Sophie and Scott and I paid a ridiculous amount of money to spend approx 4 seconds ziplining across the Yarra. It was silly. We went for ice cream after.

I took Scott out for a fancy meal for his birthday. We had the seasonal menu at Gimlet and it was amazing. We had mocktails and bread and radishes and asparagus and seafood pasta and an epic rib-eye with fries and salad, and two types of dessert. Everything was great. We also enjoyed sitting at the counter and watching everyone cook.

Garden is doing ok. We have two types of zucchini: the regular Black Beauty type, and another paler type that has grown a three meter long vine but only one actual zucchini. We have harvested one lebanese cucumber… hoping the plant keeps going. And we have heaps of green roma tomatoes but none have actually become ripe yet. Silverbeet and other salad stuff still growing fine, and I’ve planted another round of carrots. Hoping for good harvests soon.

Scott actually hates this pasta maker. He was probably swearing while I took this picture.

I did another weightlifting competition, the Phoenix Christmas Hit Out. I never posted any videos because I don’t like how I lifted. I snatched 45/47x/47, and CJ’d 53/56/58. My snatches were gross and I’m annoyed I missed my second attempt because I was very confident that I could snatch more than 47 (my old PB) and I didn’t get to try. Clean and jerks were better, and 56kg was a PB and 58 is a 3kg PB, but they were doing a bit soft judging and I don’t really think they should have given the 58 to me because the jerk was a little press-y. So that’s that. Hopefully next comp is better. Should be the Phoenix Open in February.

I got a haircut! I liked it at the time but actually it is extremely incompatible with having to wear n95 all the time at work now. My hair is too short to put in a proper ponytail so bits fall out all over the place and then my goggles pull more bits out around the sides so I just look even more disheveled than usual all the time. My coworker says this makes the patients feel sorry for us and treat us nicer so maybe it’s ok.

My friend Jen made this.

I finally got around to making reusable fabric gift bags this year. I remember mom and I making tons of these to sell as a fundraiser for one of my Girl Guide trips! I hope we can use them for a long time.

Ava and charcuterie.
Harry using his glasses to see what was over the fence.
Da boys and their presents.
Christmas lunch on Vicky and Pat’s new deck.
I’ve got the whole family hooked on Nanaimo bars.
Boxing Day/Christmas Day video chats with the fam.

We had a nice Christmas this year. We spent the afternoon playing with children and eating lots of delicious food. It was a pretty chill day. I got Scott a video game and that polar bear, and he got me a fish fileting knife and two more bird shirts.

Unpictured stuff:

  • I went to my Melbourne Discord Christmas party. I made my secret santa person a custom Kick Ons hat. I think he liked it because he wore it for the whole rest of the night. My secret santa gave me a cute little Australia-Canada hybrid cross stitch and some knitting accessories. I had some good chats and managed to get away with only having 2 drinks and Scott picked us up afterwards so all in all a very fun night.
  • I got my booster. I’ve had AZ x2 + Pfizer booster. I felt ok after however I got a nasty cold a few days later (not covid, was tested twice), not sure if related or not.
  • We had a week-before-Christmas lunch at Shaun’s house. Shaun told all the kids that there were no rules at his house, so they had a lot of fun pounding juice boxes and walking on the top part of the play structure.
  • I had the days off in between Christmas and New Years this year for the first time and it was great. Unfortunately Scott still had to work so we were only able to squeeze in a quick one night camping trip away (I’ll make another post). But it was still a fun relaxing time for me and actually filled up with quite a few activities so I’m glad I didn’t have to work. Plus I only had to use two days of annual leave to get 10 days off so it was extremely leave-efficient.
  • Steph and Soph had birthday parties. Nice to see Steph again and catch up with my old coach Adam, and splash around with Sophie’s kids in their kiddie pool.
  • I was in bed at 10pm on New Years Eve, as usual.

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.

No major issues at the state border. The border permit check took about 10 minutes, but the roadside covid test took over an hour as there was only one poor nurse swabbing every single person in every single car. I felt very bad for her, I hope she was getting paid well. At that point you didn’t have to isolate after getting that test so we continued on.

We arrived in Adelaide and checked into the hotel and then I went straight to the gym. I had a competition the following weekend so I didn’t want to skip training! I found a weightlifting gym (Athletic Compound) very similar to my club willing to let me drop in. I was nervous to go in but it was fine once I started.

