A Quiet Life

Square2 copy

I think the time has come to introduce you to my new podcast. It’s called A Quiet Life. I know, it’s the same as the blog. I guess the blog is about my own life but in the podcast I interview other people and ask them about their quiet lives.

I’ve interviewed ten people so far in preparation for launch and their stories have been incredible, inspirational. But the thing is, you wouldn’t expect these people to be the inspirational ones. They are not the ‘served for fifteen years as a missionary in Africa’ types or the ‘started a non-profit and made it an international success’ types. Though I won’t say no to interviewing people like that, as they come along. But so far, the people I’ve chatted to are people I rub shoulders with at church, people who I’ve known since the year dot, people who work in local schools or hospitals just doing their jobs, living their lives.

But every one of them has a story.

Every one is inspirational.

This is the idea of my podcast. I want you to be inspired. I want to let you know that your story is important. That your life can be used by God for good. And maybe by listening to these amazing people chatting to me, you can find some tips or wisdom that can help you to live your own quiet life.

It’s a Christian podcast, unapologetically. Not preachy (I hope) but definitely Christian, and I understand if some of my audience here doesn’t want to listen. No pressure at all.

I remember talking with my Mum in the car about two years ago as we drove along the causeway between the airport and Midway Point and telling her that this is what I want to do. There was no way I had the time back then to do it but now I can. So I am very excited to have finally got this dream project off the ground.

I am hoping that the podcast will be company. Friendship. A connection if you’re feeling alone. So I have a little chat at the beginning of each episode just saying where I’m at this week. And I’d love for listeners to reply, using comments, or email, or Facebook, or Twitter, and let me know where they are at too.

You can have a listen at www.ruthamos.com.au/podcast or you can search A Quiet Life on iTunes or Stitcher and you should find it there too. Episodes 1 (Anastasia) and 2 (Sarah) are up so far. I would love to hear what you think of it. New episodes will be coming out every Wednesday. And this blog will come out as usual on Mondays.

If you do listen and enjoy it, can I ask you to please leave a review or even just a star rating on iTunes? That will help other people to find it and hopefully be helped by it as well. Thank you.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support my writing and my podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and support me for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

Advertisements

Good Friday

shutterstock_1057564658

My song is love unknown
My Saviour’s love for me
Love to the loveless shown
That they might lovely be
Yet who am I that for my sake
My God should take frail flesh and die?

He came from heaven’s throne
Salvation to bestow
But they refused and none
The longed-for Christ would know
This is my Friend, my Friend indeed
That at my need His life would spend

Sometimes they crowd His way
And His sweet praises sing
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their king
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath
And for His death they thirst and cry

Why? What has my Lord done
To cause this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run
And gave the blind their sight
Such injuries! Yet these are why
The Lord most high so cruelly dies

Here might I stay and sing
Of Him my soul adores
Never was love, dear King
Never was grief like yours
This is my Friend, in whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend

Samuel Crossman 1664

Thank you to friends near and far

Sometimes in our lives we need to feel the closeness of friends and family. This is one of those times. My Grandmother passed away on Sunday night at the ripe old age of nearly 100 and an anchor is gone from our lives.

But like the rest of the world, we don’t live in a tight knit community where our family is right around the corner. Some of us were there, together, when Granny passed, but some of us were far away.

The thing is that technology brought us all together anyway. Our phones and social media meant that wherever we were we could connect with each other and grieve together.

Many of us got together today to celebrate Granny’s life. But those who just couldn’t be there will still be able to see a recording of the service, and we’ll share photos and videos of our time together too.

Our family has had a group chat on Facebook for years now. It was set up so that we could keep  everyone linked in to news about Granny when she was unwell but it has grown to mean so much more than that. All our news has been shared as it has happened. And not just news. Hilarious child quotes and photographs. Puns and Dad jokes. The Family Chat has it all. We have grown closer as a family and gained so much.

Several members of the family have shared just how comforting it has been to have the support of our friends through this time. Again, and I don’t want this to be an ad for Facebook necessarily, but that’s the social media I use, and my Facebook friends have been such a blessing.

One little status update gets responses of hearts and tears in the emoticons, and comments sharing love and memories listed long underneath. It means so much to me. It really does.

It’s not only friends far away either. Meeting with friends in the supermarket and getting hugs. Or the gorgeous person who saw me lunching with my brother and paid our bill for us. Or the good friend who stepped up to be there for me today, just in case she was needed. It’s a blessing to be a part of this community.

Sometimes when you are putting thoughts out into the void on a blog like this you can forget that the people who are reading your thoughts are people too. I just listened to a podcast where a blogger said that she was travelling and a reader said to her, ‘You’re near me. Come and drop in for coffee.’ And she did. How cool was that? A relationship built over the internet and confirmed in person. So great.

You all are my friends. I am so encouraged to see when people have read my blog, and I love to read the comments you post. I love that technology brings us together. What I share here is from my heart to yours and I hope you can feel that.

I may not have a lot of money but I am rich, so wealthy in the friendships that surround me. I want to thank you all for being a part of my life and for the richness and comfort you bring to me.

That’s all really, dear readers, dear friends. Thank you.

The strongest woman in my life

Granny's hand

In just over a month my Grandmother turns 100. It’s not going to be one of those birthday parties where the news reporters come around and the birthday girl gives a chirpy interview about what she did that made her live so long, in fact we’re not completely sure that she’ll make it to the line, but she’s held on this long by force of will so if it’s important to her to turn 100 I’m pretty sure she’ll do it.

Granny is one of the strongest people I know. She’s been an amazing influence on my life and I’m so grateful for her.

One of the stories told by the family is about when Granny decided she wanted to learn to drive. She didn’t ask anyone permission, she learned in secret, and presented Grandad with the fait accompli by stating that she was going to pick up one of the children from kindergarten.

Not that she drove particularly well, but that independence was incredibly important to her and very difficult to give up as she aged.

Granny had five children. Two planned children (David and Gill), then my Dad (John) was the first ‘accident’. Wendy came along by accident quite a bit later and Lil came to keep Wendy company. When I asked Granny how many children she thought was a good number she said ‘two’. Hilarious. She was not the ‘earth mother’ type but she was totally devoted to her family.

Granny and Grandad emigrated to Australia when Dad was 3. They lived in very cramped quarters with Granny’s brother for a while and then got their own housing department house at Warrane, where they started by furnishing the house with packing boxes until they could afford something better. They really started life here with nothing.

It must have been the Warrane house that I stayed in as a baby when my own parents went overseas for a while. I feel like Granny and I have a special bond because of that. But I’m pretty sure that every single one of Granny’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren feel like they have a special bond with her. She’s good like that.

One of my earliest memories (quite a bit later than babyhood) is of staying overnight in the Warrane house. I remember that if we put our dressing gowns at the foot of the bed and went to sleep, we would find a lollipop in the pocket as we awoke. Nothing like bribery to get your grandchildren to go to sleep quickly!

Granny taught Sunday School at St Phillips and I remember working the bar at the local RSL for one of my casual jobs during high school where my trainer remembered Granny very well from her Sunday School classes. Granny had made quite an impression. She didn’t care about where people were from. She cared about people. She was out to share God with everyone.

Granny looked after her ailing mother for years, and shortly after her mother passed away, Grandad also passed away. While preaching. At the church I attend now. It’s a great story. But Granny was not impressed.

I joke about it, but it was quite serious, Granny did not cope and had a mental breakdown. Of course, I didn’t know about it, I was still very young at this stage, but the breakdown changed Granny’s life. She started to limit herself. She stopped going out so much, stopped seeing most of her friends, and totally dedicated her life to her family.

I remember going to visit and staying overnight in the end bedroom, the sewing room. In the bedroom and in the hallway were bookshelves and my love of Gorgette Heyer was built from those books. Granny taught me to sew and she taught me to knit. I do neither of those well, but what I know I learned from Granny. She sewed all her own clothes and she was one of those knitters that can do it without thinking, while carrying on a conversation. She knitted for all of us and I also remember later in her life that she knitted a plethora of baby blankets and little hats and jackets for a local charity.

We moved away to Canberra for a few years and when we’d come back for holidays we would do two things: visit Nanny for afternoon tea, and visit Granny for dinner. We weren’t really home until those were complete. My younger sister knew that Nanny had the tic tacs but Granny had the lollies. The end of every visit to Granny would involve her going to the pantry and pulling out a jar of Columbines or Fantails and allowing each person ‘just one’.

When we moved back to Hobart every Monday would involve a roast dinner at Granny’s place. How she got her potatoes that crispy on the outside and fluffy inside I will never know. I’ve tried to replicate it, believe me.

We would start by heading to her West Hobart home straight from school. Granny would let us watch afternoon TV – something we never did at home. Our memories of Captain Planet and Round the Twist are solely due to her largesse. Or we’d sit at the organ in the corner with headphones on and bash away – no-one could hear the music except the child with the headphones, but everyone could hear the clicking of the keys and the pounding of the foot pedals. We were all given a small glass of sherry before the meal, then we would squeeze ourselves around the table in her tiny kitchen, sitting on chairs and small stools. Once Moz and I were an item he would come too making seven around the table. The roast consumed, we would finish with peaches and ice-cream and ice magic. My sister would have the peaches separate from the ice-cream. Either consecutively or in separate bowls. I also have a memory of my brother accidentally throwing beetroot at me across a snow white table cloth. It must have been a lunch visit with buttered bread (cut into quarters), salad, and spam. Yes, spam. And meat paste too. All things I only ate at Granny’s.

We ate properly with the proper accoutrements. Even when we were staying over and eating dinner in front of the TV we would eat off tray tables and use linen napkins and have a bread and butter plate on the side of our dinner plate. While Nanny would watch Wheel of Fortune over dinner, Granny would watch Sale of the Century. It really separated them in my mind.

Granny’s kitchen wasn’t flash, and after dinner us children or our parents would squeeze around the tiny corner sink and wash up the dishes by hand.

As far as I can remember I was the first grandchild to get married. Granny gave me her grandmother’s wedding ring to use as my own. A blessing I don’t feel I deserve.

Granny revelled in her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. All five of her children had married and had two or three kids of their own, and many of us grandchildren produced offspring as well. Each baby that came along gave her a new lease of life.

Life wasn’t all wonderful though. We all had a great shock when Wendy saved two children from drowning and she herself died in the process. She gave her life for others all through her life and she gave her life at the end. Granny told me she wasn’t supposed to outlive her children. She was devastated. But very proud to go to Government House for the awarding of a posthumous bravery medal.

There were other struggles too. I won’t go into them all here.

I remember having Granny for a meal at our house. She and Lil came over and we had made a tuna casserole with pasta. Oh dear, I should have stuck to roasts. Lil told me afterwards that Granny didn’t eat pasta – I guess while it was a staple for us, it was a foreign food to her. Not that she was a stranger to strange food – during the war she had eaten whale meat. She told me it looked like steak but tasted like fish. I really don’t need to experience that for myself.

And making a cup of tea for Granny was also scary. The tea had to be served in a cup and saucer, with exactly the right amount of milk. And while we were allowed to put the sugar in, the stirring was for Granny to do. If we didn’t do it right she would send it back and we would have to start again.

As Granny grew older her world shrank until it was completely contained in her West Hobart house, and the mental illness flared again. All of the children and grandchildren would visit whenever we could but we could often hear her talking, no, arguing with herself as we let ourselves in, and while we chose to laugh and love, we knew something would have to be done. Granny had not seen a doctor in thirty years, and no dentists either. She just wouldn’t go. She must have been in a lot of pain but she didn’t let that show to us. She just kept going. Her will power was amazing. She was existing on cups of tea and sweet biscuits. All the meals that were made for her by family were stored in her chest freezer and never eaten.

