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!!!

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.

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….

We were supposed to spend the first half of June in the Northern Territory and South Australia, but ended up being restricted to a 5km radius from our house instead. Lockdown 4.0. So the month started off pretty bad, but I tried to make the most of it.

Instead of watching the Melbourne Demons vs Brisbane Lions game at Traegar Park in Alice Springs, NT, we watched it at home in our freezing house. :'( Dees won though. And we had delicious sushi bowls.

I had two weeks booked off work but cancelled the first week and worked instead. We were in strict lockdown so there wasn’t much I could do anyway. I actually got pretty depressed. It was just extremely frustrating that I was back at work, not on holiday, couldn’t reschedule the holiday, couldn’t go to the gym, couldn’t plan my training, couldn’t see my friends, couldn’t look forward to anything.

So I decided I needed a project.

I used that quiet week at work to plan and gather supplies for the following week.

My Saturday gym sessions currently have two exercises from blocks: block snatch and block cleans. I am very lucky that I can train in our garage, but I didn’t have blocks, which meant that I have to do the exercises from a hang position instead. I HATE HANG SNATCHES SO MUCH. Enough that I decided that I wanted to make my own blocks for home.

Originally I was going to make very simple criss-cross ones like I’d seen on the internet, but 1) I wanted to them to have two height options, and 2) I calculated that it would need around $150 worth of wood. So I emailed dad to ask if I could make them without the center supports because I don’t actually lift that much weight. He wrote back with a few questions and then 24 hours later he’d made me a brand new design in OpenSCAD! I could edit the dimensions to what is available here and it even generated a list of supplies. Very cool. Thanks dad. The new plan only used about $70 of wood!

It took me three afternoons to put them together, but I honestly found it very satisfying (other than stripped screws, which was remedied by replacing my screwdriver bit). I had fun using my new drop saw and circular saw, and didn’t even lose any fingers. Thanks dad for reminding me of when mom had to go to the hospital after a drop saw accident at the cottage AFTER I had finished cutting all of the pieces.

They work great! They nestle together perfectly and they don’t bounce or move at all. I’m very happy. I’ll probably add strips on the top to stop the bar from rolling off when I’m not holding it. I only used them one time so far though because the gym re-opened the next week lol. But there is covid in NSW at the moment so it’s probably just a matter of time before we are back in lockdown again. :/

Hide The Pain Harold Katrina.

If you’re in lockdown and don’t bake bread, DID YOU EVEN LOCKDOWN?

I made this bread with leftover whey instead of water, because the internet told me you could do that. But it tasted weird, I don’t think I would do it again. Or at least I would use 1/2 whey and 1/2 water.

Another lockdown cooking project: beef bourguignon. It took 3 days!!! And an entire bottle of wine!!! But it was dang delicious, and made like 8 servings, so in the end I think it was worth it.

One very good piece of news was that my citizenship test didn’t get cancelled. At that point we were allowed to go 25km from home and I guess they decided that it was essential enough that they could let the immigration officers work in the office.

They told me it would take 2 hours, and I had to bring in all sorts of documents. But the dude only asked for my passport and drivers license and I was out of there in 15 minutes, including doing the test TWO TIMES… because I failed the first time….. OOPS. (I got 95% but I failed one of the essential questions because apparently I am a monarchist. I got 100% the second time btw.)

So I spent a couple hours wandering the quiet city with my camera. I went to the Lululemon outlet, got bubble tea, borek, and popped into a whole bunch of shops too. It’s a good thing I didn’t get covid because my exposure site list would have been very long, haha. Most of my pictures didn’t turn out very well. I am definitely still learning how to use my camera.

I went on an airplane!!!! I honestly didn’t believe the trip was actually going to go ahead even while I was in the air on the way there (THEY COULD TURN THE PLANE AROUND!!). But the plane did land and there I was in Adelaide.

Cristoforo picked me up from the airport and we spent the afternoon eating, walking, catching up. It had been ages. I got to see the work he’s done on his house. We went to the beach. Ate ice cream. So nice.

Emily and I stayed with Jill, since Cassia’s house is now filled with cute, obedient children. She has a lovely view from her place.

