Sunday roast, and discipline

Today we had Sunday lunch with my wife’s family, a total of eight of us (plus Scully). It’s the first time we’ve all gotten together since Christmas, so it was good to catch up and hear what everyone’s been doing during the COVID isolation. We had a traditional roast pork and vegetables lunch, followed by a nice butterscotch pudding and ice cream.

We were a bit full still from the lunch, so I didn’t cook a proper dinner tonight. We just had fried eggs, my wife on toast, while I had mine on a couple of the leftover lunch bread rolls.

I’ve also been thinking about how to restore my photography site web store. Given the issues I’ve had with WooCommerce, I really want to ditch it. I looked into the Square payment processing API a bit this afternoon and I’ve almost decided to give that a go. It means building a whole web store site by myself, then handing payment processing over to Square, and populating my own order information database. It’ll be a bit of work, but at least it’ll be code that I understand and trust not to be unreliable. It’ll take a week or two to do the work – I’m hoping to get at least a catalogue up and running by the time my market stall is on, two weeks from today.

The other thing I did today was to restart my stalled Duolingo Italian lessons. I restarted them a while back, but was interrupted by the knife injury to my hand, which made it hard to type rapidly, and hadn’t restarted again until today. I read a thing somewhere (reddit probably) recently about how to get motivated to do stuff – and was struck by several comments saying that seeking motivation to do something is the wrong approach. You need to have discipline. You need to go and do the thing that you want to do, or know you should do, rather than wait/seek for the motivation to do it. Discipline is the only way to get through a lack of motivation, and often the only way to actually get stuff done.

I want to learn Italian and get better at it, but I was slacking off. So I decided to be disciplined and just start today, and make sure I keep practising every day. No excuses. Just do it. I’m also going to start the other exercise that I’d previously been doing, which is to read the next book in the Wimpy Kid series, in Italian. So far I’ve read the first five books in the series, which are at about the right level for me to read in Italian – not so easy that I am not learning by reading, and not so hard that I have to stop and look up words too often. I can make it through about 5-10 pages in half an hour or so, which is a pace that isn’t too frustrating. I finished the fifth book at the end of 2018, but hadn’t managed to get motivated to start the sixth book. But today I’m applying discipline and putting the book – Si salvi chi può – on my desk, to begin reading tomorrow.

I’ve also decided I’m going to start doing my 5k runs again this week. At least once a week.

I’m going to get busy again.

New content today:

Long weekend Monday

Today I spent time with my wife again, since it was a holiday. We decided to go out for morning tea to a cafe we like that’s about an hour’s drive away, in the semi-rural outer suburbs of Sydney, called Geranium Cottage. (Yes, the website looks like it was designed in the 1990s.)

We like it there because they do a good plate of scones with strawberry jam and cream. We split one of those, and also a serve of the home made banana and walnut bread. Wife had coffee, but not being a caffeine drinker I stuck with water. The menu here is full of tempting treats, and they also had a chocolate brownie, which the menu annotated with “(very rich)”. So we sat for a while enjoying the rural ambience, and then ordered one of those too. I was so full after this that I didn’t bother having lunch at all, and ate nothing until dinner this evening.

On the way home we stopped at a small park where Scully could run around off lead and get some exercise. We park across the road in the yard of an historic church, St Jude’s Anglican of Dural. The original church building is a small sandstone structure completed in 1848, which now paints a picturesque scene:

St Jude's Anglican, Dural

And the rear:

St Jude's Anglican, Dural

It looks like it can only fit about a dozen people inside. It’s preserved now as a heritage listed building. On the grounds is also a larger, more modern building, which is presumably used for services these days.

We’ve just been watching some TV shows this evening. We’re getting into the second season of Lost in Space on Netflix, and we also watched some comedy shows on broadcast channels. It’s good to sit back and have a laugh every now and then.

New content today:

Long weekend Sunday

Today was Australia Day. There aren’t really any specific traditions associated with the day – it’s just a day off work for people, and they usually hang out with family or friends, have a barbecue, and go for a swim at the beach or something. Although being on a Sunday, most people already have the day off, so we pragmatically have an extra public holiday tomorrow on Monday so we don’t feel ripped off. 😃

I spent the day with my wife and Scully. We went out to get some pies for lunch (which is pretty Australian, so that works!), and then popped into her mum’s place for an afternoon visit. She lives in a place overlooking part of Sydney Harbour, one of the sheltered coves leading up to a river. Normally there are a handful of boats out there, but today the cove was packed with them, full of people having fun, eating, drinking, and jumping in the water to cool off.

Australia Day cove

The weather has turned really humid after the hot, dry December we had. It was only 32°C today, but maybe 70-80% humidity, which made it more oppressive. I took my swimming gear in case I decided I wanted to have a swim, but I couldn’t get enthused enough to bother changing. Instead I took Scully for a short walk along the shoreline, but even she decided to turn around and head for home before long out there.

We got some groceries on the way home, and I made vege fajitas for dinner.

