We started March off with a double wedding weekend. One on Saturday in Ballarat with work friends, and one on Sunday in the Yarra Valley with board game friends. Big weekend of driving and canapes. Both fun. Took me three more days to recover.

Home invader.

We went to the opening game of the AFL season: Melbourne Demons vs Western Bulldogs. A Grand Final rematch. The first time that us Melbourne Dees fans got to see them play since they won everything last year while we were stuck at home in severe lockdown.

The first quarter was so good it brought a tear to my eye. Then the second quarter was very bad. Then in the exact same way as the grand final last year, the Dees pulled ahead in the last half of the game and got the win. It was great.

(Belated) January #SMAJ was a meal at The Boiling Crab. It was… OK. Partly because I don’t think boiling in a bag is necessarily the tastiest way to cook seafood, and partly because we really do not know how to break down crab. So much work with so little pay off. Also food gets cold quite quickly when it’s just poured onto the table.

I went out to do trivia with my pals at a new place in Ringwood. We won three out of four $20 vouchers and none of us were drinking so we decided to order the “Celebration Brownie Tower” because why not. When the staff brought it out it had sparklers on it and they all started singing Happy Birthday and everyone playing trivia joined in and the host asked us whose birthday it was and we were like “umm… no one…”. It was pretty funny. We also won second place overall which had a prize of six take home cocktails. Very good haul.

I went out for noodles and bingsu with internet friends. Yum.

OK apparently all we did lately is EAT. (Belated) February #SMAJ was a dinner out at a Japanese BBQ restaurant. We splurged and got a set meal that came with delicious fancy beef and a bunch of other stuff. It was very very delicious.

I did a weightlifting competition in Geelong. The timing of the comp worked well to squeeze in one last max out before our Canada trip. I really wanted to snatch 50kg and clean and jerk 60kg for a while now and have been sooo close to getting to do it. It was a bit of a drive to get to Geelong but my coach actually lives there so at least that part was convenient.

However I missed my second snatch attempt at 48kg so I didn’t get to try 50kg on my third attempt as planned. :( Extra annoying considering I snatched 48kg really nicely on my third attempt. Clean and jerks were better, at least I got to try 60kg on my third attempt but unfortunately I didn’t catch the bounce well and didn’t stand up the clean.

I snatched 45/48x/48, and CJ 54/57/60x for a 105kg total. No PBs. Next time.

When I signed up for the comp I assumed that I would be in the first session like usual and have to weigh in quite early in the morning, so I booked us an Airbnb in Ocean Grove to make a weekend of it. Turned out I lifted in the last session and I probably should have just cancelled the Airbnb booking so I could have slept in my normal not-extremely-squeaky bed and eaten my normal food but that didn’t occur to me until it was too late to cancel.

So we ended up with a lot of time to kill and the weather wasn’t great. We went to a CHEESE TRAIN, like a sushi train but with plates of cheese. We drove around Queenscliffe. We tried to find things to take a picture of with my new telephoto lens. We ate burgers. (Much nutrition, maybe this is why I didn’t lift the best.) We watched two games of footy at the same time. We met up with Scott’s school friend for coffee. We went to the Geelong Art Gallery and were amazed by this lino print art piece that went around a whole room. We went to the library and read our Kindles.

Unpictured stuff:

  • I did a lot of on call and extra shifts because of people having covid. This meant I reached my budget target for a telephoto lens much earlier than predicted! Pretty exciting. I haven’t really gotten to use it much yet.
  • We saw the new Batman movie with Jemma. It was very dark, literally. Apparently if you are rich you never turn the lights on. Also I giggled every time thinking about how he would have to put his eye makeup on super fast every time he had to get dressed up.
  • We had a family dinner! On a Sunday with everyone there like the olden days!
  • Scott went to Ballarat to see his school friend who is visiting from Scotland.
  • We were supposed to go to another wedding this weekend, but it has been postponed because they have covid. Oops.

I actually haven’t been doing that much lately besides work and gym because we leave for Canada this week and I am paranoid about getting covid and ruining all our plans. Only a couple more days to go!!!

We took Rosemarie down to The Prom for a camping weekend. It’s one of my favourite places in Victoria. I was excited for her to see wombats!

We saw this blonde one on the side of the road almost right away! I wonder if he is elderly? He looks like he’s been through some stuff. Rosemarie was surprised how big it was.

We did the Wildlife Walk at dusk the first night. We saw lots of kangaroos hopping around and a few wombats munching on plants. Got lots of great pics. We couldn’t find any emus though, even though a lady told us they saw tons right before we got there.