The point of the trip was to go to Joseph’s Celebration of Life. They had it in the botanic gardens and it was lovely. People told stories and made speeches, and we had a toast in Joe’s honour. I cried.

Afterwards the family and close friends came back to Jill’s house and we ate pizza and drank old wine and caught up in a more casual setting. Even though I’ve known Cassia’s family for more than 25(!!!!!!!!) years, I’ve never actually had a conversation with Mischa, her brother. He generally avoided us when we were making giant green cookies in her kitchen when we were 12, lol. It was nice to get to know him. I also hadn’t seen Em in AGES as well so it was great seeing her again too. How funny is it that we all ended up living in Australia, and how amazing that Covid didn’t ruin the plans for once.

Rest easy Joe, I think of you every time I try to identify a new type of bird.

Purple sky twilight game at the MCG. Great to be back. Dees are looking good this year, hopefully the season can continue on normally.

Another #smaj activity. An outdoor food truck market type thingy in Spotswood (Westgate Bridge in the background). It had a lot of unique options! We had a scotch egg, an African sandwich, fried chicken bao, roti chicken tikka wrap, mango lassi, cheesecake on a stick, a big soft cookie. Probably more that I’m forgetting. I had to lie down for several hours afterwards.

I bought my friends old camera and am trying to learn how to use it. It’s a Canon mirrorless full-frame camera, aka a pretty huge upgrade from my 10 year old point and shoot I was using before. Unfortunately shortly after buying it I got super sick (was tested, not covid), and Victoria went into lockdown so I was pretty limited to taking pictures in the backyard only. Hence the plant pictures and the creep shots of the new gigantic house being built two houses away.

Lunar eclipse/blood moon! I only noticed this was happening a few hours before so I frantically Googled what camera settings I should use and we headed to the park near our house. It was pretty neat! I don’t have a long enough lens to be able to take great photos but it was still a fun exercise. For my future reference the first picture was f11 1/100s ISO100 105mm and the second was f6.3 1/2s ISO800 105mm.

I went down to the car after finishing work and saw that I had the flattest tire of life. :( I went back up and got my colleague to give me a hand changing the tire, but then unfortunately the spare was very flat as well (yes I have learned that lesson now). So I had to take that tire off again, carry it through the hospital (of course I got a full elevator) while she brought her car around, drive to the petrol station, come back and put it back on again. What a pain. Thank you Fran.

I got my bike back from the warranty repair. They sort of fixed the wheel, and they gave me a brand new battery. Unfortunately they bent the rack frame so much that I couldn’t slide the battery out any more, which is how I charge it. AKSJHSDHJSHDSJJJ so annoying. I don’t even know how they bent it, because it was impossible to budge. Did they run over it with a car?? Did they break it off and then weld it back on straight?? Idgi. So then they had to send me a new rack. I swear they’ve replaced every part of this bike now, yet they don’t want to just give me my money back.

Unpictured things:

  • Jemma organised a surprise baby sprinkle for Jess at another friends house. Jess was pretty surprised to see me there when she had just seen us at our house that morning!
  • Mothers Day breakfast at Vicky’s
  • My coworkers engagement party in the city. Got to see the lower half of all my coworkers’ face for the first time in ages.
  • Scott played his first real hockey game! It looks like giant sized Timbit hockey, heeheehee. He had a lot of fun. Except for when he fell on his chest and quite possibly cracked a rib. He didn’t want to stop playing but then lockdown 4.0 started so he was forced to take a few weeks off.

We were supposed to go on an epic roadtrip through the outback at the end of May. The plan was to fly to Alice Springs, go to the Melbourne v Brisbane footy game, then spend two weeks campervan-ing to Adelaide via Uluru. I was suuuuuper excited, especially after getting my fancy camera, and learning about astrophotography. The lunar conditions were going to be perfect!!!! It would have meant another chance to see Cassia before they move back to Spain too. However, we started having covid cases pop up again that week (I’m talking ~5 cases/day) and the other states slammed their borders shut and we got put in 5km radius lockdown again so we had to cancel everything. We are bummed.