Drives, other stuff, chats and dreams.

Hello again!

I thought I’d post a little what I’ve been doing lately ramble. Buckle up.

Drives

I’ve twice ventured outside the 5km radius we’ve been restricted to until recently, which I have LOVED. Those extra 20kms make a huge difference.

My first trip took me up to the Dandenong Ranges, my nearby happy place of happy places. As I rounded the first bend and then saw the first lush fern, I let out a couple of rather loud, spontaneous woo-hooooos! It felt so good.

Under the canopy, driving that familiar road, admiring the trees and ferns and the myriad shades of green they display. It was genuinely liberating after so long stuck in my little suburban cul-de-sac.

I decided to change things up by taking the road to Kallista and I noticed how the undergrowth seemed to get a lot less daylight as the road dipped down and wound around to the little village of Kallista.

I drove back up to Olinda, then down past the closed Cuckoo restaurant. The sun came out and gave me my most favourite thing in the whole wide world, a beautiful curtain of DAPPLED LIGHT to drive through! Happy sigh.

A few days later I decided to zip down to the beach mid-afternoon while the sun was out again. I didn’t think about how much more traffic was on the road now, and getting there was slightly annoying, but turning on to Nepean Highway and glancing down the side streets, I caught my first glimpse of the ocean for 2020, in late October!

It was windy and sunny and brilliant. I hung a left and parked a couple of houses up from the bluestone entrance to the beach. Down the path with reeds growing as high as my shoulders, on to the sand and then BANG, the edge of the world opened up.

So vast and endless and incredible to see and smell and feel again. Happy sigh. I watched the waves for a while, took some photos, breathed in the salty air and almost heard my nervous system whispering, thank you, thank you.

We live on this incredibly beautiful island, and luckily, a lot of us live pretty close to the edges of it. Having not seen the beach for so long, standing there reminded me how much I love the idea that the world drops away under us and you’d need to sail or fly south for a long time to get to another gorgeous beach like the one I got to stand on this week. Happy, happy, happy.

Being able to take these little afternoon drives has been a great foil to the oddness of trying to get my head around the fact that I’m not just on annual leave, I don’t have a job anymore. I don’t have a nice income to rely on and I have to now get back into the habit of carefully considering every single thing I purchase. It’s been a bit more difficult than I expected to be honest.

Other stuff

Three years and eight months doesn’t seem like a long time to forget how hard it is to subsist on a welfare payment, whether it’s called NewStart, or JobSeeker, but sheesh, it’s a bit of a slap upside the head with a wet fish.

Like most people with a little disposable income, I’d become quite used to disposing with some of it into the coffers of UberEats, or into not making dinner with what I had on hand but going grocery shopping again, or buying a book or a dress that caught my eye. Those days are over for a while. O.V.E.R.

Chats

I have a strange relationship with my phone. It’s nearby or in my hand quite a lot of my waking life, yet I don’t talk to many people voice to voice with it.

One of the longstanding exceptions to that is that I love having chats with my friend Sair. We right all the wrongs, we laugh, we cry, we simulcast our viewing of Presidential debates, we commiserate over the utter fuckwits we see doing the wrong thing, again and again, we listen, we ask questions, we ponder, we cheer each other on, we bear witness. Most importantly, we remind each other that we’re not alone.

We have been friends for three decades, and counting. It is so, so, so good to know that she loves me for me, and I love her for her. We are smarter, wiser and kinder now than we were when we first met, and our precious friendship endures.

Huge happy sigh. Love you Sair. xxxxx

Dreams

I had another one of my ‘ends with a weird toilet experience’ dreams this morning. I think my brain is SO CLEVER to be able to get my subconscious mind to take whatever dream I’m having and work in a bizarre and almost always public (as in there aren’t any walls) toilet experience to get me to wake up and take care of business. This one was in a nice hotel, so it was better than some of the other situations my subconscious has put me in to let me know I need to go!

The other major theme that my dreams seem to take is that I’m lost. I do not like these dreams. I was chatting (via text) with my sister Lisa a while ago and talking about themes of unsettling dreams. I told her mine often have me somewhere I don’t know how to get home from – like being on the wrong train, or getting stuck somewhere I’m unfamiliar with, and she commented that one of my fears must be getting lost.

After I woke this morning, it occurred to me that when I’m lost in my dreams, it isn’t really that I’m lost that I find stressful, it’s that I don’t have all the information I need to figure things out. Ding, ding, ding!

As an adoptee, this makes total sense to me. I don’t have basic information about myself that people take for granted. I don’t know anything about my biological family or my background, even my nationality is a mystery. Am I from English stock, or Irish? Perhaps my ancestors were Scottish or Swedish? I don’t know. I’m pretty white, I’ll grant you that, but it’s still a mystery.
I don’t have any stories around my birth mum’s journey through pregnancy or the hilarious/fraught drive to the hospital, or how I looked when I was born. I don’t know if I made my way into the world easily or with difficulty. I don’t know my birth father’s first name, let alone his last, or what he looks like. I know his height, age and occupation. That’s it.

It’s no wonder that dreaming of being lost comes up for me over and over and over again. In this morning’s dream I was at a conference being held in a complex of various hotels with one central check-in desk. I’d been to a session (no idea what about) and couldn’t find my way back to my hotel room. The staff at the check-in desk couldn’t help me and advised me that actually, my name wasn’t in their computer, even though I’d checked into my room and I had my conference lanyard around my neck.

A long and frustrating attempt to find my room ensued, with colour coded elevators not taking us where they should have, long doorless corridors that led nowhere and other people denying that I was checked-in or belonged at the conference at all.
I wake up tired from those dreams; as well as busting for the loo.

Aside from the drives and chats and dreams, a lot of the days seem to blend into each other at the moment. It’s AFL Grand Final Day today and by now we’d normally have a result and I’d have watched at least the pre-game, first quarter and last quarter. This year, I don’t even know what time the game starts and now that I don’t have Foxtel anymore, I’ve got no free-to-air channels either. It’s weird.

Adjusting to the ways life changes takes time. We’ve seen that in ways we never expected to this year, huh? We started the year with horrific bushfires, then COVID sprang up on the other side of the world, made it’s way around the globe, and now various levels of lockdown seem kind of normal. Tomorrow, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews will likely announce further changes.

If you haven’t gone for a 24 km drive or had a good phone natter with a girlfriend for a while, I highly recommend both. Hop in the car and drive to the prettiest place in your 25 km radius. Enjoy the view. Stop for a while. Or grab yourself a cuppa or a glass of wine and dial that number. You may find yourself smiling more as you take your empty drinking vessel back to the kitchen for a refill, or pull up to that all-too-lived in home again.

Look after yourselves okay? Let me know how you’re doing and what you’re dreaming about.

Big love,

Annette xxx

It was Friday, and it was good.

Hello there, Easter break! 

Today I spent some time with a couple of top notch friends of mine, in one of my favourite places. 

Coffee and conversation. 

Sunshine. 

This haven of stylish serenity. 

The beauty of looking up.

The older I get, the more I find myself defaulting to spending the bulk of my time (outside of work) at home, alone. 

That’s no complaint, FYI. I’m not lonely when I’m alone. I am an introvert by nature, and now I’m also a person with a chronic illness, so I need lots of rest and downtime. 

Today reminded me how good, and bolstering, time with friends can be. 

When you spend time with people who know and love you, you can say the things you need to say, without fear or shame. You can tell the truth about your victories and disappointments, and chat about how beautiful the weather is. 

We got to do all of that today. 

I also got to visit this painting, which lives in my friend Suzanne’s beautiful home in the Dandenongs. 

Being asked to create something scared the bejeezus out of me. It took me months to work up the courage to attempt anything. Imposter syndrome is real, people! I got there eventually, and I loved seeing this piece again today. 

Friendship is kind of like painting. 

They both take time. 

They require inspiration, a little bit of magic, and more than a little courage. 

Decisions need to be made – to play it safe or take risks – to choose new colours, to see the beauty in unexpected combinations. 

We get to decide how we want to express ourselves, we may even dare to colour outside the lines! 

 

In these terms, I have been developing the art of my friendhip with the lovely Suzanne for two decades now. 

Suzanne is one of the best people I know. Fact. 

She is trustworthy, welcoming, generous, thoughtful, compassionate and loving. 

She appreciates books, art and music.

Her key-lime cheesecake is out of this world! 

Suzanne is a sister I choose. I have a few of these chosen sisters, each one a true gift in my life. 

A year ago, Suzanne got married, giving me a bonus buddy in her hubster Ron. 

Friendship. 

Connection. 

Love. 

 

That’s a good Friday. 

 

Joyfully,

Annette xx 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Stuff

Hello friends! 

I’m a super slapdash blogger these days, but never mind, here I am again. 

My Sunday matinee of choice, which I’m watching while wrapped up like a giant pink burrito in my exceedingly cosy (and very pink!) dressy gown, is Julie & Julia. 

Have you seen it? 

It is a charming film about the magically intertwined lives of American cooking legend Julia Child and a post 9/11, Queens-based, cubicle dweller, blogger and foodie Julie Powell. It’s a feel good film about food, marital love, exploring creative outlets, and it is served up with a sweet dollop of romance. I’m a mega fan of Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and Nora Ephron. So much talent! A perfect Sunday afternoon film. 

Aside from afternoon movies, I’ve been enjoying snapping photos of the glory that is autumn in Melbourne. 

I just CANNOT get enough of it. Can you? 

This glorious old house is just near the post office that I scurry to every few days, toting Very Important Packages. I couldn’t resist whipping out my phone and snapping the gorgeous branches, light and ironwork. Sigh. So beautiful. 

On the book front, I started reading this last weekend, Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant. So far I am finding it really sad, and helpful and bolstering. I must finish it, my bookish mojo is hovering around the same low level as my bloggy mojo lately, but I always love the feeling of being lost in a book. 

Got any tips to help me get back on the bibliophile track? 

And for a seasonal treat, I bought myself new sheets! 

Is there anything more comforting and pleasing than the two-fold joy of finally finding cute and affordable printed sheets (on sale!) and then having them arrive on a day where you were able to wash and LINE DRY them?! I think not. They will never see an iron, just like me! I love them. 

While we’re in my bedroom (oooh saucy!), I will soon be framing a few new artworks – a collection of heart shields – and hanging them over my bed. The first one arrived this week. 

As some of you know, I’ve been having a few health issues recently, and I decided I need some good vibes in the form of paintings/sketches/collages above my bed, which I can draw strength and inspiration from. 

Ergo, #heartshields. 

My super talented Pipster pal Dawn painted this piece, and I am utterly delighted with it. Dawn was gracious enough to allow me to request some elements I wanted, and she surprised me with others. Can’t wait to frame and hang it. 

You should most definitely read Dawn’s blog Kangaroo Spotting and follow her on Instagram. She’s super rad! 

{You could even buy one of her incredible abstract works and hang it above your bed, in your stairwell, or on your living room wall. #notsubliminal #shamelessplug #notsponsored}

Autumn sunshine is the BEST sunshine of the whole year. 

Just look up! Isn’t it beautiful? 

******

In this life, we never know what’s around the corner. Never. 

We think we do, which is how we plan and keep going I’m sure, but we are at best, back seat drivers in the ride through life. 

One day I was feeling badly short of breath so I went to the GP, and she sent me off to get an X-ray. A few hours later – heart failure. Bam. Plan B. 

A lovely Instagram friend of mine just got diagnosed with cancer. All of a sudden, she’s in the midst of a massively unanticipated Option B pivot. She is navigating the ups and downs of absorbing shocking news, scheduling surgery, and she is still looking up, and drawing strength from her family and many friends. Bam. Plan B. 

We make so many plans, and while some of them fall beautifully into place, some of them crumble around us. 

We can’t control that part. Oh, we wish we could but we can’t. 

We have to hold our plans and dreams loosely.

Sometimes when Plan B drops out of the sky on us, we forget to blog, to paint, to create, to breathe – because we are consumed with getting our heads around the new realities we are facing. I am hoping this is a temporary lull. 

There is something I can do right now – a simple, deeply symbolic, powerful act – I can look up. You can too. 

I can look up, and I can take photos of the beauty I see. 

And I will. 

Feel free to join me. 

We’re all under the same sky. 

 

Annette x 

 

 

10 Things I Love About Autumn

It feels like it’s finally here – my favourite season.

Oh Autumn, how I love you. 

2016-06-17 15.35.18-2

Let me count just some of the ways…

  1. I love reaching for a cardigan, a blanket, or the dial on my trusty Vulcan heater. Cosiness is everything!
  2. I love the changing light. The brightness of summer mellows into wispy cloudy skies and I revel in the shortening of the days. 
  3. I love the food of cooler months. Today I got my slow cooker out for the first time since last winter. My gorgeous sister Lisa gave me a ‘grab bag’ from her freezer – satay chicken curry which will feed, and warm, me for days. 
  4. I love the sound of rain on the roof. This morning at about 6 o’clock, a thunderstorm rolled over my house. The windows rattled and the rain pelted down, and I smiled a big sleepy smile and snuggled further under the covers. 
  5. I simply ADORE autumnal foliage. The way the trees shed their incredibly brightly hued leaves… it utterly captivates me. A wet footpath strewn with a beautiful autumn leaves, yes please! 
  6. I love the way my home’s decor changes. Treasured vintage blankets come out of the ottoman, reminding me of my grandmother. Candles come out and create a cosy flickering glow at nighttime. 
  7. Hot showers become a place of refuge on chilly mornings. Steamed up bathroom mirrors make me happy. 
  8. Weekend drives up to yonder hills take on a magical quality. Between the bracing air that hits your face as you leave home and wait for the car’s heater to kick in, to the rich colours of the landscape and welcoming warmth of favourite cafes, a weekend drive is a special treat.  
  9. I’m inspired to create as the weather cools. I might pick up leaves that catch my eye, or snap 20 photos of a particularly gorgeous tree, or sketch leaves for days, and days. Autumn is my muse. It’s why I love to look up. 
  10. Last but not least, autumn reminds me that life is cyclical. It may look like an ending, but it is really an opportunity to recharge, to draw on unseen reserves, and embrace a few months of life at a slower pace. 

Welcome back autumn, I missed you. 

Leaves.jpg

 

Oh, I forgot one of my favourite things about autumn, it’s my birthday in a week! Autumn babies are the bestest. 

Are you a lover of autumn? What’s your favourite thing about this time of year? 

 

Annette x 

 

 

Like, totally…

Today on Facebook, I saw a great question: what things do you like? 

I chimed in with a few things, and it was great to read other people’s responses. 

As the thread grew, it got me thinking about how important it is to be a fan of stuff, of things, of feelings and people and to name those things. There’s got to be something dopamine-y about liking and listing things, don’t you think? 

To wit, here’s an off the cuff, non-exhaustive list of things I like. 

  1. Dappled light. Oh my heart. I like, love, dappled light. 
  2. Lying in bed with my eyes closed, knowing I can stay there for a few more minutes, or another hour, depending on the day of the week.  
  3. Coffee. 
  4. Personal growth. I like people who are on the road to becoming their own BFF. I do.
  5. Driving up into the hills near my home. Turning off the highway and around the first bend always, always lowers my blood pressure. Lush ferns, trees so tall you can’t see the tops of them, and #1 on this list… heaven. 
  6. Line drawing. 
  7. Books. Preferably stacked. 
  8. Podcasts. I am enjoying Women Of The Hour with Lena Dunham, and I hope Invisibilia will be back. 
  9. Those big, crackly plastic blue bags from IKEA. They’re great for so many things after you’ve toted your newest IKEA purchases home. 
  10. Even numbers. Always have, always will. Writing 2017 and turning 49 this year, not my faves. 
  11. I like ideas. Ideas hold so much possibility and promise, even when they’re half formed and fuzzy. 
  12. Lisa Congdon. She’s not a thing, obviously, but she is a super inspiring artist and illustrator. Check out her thoughts on living a good life on her blog
  13. Song lyrics. I’m thinking about handlettering a bunch of lyrics throughout the year. 
  14. Fresh bread. Butter. Cheese. Okay, that’s three-in-one. What can I say? They make a great combo. 
  15. Maggie updates on Beth’s blog. I kind of adore Miss Maggie. Is that weird? 
  16. Courage. It doesn’t have to be the made-the-news kind to be impressive. Mostly, courage doesn’t make the news, it just happens quietly all around us. People speaking up for themselves, or taking an art class, or putting the urgent off to deal with what’s really important, they’re all acts of courage. 
  17. Doing the dishes. There’s something so gratifying about hot sudsy water and a dripping rack of squeaky clean dishes.
  18. Chocolate. I’m slowly working my way through a bag of choc-orange Lindt Lindor balls and they are SO GOOD! 
  19. The sounds of the Australian Open, having the tennis on in the background today has been aurally pleasing. Squeak, thunk, thwack, out! 
  20. Wattle Park in Melbourne. Four decades ago, my mum would pack us all into the car for adventures at Wattle Park. It seemed massive, an endless place to run around and play. I’m convinced I used to see John Newcombe playing tennis there. Do you think I really did? 
 
Making this list of things I like has boosted my mood. Maybe making your own like list it would boost yours? 
 
Hit up the comments section with one, six or fourteen things you like! I’m all ears. 
 
Happily,
 
Annette 
 
 
PS Thanks to Pip Lincolne for asking this question on FB today! It’s a good one. 
 

Good (Friday) Things I’m Liking

It’s Good Friday, and the day started goodly indeed, as I made myself a festively appropriate breakfast of a toasted hot cross bun and a lovely cup of coffee, then hopped (#seewhatididthere) back into bed and enjoyed my first fix of the podcast Stuff You Should Know. 

Pleasingly, I now know more about Carl Sagan, and Grimm’s fairy tales and how continents got their names. 

Do you like podcasts? They’re certainly super popular at the moment. I like Serial (though season 2 isn’t as captivating as season 1), Short & Curly, Let It Be and now I definitely rate SYSK. 

Podcasts satisfy and fuel my curious nature. I think it’s super awesome that we have access to so much information  just with a press of a button. My SYSK playlist (so far) has episodes on mass hysteria, passports, colour, Tupperware, ocean currents, pyramids and the Enlightenment. Bring. It. On. I’ll have to go back to the library soon, so I can download more eps. 

I had another lovely creative time with my niece Matilda this week. Here’s our latest collaboration. I am loving my role as “the creative auntie”. 

This week Matilda chose acrylics, and I encouraged her to mix some colours. 

I think this pink house with Matilda mixed blue-y green window frames looks sensational. 

At my house, there are no mistakes when you create. Art critics be gone! 

We sat side by side at my small desk, collaborating on where the stripes should stop and the spots begin — so much fun. Hopefully not just for me! 

And you can’t create on an empty stomach, so we made a batch of pikelets and gobbled them happily. 

Autumn seems to be kicking in properly, at last. The temperatures are dropping, and the sky has been super blue. I often stand at my back door and snap pics of the sky. Blue skies and gutters – which captures your attention? 

I choose the sky, though the lines in this shot make me smile. 

I’m still sketching/painting/drawing every day, dipping in and out of online challenges and my obsession with all things autumnal. I’ve got 84 consecutive days under my belt. 

There is endless inspiration in nature, as well as in every day domestic things. In fact, wherever I look I see beautiful lines and shapes and colours. I want to have eyes to see beauty in the ordinary. 

I see it in buttons, in a fallen leaf, in a collection of house plants.  

I hope you’re cosy and close to a hot cross bun and a cuppa. And I hope you always have the ability see beauty in ordinary things. 

 

Annette x 

 

PS If you love autumn too, tag me in your fave autumnal pic on Instagram @igiveyoutheverbs, or jump on to my seasonal hashtag #crushingonautumn. 

One Mark went to mow

Earlier this week I received a text from Mark the mowing man. 

Mark is a great bloke. We often have a chat when he’s here. Mark is friendly, reliable and he has cool tattoos. 

Here’s how this week’s text convo with Mower Man Mark played out. 

 

I thought that would be the end of it. He’s running a small business, not a free mowing service. 

Even a generous guy might baulk at waiting that long… but not Mark. 

(For the record, because I know that you know I love language, kindness trumps punctuation!)

How great is Mark? 

I was pretty damned chuffed, and humbled, by his offer. 

On Wednesday morning, Mark sent someone around to mow the lawns, and I think you’ll agree they look great. 

It’s kind of wonderful to have someone trust you like Mark trusted me this week. 

Better get back to the job hunting now, I owe Mark $50! 

Do you have a Mark in your life? 

Who has shown you kindness lately? 

Better yet, who have you been a Mark to? 

 

Annette 💚