Right now, the second last day of 2016 is hot, humid and windy. There looks like no chance of rain.
The rain so far this year, especially our winter and spring rain bought the roses in our garden to full bloom to a spectacular effect. I have spent a lot of time photographing them, bloom by bloom and there are so many varieties that the previous gardeners have left us with!
The garden was a stretch for muscles and a solace for the soul this year. We trimmed and pruned and dug up and planted. We grew vegetables and flowers and fruit (although the birds and possums consumed them by and large). We took so many trailer loads of cuttings to the green dump we’ve lost count. Gardening with the lovely is wonderful.
Kitchen discoveries of roasted tomatoes with fresh basil and other herbs from the garden delighted us.
Our home ticked over habitation for a year and our kittens grew to cats who we adore utterly. Monkey the budgie flew away last summer so Snowy joins me now in the lounge room as I write this – it’s too hot outside for him. The cats have fortunately been pretty healthy this year, although Jack did hurt his back leg and needed some anti inflammatory medicine to help him recover, and our little girl Rosie got a cold which needed antibiotics. Julian is the stomach on legs, looks heavy and weighs even more when you pick him up. Rosie still suckles on the t-shirt (as she does this very moment, making typing challenging) and Jack’s meow is a lot like Rosie’s, making it hard to tell them apart in the dark.
The project for the end of the year was the chicken enclosure, which we finished several weeks ago. We now have Bruceline the Chicken Queen (Isa Brown), Habibi (Australorp) and Angel/Vishvish (white Leghorn). They are slowly getting used to eating real food scraps and they love the grass spot we made them. The cats were quite fascinated but are gradually losing interest – a lot slower than some good shots of hose would generally imply.
Finally sold the remaining properties that linked the ex and I. Although paperwork has still not been completely finalised, we are financially separate and that has taken some of the remaining tension out. I’m glad that she seems very happy in her house.
The lovely has continued to be an example of generosity and grace under pressure and the only cracks showing are those in the 100 year old walls of our double brick home. I am still learning how to be with her and she teaches me all the time the delicate balance of strength and vulnerability.
Her children also continue to teach me in ways as varied as they are. Although not all of the lessons have been pleasant, they have always been good for me and I wouldn’t have my life without every one of them. I feel like they are very nearly mine, which is probably worse for them, because caring means I will nag them!
My own gorgeous girl has been a constant source of ups and downs, like any child/parent relationship. She grows and I grow with her and to be ten, which means I have been a parent for a decade – how is that even possible?! I love her so much it is impossible to quantify and I’m continually grateful that she is healthy and happy.
The lovely and I bought a new car together and very much enjoy its sporty lines and seat warmers – who knew they might be a deal breaker in the next car! Heavenly through the Canberra winter! Sadly we still have no carport, so all cars are frequently rain washed and iced and hot. But in the end they are just cars with a function.
The places we have seen this year! The lovely took me to Katoomba, where I have not been for nearly a decade. We had the most wonderful time wandering the mountains.
Then for my birthday we went to New Zealand for five days! Spectacular and so thoughtfully planned. My mind expanded from the endless experience of beautiful landscapes that scooted past us in the hire BMW convertible, or that shimmered out the window of our accommodation. I hope we go back there again in the not too distant future.
My Dad survived another health scare, and thus managed to make it out of 2016 when so many haven’t. We knew he was recovering when he started telling us what to do again! Mum as always has been a rock, but has had her own health issues. Still she pushes through and tends to her garden, which I think nourishes her so much. I can’t imagine life without them and I’m grateful that we got another Christmas with them both.
Work was variously challenging in good ways and ‘not as good as preferred’ ways, but was solid and steady and enjoyable until near the end of the year. There have now been some changes, although they aren’t all formed out yet, so I’ve got to enter 2017 with some question marks about what will happen. Still, nothing like 2015 and for that I’m grateful. The lovely has had a less successful time, and the twists and turns of public service politics and policies have wounded her. I’m hoping the next year brings some stability to her working life, removing a substantial amount of the stress she walks around with.
We saw comedy shows (Disappointments with Judith Lucy and Denise Scott; Kitty Flannagan; The Wharf Review) and Star Wars Burlesque. We stayed in some very nice places both in and out of Canberra, and ate a prawn jaffle at Monster for her birthday, staying in a one bedroom apartment in the Nishi building that we thought we could move into.
We shared meals alone together and with our children and our parents and our friends. We spent a week in Tomakin with the kids which was wonderful for the time and also the discovery of Gab’s walnut allergy. Who would have known but for Ben and Jerry’s New York Choc Fudge Crunch?
We saw art – in the street, in galleries.
I got some wonderful art and now we have a wall of Mulga!
Although we lost Prince, Bowie, George Michael and many others, it allowed me to reconnect with their music, for which I’m happy for. They live on through their recordings and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done this.
So much of this year was wonderful because of the people that I spent it with, both at home or away, and I’m thankful for all those moments, vistas, mouthfuls and opportunities.
I finally got to spend a weekend with Mum down at the beach and Kiama.
Although the lovely and I both got quite sick in November, this year has been better health wise for me. Not perfect, but improved.
Despite all the world seemingly tearing itself apart around me, it has personally been a good year. For that I thank the Universe.
Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring