December 2014 Archives
So 2014. We survived.
Probably the most significant event of the year was that my Dad died in February. Mum handled it fairly well, as she'd gotten used to the idea over the course of nearly a year. And in the end it was a relief of sorts, knowing that he was out of his misery and in a much better place. I continued doing trips to Sydney to help clear out the garage of all dad's stuff. We took many car loads to metal recycling and made a couple of hundred dollars out of it. We also freecycled quite a lot of stuff. In October mum got accepted into a retirement village and the next two months became a whirlwind of trips to Sydney, a trip to Hong Kong and Taipei, a trivia night that I had to prepare and run, a work ball I had to prepare for as well as life in general to be lived. I only just survived til December 16, then was able to collapse in a heap. It was pretty sad saying goodbye to the family home of forty two years.
So I actually had three big holidays this year. The first mum and I decided to go on when it was pretty obvious dad wasn't going to last much longer. That was for two weeks in Turkey. That was a pretty awesome trip and we saw heaps of amazing stuff. Then I did another trip with my mum in September. That was an Outback Spirit tour from Cairns to Brisbane via Mt Isa and Longreach. It was a good trip, but hideously expensive - as expensive as the Turkey trip, but didn't include international airfares, fancy hotels every night or restaurant quality meals for every meal. At the end of that trip we spent nearly a week with Chay and David which was a lovely chance to chillax after being go go go for two weeks. And the last big trip was to Hong Kong and Taipei for two weeks. I was in the middle of chaos at the time, so Stu did all the planning for it. That was a pretty good trip too, although we did struggle at times to find the best balance of going and seeing things and doing nothing and relaxing. Other than that, we went with DC to his coast house in January, to Bermagui in March, and also stayed at the coast briefly to go to Scott and Kerry's combined 40th.
Had an ok year at work. Spent a good amount of time "cleaning" - decommissioning old services and doing massive cleanups of firewall rules. Also got chucked in the deep end on a couple of projects that required extra assistance, so they were a bit stressful at times.
Healthwise I was pretty good this year. I got a cold during the Turkey trip (a pretty nasty flu thing had been going around the whole tour group so I got off pretty lightly). And it seems I got a cold probably at the movies the other night as yesterday I started sniffling. Other than that I've been pretty healthy.
We've spent heaps of time with our "whiskey" friends this year which has been awesome. But we've not seen nearly enough of Nat and Andrew as I'd have liked. We had a few games nights at Mishi's in January, August and December, with lunch at Damien's in December. My Sydney visits meant lunches (Peking duck!!!) with @StuartCRyan which was awesome, but sadly that won't be happening anymore. We saw Josh and Ally a couple of times, and Gaelian and Stef as well. A Sydney trip for George's 40th. A fair bit of drinking with the neighbours and playing with the animals. Various people came to stay over the year including the little brother, Chris and Zac, and Marc and Jo a couple of times. We're continuing to enjoy our visits to "the club" and went to many of the social events on during the year.
Pretty quiet year for the fish. All the zebra danios in the angel tank have finally died. I got five rummy nosed tetras for the two foot, and they're lovely little fish and drew out the black neon tetras which otherwise just spent their life hiding up the back of the tank. A couple of the duboisis died, which threw off the dominance balance, so one of them became dominant and picked off the rest of them one by one, so he's the only one left in that tank now with a sucking cat fish. Most of the kribs and multis downstairs are gone now too. Really would like to get rid of a lot of our fishtanks and crap ..
I didn't buy any Lego this year, but throughout January I got to play with all of Jake's Lego - around eighty sets of it! Building and dismantling and checking for missing pieces, and documenting. Sooo much fun! Also dismantled the Star Destroyer which had been out for four years!
Continued doing a lot of jigsaws at home during the summer, and some at work, although not anymore there which is a shame. I finally finished the 24000 piece "Life" jigsaw, but still haven't gotten around to taking it to work to document it all laid out. Not much else in the way of hobbies, other than part of a paint-by-numbers which I got for last break but still haven't finished.
January had a run of very hot days which required lots of icing the fish tanks to keep them cool. But the rest of the year was surprisingly mild. Winter had some very cold nights, but the pool only partly froze over a couple of times. We've had some very hot days too, but again generally it's been fairly mild. In fact this whole Christmas break has been *lovely*. Because of all the travel and chaos, the pool was a mess until just before Christmas, but because it hasn't been super hot since then, we haven't gone in yet.
Tried a surprising number of new recipes during the year - almost one a month by the look of it.
* two different lasagnas - both awesome
* black forest slice - needs some modification
* Boeuf Bourguignon inspired by Julie and Julia
* Coq au vin
* various vegetables
* breakfast raclette - trying to perfect a recipe
* white chocolate caramel slice
* duck breast
* harissa roast chicken
* zucchini and cheese fritters
We ate out a bit. I didn't think all that often, but still a fair amount. Our favourites are still Dumpling Inn and Pulp Kitchen. Bella Vista as well, although only once this year (maybe twice?). Went to Grazing a couple of times and it was awesome both times. Went to Ace Sushi a couple of times when doing shopping at the markets, but it's pretty average. Revisted Asian Cafe, Wig and Pen, Iori. New this year included:
* Grazing - awesome
* Ellacure - not fussed
* Edgar's - ok
* Bellucci's - pretty good
* Mocan and Green Grout - interesting
* A Baker - good
* Kinh Do - good
* Beijing House - meh
At work, other than the mall, tried out Altitude Cafe (meh), got thoroughly pissed off at Samiuz, went to Sanurs for an after party dinner, 2 Yummy a couple of times for after drinks dinners, and Outback Jacks a couple of times for team lunches/dinners (quite impressed with their feasts). Probably lots of other places too undocumented.
In Sydney our regular for Peking Duck was Super Bowl, and Tako Tuesdays were at Sushi and Grill on York Street for takoyaki - not fresh, but better than other places I'd tried, and it was just downstairs from work.
Also found a couple of speakeasys. The Baxter Inn in Sydney which is awesome. Went there by myself first up, then later with Luc and again later with Neil. Went to Molly with the sweetie as well.
* The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
* The Lego Movie (x2)
* The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
* Deadly Décisions, by Kathy Reichs
* The Earthsea Quartet, by Ursula LaGuin
* The Delinquents, by Criena Rohan
* Fatal Voyage, by Kathy Reichs
* Animal Farm, by George Orwell
* *batteries not included, by Wayland Drew
* Palomino, by Danielle Steel
* Star Wars Episode I, by Terry Brooks
* Dewey, by Vicki Myron
* A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle
* Thunder Dog, by Michael Hingson
* Star Wars Episode II, by R.A. Salvatore
* Multicultural Festival aka meat on a stick day!
* Hall Markets for first time
* Mapping Our World exhibition at the National Library
* Balloon Fiesta in March
* Inherited Dad's camera
* Inspected the Sentinel apartments in Belconnen
* Inspected my flat in Sydney. Got depressed over deadbeat tenants who don't take care of other people's property
* Won another work trivia night. Ran the next one
* Airport open day - flying visit as could only spend an hour there
* Went to the War Memorial but was disappointed the WWI exhibition was closed for renovations
* Whiskey Live - 44 whiskeys oh my!
* Stu's Japanese classes cultural nights twice
* Poultry show at epic
* Had to buy a new lens because I'd smashed my other one in Turkey. Bought the same one
* Drama with cooling problems with my car. Found a new mechanic who I think might have fixed it
* Had to buy a new dishwasher as the last one burnt out
* Fired up Stu's old Android and started playing Ingress. Got a sim for it seven weeks later but the damage to my iPhone battery was done.
* Took a random day off and cleaned half the garage
* Zone 3 with work
* Bought Stu a new car on a very good finance deal - cheaper than our mortgage!
* BBQs at @CLBradley's. On one of them I borrowed Frozen and have been slightly obsessed with it ever since
* Chucked out years of receipts
* Birthday dinner of Chinese takeaway in Sydney
* Whiskey tasting night on my birthday, Bella vista for dinner
* Skiing in August
* Chickens and duckies next door (and lizards and frogs and cats and dogs)
* Total lunar eclipse
* Pulled off a semi-convincing Queen Elsa at our work Halloween Ball
* Mum tried to electrocute herself but thankfully failed
* Carols service at Como Church
So that's 2014 done! I know some of my readers have had a tough year (especially my brother). Hope things improve in 2015.
