Rhyll and then headed back to Melbourne so we could make it back in time for pickleball.

2022 was pretty great. I managed to have two whole months of sister time!

Good things that happened in 2022:

  • Rosemarie came to Australia! It was so nice. We did so many fun things, ate so many delicious things, played so many games. We went to Wilsons Prom and Fraser Island. I wish she could come every year.
  • Solidified friendships with Discord pals. Lots of fun parties, games days, crafternoons, and meals out.
  • We finally got to go to Canada and see family and friends after more than 3 years away.
  • We went on a few small trips to Flowerdale, Sydney, and the Grampians.
  • We learned to play pickleball and became slightly obsessed.
  • I learned to knit sweaters.
  • I committed to lactose free life and feel a lot better.
  • I went on an epic trip by myself to Queensland. Already brainstorming another one…
  • We got invited to quite a few BIG parties: three weddings, two 40th birthdays, and a 1st birthday that was just as big as a wedding!
  • Got binoculars and saw many new birds.

PBs: Snatch 47kg –> 48kg in comp, and 49kg in training. CJ 58kg –> 58kg, but I did 60kg one time in training. Back squat 73×1, Front squat 58×2, Deadlift 80×1, OHP (in Sotts position lol) 34×1.

I didn’t improve much on paper in weightlifting this year. But I think I still did improve. I think I’m due for some bigger PBs in 2023.

Also I didn’t have any major problems with injuries so that is something to be very grateful for.

New board games: Viticulture, Concordia, Wingspan Asia, Mahjong, Kingdomino, Azul Summer Pavilion. We played 31 different board games with 29 different people!! We played A LOT of games in 2022 compared to other years due to spending so much time with Rosemarie.

Books (in rough order of favourite to worst):

  • Pachkino by Min Jin Lee – A book about multiple generations of a Korean family living in Japan. Enjoyed.
  • The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah – A kind of sad good book about a family going through a terrible life in USA in the 1930s. Why are people so awful.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – A somewhat depressing book about the oppression of women in Afghanistan.
  • Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – Kind of cute. Some clever funny writing.
  • Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner – Made me sad and hungry.
  • The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue – A clever nurse working during a pandemic. Emma’s books are always very readable.
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes – Who wouldn’t like a book about fierce lady librarians.
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – Good, about two sisters who go totally different ways.
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell – This is written by someone I used to be in an Livejournal community with! Reminded me a lot of what happened with the music teacher at my high school.
  • The Push by Ashley Audrain – Didn’t really like that the book was written in 2nd person, but overall a very thrilling story about a psychopath child.
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – A bit lighter, made me want to go surfing in California
  • Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel – Weird to read a book that has covid in it. Some nice Canadian descriptions.
  • Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker – Very pro-sleep, even naps. I skimmed through a bunch of chapters because I already knew the stuff from my BSc Neuroscience days.
  • In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead – I thought it was a pretty stupid book. Kind of immature. Written in annoying alternating chapters.

Great new recipes:

Favourite bird pics:

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.

Nothing got cancelled!

Last years goals: I dunno. Not get covid? (Nope, Scott and I got covid separately, in May and August. Thankfully very mild, and we didn’t have to miss anything important.)

2023 goals: Use my good camera more. Become more athletic. Eat more protein. More knitting. Start volunteering in migrant services.

2022 Final Thoughts: We are so lucky to be able to do all the things we got to do in 2022. I am very grateful for my friends and family, they really enrich our lives. I will be very happy if the next year continues on like last year.

We spent a few days in the Grampians at the beginning of December. We camped at Smiths Mill campground for three nights and it was very relaxing.

We stopped at Cafe Merkama in Ballarat on the way there for lunch. It was great! Love a dairy free meal especially.

Spot Scott.

Mackenzie Falls.. now with less dead bodies. They’ve blocked it off quite a bit now so you can’t even really touch the water.

I took quite a few long exposure pictures with my ND filter but when I got home and looked at them on my computer I found out that they had really strong reflections from the camera lens. Whoops.

New Holland Honeyeater?
Eastern Spinebill.
Scarlet Robin.

We saw lots of birds. Scott spotted several Scarlet Robins, which we had never seen before. And we saw a lot of types of honeyeaters. I’ve got a bunch of new pictures to add to my bird album on Facebook.

Scott must read really boring books because he falls asleep 5 minutes after he starts reading. Every time.

I entertained myself with a $5 Kmart embroidery kit.

We played games of course. It was not windy at the camp site so we could even play Wingspan Asia!

There was a campground emu. At first we thought it was cool seeing an emu so close, but he turned out to be a bit of a pest. Continuously circling the area looking for snacks.

One time he snuck up behind me and I didn’t notice until his head was right beside my head. Scared me!

The emu also did several big poos right in the middle of our site.

We went to the Balconies lookout at sunset. I thought it would be busy but we were the only ones there! Very beautiful.

Need to learn how to take better sunset pictures…

We did a fun hike up Hollow Mountain. It’s only just over 1km long but it goes straight up! But it’s way more fun than like the 1000 Steps or something because you have to scramble up rocks and do some light bouldering. Some parts felt scary! But I think it’s now in my top 5 favourite hikes (don’t ask me what the other 4 are).

Then it rained the whole last evening, even though the weather report said 0% chance of rain. I failed as a Girl Guide and didn’t make a deadman in the tent that morning and my pillow got wet. Bah. Luckily it was dry out while we packed up the next morning though.

Finished embroidery ready for trimming.