What's On My Mantle

I’ve been guilty in the past of putting in a token effort performing some home maintenance in order to justify cracking a beer at the end of it. Ironically in these days of Coronavirus isolating I feel like the opposite has been occuring. Vanessa and I exhibited some proper diligence repairing a broken cupboard door today and I didn’t even touch the kristal or the dunkel in the fridge afterwards. This while it seems like most of the people I know are taking the Winston Churchill approach to this current threat to our nation - minus being in charge of anything. And also possibly the amount of bathing.

I was thinking about my lack of drinking recently, as well as the British Mass Observation diarists of the aforementioned era, and this inspired me to do some calculations on what I’ve been saving money on this pandemic. Craft beer, for one. In the twelve months before a state of emergency was declared (which, apparently, does not mean you can use that little hammer thing hanging on the bus windows) I drank quite a few craft beers and while it would not add up to a huge amount of litres it did add up to a significant amount of cash. A fresh pint of craft beer always tastes bad to me unless it costs at least thirteen dollars. So let’s call that $65 a month.

Isolation has also made it harder to procrastinate when responding to unimportant emails by going out and buying a coffee. I can still go downstairs and make a pod coffee (~80c) but at that price I’m still making a profit compared to the $4.50 for the “medium” coffee with keep cup discount I used to fork out two to three times a work week. On the downside, I do need to pay for my own milk now (~30c/coffee). I do not give myself a keep cup discount, although I have taken to using my keep cup at home to preserve the warmth in my autumn coffees all the way up the stairs and through the Zoom meeting I’m probably running late for.

There are other areas where I’m saving on costs. No public transport. No basketball participation or football games/beers. No gym costs. Yes home gym costs. I’m extending the life of my stripy polos an extra six to twelve months, and probably extending the life of my shaver even longer. Nash has gone from five Dentastix a week to about that many a month. I haven’t seen my physio since early March and I haven’t seen the dentist since 2019. Oh and I’ll also be saving at least $10K by not travelling anywhere overseas.

And yet, I’m still not drinking.


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The woman with the fake tan stepped into my office, sat across from my desk and lit a cigarette.
At least, she would, sometime in the next 20 minutes. Smelling the future has advantages, but precision isn’t one of them.


Dismayed

I could say a lot about May. There's only been six days of it so far and a lot has happened. Nothing that warrants a narrative, but I promised myself that when it got to the point in the evening where I felt like watching pointless videos on YouTube instead of going to bed (Catan strategy breakdowns for low ore boards? Really, that's better than getting a good sleep?) I would write something instead.

Despite the pandemic, our house sold. That good feeling alone has been buoying me throughout the week. We bought a Skierg to celebrate.

Haven't run out of toilet paper; still no bites on my DVD Collection on gumtree.

I picked up a basketball and shot it towards a basketball ring yesterday. It was a warm and breezy late Autumn day and the ball went swish through the net. In fact, my first four shots went swish, and each and every swish I elicited through twenty minutes of sunshine unpicked a miniature scab from my heart, which then stung after the sun set and the cold air got in under my ribs.

The bird of paradise plant in the garden flowered and I was so excited that I googled how to fertilise them, sprinkled some dynamic lifter around their base, watered it in with some pea-straw and then the dog dug it up and ate it. So instead I fertilised the lawn in a roundabout way.

I received the most amount of money I've ever been paid for something a story I wrote ($640!), but I wrote it like three years ago and it was rejected so many times, and the place that bought it hasn't actually committed to publishing it, so I'm kind of not sure if they just bought the rights to get the thing out of circulation while the world suffers through COVID19.

I broke the seal on porridge this year earlier this morning. Instead of mixing in banana I mixed through tinned apricots. It was nice, but missing something - probably banana. I believe today might actually be the first day of the year I didn't eat a banana.

Who knows what the rest of the month has in store.

Traditions

Every year on Anzac Day, Vanessa bakes me a giant cookie to eat while we play Rummy.

This year I made a time-lapse of me eating it.


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Easter Beer Hunt 2020

On Wednesday night a super moon rose above Adelaide which was supposed to herald the coming of the 2020 Easter Beer hunt. Alas due to the nature of current events I wasn't able to compete for glory on the fields of a reserve or park near someone's house after a BBQ with friends.

Fortunately I have my own backyard now and Vanessa volunteered to hide a few beers for me after dark. This was a new experience for me - single player beer hunt. I'll openly admit my proficiency in past beer hunts has been less due to my clever locating skills and more down to my speed across the ground and enthusiasm. I'm not good below my knees and I have a preference for not getting my hands too dirty.

I allowed Vanessa free reign to hide my two beers as trickily as possible, with the only condition that it was in a drinkable state afterwards. She set about outside and a few minutes later, head torch donned but no need for a basket, I was off and searching through the nooks and crannies of my new property racing only the clock and my desire for a beer.

If I'd done this hunt with Vanessa in my old townhouse's courtyard I think I would have been faster. As it turns out there is a lot of places to hide a beer in even a modest sized backyard. After I started lifting up pavers Vanessa gave me a few clues. In the end it took me over 30 minutes to find all the beers - a refreshing mental distraction from the isolation of COVID 19.

My final haul: 2 beers and a spare sprinkler head for the irrigation!

My final haul: 2 beers and a spare sprinkler head for the irrigation!

Going the Distance

Onkaparinga Gorge from above

It was our eight year wedding anniversary yesterday, another very normal kind of event that has come up during these very abnormal times.

Vanessa and I celebrated (after pancakes) by driving to Onkaparinga National Park for hiking and a picnic. It was an extreme - as well as enjoyable - form of social distancing. We did see on the horizon a few others out enjoying the pleasant autumn weather. I crossed Vanessa's path too, and she crossed mine, which is allowed because we are married. What she and I have and had over the past eight years is the opposite of social distancing. If we’re apart it’s typically a minimum of a sprawled out Golden Retriever, to a maximum of a table tennis table away.

2020 right now is certainly a reminder to appreciate the little things, and that’s what we’ve got, a whole bunch of little things to make this crazy timeline feel okay. If I have to distance myself from society for twelve months there’s no one else I’d want by my side.

Orbital Inclinations

Around about this time last hemisphere, when the summer solstice had just passed and the fireworks were popping, I was doing a lot of hiking, and eating yogurt and cereal for breakfast at waterfalls. I missed that.

With Adelaide's weather forecast for a max in the mid-twenties and zero flames, Vanessa as I decided an Australian PNW hike was the perfect start to the decade. I dug out my hiking boots and first thing this morning we did the Grand Falls loop at Morialta. The greenery was drier, the cars smaller, and the breakfast waterfall had no water in it, but it was a lovely experience that made me intensely nostalgic for the weeks of walking in winter-summer 2019, and a healthy way to kick off the decade.

image 1990 from bradism.com

I finished the day with the Australian version of the IPA.

image 1989 from bradism.com

A Nice Ice Cream

There’s a lot of bad things in life. An ice cream by the seaside is not supposed to be one of them. But sometimes it can feel unsatisfying, like you’re going through the motions of something fun without actually enjoying it. You have to park at the beach, deal with the crowds on the sand, the line for the ice-cream, the smell from the warm dumpsters drifting over the queue, the challenge of choosing your flavours. The cost, the guilt of the calories, finding somewhere to sit and eat it before it all melts. It can be a chore.

I had a really great ice cream by the beach on Sunday night. It was the first hot Sunday of summer. The beach was more packed than I’d ever seen it. After having my choice of parks all autumn, winter and spring I had to park two streets back from the esplanade. We wandered back down to the sand, greeted by almost-still water and an instant five degree drop in temperature. The sun was closing in on the horizon. We walked along the shallows to Semaphore square, ordered a few scoops and then carried dessert back to the sand and found a dune to watch the sunset.

image 1986 from bradism.com

We talked about life, milestones just completed, new things to come. The ice creams were almost $15. All afternoon my hamstring tendon had been on the cusp of agony. There were uncertainties in our near future. There was work tomorrow. The ice cream was sweet, and still cold.

As the sun sunk and twilight commenced, I finished the last lapping of double chocolate and the conclusive crunch of waffle cone. We walked back to the car and blasted Christmas songs all the way home. There was still chocolate on my lips, and my belly was content. It was a beautiful night.

You can be in pain and still be happy.

Not A Duck Entry

image 1963 from bradism.com

I took some photos while walking along the Torrens this September morning. Vanessa asked me if I was planning a duck entry. I said no...
image 1962 from bradism.com

... I'm planning a duckling entry!!

We saw no ducklings and were rained on several times.