Happy new year!
On Saturday night the sweetie and I went to see the new Hobbit - Battle of the Five Armies.
Yep that's about it really.
Not sure why it's been rated so highly in IMDB when every review you see on there says it's terrible.
So I've had a great Christmas break so far. Mostly.
Christmas day was a fairly lazy start after staying up a little too late with Kit on Christmas Eve (I forced them to watch the carols hehe and then we half watched Frozen, oops). Didn't get to Potty's til a bit later than I wanted to, which meant the pork didn't get on til a bit late, which meant it was going to be a late lunch. But we brought heaps of nibbles so ordinarily that would have been fine. But just as we were sitting down to eat lunch everything happened at once. While serving ourselves lunch Annie and the family turned up (it was 2pm and they were meant to arrive after lunch, but lunch was late hrmm), and miss V took that as her cue to open her presents. Next year I'm not putting labels on presents. That'll learn em. Anyway, so instead of a nice relaxing Christmas lunch it was all super rushed and stressful. Grunt. The rest of the afternoon was a bit better though.
George really didn't like his Christmas collar and was so depressed he almost got run over because he wouldn't get out of the way when we came home.
Friday morning I got stuck into my holiday break. Friday and Saturday I had really productive days, getting stuff done around the house, as well as some sorting out of *stuff* and sorting my photos and lots of sorting of Dad's photos.
Annie got me this for Christmas - super cute, goes with the little Neuschwanstein Castle she got me last year.
Cherries at Damien's
Sunday morning was more of dad's photo sorting, then we went over to Damien's for a Thermomix feast lunch. Not a demo as such (he wasn't trying to sell us one), just a fun little banquet of dishes from it.
First he made up some pizza dough.
Then he made a very nice dip of cream cheese, garlic, green onions and parsely.
Then a leek and potato soup
The leftovers of the soup made the base for a sauce that went with this steamed chicken and vegetables
And here's that pizza
And finally a sorbet to finish
So quite a feast in the end!
Afterwards we played a round of the Logo Game, which I won, then came home and did more photo sorting.
Monday and today was primarily photo sorting and a bit of house stuff. And shaking my head over dad's "system" of backups. So much waste.
Here's the "before" pile. The offsite backups, the archives, the working copies, backups of mum's photos, unsorted cds, copies of other people's photos, and an entire large spindle of unfiled duplicates.
And this is everything I'm chucking out. Over four hundred cds :( Such a waste. They would never even have been used either. He would have just burnt them, filed them, and that was the end of that. And I swear about fifty of those cds were from their Gulf Savannah trip in 2007. Sooo many copies of everything. Sigh.
Last night we went to EffanC's for dinner, and after dinner we watched Labyrinth on the big screen (aka their lounge room wall). It was super awesome.
So I've gotten a lot done this break, although not nearly as much as I wanted to. There's still so many things on the todo list. Life is too short. Holidays are too short. Sigh.
Yeah a few months late getting this online. Aside from a sloppy waiter who kept splashing drinks all over the table, another wonderful lunch with EffanC at Grazing.
.. entrees ..
.. mains ..
.. desserts ..
Caramel Salted Hazelnut
So some time before the end of the year I'll get up some posts about Christmas and the break so far...
But I've spent fairly big chunks out of the past few days sorting out all the digital copies of dad's photos. And I've done pretty much all I can do with the material I have. The missing files from before 1999 never showed up, even on several disks I brought home from mum's. Sadly they weren't on the other backup external disk, and the only other possibilities were on disks that were dead :( So there's a thousand or so photos I'll need to scan again one day.
For everything else I went through his database of 14000 files, finding all the copies of the photos scattered about the place, and compiling them all into one location with a consistent directory structure, and deleting all the duplicates. So now it's all neat and tidy. And each year (from 2000-2012) is no more than a dvd backup's worth.