Tidal River and Bear Gully campgrounds were fully booked so we stayed at a private campground in Yanakie. It was nice, the sites were pretty spread out.

Tongue Point hike. That water!!!

Little photoshoot at Norman Beach. The weather was beautiful but none of us felt motivated enough to swim, haha.

Picnic lunch and a wade in Tidal River.

Of course we’re going to play some games! Kub and Sagrada. Waiting for sunset.

I complained all the way up Mt Oberon. I hate walking up hill!

Made it! It is a nice view. Legs dead.

Then we spent 2 hours playing Carcassonne in the car at Squeaky Beach waiting for full dark because I had heard that the aurora australis forecast was pretty good that night and we were in such a great location to look south. Unfortunately it was super cloudy. We waited as long as we thought we could, but we were all so exhausted from such a big day we gave up around 10:30pm and decided to head back to the campground (45 minutes drive).

After 30 minutes of driving I kept looking out the window because it looked like the clouds were clearing and I could see tons of stars. Scott said he would turn around and drive back if we wanted, and Rosemarie agreed, so we did a u-turn and drove 30 minutes back to Squeaky Beach. … And straight back into full cloud coverage. So frustrating. We saw SOOOO MANY wombats on the side of the road though… like 25. That kept us alert.

We still at least got out of the car and walked down to the beach to see if we could see anything at all, but nope, way too cloudy. So we gave up again and drove 45 minutes all the way back to the campground and passed out immediately out of pure exhaustion.

We only wanted to do flat walks the next day haha. Lilly Pilly! We got lucky and saw an echidna! I haven’t seen one since I’ve been back in Australia. My friend told me I should have lay down on the ground to get a better picture. Next time. Rosemarie asked why Australian animals are so ROUND.

And then we drove home via Gurneys Cider, which was great, as usual. I probably bought a few too many to take home considering I almost never drink any more.

Awesome weekend!!

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.

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.

We had five days of freedom at the beginning of August and then have been in strict lockdown (#6) since then. :(

My weightlifting friend gave me a snapper! Her husband likes to fish and stayed up all night fishing between lockdowns. It was so fresh and smelled so good. It was my first time cooking a whole fish, so I kept it simple and just stuffed it with lemon and herbs and roasted it. Served with a side of pasta puttanesca. Fingers crossed for more fish in the future!

I spent a lot of the beginning of August in this position, quad-screening the Olympics. I have never watched so much summer Olympics in my life. But we didn’t have much else to do.

This is golden wattle, Australia’s national flower. Wattle in bloom = engage antihistamines, spring is here!!

I always feel a bit guilty taking pictures while out for a walk. Technically we’re only allowed outside for exercise, not for leisure, so I feel bad when I stop for more than a minute.

More illegal activities: eating sandwiches in a park. We walked to Saul’s in Carnegie for porchetta and cubano sandwiches and I didn’t want to walk all the way home before eating. They were both very delicious.

Scott made profiteroles, filled with custard. They were very very good. It’s a good thing I still work with other people because there were a lot. My coworkers were very pleased, except for our receptionist who exploded one all over his shirt.

We finally finally finished our joint granny square blanket! I think we started it in 2017!! The most procrastinated step was tucking in all the yarn ends. THERE WERE SO MANY. I like that (I’m pretty sure) there are no exact repeat squares.

Scott’s really into crochet now. He made a simple hat for himself, and then immediately started another hat: an adorable baby hat with ears!

Sophie dropped Gelato Messina goodies on our doorstep. That was an especially nice treat as we are outside their delivery radius but I still follow their instagram account… to torture myself?

Backyard photography.

Our backyard is like 2 meters wide. I’M SO BORED OF IT. At least we have one though. UGHHH.

Sugar snap peas are growing like crazy. They’re the only thing left at the moment, but we just planted a bunch of new stuff for summer: lettuce, spinach, sorrel, carrots, zucchini, Chinese eggplant, beans, herbs. And we started tomato and chilies inside.

Unpictured things:

  • I also went on an illegal walk with TWO friends. Wow this post is a real confessional. It was an emergency walk for mental health… essential care… don’t arrest me please.
  • Our boardgame friends organised a virtual birthday party for two of them. We played Jackbox games which I was mostly terrible at. I need like 5 hours to come up with funny things, not 5 seconds!! :P
  • We got Lune delivery croissants again. They were amazing. I dropped some off at Sophie’s. I’m watching and waiting for Mork delivery next.
  • Training is going well. I am on week 3 of a squat program and surviving so far. It feels like a good use of garage time, less overhead stuff, more growing my tiny legs. Hopefully the program gets me some gains.