Canberra Day 88

24th Feb 2017 – Firstly, my apologies for taking forever to get this post done! It’s almost irrelevant now, but I said I would do it, so…I am, on principle, IF that stands for anything by now. Some major procrastination has been going on around my writing and also the fact that I have to choose 1 photo out of 1000 photos, and out of 3 big events for this day.  But let’s just get this out and done.

[Thursday 8th December, 2016]

Day 88!! Can you believe that we’re this close to 90?? It has come around so fast and I can’t believe we’ll be leaving Canberra soon! I’m actually going to feel some pain leaving this place: I’ve gotten quite attached to this city and its attractions and its people and its design and so many little things. I almost feel like I could live here, if it wasn’t for the winter weather, and the summer weather a bit. It’s been a wonderful 3 months in my life, but it’s time to think about going home and keeping up the momentum that I’ve built up here. Meanwhile my poor husband is having nowhere near as much fun! He’s working very long days starting at 8am and going til 8 or 9pm! It’s not sustainable and he can’t keep it up for much longer, but they will not extend the deadline even though its nigh on impossible to meet!! So I’m free as a bird from dawn to dusk this week, although I’m not loving the dusk aspect, and he’s eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at work! Its not good. Speaking conservatively.

First of all, and something that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time, is the graduation parade of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). Since the Remembrance Day parade at the War Memorial I’ve been looking for any occasion to hear that band again! The Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon are incredible!! Unfortunately there aren’t that many opportunities, and even less that fall in our time here. I’d love to hear the Australian Rugby Choir again too, but since that isn’t going to happen I’ve pre-ordered their CD coming out for Christmas. So I’ve had this date marked in my calendar for a while. Turns out I had the academy and the Royal Military College confused, and I could have gone to both and heard the band twice, but I thought it was one and the same. So instead of the backdrop of the ceremony being the paved parade ground and historic buildings of Duntroon, it was the parade oval of the academy. Never mind, I’m here and sitting in a great seat and ready to go. Turns out if you dress up, wear some heels, wait til 5 minutes before starting time and walk straight to an empty seat at the front, everyone accepts it! Pick up a program from the seat, get out my fan and camera, and don’t start any conversations; well, that’s right in my wheelhouse! Except I’m in the sun and it is BURNING my feet! Move back a row and closer towards the big leafy tree; still not good. Move back another row; people are staring. Sit down and don’t move! I’m in the shade body wise now, much better, but now the tree is hanging down a bit and obscuring my vision, and my feet are still burning! Tough, the ceremony is starting. And here comes the Australia’s Federation Guard onto the parade ground to perform the precise foot manouveurs of the graduation ceremony as a united marching force of Army, Navy and Air Force! Very impressive! Then the wonderful band, then the graduates, then the Governor General in the government Bentley, the inspection of the guard, and so on until the throwing of the caps. And in that 2 hour or so ceremony (more of the so) only 6 (and I use the word only sarcastically) of the graduates and Federation Guard standing still in the blazing sun had to carted off the grounds. And I mean carted. 3 service people actually fainted to the ground, the other three started staggering and wobbling around, and I swear one guy came THIS CLOSE to impaling himself on his ceremonial sword! Hopefully it’s not that sharp! Each one had to be frog marched off, and its weird but all of the people in charge of the escorting off of their fellow people were short; like they could fit under the patient’s armpits! Is that intentional? I’m so glad I went, it was really interesting and certainly not something you get the chance to do everyday. Home to bed for a short nap after all that exertion!

Then after a nap and lunch I went to the weekly Thursday only behind the scenes tour at the National Library. If you ever get a chance to do this, its a brilliant option; it is incredible back there! Full sized newspapers from the 1900s onwards bound into enormous books, audio and microfilm files of newspapers filling dark passage after dim passage of small drawers, a 2015 robot trundling books and audio and bits and pieces all over place on command announcing itself around every corner, and so much more! Truly fascinating. So much going on that you could never imagine. And all in a bombproof cellar under the main library! Definitely go if you get the chance.

Then another main event of the day, and also something that I’ve been waiting for: this time the fascinating Circus 1903 that has no animals and is located in the Canberra Theatre, not in a tent. It’s after hours, which I’ve been avoiding so I’m home when hubby is home, but he’s not going to be home tonight til late due to work so out I go! This is a circus based on circuses in 1903 as it suggests, so its a very interesting set with fabulous old fashioned costumes, a super tall New Yorker announcer and such a variety of circus acts. And an enormous puppet elephant, with a baby elephant! And when I say puppet, you have no idea! They were incredibly lifelike and very cleverly controlled, so impressive. All of the acts were very professional: balancing on boards sitting on progressive layers of rollers, cycling and skipping rope on the high wire, acrobatics in a dangling ring, proper knife throwing that had my heart beating fast, bicycle tricks, human throwing and juggling on the floor and from heights, regular juggling, and more. A fabulous night out!! The end!

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Canberra Day Twenty Two

Sunday 2nd October, 2016

What a day!

We started with a sleep in, and daylight savings. Tricky balance! As soon as the sun came through the curtains I was wide awake, rearing to go! There were birds to see and beaches and maybe whales. I was disorganised really and ended up driving around Narooma stopping here and there and everywhere. Meanwhile hubby was having a swim…probably I would have been better off with that, but it’s all experience. Then in typical fashion after I’d been up for an hour I started to flag! Hubby dragged me out onto our little verandah and that was nice! 22 degrees today, but not a hot sun, just perfectly pleasant temperature not too cold and not too hot. Sun, breeze, the rumble of 50 motorbikes leaving our motel for their daily drive!! I pushed through and did wake up a bit ready to face the day. There’s always some anxiety in me heading out to meet new people, to socialize, to be involved and participate. I guess there always will be. But it was at a low level today; thankfully. It just sedates me, stifles me. And I end up not going cos I feel sick to my stomach, like my heart will explode, like I’ll just collapse with the weight of it all. Which I did NOT want to have happen today! My husband is very good. Her reminds me that this is the same that always happens, that we were expecting this, that its not worse than last time, that its just how it is and I’ll get through it; I’ll be fine!

We came over to Narooma to visit a friend, and she was staying with a young family of 6; well 5 were there when we visited. We had such a great day together! Starting with our usual worship then steak and salad lunch with these 3 lively young kids and their awesome parents and our friend. Miss 4, the youngest girl, hasn’t quite figured out relationships and kept referring to my hubby as my daddy! That was a bit off-putting; I never quite got the hang of what she was asking me. Like at the picnic tea beside Wagonga Inlet: your daddy needs his thongs, where are they? Well I didn’t think her dad was wearing thongs, and besides that it was her daddy not mi…hang on, she means hubby!! Here are his thongs! Over lunch she was asking us if we had kids, to which I said no. Then she wanted to know if I had any grandsons!! I didn’t quite know how to answer that one! And so on. She has the confidence of a much older person and I just loved chatting with her! She doesn’t have all those inhibitions that I had as a kid and well into my teens; next thing you know she chatting for 20 minutes to some random girl and her dad at the swings in the park during our picnic!

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The view from the kitchen door at the family’s house where we had lunch – wow! It might not be the beach, but its pretty spectacular!!

Miss 10 was lots of fun, a real tom boy and had a couple of hard fought games of soccer with hubby, who reckons she has a real talent. She’s certainly passionate! When she got new soccer clothes and a ball for her birthday she slept in the clothes with the ball in her bed! How adorable! Her brother’s always telling her if she doesn’t do such and such he’s going to beat the pants off her or something similar (meant as a joke!) but actually I think he’d be hard pressed to win one over her! He’s fun too, I’m less sure how to bracket him cos he’ll happily play sport or sit and talk with the adults, and he seems quite techy. But hey, you don’t have to have it all figured when you’re young.

The parents were so lovely, just took us into the family and we felt so at home! Isn’t that awesome? We’re away from home, out of our state visiting a friend and make a whole family’s worth of new friends!! It was a really special day! So we had lunch with them, had an afternoon nap then went to the gorgeous old fashioned town of Central Tilba, just 20 minutes inland. I’ve been there loads of times as a kid and teenager so it was a real buzz to be back! It always looks the same, but I notice some of the shops have changed owners. We had a meeting in the town hall which is right in the main street, and wall to wall with other shops which was a bit of a new experience for a religious service. It was hot in there! Sweating hot! Then someone opened a window and there is nothing so delicious as a thin little breeze wisping around your neck and face after being hot like that! The day just kept getting better with the service, and with meeting up with old friends that I’ve always caught up with at Bega on our annual holiday to the Sapphire Coast. And a total surprise meeting with a lovely friend who was visiting family of hers that I know in Bega!! We’ve been trying to catch up in Wagga for ages, and of all things we came to Tilba and she came to Tilba and we met in the middle, sort of!! That was a real thrill!!

And to top off a brilliant day, we had a BBQ picnic with our friend and our new family of friends down on the edge of the inlet and it was so beautiful!! Have I conveyed my joy and enjoyment of this day? It truly was a beautiful day physically, but also emotionally!

Oh, and before our picnic we went up to the Bar Lookout and saw whales spouting!! Again!! How cool is it to be on the east coast at the moment??

One of those things

[written sunny Saturday 9th July, 2016; updated 12th July, 2016]

Today I brushed my teeth.

It shouldn’t be a big deal should it, but it is. No one can remember the last time that I brushed my teeth…last year? It’s terrible I know, and doesn’t exactly match my pharmacists’ health promotion ethos, does it? And it’s not something my husband relishes! Or others, possibly; I haven’t heard! But it’s just gotten to be one of those things. You know, those things? Things that you should do, but it’s just a bit too hard. So they’ve slipped down the priority scale, and dropped off the to-do list. I know I have new cavities from being so slack; I can feel them on the lower left side of my mouth when I eat hot food, drink cold drinks, eat something sugary etc. It’s going to need some attention and I’m happy to give it that, but I’ve got an insurance situation to sort out before I can afford it. Soon. Interestingly, or not, I pack my toothbrush every time I go away. I even pack my dental floss, the same dental floss that I’ve had since no one knows when! That’s extreme optimism for you, right there! I don’t know why I think it’s going to be different on holidays, why I think I’ll get it done. I guess it’s something to do with believing I’ll have more time on holidays, that I’ll feel differently on holidays, that everything will fall into place on holidays. But that’s not how it works, is it? What you have at home, your routines, your schedule, your habits, you take on holidays with you. So it just gets put off a little longer, and a little longer. I’ve never been great at this, but I’ve been a heck of a lot better than this, even committing to daily bleaching my teeth for 3 weeks once! It’s probably one of the bigger of those things.

Today I washed my hands.

That, of all things, should NOT be a big deal but washing and drying my hands has become a stand off with myself! It’s like a rebellion against something, I don’t even know what. But you’re supposed to wash your hands, yeah? Well I won’t! Terrible, childish thought process, I know. But it’s there, and it takes a lot of overcoming! Every time I should be washing my hands, this something rises up in me and I just sneak away without doing it. So silly, yet it persists. Obviously because I work in a hospital there are safety limits but a pump of alcohol or chemical based cleaner is a lot easier to me; maybe I should install a couple of home! It’s just one of those things. It’s not that I never wash my hands. If I think an activity warrants it, like dirt from gardening, dusty or greasy hands from my bike, food matter etc then yes they get a good wash; or a good rub down on a hand towel that will disguise it! I’m practically a kid when it comes to this! It’s the little times when my hands aren’t dirty, but its tradition (and probably hygiene!) like before a meal, after a meal, little things. In my mind. Probably not in others minds, but it feels like unnecessary energy that I can’t afford to waste, so I save my efforts for something more essential, as least to my way of thinking. It’s one of those things which seem like why wouldn’t you just do it, but I feel like it will take too much energy. It’s a fight with myself.

Today I walked one kilometer.

Walking, any walking, has become a big deal since I got sick. I never used to think about the things I asked my body to do. I walked as long as I needed, I ran for exercise, I loved swimming for fun, weights were my favourite form of exercise, I’ve done a couple of bootcamps including one at a boxing gym, pilates was my relaxation, and so on. But now, I struggle a lot with it! For various reasons, I suppose: I’m fat and heavy, I’m slow and sluggish, it takes energy and effort and motivation, I’d rather catch ANY other form of transportation, my legs rub together and chafe til they’re red raw unless I wear undershorts or leggings, it drains my mind and my body, and I’ve come to associate it with pain and suffering. I know, a little over dramatic! But there you have it, it’s one of those things! This walk in particular was slow, and it wasn’t for exercise; it was for bird watching and photography. But hey, it was outside in the sun and breeze, and it was a kilometer. I take it however I get it, and don’t sneeze at the little bits of exercise however they come. I’m meant to be exercising more. Well that was more than yesterday, more than the day before, and more in one go than I’d done for the whole week and probably longer so I’m counting it as a win!

Today I rode my bike.

And it reminded me that I do love my bike! I’d forgotten that. I quickly forget the joys, and never-endingly remember the pains; it’s not a good way to be! I keep planning to ride with Wheel Women and sign myself up for rides optimistically hoping I’ll feel like it by the time they comes around. But then I pull out closer to the day as it becomes clearer that not having left the house or changed out of PJs for 2 days, it really isn’t going to be likely that I’ll be up and dressed by 8.30am ready to drive 45 minutes across the city! Or I heave a sigh of relief when a planned ride is cancelled due to rain, path flooding or wild weather. Then I roll over and go back to sleep. Well that’s been the pattern lately while I haven’t been well. Before today I hadn’t ridden or been on my bike even since the 3rd of June! Five weeks out of it! I think I’ve had 5 weeks out of a lot of things, to be honest. It’s been reasonably bleak for me and with me, and that’s when all of these things, those things, fall away because it’s too much effort to keep them going. But flying downhill brought on that high, that endorphin burst and suddenly I was in my zone, loving it! And I flew all the way home, even up the hills, and that was that, I was back, mentally. And when you’re there mentally, you’re there!

Today I climbed hills on my bike.

If you know me and my riding, you know about me and hills; we have a difficult relationship! Frankly, right now, I’m not built for going up hills! My weight is very much against me when trying to defy gravity by going up. Nevertheless, the hills are there and they do come across my path, and at the end of the day I do have to get up them somehow. So when Wheel Women ran a class on climbing, cornering and descending, it sounded like exactly the skill set that I could benefit from! So how did I get to that class when I hadn’t gotten to any other rides? My innate cheapness!! I put down money for this class, little though it be, but it’s a powerful motivator in someone with Scottish blood, however diluted it be! And I did learn some super helpful tips to help me up those hills. And then I flew down them again, but that’s the fun bit, the bit that gives you a rush! The other bit, the climbing is different, but I guess it’s a means to an end if you like. It’s still hard. But I did it today! I conquered one of those things, at least for now.

At the end of the day, what a day?!

Better than I’ve had in quite a while! I’ve been struggling with depression lately and it has sucked, but suddenly on Thursday night when I woke up from my nap, something shifted! I was high, elevated in an energetic and motivated frame of mind. Just like that! If only I could click my fingers and get that result! Who on earth knows what it was that tipped me over, impossible to figure out. But YAY!

So what you’re seeing here is the chemicals in my brain giving me a booster shot to actually manage to do some of those things. I even cooked tea one night this week! Rare event these days! When the chemicals all line up, life is good. It’s easy, way less effort, far less forcing myself around. It just happens and we’re all relieved. And vice versa, you understand. But for now, for however little time I have this little break, it’s nice to use it to do something. It’s not perfect. My ride was still hard! The hills still hurt. My walking was still slow, although that was more for the sake of finding birds, and it wasn’t far, but still. I washed my hands but not all the time. And I brushed my teeth.

What I didn’t do today was shower. It’s probably the hugest of the things. To get into our shower you have to climb into the bathtub. Every time I think of having a shower, I think of having to hoick my leg over the side and it just seems like too much effort! It’s such a small thing, right, but it literally seems like it’s impossible. Once I’m in its great; I love a nice hot shower and feeling clean again, once I’m there. It’s just the getting started, which is after all, the issue with all of these things; getting started. It’s pretty much classic depression: issues with motivation, energy, self care. It is amazing what lengths I’ll go to not to have a shower, and how long I’ll go between showers. And by amazing, I also mean embarrassing! After Bali, I had a mega battle and I almost lost count but I think I went more than two weeks and no shower, and unwashed hair! You may have noticed! I still used deodorant and perfume so hopefully I didn’t stink, but it wasn’t a nice episode and finally my husband had to drag me to the shower and make me get in. And it was delightful! All that fuss and bother and argument, vanished, and I had a lovely time and came out feeling wonderful! It’s one of those things!!

That’s today [read: Saturday 9th July]. Tomorrow we have to wake up and do it again so we won’t get too carried away, but today those things have had a bit less hold over me.

So, the next day: Sunday morning, the hardest morning of the week. Mainly because I ideally would aim be up and going earlier than I may have done for the other 6 days of the week. But today I was up by 9am and actually feeling like I was up and going, not sluggish or doped out. My anticipation of the coming Sunday can mean that I go to bed late, and so not take my tablets til late just before I go to bed, and so I can be a bit sedated by the effect of my tablets lasting well into the morning. I have this contrary thought process that not going to bed will prolong the next day’s arrival…obviously it’s just the opposite. But it’s another reason why waking up Sunday is a complicated thing. Sunday morning is also traditionally when I wash my hair. I should really change that, if common sense prevails. It’s just another thing to get past to get to church: waking up, clearing my head, getting fed and watered and tabletted, showering, dressing and getting out the door not long after ten.

But today was pretty successful. I actually had a shower, and even dug out some moisturizer and did my legs! A miracle of a day! I’m energetic but not irritably manic, the best way to be. Touch wood for more days like these. I’m active, I’m wanting to fill in my day instead of hiding from it; I’m like a normal person!! YAY!

Heritage steam

Today I went on an exciting adventure. Me and a whole bunch of kids with mum, dad, grandma, uncle etc. I felt just like a kid setting off on an exciting day trip, and as I was surrounded by exactly that, it really helped set the mood!

I arrived at the heritage Queenscliff station at twenty to eleven in the morning to find the train I was about to catch steaming and puffing away with doors wide open ready to receive travelers. What an adorable cutesie sight!! A glorious sunny day, the chill of the morning worn off to a nice comfortable day and a trip in this old steam train to boot!!

Ticket office at the Queenscliff railway station.

Ticket office at the Queenscliff railway station

Irony abounds in the sight of this old fashioned ticket office. I purchased my ticket for the steam train online with my smart phone, and unable to print it out, the railway man had to read my details off said smart phone to record my journey! So much for doing things in the old way! However I did get a cute old school ticket to carry.

Return ticket to board the Queenscliff to Drysdale steam train

Return ticket to board the Queenscliff to Drysdale steam train

Permission to enter the railway station and wait for the train to depart!

Moving from the ticket office to the railway platform

Moving from the ticket office to the railway platform

Queenscliff railway station

Queenscliff railway station

Here’s the train waiting to take on passengers and convey them to Drysdale

Steam engine puffing away ready to take off

Steam engine puffing away ready to take off

Steam engine with the engineers getting ready to depart

Steam engine with the engineers getting ready to depart

Carriages waiting with open doors for passengers to board

Carriages waiting with open doors for passengers to board

Finally eleven o’clock!! All aboard!

Time to depart - all aboard!

Time to depart – all aboard!

Time to pick the best place to sit for the best view!

Time to pick the best place to sit for the best view!

View from the carriage out the door waiting for the station master to shut us in

View from the carriage out the door waiting for the station master to shut us in

The station master closing all the doors for departure

The station master closing all the doors for departure

And we are off! Following the shore of Swan Bay then crossing inland to Drysdale

Perfection! Blue skies, green grass, trees and through it all the gorgeous Swan Bay

Perfection! The view from my seat in the train: blue skies, green grass, trees and through it all the gorgeous Swan Bay

The inside of the 1920s carriage

The inside of the 1920s carriage

Some days, life is just perfect! Comfy seat, train doing all the work, view to boot!

Some days, life is just perfect! Comfy seat, train doing all the work, view to boot!

First stop, Laker’s Siding

Lakers Siding railway station

Lakers Siding railway station

Second stop, Suma Park (bad photo!)

Suma Park railway station

Suma Park railway station

Third and final stop, Drysdale. Beautiful station opposite Lake Lorne, home of some great birds!

Behind of Drysdale railway station

Behind of Drysdale railway station

Purple Swamphens at the Drysdale railway station

Purple Swamphens at the Drysdale railway station

A beautiful Black Swan, a Eurasian Coot and some ducks opposite Drysdale railway station

A beautiful Black Swan, a Eurasian Coot and some ducks opposite Drysdale railway station

Cormorants roosting in an old tree in Lake Lorne opposite the Drysdale railway station

Cormorants roosting in an old tree in Lake Lorne opposite the Drysdale railway station

What a great trip! I can highly recommend the steam train trip between Queenscliff and Drysdale; if you’re in the area, make sure you take the time to enjoy this old school adventure 🙂