Well dad never quite grasped that. His idea of backups was filling cds seemingly at random with whatever files would fit. So a few directories from one year mixed with directories from other years. And then he'd make more copies. There was a "working copy", an "archive copy" and an "offsite backup" (which were stored at my place). But there's no rhyme or reason to what's on each disk, just a number "Ted_01" through to "Ted_95". There's probably a database somewhere of what's on each disk. Note these were all on cd. At some point he's decided to do a "last chance" backup to dvd, with the contents of about five cds worth on each. So we're already looking at a minimum of four copies of each photo series on plastic disk - three hundred pieces of plastic clutter. Not to mention the entire large spindleful of these disks that just look to be copies at random. I'm pretty much going to start again and burn thirteen disks - one for each year between 2000 and 2012 for his general photos.
The holiday photos are even more fun. There's gold, silver and bronze "masters", slideshows, lending copies, working copies, backup copies, offsite copies. Although even then not consistently - some there's only one copy! Their Gulf Savannah and Top End holiday must have at least thirty disks sitting on my floor right now. I'm going to toss the whole lot and make two dvds of that trip that have everything. Clean and simple.
And I never found his slide scans either. Not sure how far through it he got. He scanned all his slides in 2002 but on a flatbed scanner, so they're not great quality. 189 x 36 slides to scan one day too...
The saddest part of all of this was getting to the end of 2012 where he hadn't labelled everything and put into his numbering scheme and database. And there were a couple of directories of files that he probably never even saw because they hadn't been downloaded from the camera. :(
I really need to sort out my photos before I go and cark it...
I spent tonight sorting out a snapshot backup I made of mum's computer back in April.
It did my head in.
Firstly there was the five copies of his My Documents directory, fortunately only one appeared active and the others looked to be backups.
Then there's the ten copies of all his photos. At least. Some more than others I suspect. All over the place, but with only one backup of *some* of the photos on a different drive (although there was until recently a second external disk, so I guess there would have been extra copies). I'm still trying to figure out what his scheme was, and whether I should start again to try and get everything in order.
Edit: even though he was *seemingly* paranoid about his backups, I've still found there's plenty of missing stuff. Like the excel files that have labels for the first 1000 photos (at least I have a printout), and even the first 1000 photos themselves. Looks like there'll be some rescanning in my future...
I've been pretty slack at updating my books read list lately. These are the latest ones I've read..
Star Wars Episode I by Terry Brooks
It took me ages to get through this, not helped by not catching the bus as much, it being a big hard back, and the story just not that engaging. Some insights into the plot and character development which was kinda nice.
Dewey by Vicki Myron
Mum picked up this book in Kuranda in Queensland because she'd just finished her book and needed another one to read. She read that over the course of our tour, then I borrowed it. I read this very quickly. Quite a sweet story about a library cat in america.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
I heard somewhere that they were looking at making another movie of this book (I think??) so read the book again. I'd forgotten most of it since the last time I read it probably twenty years ago.
Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson
Stu got this for Christmas a few years ago from his Dad and Ruth and laughed when he saw the title. But it's actually quite a nice story of this blind guy and his guide dog who were in the north tower of the World Trade Centre on September 11. So interspersed between the story of his experience of September 11, there's a whole background bio to him. I quite liked this book.
Star Wars Episode II by R.A. Salvatore
I liked this better than the first book and read it relatively quickly.
This print of an ocean sunset used to hang above the oil heater at our old house. I spent a lot of time when I was living at home looking at it, because if I was standing at the heater in winter, I would turn around to warm my front, and spent ages looking at the detail in the painting. The oil heater was replaced some years back by a reverse cycle air conditioner (and the first time it was run in summer it leaked all over the picture because they hadn't connected the outlet host properly - ruined it somewhat).
This print also featured in The Henderson Kids. See if you can spot it ;)
The print ended up being taken by the removalist that moved mum into her new place. If he hadn't, I probably would have taken it..
The other week in Sydney I was wandering through the upstairs Westfield food court in Sydney and happened across Din Tai Fung. It *had* to be tried out - to compare with Taipei.
There was a little bit of a queue, and at the beginning of the line there was a pile of these order cards that you fill out while waiting in line. This makes the ordering process quite efficient and you just pay when you get to the register.
