Told Ya!


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I entered my first ever foot race yesterday! It was a twilight 5K run along the Swan River, and I did it in just under 30 minutes. My wonderful
girlfriend was at the finish line waiting for me and took the picture above, bless her. She said she got really emotional waiting for me to come in and thinks she’ll be a mess if I ever do manage to run an ultra.

It was such fun and I’m so proud of myself for entering, after a lifetime of avoiding group and team sports because I kept getting told I wasn’t good enough, screamed at for not being fast enough, laughed at for even thinking I had any right to take part. Running is so inclusive. It makes me so happy.

Because Why The Hell Not?

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Image source – that’s the inimitable Hiilary Swank, revelling in the body she’s worked so hard to have.

On the twelfth of August, 2013, shortly before my 32nd birthday, I did a strange, wonderful, uncharacteristic thing. I took up running.

I’ve always been one of those people who scoffed at the idea of running for fun, so this was very much of our left field for me, and to be honest I am still unable to really pin down my reasons for getting out there and running. I’d heard about Zombies! Run! and it seemed like a fun idea – a training app that combines interval training with an interactive, post-apocalyptic story-game – and that played a part. So, too, did my mild inclination to Doomsday-Prepping. I suspect some intervention from my awareness of my age, too.

Whatever the reason, I stuck with it, and I’ve been running once, twice or three times a week since then, and to say that it has changed my life is a bald understatement. There has been so much to learn about this new world that’s opened up to me, and I’ve joined the local Marathon Club in the hope of finding people to talk to about running so I can stop doing it to my friends and loved ones before they all abandon me.

And I still can’t tell you why I run. It’s horrible, and wonderful, and fun, and so godawfully boring, and hard, and then suddenly easy, and it sucks so much time out of my days now but it gives me so much back in the currency that matters – self-respect, empowerment, pride, endorphins, strong limbs and feet and lungs and heart. I feel so much bigger in myself now, even though I’m slimmer than I’ve been my whole adult life. Running has introduced so many delicious contradictions into my life and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Thank God It’s February

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Y’know, every summer I live in Perth, I make. Herculean effort to ignore something. Not just any random old thing – it’s the same every year. It gets to the gritty, sandy, dusty midpoint of January once all the insanity of what’s cruelly called the “holiday season” and I get some time to reflect on stuff once again, and I find myself deliberately ignoring the weather.

I just assume, from day to day, that It’s Going To Be Hot, and the only pattern-making I observe with respect to the weather is whether or not it’s my day to switch on the bore-fed reticulation.

I try really hard not to think about how long it’s been since it rained, and how much longer than that it’s been since it rained substantially, and how last rainy season just didn’t yield enough to get us through comfortably, and how it gets worse and worse every year. I don’t let my mind follow that logic chain, preferring to skip ahead to the action step, without entering into the desperate dwelling-on phase of the whole subject.

And then yesterday I made the mistake of listening to the radio. Normally it’s pretty safe because I prefer to listen to Triple J, an eastern-states based station that mostly ignores the presence of us inconveniently timezone-challenged Western laggards. But yesterday the “novelty” feature on one of the newsbreaks I heard told me that some weather statistic had been smashed by the Western Australian summer, once again. Something to do with the least number of days on which it rained in a three-month period (three days, I believe)…I get glazey when meteorologists start talking stats. They’re worse than cricket commentators.

The upshot was that I started panicking about the weather. And I was doing so well, what with all the sand around here wherein I can comfortably stick my head. Admittedly, said sand was getting very dry.

…finally, a Real Knitter

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You know how there are some things in life that are thresholds, rites of passage, achievements unlocked, things after which you have crossed into a new state of being, usually one to which you’ve been aspiring for some time? For me, knitting has one of those things. Yep, just one. I’ve knit a lace jumper (sweater), colourwork legwarmers, felted handspun, I’ve knit complex beaded lace and diddly art yarn and churned out sweaters like they’re cups of tea…but I wasn’t a Real Knitter. Not in my mind.