It had to end of course. And it ended in style. My Dad, and Lil, and the mental health authorities, and the ambulance, and the police were required to get her out of the house and into hospital for treatment. But once she was getting the right medication and had moved into a lovely nursing home her life got significantly better. She had people to talk to again, things to keep her occupied, concerts and dinners and of course the beloved family came and visited.

I have always admired Granny’s great strength. Even when she was pushing hard against something that would do her good I would be just so proud of the strong woman that she was and is. She knew what was important to her and she stood up for those things. She loved her family with her whole life. Every part of her. She shared everything that she had. Her food, her house, her books, her space, her wisdom, her knowledge, all that she had she gave away.

Granny loves Jesus. She has tried to live according to his example. She knows where she’s going. And he will stand to welcome her with a ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’

I only hope that I hold to her example however long my life will be.

Edit: My beloved Granny passed away 12 hours after I wrote this. I was privileged to be there as she passed and I look forward to seeing her in heaven.

 

Changing Dreams

We interrupt our regularly scheduled transmission to bring you an important announcement.

TL:DR I am finishing up my contracts at the University of Tasmania over the next eight months and going on to new and exciting things.

I thought it was about time that I make this Facebook official. It’s beginning to feel very official. Very real.

I have said already on this blog that this is the Year of Saying No to everything. Well, it turns out that one of the things I am saying no to is my job.

At the beginning of this year I wrote in my journal, “I’m not going to keep going as I am. I’m done…Ready to move on.” I have taught the foundation chemistry unit at the University of Tasmania for ten years, for three semesters a year. And I have taught into a couple of other third-year units as well. I have also worked in research at the University of Sydney and at the University of Tasmania for seven years combined. I have supervised  one honours student and co-supervised three PhD students. And no, I don’t have tenure, I don’t have a permanent position. My work has ranged from casual by-the-hour work to as much as a two-year contract. If you want to know how I feel about that, you can read this post.

This year, I was ready for a change, and there were a couple of different options available for me to apply for at the university. But as the year went on, I felt more and more that it was time for me to try something new. You see, I want to write. I want to produce novels and write non-fiction books, and generally put my creativity out into the world. But I also want to live, I want to be healthy, to spend time with family and friends, and to exercise. And while others may be able to hold down a university position, and write, and have a life, I know I can’t. I’ve tried.

I have read a few books this year about how to get the writing business going and most of them advocate waking at 4am to write before work, going to work and doing a good day’s labour, and then coming home to work on the business more after work hours. They say that it’s stupid to give up your day job until you are able to support yourself with your dream job. I can see their point, but I have two problems with that scheme for myself.

One is that I’m already struggling to have enough energy to do what I already do. Even with all the changes I’ve made to diet and exercise, and with figuring out and fixing my thyroid issue, I’m still exhausted. This may be due to certain aspects of the university job. I don’t know. But the bottom line here is that I would be taking my time away from my family and letting them down if I put writing first and added that workload to the work I’m already doing. I’m not willing to sacrifice my family’s well-being or my physical and mental health for a writing career that may or may not happen.

Another issue with the aforementioned plan is that the university system already wants me to work from 4am until 10pm for my academic work. To truly ‘make it’ in academia it needs to be your whole life, your passion. You need to be willing to work when you’re on holidays, to work over the weekends, to stay until 4am getting an experiment right. Now, there are several articles I’ve read that show that you don’t have to sell your soul to the university to ‘make it’ as a professor but I feel like the pressure to work long hours is there and that I would be fighting against the trend if I were to treat an academic career like a ‘9-5 job’ and even taking on that fight is exhausting. But to try to run an academic career and build a writing business at the same time? Hats off to anyone who can do that.

I was talking to a creative writing lecturer earlier this year about my book and she asked, “How are you able to write and work in academia?” and I had to say that I couldn’t. I couldn’t keep it up. That I was leaving the uni behind. She looked relieved, to be honest. For her, writing is her academic career and good on her. She couldn’t imagine being able to write as well as do the uni thing. And neither can I. Not on a long-term basis.

So, what is my plan?

I have nixed the idea of becoming a stand up comedian. Just thought I’d let you know that.

The teaching contract I presently have will finish at the end of December and after that I will have two days of research a week until somewhere around the middle of next year. That gives me about eight months to figure out if I can make a living working for myself. If I can’t then I will be looking for another job around the middle of next year. We shall see.

I would like to write about 2000 words a day. Working towards both fiction and non-fiction books. Writing generally takes 5-10 years to pay off if you’re going the Indie Author route (which I am). Yes, 5-10 years. Not a short-term investment.

In the meantime, I hope to make money by doing some English language editing of scientific journal articles and theses. That is, taking work written by people with English as a second (or fifth – these people are incredibly skilled) language and correcting their English. I am in the middle of writing a business plan for this idea and I’ll be setting up a website in due time and trying to get that off the ground. It’s something I really enjoyed when working with my PhD students, and something I have also done voluntarily for an open access journal. But now I’d like to make it pay.

That is the plan. And my teaching for the semester has all but finished so in a couple of weeks (after exam marking) I’m going to be able to put decent hours into the new stuff and get it underway. I’m pretty excited about it.

I also started crying in the car as I was heading home after my last lab class. My last ever lab class.

So you could say feelings are mixed. I’m laying down one dream, and picking up another.

Anyway, that’s the news. I wanted to let you know.

Happy Birthday Moz

Selfie

It is Moz’s birthday today, and as a birthday present I am posting this post that I wrote while he was away for two weeks in Fiji. (Yes, I asked him first).

Happy Birthday Moz! It’s more than wonderful to have you back home again.

Moz has now been away for a week and a half. And because of the kind of person he is, (and, as it turns out, the difficulties with the internet) we have not had any contact for that week and a half. And I miss him.

I miss his solidness, his big bear hugs, his kisses. I miss being able to kiss the top of his head as I walk past his desk. I miss the sound of his breathing (ok, snoring) at night. His warmth. The brush of a hand on my shoulder as he walks past.

I miss the way he reflects me back to me, so that I know if I’m tired, or making too much of a situation, or panicking, or just totally in the right space doing what I should be doing.

I miss the singing, each random song morphing into a new one in a way that I just cannot accomplish. The new words to old tunes. The random changes of key.

I miss him turning the radio on, or playing the piano, or hearing him downstairs singing along to his guitar.

I miss the conversation. The long philosophical discussions in the mornings. The debrief at the end of the day during our long walks. The quick-witted sense of humour and the way he makes me laugh.

I miss the cup of coffee he brings down to me in bed in the morning. I’m spoiled I know, but I miss it.

I miss his problem solving, his practicality. I miss being able to point others in his direction knowing that he’ll take care of them too.

I miss having someone else to help make decisions – even simple decisions about whether we will make a fire right now, or leave it until later. Or what we will have for dinner and whether it’s ok to have take-away again.

I miss our date nights – watching something together on TV and then playing a game of crib or scrabble. I’ll even be happy the first few times he beats me when he gets back, just because it will be so good to have him here.

I miss saying, “Good night” and him saying “Bedtime? I guess it is.”

He’s not dead, he’s just away and uncontactable. And he’s so much a part of my life that there’s a huge hole when he’s not there.

I’m a strong, independent woman. I’m capable of living alone, I can make the fire, I can cook and wash up and clean and look after myself. I can but I don’t want to.

Thursday cannot come soon enough.

Introvert weekend

This weekend just gone I had an excellent adventure.

My adventure I had came about because of the adventures my husband and son are having. Moz (the husband) has taken off to Fiji with a group of 11 students and 3 teachers (himself included) for a two-week adventure. They have taken medical and school supplies and are travelling all over Fiji by plane, boat, and truck, to deliver said supplies. They are also doing presentations at schools and churches and Moz may be even giving a sermon.

Both our kids have taken this trip in previous years and I’m very excited that Moz could go. It’s really a fantastic thing to do, and the kids got such a lot out of it. It was life-changing for both of them, I think. And I’m sure it will be rejuvenating for Moz.

Moz left on Thursday morning at stupid o’clock and I had to take him to the airport. We had to be there at 430 am. We made it by 445am but no harm was done. After waiting for them to check in their baggage and waving the team through the security I turned my head for home and tried to convince my body that it was still night time and I could sleep some more. I managed a bit of a nap and then got up and started the day again, heading off to work. At the end of the work day I drove home, gulped down some take-away, swapped my beautiful mini for a civic that was full of computer gear, and headed off again. This was because of my son’s adventure.

Caleb (the son) was leading on a camp. It’s a computer camp run by Scripture Union. The kids that come along are all gamers and the camp involves a lot of sitting around the tables racing each other or doing other computer game type things. I don’t know – I’m not a gamer! But I do know that they also pull the kids away from the computers (“Come outside! The graphics are awesome!”) and much fun is had with engineering challenges, deep conversations, and other camp stuff.

Usually Moz would go with Caleb and would take a car-load of computers and gear down to the campsite. But Moz was in Fiji by the time the camp started so I took the gear down instead. It made for a long day on Thursday – both ends of the day taken up with drives and not much sleep. I travelled the same highway in the dark both times. But I made it through and back home without any misadventure.

So both boys were gone, and with Jess (the daughter) on her four-year-long adventure in Canberra getting a teaching degree, that left me at home alone for the weekend.

It was wonderful to be alone for that stretch of time. I went for walks, long lonely walks along beaches and cliffs. I baked a rhubarb and apple crumble (but I didn’t eat it all). I headed to a cafe and had a yummy cake and coffee (that was after one of the long walks so I didn’t feel too guilty). I made myself a fire each night. I watched the Swiss murder mystery show on Netflix that I seem to have got addicted to. I listened to classical music and to pop music and to no music at all. I did some housework and washing. I read a whole book from start to finish and finished off another couple of books that I was part-way through. I did not look at social media at all.

Most of the weekend was reading, actually. I decided not to do much book writing but just to read and write in my journal what I was thinking about. I had such long stretches to think. It was luxurious.

I feel so refreshed now that I’m back at work. It was a glorious weekend. An adventure at home in comfort and warmth in the arms of a book. My kind of adventure.

Does my weekend sound at all adventurous to you?

Or is adventure the wrong word?

What kind of adventures do you enjoy?

Purpose

I have been doing a lot of reading in my holidays and there’s a certain idea that keeps popping up over and over again.

It may be confirmation bias, but I’ve been seeing it in the non-fiction I am reading, in the fiction, in the blog posts and articles, in the different podcasts (yes I have been enjoying my holidays, how could you tell?). It just keeps coming back to this:

What is your purpose? What is your vision?

Why do you do what you do? What do you want out of life? What do you want from your money? What is the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning?

There are very broad answers to this question (e.g. I want to do God’s will for my life) but I’ve been challenged to narrow it down and down and down. I’m still narrowing. I think my vision probably comes down to something like ‘working against imposter syndrome’, or ‘helping people feel like they belong’.

I’ve found the question particularly difficult to answer. I have had answers before, but I think that at this level, your purpose is something that changes in the different seasons of life. I personally think that it’s a rare few that are working towards one thing for the whole of their lives. I have had the season of raising my children, the season of completing my university studies, the season of researching towards a PhD and working hard on teaching well.

And for the past few years I have been going through the motions. I have made sure that I have worthwhile activities in my life and that I’ve worked hard at them and I’ve just kept going but without any clear plan. Part of the reason for that I guess is that I have struggled with illness so that just keeping going has been all that I’ve been able to do. That may be the season you are in right now.