They give you a buzzer then you wait. This is the production line for filling orders. They were powering through orders, but my dumplings took *forever* to come out - almost fifteen minutes.
Finally got my order and found a seat in the very crowded food court.
The pork xiao long bao (left) were pretty much as good as I remembered them in Taipei. Little parcels of flavour in delicate pastry. Yum yum. The shrimp and pork jiao ze were pretty good too.
I really haven't had the time for Christmas up until about yesterday. Yesterday was awesome, just pottered around the house cleaning and tidying. Managed 11000 steps without even leaving the house (other than to go across the road for supplies).
Last night EffanC came over for roast pork, and Kit came up as well. Sooo much pork and the crackling was super awesome.
After dinner we sat around chatting and I put on the Carols in the background. A good fun night.
Today I've finally had the time to go through my photos from the past two months and get a lot of them online in older blog posts. Check em out.
In the meantime, here's some Christmas trees! And Lego!
A few done at work, mostly while I was in Sydney or overseas. Probably the last ones we do, as we're losing the spare desk. Which is a shame, because when you're stressed and need a brain break, or finished a piece of work and need a break, it was such a nice thing to just go and do for a few minutes here and there.
Just some flower pictures that have been sitting in my "to blog" tray for months..
Azaleas in our front garden
Climbing roses by our front door. Such a lovely thing to open the door to!
Nasturtiums growing on the back windowsill
An iris at a cafe in Gundaroo
White wisteria outside Grazing in Gundaroo
Coreopsis at the top of Mum's street. I used to call them goldilockses when I was little because I couldn't say coreopsis. I think I like goldilocks better
Rose in our front garden
So got home from Mum's in time for dinner Tuesday night.
Wednesday night we went to Beijing House at Hawker shops with EffanC. We got some dumplings, but after being spoilt by dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Taipei and Sydney, these were chunky and dry and boring. Not terrible, just not great either. The service was pretty bad though that night, it took them *forever* to bring out our entrees, then the mains came out straight away. And they misheard one of our orders, which fortunately they didn't have, so we didn't end up with a dish we didn't want. And in the end it was probably a good thing as we were totally full anyway. Did a big food shop, then went back to their place for a nightcap on the way home.
Thursday I had a quiet night organising freecycle crap.
Friday was our floor party that I organised. Thirty seven people (minus a couple that didn't show up). Ate and drank just about everything and I think they day went pretty well.
Came home and put flocculent in the pool, then watched Air Crash Investigations and Die Hard (I think our disk is faulty - it dies at a spot in the middle, and I think I remember having the same problem last time we watched it.
Today I was up early and emptied the car from the final trip to Sydney. Organised all the freecycle crap that's here for people to collect.
Half way through the day and already have done lots of organising, two loads of washing, made up the spare room bed, and tidied two rooms.
Still a long way to go though to get the house looking presentable...
I left home today for the last time ever. The family home. Mum had lived there for forty two years. I lived there for twenty six and a half years.
Although was too busy to feel much sadness during the process of removal, but did have a sad walk through at the end.
The end of an era. The family home that noone else has lived in. Now sold and to be rented out.
But David and I did amuse ourselves by poking fun at mum .. "you've never moved have you?" .. because really she hadn't - not with a whole house of furniture and *stuff*. Little things like rubbish bags and cleaning equipment she kept wanting to pack and send away and we're like, no you need to save those because you *will* need them. heh.
Final council cleanup of everything left over
She got the dining table and chairs restored and reupholstered to match the new lounge. It actually looks really good.
This is the sofa bed part of the new lounge
The china cabinet we built the other night, now filled up
So got mum moved in at the other end, and stayed til about 3pm unpacking boxes with Aunty Di. Then I came home. I never want to leave the house again.
Then I got depressed again at deadbeat ebayers who *still* haven't made any sort of contact with me. I hate people.
I did finish decorating the Christmas tree though which made me feel a bit better. It sparkles.
But the most recent one: people that buy stuff on ebay that don't bother to contact you after a week, even after repeated emails to them. Or people that buy stuff on ebay, keep saying they'll be there "tomorrow" and then never turn up.
In other news.
I've been having more Christmas parties - a big work one that went late and was a lot of fun.
