Scott and I took a few days off the other week to head out to the country. I booked us a cute little Airbnb cabin in Pyalong, about 90 minutes north of Melbourne.
We stopped at Lune on the way out. They were selling the banh mi croissant that the dude on Masterchef invented. It cost $15 ahahahaaa we are suckers. It was good, but small and sort of weird that it was sweet.. we decided we’d prefer to get two full regular banh mis from Bun Bun for the same money.
They were sold out of a lot of other options so we just got a pain au chocolat, ham & gruyere, and a cheese & vegemite escargot. All nice.
Scott should use that picture for his LinkedIn, y/y?
We also went a bit out of the way to go for a walk at Lerderderg Gorge. It was a nice gorge, but there were a lot of people around. Scott did spot a nice yellow robin though.
There’s a part that you have to step across a series of rocks to cross the water, which was fun, but scary when you’re carrying a lot of camera equipment!
We arrived in Pyalong just before sunset. The property was stunning. Apparently the granite boulders were dropped by glaciers. We wandered around taking a million pictures because everything was so photogenic!
The first night was clear enough that we could take some night sky photos, which I’ll save for another post. It was my first time trying astrophotography, and we got some cool shots, but also made a lot of mistakes. Unfortunately the other two nights were extremely cloudy, rainy, windy, so we weren’t able to try again.
Foggy rainy days. It was ok though, we didn’t really have anything we needed to do, and the cabin had a very cozy fireplace (once you got it lit). We played many games of Orleans, read, photo edited, ate snacks, and just relaxed.
We did venture out to the Pyalong Railway Bridge on the way home. Pretty rickety.
A wedge-tailed eagle flew across the road very close to our car. It was neat seeing it so close. They are huge!
Out for 50% off burgers and Gelato Messina on Chaps.
Eileen, Dika, and Brenna were competing in an online competition at Phoenix, so I went to watch and also try to take pictures. It was a bit difficult with the lens I have, but I got a few cool ones. I love the placement of the mural in this one. Eileen is always awesome to watch. And Dika is about to go to her FIFTH Olympics!!! Incredible!
A decent winter harvest. We still have snow peas, cauliflower, more broccoli, more carrots, cilantro, and spinach growing, slowly, at the moment.
We went skating for a #SMAJ activity. Scott has gotten a lot better at skating since last time I saw him, he is much faster. He still needs to work on backwards skating and trusting his edges.
We went to Lysterfield Lake to try and find Swift Parrots, an endangered bird that breeds in Tasmania and migrates north in the winter. Unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t find any. My ecologist friend said that the kids in the BMX park were scaring them away all weekend too.
We did find a couple Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. We crashed around in the bush trying to get close enough to get a picture with my not-very-zoom lens. This picture actually looked terrible on my camera, it was totally just a silhouette, but because I shot it in raw, I was able to use Lightroom to turn up the brightness and all the features appeared like magic!! Cool!
Once the sun started to set we headed to Jemma’s for dinner. Myles was being a crazy boy!! This is him playing Cooking Mama. Can’t remember if this was pre- or post- him splitting his lip open by smashing face first into the arm of the couch.
Scott and I ordered wayyy too much food at Kimchi Grandma in Carnegie. I was so excited, it felt like we were back in Korea. We got goon-mahn-doo (pork and vegetable dumplings) and hae-mul chon-gol (seafood casserole with squid, octopus, prawn, pipi, ling fillet, bean curd, and mixed vegetables) plus banchan cuz why not. The stew got better and better as it simmered on our table. It was exciting digging around in it to find more seafood surprises underneath the surface. It was definitely meant for 3 or 4 people.
Pretty sure that’s the exact dish that Rosemarie and I refused to eat in NYC back in 2002. I have memories of a tentacle flipping over in the pot as the clams opened up at the table in front of us, and a waitress coming over with a pair of scissors to cut things up. All we would eat was rice and the edges of the Korean pancake that didn’t have any bits in it. Man how my tastes have changed since then!!
Sophie invited me out for dinner at Dragon Hot Pot, a place where you pick out all your soup ingredients from the fridges, they weigh it, and then cook it up in a delicious broth of your choice. Fun! I really liked mine, although I put too much. Next time I know I only need about 400g of ingredients and it will be a nice cheap meal.
I got my 2nd Astra Zeneca jab. I had zero noticeable side effects, I even went to training that evening and the next morning. But interestingly my watch told me I only recovered 50% that night, when normally I get back up to 100%. Kind of the same as if I had alcohol, but I hadn’t had any. I dunno, I found this interesting.
Scott is playing hockey again and loving it.
They kept the gyms closed one more week than they should have, imo. At one point I could go to dinner with my weightlifting friends and sit close together with no masks on for as long as we wanted, but couldn’t go train at the gym where we use barbells that automatically keep people away from each other.
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.
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.