But lately I’ve felt a real sense of discontent and a desire to have more of a structured goal.

I remember when DH was working for a communications contractor. It wasn’t fun. He was frustrated and angry much of the time. The work wasn’t fulfilling, but it was constant. He rarely had a day off. He was exhausted most of the time. There came a time where he needed to go into hospital and have a major operation and in the four days that his boss allowed him for recovery before he was called back in to work (yes, I know) he stopped bashing his head against a wall for long enough to realise that it hurt. That was the beginning of a season of change for us. DH ended up leaving his job, going to university, and retraining as a teacher.

I feel like I am in the midst of a similar season now. I want to know what I am living for so that I can arrange my life to work towards that goal. I would like clear five year and ten year goals. And a clear reason to pursue them.

The writing is good, the blog post and the novel and all, but the writing is a way that my purpose gets lived. Just writing isn’t enough. There needs to be a reason for the writing.

I want to live my life for a reason. As Hitch says, I want to begin each day as if it’s on purpose. I want to serve God in a way that suits how he made me. I’m enjoying spending the time figuring out what that is.

Do you know your purpose? In a tweet-sized statement could you tell me what you’re living for? Feel free to do it in the comments, I would be fascinated to find out.

(Lack of) Food for thought

(Title thanks to my cousin Martin!)

Today, for the first time in my holidays, I went to a cafe to do some writing. I think I haven’t done this before today because I’ve enjoyed being at home. So maybe going to a cafe is a sign that I am starting to feel rested.

I was met by the waitress at the door, took my normal place at the table looking out the window to my favourite place – Kingston Beach. And told the lovely server that I would start with a coffee and then order some lunch later.

The cafe looks over the water, which is especially lovely if there are no cars parked in the way, and therefore it doesn’t receive any direct sunlight. Which normally isn’t a problem but it became one this morning.

My coffee was beautiful, the first full-strength coffee I’ve had in about a week (I’ve been trying to decaffeinate myself this holidays) and my addicted self relaxed at the first sip.

I sat and wrote about 1000 words plus a few more by hand in my journal and then I decided it was time for lunch. I put in my order and went back to the writing.

My brain was probably 75% occupied by what I was writing. The rest of my brain was noticing how beautiful the water looked and enjoying the flight of the birds, it was enjoying the friendly conversation of two girls sitting in front of me in the outside section, it was noticing the conversation of the two elderly ladies next to me who were trying to decipher the menu, and very gradually a few other things impinged on my consciousness.

One was how cold I was getting. I started to rub my hands together and promise myself that I would be warmer when the food came and wonder if the problem was that I was sitting too close to the door. Another was that the lights in the cafe were flickering a bit – which resolved itself when they went out completely. Much less irritating.

I completed another 1000 words and started to run out of brain and look for more distraction. The ladies next to me tried to order their lunch and that’s when I became aware of the problem.

The waiter explained to them that we’d lost power. That he couldn’t take their order because the computer system wouldn’t work, and they wouldn’t be able to cook the meal anyway. He didn’t know why the power had gone out or when it would be back on.

That’s when the beeping of some electronic device that wanted power started to make sense. And the darkness of the room. And the cold.

It’s a brisk six degrees in Kingston right now, at 130 in the afternoon. A beautiful sunny day but a very chilly day, especially if you’re out of the sun. The restaurant was cold. I was wearing five layers and a nice big scarf and I was freezing.

I tried to hold on, honestly I did. I didn’t want them to miss out on my custom and I really felt bad for them to have had such bad luck, but in the end I froze up and I gave up. I paid in exact change (after looking through all the purses in my bag to find it) and I’ve come home to a much healthier lunch of home-made salad.

I expected to be cold today when I dropped the car off to the mechanic and walked home, and later when I walk down to pick it up. But not when I was having lunch in a cosy cafe. I have no idea why the power went out – the corner shop had lights so it might have just been that one restaurant. I’m sure the not knowing is going to bug me – that was another reason why I wanted to stay. If anyone who lives down my way knows, I’d be grateful to find out.

I am so grateful that our house has power and sunlight. My feet have nearly lost their ice block status. I might try for cafe lunch another day this week. I have one more week of holidays left. I’m going to make the most of it.

Holiday Adventures

I know I promised you lots of adventures. I guess I promised them to myself. And I’ve had them, sort of.

Today was a big one. The dentist.

I had gone to the uni today to mark exams. I told myself that once I had marked them all I would reward myself with a nice lunch at a cafe somewhere. The idea was to get to uni at 11 (after morning tea with my mum – not after sleeping in) and then work until around 1pm and go to lunch. But it didn’t quite work.

Firstly, I arrived at uni at 1130, chatted with a friend, wrote an email, and then got started on the exams. About half-way through another friend dropped in for a chat. And yes, there was also the usual procrastination happening.

A student who I had helped out with something tiny earlier in the year dropped in with packets of chocolate to say thank you. So undeserved. But I can’t say no to chocolate so I was using liquorice logs to keep me going and I kept powering through.

I made it to the end of the pile, I checked that I had added all the marks up correctly and I took the pile to the computer to input the marks into a spreadsheet. And looked at the time.

It was 2:15pm.

Now believe it or not, my dental appointment was for 2:30pm. Yes, I know. Tooth-hurty. And I’m not making that up. At least it was easy to remember.

I had fifteen minutes to get from uni to Kingston to get my teeth looked at.

My Phd supervisor has been known to say that it is a thirteen minute drive. I was praying that was true today. And it was. Possibly even ten minutes. I got there with time (a little) time to spare. And I didn’t break the limit (by more than two or three km/h).

The dentist took a couple of x-rays and told me there was some tartar under the gum in a couple of places that he would have to remove ‘by feel’. Right. Sounded painful to me.

It was painful, but apparently what they used to do was cut the gum open so they could see the tartar, and then remove it. That sounds a whole lot more painful. I’ll stick with what I have, thanks.

I hate the cleaning. I guess most people do. I haven’t met anyone yet who enjoys having their teeth scraped with a spinning whatever it is. I am wondering if they choose six-monthly checkups because they worked with some psychologists who said that six months was about the right amount of time to allow us to forget the intensity of the pain.

Anyway, I won’t complain too much. I didn’t need any fillings, or caps, or root-canal surgery. So I guess as dentist visits go it wasn’t too bad.

My other exciting adventures this holidays have included a check up at the doctor and taking the car in to get the brakes fixed – an ongoing saga as the lock-nut for the mini had been lost and they couldn’t get the wheels off.

I’ve also had some more exciting and interesting adventures. I’ve attended a panel on self-publishing, a writing workshop on characterisation, and a seminar by a couple of female professors telling us about their journey in academia. Tonight I’m heading to a seminar about cleaning up clandestine drug labs.

Mostly I’ve been focussing on my novel. I’ve been using the time to write, polish, and get the book ready for some outside input. And yesterday I posted, uploaded, and shared-on-a-usb key my novel to my various beta readers.

Talk about scary!

But it’s out there now, and I’m shaking in my boots and waiting for the feedback. Together I am sure we can make it into a beautiful thing.

I have one week and one day of holidays to go. I have three coffees with friends booked in, one book club, one body corporate meeting, leading church, and the car’s brakes. There will also be time to read in front of the fire, go for walks along the beach, and I may even start writing the next novel.

Happy Holidays!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to hear more about my writing journey as it comes to the pointy end with my first novel (a cosy mystery), please drop me a line on rijamos@gmail.com and I’ll add you to my newsletter list. I’ll still be writing posts on this blog but the newsletters are more writing focussed – what I’m doing with my writing, and what I’m reading myself. I look forward to hearing from you.

reward
My reward for finishing my novel. Yum.
replacing lock nut
We took off the lock-nuts and replaced them with normal nuts. By ‘we’ I mean him. I stood around and took pictures.