A couple of galahs

Well…cockatoos to be exact. I’ve been taking much pleasure in the shenanigans of our friendly, feathered friends pictured below who we have coming right up to the kitchen window to say hello. There is much solace to be found in nature and living in the present.

I’ve been reading Phosphorescence by Julia Baird (below) and some of the takeaways have been to look (or ‘regarde!’ by the French writer Colette) and to savour the good things we see and experience – I think this is especially important in a year where so much has been taken away. I’ve taken much strength from her quoting writer Albert Camus – the start of his famous quote begins, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”

They’re fighting words and I hope, if you too, have suffered loss of any kind this year you will remember to hang on to hope and know you have the resilience and resources within you to keep going. Nothing is forever and everything changes. As much as I may not like where I am, I have accepted my circumstances knowing there will be better times ahead and our beleaguered city and world will return to (a new) normal in time. We still have to enjoy now and focus on the things which give us pleasure and meaning.

I have celebrations in my family, with Christmas and in my friendship circle over the next month and I’m looking forward to visiting some of Melbourne’s CBD-venues which I’ll post about. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been taking place and while I’ve reined in my spending, both my kettle and microwave recently carked it so we’re currently waiting for the new microwave to be delivered but lashed out and bought a Smeg kettle (below) on sale. I have to say it’s made my kitchen bench top look a lot more stylish! I just hope my toaster doesn’t die on me as much as I’ve always wanted a Dualit.

There are a number of Christmas markets coming up including Heide on 19 December in Bulleen and the Alphington and Coburg Christmas farmers markets on 23 December from 2 – 6 pm, for which you do need to register. I also took note earlier this year regarding some of the beautiful care packages available for delivery if you have the budget including those from Kindful Gifts, Soul Bundles and Curated with conscience.

One of the best presents I’ve given people is simply taking them out somewhere special and shouting them lunch or dinner – our time and attention are often way more important than material things. If money is tight this year, you may want to make your own ‘gift’ voucher to give people – cooking, cleaning, babysitting, gardening or providing whatever kind of service you may be able to offer – for me, I’ve been able to help family update their resumes and edit cover letters this year.

Christmas is a time to give – as much as to ourselves and each other – I hope you have plans to spend your day, if you celebrate it, in the company of those you love whether they are biological or logical family. I’ve been lucky to have many caring people in my life reach out and lift me up at a very challenging time – if you can relieve someone else’s suffering, there is no greater gift.


Time to say goodbye

In the space of a week, I have lost a beloved uncle and employment from February next year. It’s been a lot to come to terms with as much as both events, while seemingly sudden, have been building up over the past few months and years. My Uncle Peter has been grappling with pancreatic cancer for three years – one of the more deadly cancers in terms of mortality rates and sadly, La Trobe University has been rocked by COVID-19 since the start of this year – not a terminal condition but one that has had serious consequences for the Uni and the sector. Fixed term contracts in my area will not be extended and sadly, more roles will go over the next 18 months while the Uni goes into survival mode until a vaccine is found and international students return to Melbourne.

French Blue Flowers bouquet

Having said that, it’s not the end of the world. I have stared down a number of challenges in my life a couple of times before and one thing I can say is that it is possible to reinvent yourself and life goes on. While I haven’t necessarily had a Plan B job-wise, I will look to continue the philanthropic journey if I can (just probably not in higher education!) and use my communications and engagement skills for good at an organisation that will benefit from what I have to bring. Design thinking and human-centred design is also something I will further investigate study-wise as I look to the future. Having worked for a diverse, dynamic and progressive institution, I’m keen to work in something that is more future-focussed and experiencing growth.

Bouquet from LVLY

One thing I will say is that you find out who your real friends are when these things happen. I’ve received not one but two lots of flowers this week (some from French Blue Flowers by my work friend Laura who sprung Mr Rosanna and I still in our pyjamas on Saturday morning!) and the other today from my uni friend Martha delivered by LVLY. Along with numerous calls, texts and messages – it has meant a great deal to me to know there are those who really care all around me. We are never alone.