Then we went out for an Afghan dinner with Cristoforo in Port Adelaide, of which I took no pictures. It was a funny dinner, we were the only customers in the restaurant and I’m not really sure they really wanted customers? Food was good though, and enormous. Then we went for a drink and saw a crazy man with a dog and a bicycle. Fun.

The next day we caught up with Jill and Cassia and family. M REALLY did not like Scott. From the very first second. She pretty much cried any time that he was close by.

We did lots of walking and talking and hanging out at their house, because they were leaving for Spain a few days later they, understandably, really did not want to accidentally end up at an exposure site. I just wanted to hang out with them anyway, so it was all good. We did go out for a lovely patio dinner at the Lion.

The jacaranda were in full bloom. I never remembered seeing them before? Neither Scott or I knew what kind of tree they were and were pretty convinced that there aren’t any in Melbourne. However since returning I have seen approximately 90,000 of them, including about 50 between our house and my work. I seriously don’t know how we didn’t notice them before.

They had a goodbye party in a park with their friends and some family. Scott finally won M over (temporarily) by pulling her and C around in the wagon. Lots of happy giggling.

The last day I went to the gym again to train. They gave me a t-shirt! And then Scott and I went out for dinner at Laura from Masterchef’s pasta restaurant. It was nice! We had burrata with beans, zucchini and pickled cucumbers, gnocchi with artichoke and asparagus, and rigate with goat.

Then we went for one last hug goodbye (although maybe not too long until we see them again, if we are actually able to rendezvous in Ottawa in April, fingers crossed). The next morning we got up early and drove all the way back to Melbourne in one go. Scott did 75% of the driving, he is the best.

It was super hot this year on Melbourne Cup Day. So we went to the beach! However I am scared of the sun, so we went to the beach at 5PM. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this before, it was so much better. Still warm, but not crowded, only mild sunscreen required.

My new Akubra hat! A gift from the fam after becoming Australian. I broke it in on our camping trip last weekend. I’m thinking about making some kind of removable corks system, hehe. I already got my Australian passport too now!

I am learning how to knit. This was my test swatch of a few different patterns… purl, knit, k1p1, k2p2.

Now I’m working on a scarf. It’s slow going but I can’t wait to finish because I really want to learn how to make socks! I made a new friend at the latest crafternoon who is really good at making them and willing to help me.

Epic Polish feast at Borsch Vodka and Tears with some internet friends. I enjoyed my perogies. Perogies are very hard to find here, seems like most people I talk to don’t even know what they are. They are missing out!!!

Our November #SMAJ activity was going to the Lume Van Gogh thingy with Jemma and April. We watched the videos a couple times, had a chocolate souffle, took some pics for the gram. It was kinda cool I guess, if you don’t think about the price.

My lil avocado baby is thriving!!! It’s even bigger and taller now!
Rosemarie mailed me some Kraft Dinner powder!!! She is the best!!!!

My friend Doreen gave us a couple King George Whiting. What a treat!! I had to Youtube how to get the scales off and how to fillet it. I wasted a bit of the fish but I think I did ok for first time. All that lettuce and spinach is from our garden too.

The view from the Langham Hotel at the Sirtex dinner conference. I found the talks more interesting this time.

Unpictured stuff:

  • We helped empty out all the furniture from Jean’s house to prepare the block for sale.
  • Went for brunch with our board game friends at Hatter and the Hare. It was a bit overwhelming.
  • Our garden did not grow well at the beginning because it was so cold and wet but it has taken off now. Our zucchini plant is huuuuuuuuuuuge. No zucchinis yet though.
  • Scott still playing a lot of lawn bowls and hockey. He’s a busy guy lately.
  • We had my work Christmas lunch at a Greek restaurant. It was very loud. Good food.
  • My friend Sally had a babby. She had her at my work so I was able to do a quick pop in and visit on my lunch break!
  • I had a really big day where I trained in the morning, then went to an afternoon meet up in the city with some weightlifting friends, then went to Hawthorn to watch my coach compete in nationals, and then went out for a second dinner with that group of weightlifting friends. All while being on call… I can’t believe it actually worked out. I was drained after that.

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.