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.

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.

July was… variable. It started off ok, everything was open and no restrictions, then lockdown #5 happened, and then it ended again. We are certainly learning that there is no point of planning ahead, and definitely don’t procrastinate anything. Do everything you can NOW, because the rules might change a few hours later.

Poutine on Canada Day at the Catfish with my internet friends. I didn’t feel great about celebrating Canada Day, but… I really wanted poutine. :P (Cheese curds are illegal in Australia.) The cheese was good but the chips were too thin. I can theoretically make cheese curds at home now though so there will be more poutine in my future.

Had a few friends over for my birthday. We introduced everyone to crokinole.. it was a hit. Also played Wits and Wagers and ate tons of snacks and acted silly. I had fun.

Can you tell that the family got me a new lens for my camera?

I went on a photo walk with my internet friends. We didn’t plan it well, so ended just wandering around aimlessly taking pictures of random stuff in the city, mainly Chinatown. It was good practice for me.

Fun with longer exposures.

More games! We finally got to have friends over to play boardgames again. We made pulled pork and slaw and taught them Lords of Waterdeep. We had to use the expansions so that all six of us could play and it took 5ever but it was fun!

Mischa made us a beautiful loaf of sourdough. It was professional quality.

Then we went to Pyalong, which I blogged about already. The night we got back we went to trivia for Ash’s birthday/our anniversary, and then the next day we got put back in lockdown for two weeks. Sigh.

Backyard currawong.
Driveway berries. Anyone know what these are? They are pretty.

Delivery treats! I’ve been wanting to try Black Star Pastry ever since Jess told us about it ages ago, but it was only in Sydney. Then they opened in St Kilda, but only at funny hours. Then they had a pop up delivery event so we ordered their famous Strawberry Watermelon Cake, the Raspberry Lychee Cake, and the Chocolate Mirage Cake.

To be honest, we didn’t like it that much. They were TOO light. Mostly cream and flowers. The watermelon cake probably tastes better in the summer when watermelon is in season, because at the moment it was kind of bland. The chocolate one was good but not life-changing. I would prefer to have our wedding cake from Ganache instead.

Glad I got to try it but probably won’t go back.

I ordered us a hotpot feast from Little Hot Pot Heroes for a treat dinner. It came with the pot setup, broth, all the ingredients, 7 types of banchan and some drinks. I got an extra broth so we can make our own soup next time. It was a fun activity and pretty tasty. I liked everything except the rectangle ham pieces.

Does anyone know what type of banchan this is? It was super crunchy, like much more crunchy than cabbage. I loved it.

I accidentally bought these masks with stupid phrases on them. They were folded and had a sticker on the package so I thought they were just plain. :( I literally yelled out loud when I took them out of the package.

So I attempted to terrazzo them with acrylic paint and textile medium. I think they turned out ok, at least somewhat wearable. Unfortunately when I washed them some of the paint came off of the parts with letters underneath so they’re not perfect. Oh well. Still better than “SMILES ARE CONTAGIOUS”. Cringe.

No pictures but lockdown #5 lifted right in time and we were very lucky to be able to have more than ten guests for Scott’s Nana Jean’s funeral. They had a nice funeral service and then the close family went out for lunch afterwards. It wasn’t a good occasion but it was nice to see everyone, like a sad Christmas.

Afterwards Scott and I squeezed in a quick walk at Birdsland where we saw lots of purple swamphens, ducks, bronzewings, and a darter. Then I went to training and then out for a Vietnamese feast with my weightlifting friends. It was a very big and exhausting day.

Unpictured things/things rolling over into August:

  • The Olympics started and I became a professional Olympics viewer. I watched SO MANY SPORTS. Including, all of the weightlifting, gymnastics, athletics, trampoline, track cycling, BMX, skateboarding, sport climbing, diving and tons more that I am forgetting.
  • I screwed up my elbow and now I have to do weird rehab like things with weights dangling on rubber bands.
  • I trained terribly during lockdown #5. I wanted to cry many many times. Thankfully for the first time ever they re-opened gyms right away when lockdown finished, so I got to go back for a glorious FIVE SESSIONS before lockdown #6 started. :/
  • We went to Braz and Lisanne’s going away party. They are moving back to Canada. :(