Heide I Heart Garden by Sunday Reed

Nature continues to be a great source of solace at this time and I celebrated my Uncle’s life sitting under a tree surrounded by dancing white butterflies in the heart garden at Heide I in Bulleen on Monday listening to Andrea Bocelli’s Time to say goodbye with Mr Rosanna, which was beautiful. While sad, the song is also triumphant and joyous in many ways and if there is an other side, I hope to meet my uncle there. For now, life goes on, the sun still shines and I live to fight another day.

Always will be

In the blink of an eye, the world has changed and I hope the 46th US President Joe Biden will be able to turn the fortunes of America around with his focus on science to combat both COVID-19 and climate change. He’s triumphed with a female person of colour in Vice President Kamala Harris and it is the dawn of a new era globally reflecting the greater diversity that now exists in the world.

It’s been good news here in Melbourne too with the state becoming one again with the lessening of restrictions and no cases for 9 days, which feels nothing short of miraculous after the winter we went through in extended lockdown. The taste of freedom is all the more sweet and our little family bubble including our dog celebrated today with an outdoor picnic and gelati in the sculpture garden (above) at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen. Heide Cafe is already open and buzzing, with the museum and its three galleries re-opening this week.

Image via Adairs

Nature and all things local and domestic continue to be highlights for me. Its NAIDOC Week this week and it’s great to see Indigenous art and design also taking centre stage in terms of collaborations such as Kip & Co x Babbarra and Miimi + Jiinda for Adairs. I’m also loving more contemporary interpretations by Melbourne Indigenous artist Natalie Jade as well as some of the more high end textile and accessories available from NORTH, Babbara Womens Centre itself and One of Twelve.

The beauty of living in Melbourne’s north-east is that many of the mid-century houses built in this area with their open plan living and abundance of natural light are able to spectacularly showcase all things native and Australiana just like an art gallery. I hope you are also finding the beauty in the everyday at the moment.

Image via One of Twelve

Collective soul

What a year it’s been – we kind of ended at the start and now we are starting at the end with Melbourne back open for business these next two months leading up to Christmas. It will be great to re-join Victoria when the ring of steel comes down next Sunday and hopefully for all Australian states to open borders so families can see each other at Christmas time.

I even had an Italian custard doughnut to celebrate the days where we’ve had no cases and no deaths – something truly remarkable given what is now unfolding in the US and Europe as they head into second waves over winter in numbers that I am finding hard to fathom. Despite the hardship of the past four months here in Melbourne, we still live in the the lucky country.

Halloween was a non-event in our street last night although I was secretly glad not to have hordes of children on my front door step this year – I have seen some fantastic Halloween-themed houses and front gardens in local streets so good on you if you got into the spirit of things.

While I will be working this week as a higher education worker (we don’t get Labour Day or Melbourne Cup Day off) – I hope you enjoy the long weekend and some newfound freedoms if you’re taking tomorrow off. While the races are also off the plate in terms of general public attendance – it looks like it will be warm one this year for the horses that are competing.

I am weary and I think once this week is over – it’s the home straight until Christmas and shut down for many of us. While this year has been one of the hardest years of my life (like most people) – it has also been one of the most rewarding where I have achieved things I didn’t imagine I could at the start of the year, because we’ve all had to pivot, dig deep to find strength within and continue to keep going. Life doesn’t stop and we need to find ways to move forward whatever our circumstances are.

While Black Friday is still to happen retail-wise – as I’ve previously mentioned, I have done much of my Christmas shopping online over lockdown while sales were on and to support my favourite local retailers which have included Melbournalia, Crumpler, Cibi, Sage and Clare and Readings. Some nature-inspired Christmas items have caught my eye including these Gift of Seeds cards and flower presses from SownSow and bamboo decorations from Earth Greetings. I also love the personalised ceramic stars you can order from Paper Boat Press.