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But as of last night, I feel justified in counting myself among those elevated ranks, because as of last night I finished my First Pair Of Socks. Those ones up there. They’re knit out of Knitter’s Brewing Sockaholic, in Fuzzy Navel (the above photo shows the colour very well), which I have to say needs some work. My first attempt to use this yarn years ago failed when it turned out to be splitty and really underplied; this time around, I took some extra time and put it through my spinning wheel, putting in some more plying twist. It worked really well and the yarn came out much more durable and easy to knit with.

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The pattern is Lady Tryamour Socks, by Sivia Harding, from The Knitter’s Book of Socks by The Nicest Knitter In the World Clara Parkes. It wasn’t a hard pattern till I got to the cuffs, and then it presented some serious challenges, but only because I am was a n00b. And now I have my fifth pair of handknitted socks, made by me!

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These socks were brought to you by the kind assistance provided by Frog during knitting, by her happily modelling for me, and also by Sivia and Clara in writing the pattern and book. Thank you, ladies.

Showing Off

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Just quickly…I entered the Royal Perth Show recently. Here’s the goodies:

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There were two shawls, a hat, and five skeins of yarn. And all three knitted things and one skein – the novelty yarn – won firsts! I’m quite proud of my results…but intend to do better next year. In fact, I e already started planning!

Make Like A Tree And…

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Warning: Some links in the following post may lead to offensive content. Actually, it’s not so much “may” as “do”. Proceed with caution.

…use the sun to make your food!

After a bit of an involved process, we managed to get ourselves a solar oven – something I’ve been wanting to buy or build for a long time now. This one came to us courtesy of the Rainbow Power Company and it’s the coolest thing! The size and shape of a large, awkwardly-proportioned briefcase, and done up in a brilliant red with a stylised sun glyph on the case, it’s a fun thing to have around.

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See the condensation dripping on the cooking pans? It gets surprisingly hot even on a cool winter day.

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Yes, that is steam rising off the veggies. And yes, that onion was good enough to eat on its own. With a spoon.

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It being winter and all, there hasn’t been much in the way of climatic opportunity for us to get right into it. But we did give it a go to make some roast vegetable soup one a rare sunny day. It works a treat, and now we get to learn how best to use it and make the most of the coming summer. Not having to spark up the oven on a hot day in summer will be great, especially considering that our oven is munted (definition number 5 here) and the door doesn’t shut, there’s only one speed and it barely fits a cupful of sesame seeds in. So we have high hopes for the wonderful solar oven!

Composted Garden is Composty

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Recently, I had a week off work, to celebrate my birthday (thank you) and hopefully get some more of my planned entries for the Royal Show prepared. One of the biggest tasks set for the week, however, was the spreading out of five cubic metres of compost we had delivered. *ahem* Before shots…

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We spread it not only on the two established vegetable garden beds and the long strip by the driveway, but also on three new beds we had planned, where we’d poisoned the buffalo grass. There’s one by the western fence, gaining a little shade from the asbestos sheeting as well as the neighbour’s structures. Another, we laid out under the odd lean-to trellis on the western side of the house, and a third curving around the edge of the lemon tree’s canopy – hence the aforementioned need to prune back the lemon tree, whose branches laid along the ground.

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We had to spread the work over two days, and work in between the ghastly weather’s worse turns. It’s done now, though, and our lovely neighbours even got the leftovers for their roses. Seeds have been sown – pumpkin and zucchini and cucumber, tomato and eggplant and tomatillo, snake and broad beans and celery and lettuce and more besides. None have popped their heads up yet, but it won’t be long now…
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Thus Begins the Bounty

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I made marmalade. I had to prune the lemon tree before we built up the gardens (more on that later) and I couldn’t bear to waste the two buckets of lemons one branches bore. It turns out, two buckets of lemons (well, a bucket and a half by the time I got around to it) is over 5 kilograms. Further, that’s more lemons than our biggest pot can hold, even uncomfortably.

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Suffice to say, there were a few hitches. But there is now marmalade! And it’s tasty, tart with a dry, bitter finish just as I like it.

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