Then instead of a nice relaxing weekend, I had to deal with aforementioned sucky people, as well as lots of other people trying to coordinate pickups remotely at mum's. And this was down at the coast, without a computer, and I didn't have my ebay password and it was all a super huge stress. Really really didn't want to have to go away that weekend, but it was S&K's combined 40th and we've been terrible relatives this year so thought we'd better go. So had to go via the club, then headed down. Stayed at Dave's house (thanks Dave!) but just did some jigsaw while Stu collapsed, then we watched some Veronica Mars and had pizza for dinner. Didn't even bother with the spa. Next morning was the party, although it didn't really get going til we had to leave. Left there and headed straight to Sydney (we had to take two cars down the coast). Sigh.
Got to Sydney and didn't even get to dump my stuff - had to go straight to the new place to meet the uncles etc, then we went out for dinner which was quite nice.
Home, dealing with annoying ebay people, collapse. Didn't get to sleep til like 1am though :(
And then there was chaos in the city today which made things .. interesting ..
Last night I posted all mum's stuff to the Canberra Freecycle group. And got a much better response than from the Sydney south one. The new Sydney Freecycle is hopeless. It loses mails and I can't get it to send more than a daily digest. So I'm not surprised if other Sydney freecyclers have given up on it.
So tonight we filled up my little car full of tables, mounted prints, paper, boxes, boxes, boxes, *bits*, more *bits* and *stuff*.
One more week of this nonsense then I'm not going anywhere for a long time.
Today alternated between crazy busy and waiting for people to do things.
Tonight we freecycled the old amp and speakers (the dude was a bit dubious about the speakers) then had lamb roast for dinner. Then out to Mum's new flat (she got her keys today) to drop off the tv cabinet, china cabinet and mirror. We built the china cabinet (mostly, need a hammer to finish it off) and suddenly it's like 9pm. Grunt. So came home to sort through freecycle and ebay emails (the freezer sold for $200, the tallboy $5.50, go figure) and realised I haven't done any of the sorting I wanted to do downstairs. Sigh.
Too tired for this crap (even though I got a really good night's sleep last night).
More Sydney. More sorting. More stuff.
Mum purges tupperware
This pigeon was on the first floor of the George St KFC. It made quite a mess.
Caught up with Jo and Marc again at Jet at the QVB for drinks and pizza on the Tuesday which was great, but a bit of a disaster getting home as the trains were all stuffed up. Took me an hour and a half to get home :(
Also had a lovely lunch with @StuartCRyan.
Came home Wednesday night with a car filled up with stuff to give away or sort through (including all Dad's slides and physical photos).
Thursday after dinner and washing we went over to Kit's for a few drinks which was fun. Friday I watched Air Crash Investigations and much of Gladiator while tidying up the dungeon for the car load of stuff.
Saturday I'd originally been going to help out with the big Christmas party, but I decided a few days out that I really needed a day at home for my sanity's sake. I have just had so little time at home in the past two months that I think I might have died if I hadn't stayed home. So I was up early and spent the morning tidying up the dungeon, then emptying my car. In the afternoon I did more sorting, cleaning and put up the Christmas tree. I got nearly 10000 steps without even leaving the house.
In the evening we went to Mishi's for lots of eating and chatting and a bit of Pirate Fluxx, which I won two games of, and Mishi won a game.
Today I'm back in Sydney. We went to Ikea to pick up a china cabinet, and she bought a mirror as well. Then back to Taren Point to pick up her tv unit. Squeezed the whole lot into my car. Hatchbacks are pretty awesome really.
Tonight was Carols Under the Stars at Como church, but it was all thunderbolts and lightning, so it was inside under fairy lights which was pretty cool.
Listed more stuff on Freecycle.
Had a thoroughly awful afternoon today, trying to figure out where a big and complicated project is up to, and going round and round in circles and going loopy in the process. Arrgh. Could really have used a beer at about 3pm. hrmmmm.
Came home and had leftovers for dinner, then attacked the laundry, bathroom and bedroom, doing another sweep through and pulling out lots more stuff to give away. One of the silliest things we found was a bottle of Stingose that expired in .. well I'll let you figure that out from the picture..