New content today:

Christmas Day

My first task this morning was to bake the ham that we’d be taking to Christmas lunch at my wife’s family gathering. This is not a large gathering – there were only eight of us, plus a few drop-ins who showed up briefly. So I’d bought a very small ham to avoid ridiculous amounts of leftovers. Which meant it took only a bit over an hour to bake.

We packed that and the remaining lentil balls and drove over to my in-laws’ place, which is a small waterfront property on Sydney Harbour. It has easy access to a small secluded beach which is never very busy. Anchored offshore were several yachts and small cruising boats, with people having their Christmas lunches on the water, and spending time leaping into the harbour to cool off from the warmth of the day. The weather was warmish, but relatively mild for this time of the year, which was nice.

We had pre-lunch nibbles – cheese, crackers, dips, breadsticks. Then the gifts were handed out. Scully got a few, and enjoyed tearing the wrappings off:

Scully opening Christmas presents

Then was lunch: ham, turkey, lentil balls, roast potatoes and pumpkin and carrots and onions, salad, bread. And then dessert: traditional Christmas fruit pudding, ice cream, and a deconstructed pavlova platter which my nephew made, with custard, cream, and tons of fresh fruits: passionfruit, mango, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. This was a really great dessert, as everyone helped themselves to exactly the proportions of pavlova, custard, cream, and fruit they wanted. It was delicious!

Deconstructed pavlova grazing board

After the meal we lazed around for a while, too full to do anything else. Then my two nephews and I decided to go for a swim down at the beach. We took Scully as well, so she could run around and play on the sand. I didn’t swim for long, but did a couple hundred metres of freestyle stroke out from the beach into deep water amongst the boats and back. There are supposedly bull sharks in Sydney Harbour, but I’ve swum here many times and never seen any.

Following the swim, we pulled out some board games. We played a couple of games of Codenames and then Azul (which my wife won handily).

By now it was evening and the tradition of watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on the TV had begun. My wife and I watched a bit of it with everyone, and then headed home for the remainder of the evening.

New content today:

Christmas Eve

I got up early this morning and went to play golf with my friend Andrew, the one who got me started playing golf this year. We’d only played together on the short par 3 “pitch and putt” course where I started learning, but today he came along to the local course near me at Lane Cove, and we played 9 holes. I felt like I was dong poorly, because I didn’t do very well on any hole, but neither did I have any blow-outs like a 10 or 12 which I’ve had previously, and I ended up with a total of 57, 2 strokes better than my previous best at this course. So that was pretty good!

Andrew hit the shot of the day, a gorgeous long, straight drive off the 9th tee… until it hit an overhead power line and bounced off straight down into the turf. That easily cost him 50-100 metres of distance on the shot. My skew-whiff tee shot skimming across the grass ended up going virtually the same distance.

After returning home I relaxed a bit, before my wife and I dropped Scully with our neighbour for dogsitting, while we drove about an hour across Sydney to my aunt & uncle’s place where they were hosting my family’s Christmas dinner. We’ve always done a big family gathering on Christmas Eve, being the German tradition, and it’s convenient because all the people then visit the spouse’s family on Christmas Day. Tonight there were several aunts and uncles and cousins and kids of cousins, and a few friends of the family who aren’t related but just came over because why not?

We caught up and chatted over drinks and pretzels, and then dinner was served and people helped themselves to cold plates of ham, chicken, roast pork, a beef salad, a green salad, a pasta salad, roast potatoes, and the spicy lentil balls that we made yesterday.

After dinner was the giving of gifts. A cousin got dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out all the gifts from under the Christmas tree. The children get most of the gifts as usual. The gifts were then opened and everyone showed off what they got. It’s interesting the contrast between Christmas traditions. In my family it’s always been the case that someone dressed as Santa hands out all the gifts, and people collect a small pile of wrapped presents next to them. Then once they’re all handed out, everyone opens them all simultaneously, and there’s shouting and excitement and people yelling “Thank you!” across the patio as everyone is ripping off wrapping paper. But I’ve been at other family Christmas gatherings, where each gift is handed out, and then the recipient opens it while everybody watches, and then the next gift is handed out, and so on.

After gifts, dessert was served. This is always a highlight because the wife of one of my cousins is a great cook and always makes amazing cakes and treats. This year she’d made a super moist date cake and a batch of reindeer cookies. There were also cheesecakes and whipped cream and custard. After this my wife and I said goodbyes and we came home to retrieve Scully from her playdate with the dog next door. She’s exhausted, as are we!

And tomorrow, Christmas Day, we get to do it all again with my wife’s family!

New content today:

Family lunch

Today I took a road trip with my wife and Scully, up the coast an hour and a bit to visit my mother for lunch. We went to a nice cafe, which is attached to a local art gallery. I don’t see my mother very often, so it was good to catch up and share stories from my recent travels and what I’ve been doing lately.

We got home late afternoon, and were all pretty exhausted from the day and all the driving, so it’s been a lazy evening, watching a Harry Potter movie (Goblet of Fire, perhaps the worst one, but it’s what we’re up to in a full rewatch).

New content today: