Listing things to write

Several times in the past weeks I’ve sat down to write my daily blog entry and thought, “There was a thing I wanted to write about today, but what was it?” And I’ve been unable to remember what it was. So I’ve started writing down brief notes to remind myself. Let’s see how we go today…

I’m overdue for a haircut. I’ve avoided going for the past few weeks because of the current COVID outbreak here in Sydney, but now it’s getting long enough that I think I really need to get a haircut soon. The NSW Government has ordered mandatory wearing of masks in places specifically including hairdressers and beauty salons. At first I thought okay, I can just go to the barber and wear a mask… but then today I realised that there’s no way they can cut my hair normally with a mask on, as the barber trims sideburns and around the ears and stuff where the mask straps are. So I don’t know how that works. (Some searching now reveals on the NSW Government site that “You may also remove your mask for the proper provision of goods or services, for example, if you are having a facial or beard trim.” So I suppose that applies.)

Secondly, I had my first ever peanut butter and jelly sandwich today. In the USA food package that I received the other day was a jar of Smucker’s Goober Grape PB&J. Peanut butter and jelly is a very American food. We don’t really have “jelly” like in the US here in Australia, so it’s actually not easy to replicate the effect, except by using jam, which usually has at least small chunks of fruit in it. Indeed, to most Australians, the very idea of mixing peanut butter with jam/jelly sounds disgusting, so it’s not something that most of us would try to experiment with, either. So yeah, I’ve never had it before. I do enjoy making a sandwich with peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon, so I’m not averse to mixing PB with something sweet. And I like jam. But I still approached this PB&J with a bit of trepidation.

PB&J prep

I took some photos of the preparation. I’m guessing that traditionally in the US PB&J is probably made with plain white bread, but I never buy plain white bread – I always get wholemeal or something with lots of seeds in it. But today the only bread I had was my home-made sourdough. So I spread the PB&J on a slice of sourdough.

The verdict: Well, it was mostly PB since the top of the jar seems to have a lower proportion of jelly in it than further down. It tasted fine, PB with a bit of sweetness mixed in, not disgusting at all. I’m interested to see how it goes when I get further down the jar, where the jelly ratio looks higher. I expect it’ll be perfectly fine, even yummy.

In market news today, I received an email from Kirribilli Markets, where I’m supposed to have a stall this Sunday. I thought it might be notice of cancellation due to COVID, but no. It said that they’d been informed that the current railway sleeper replacement work being done on the Harbour Bridge was behind schedule, so instead of finishing this Friday, it would extend over the weekend. Which means no trains running to the station where the markets are located. They figured this would reduce shopper turnout enough that they felt the need to postpone the market for a week, moving it to Sunday 17 January. At first I thought this would conflict with my other market, which is on the third Sunday of each month, but then I realised that that market had already cancelled for January. So there’s no conflict – it just means this weekend’s market is moved to a week later.

Workwise today I had planned to complete all of the Irregular Webcomic! annotation writing by lunchtime, and then move on to writing new Darths & Droids strips. As it turns out, I had so many distractions that I still haven’t completed the IWC annotations, and probably won’t until tomorrow. I try to schedule a certain amount of “worklike” stuff each day, but it’s often amazing how long it ends up taking.

And I reached a milestone in my Italian practice today. I’ve been using Duolingo every day for a practice session for 183 days, more than half a year as of today. I’ve had longer streaks before, but I was interrupted by travel towards the end of 2019 and took a while to get restarted. But I’m pleased to have made it six full months of practice again.

Oh, and finally I got a photo of some rainbow lorikeets while taking Scully for a walk today.

Rainbow lorikeets

New content today:

Post-market stocktake

I mostly relaxed today, taking things a bit easy after the hectic day at the market yesterday. I did have to do a stocktake of how many greeting cards and matted prints I have left, so I could update my stock levels on Etsy – to make sure I don’t sell something that I’d need to then order from the printer, thus taking an extra week or two to ship the item. Then I had to pack all the stock and ancillary equipment (easels, folding table and chair, display crates, miscellaneous bits and pieces) in the garage, out of the way until the next market day.

And I went to the post office to mail off an Etsy order to a buyer in the UK. I hope it gets to them in time for Christmas!

What else did I do…? Oh, some housecleaning. Cleaned the bathtub properly, which I haven’t done for ages.

Oh that’s right… I was also a bit lazy because of the weather, which was stiflingly warm and humid all day. The temperature hovered around 30°C most of the day, but a strong westerly wind came in around 3:30 pm, blowing hot air in from the desert, and that pushed temperatures up to 36.5°C on the coast, but as high as 41°C in Sydney’s inland suburbs. This was the hottest November day for five years.

I took Scully out to the dog park at that time, not realising it was going to get even hotter that late in the afternoon. She was very lazy in the heat, and only did a few half-hearted ball chases and then our regular walk down to the waterside and back, before deciding she’d had enough and she took off back to the car to wait for me. She does that when she’s ready to go home. I’m still chatting with the other dog owners, and all the dogs are playing and whatever on the grass, but Scully is sitting up by the road next to the car waiting for me!

New content today:

Market day and more Scully photos

Today was my first market day since June, and only the third day this year, following multiple COVID cancellations. I got up at 6:30 and went to collect my hire car after a quick breakfast, then drove it home to pick up all my stock and gear. I was at the market by about 7:30, and setting up my stall, ready to go by 8:30.

My market stall

Customers were starting to drift in already even though the market didn’t officially open until 9:00, so I thought it would be a good day – certainly better than June which was almost completely dead and I didn’t even recoup the cost of renting the stall space. I was hopeful people would be out and about and doing Christmas shopping, with our local COVID cases now reduced to zero for the past week. There were a good number of people, but honestly not as many as I’d been expecting or hoping for.

That Great Market

That photo was during a quiet period when I could wander from my stall for a few seconds. I made several sales, recouped all my expenses, and made a small profit, although honestly it didn’t work out to a great hourly rate. Nevertheless, it was good to make some money! And a couple of people asked me if I gave photography lessons, which I answered by saying I haven’t done so, but I would certainly consider doing it, and gave the inquirers a business card to contact me. So maybe that will lead to something.

I got home after unpacking the hire car and returning it about 15:30. It was a hot day, and I was exhausted, but my wife said Scully needed some exercise! So we went straight out to the park. And since she’d been groomed yesterday, I wanted to try to get some more photos of her running across the grass. So I took my camera and we encouraged her to run straight at me while I took photos.

Scully on the run

This one is the best pose I captured, but unfortunately she was still a bit far away from me and doesn’t fill the frame of the camera.

Scully on the run

This one’s much better at filling the frame, but the pose isn’t as good. And these are the best shots of about 60 or 70 that I took. It’s hard taking photos of animals in motion!

I am exhausted…

New content today:

Market eve

Tomorrow is market day – I have a stall again at The Great Market at East Lindfield. Last month’s market was cancelled because of forecast stormy weather, but tomorrow’s is definitely on.

I spent time today going through my checklist and collating all the gear I need to take, getting it set up in the garage, ready for loading into the hire car in the morning. I have to hire a care to take my stuff to the market because my own car isn’t big enough (which means another expense that I need to recoup). I also bagged some newly printed greeting cards in cellophane bags with envelopes, ready for sale. I’m hoping the cards sell really well with this market being the first one in a long time, and in the lead up to Christmas. I’d really like to sell some of the mated prints too, and I’d be ecstatic if I sold one of the large mounted prints.

We’ll see, and I’ll report tomorrow. I have to be up at 06:30 to have a quick breakfast (and make some sandwiches for lunch), pick up the hire care, then pack it, and drive to the market, then unpack and set up my stall, by 9 o’clock.

The other thing that happened today was Scully had an appointment with the dog groomer. It’s been six weeks since her last groom, and we’ve usually been doing it every five weeks, so she was getting a bit shaggier than we were used to.

I took photos immediately before and after the grooming:

Scully, before and after grooming

She’s almost two different dogs!

New content today:

Those thunderstorms

If you recall yesterday, my market stall day was cancelled due to forecast storms today.

It did rain a little overnight, but lightly, and it had stopped by the time I got up this morning. It remained dry… all day until around 5pm. The sun even came out for extended periods. When the rain finally came, it was about 5 minutes of light spattering, and then it stopped. There were actually thunderstorms in parts of Sydney, but very localised, and not until after 4pm. So basically the forecast storms during the market day didn’t eventuate at all, as we all would have been packed up and leaving before 4pm.

Oh well… I can’t blame the market organisers. They had to work with the forecast they had. It is another case of what’s become a common occurrence here though – the Weather Bureau forecasts rain, and pretty much nothing eventuates. We have had a little rain in recent months, but not a lot. Grass in parks is starting to die off and go brown all over the place. Just looking up the stats, so far we’ve had 6mm of rain in the first 18 days of October, while the monthly average is 77mm. In September we had 23mm, while the average is 68mm. In August we had 79, with the average being 81, so that was close to normal, but since August it’s been noticeably dry. And this in a spring which the Weather Bureau had predicted would be wetter than normal due to La Niña.

Instead of the market, I mostly spent the day at home, just going out with Scully a few times. For lunch I made bruschetta:

Bruschetta

Chopped tomato, garlic, basil, mixed together and spooned on toasted wholemeal sourdough bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, then topped with salt, black pepper, and caramelised balsamic vinegar. I enjoy a simple tomato sandwich, and this is like the grand royal version. Yum!

New content today:

Cancellations and Codenames

Saturday dawned cool and grey, although a bit of sun poked through on occasion. The forecast was for late showers, leading into a rainy Sunday.

Late morning I went for a walk with my wife and Scully, doing our usual bakery/marina/park loop. Although cool, it was humid and quite sticky by the time we got home.

There was an email waiting for me. From the organisers of tomorrow’s market, where I planned to have a stall to sell my photography prints. They said they’d received many concerned emails about the weather forecast, and consulting multiple weather sites they noted that the forecast for Sydney tomorrow is heavy rain and thunderstorms during the day. My stall is indoors (I chose is specifically to avoid inclement weather), but most of the market is outdoors. So the organisers were writing to say they had decided to cancel the market, to avoid damage to stallholders’ products, and to avoid wasting time with a low buyer turnout.

I understand why they did it, but it’s disappointing to have yet another delay, with all the COVID cancellations. And it’s also annoying because I had to book a hire car via a car share company, because my car isn’t large enough to transport all of my stock and equipment. Because the cancellation is less than 24 hours before pickup, there’s no refund. 😕 At least it’s tax deductible. Assuming I ever make enough money form this caper to pay tax in the first place.

This afternoon my wife and I played a couple of games of Codenames Duet campaign mode. We tackled Monte Carlo, which for those who know the game means 9 turns with zero bystanders allowed. The campaign games are starting to get tough – the previous city, Sydney, was 9-1 and it took us four attempts to win it. But we managed to knock of Monte Carlo in just two games today!

The first was a bit of a debacle, with some really tough clue combos. I had to clue the words TRUNK and BARK, but without cluing the word MAPLE, so that kind of ruled out any wood/tree based clues. And I had to clue GERMANY, while ALPS was an assassin (instant loss if guessed). There were other issues as well which I forget – let it suffice to say we lost badly.

The second game started terribly. I clued LAWN to indicate GRASS and BERMUDA, but my wife’s first guess was YARD, which was a bystander, so we instantly lost a turn. But we pulled it back together with consistent strong 2-cluing, and in the end it came down to my wife having to clue two words to me with the final clue for victory. She gave the clue HARD 2. Which was truly inspired, and straight away I realised the answers had to be YARD (as in “hard yards”) and NUT (“hard nut to crack”). I guessed them and we won!

That completes all of the 9-turn games in the campaign. Now we shift to the 8-turn games, which ratchets up the difficulty again. It’s getting challenging, but is a lot of fun.

New content today:

Stocktake Tuesday

After yesterday’s 34°C, the temperature in Sydney didn’t even reach 20°C today, so it was time to rug up again. I had to go out on a couple of errands, first to the post office to send a redditgifts Secret Santa gift, and then to the tailor to pick up the new cotton jacket that I bought a couple of weeks ago, and left to be altered (described last Monday here). The tailor did a really nice job fixing the pocket, and now it opens normally and usefully on the top instead of the side.

At home I spent a couple of hours doing a stocktake of the greeting cards I’ve had printed and have been selling at market stalls. I hadn’t been keeping track of the stock/sales in each of the designs up to now, but now I have a better idea of what photos are selling and what I need to order more of. I also repacked them from the way I had them, which was very haphazard, and meant I had to search the entire collection to find a specific photo if I ran out of stock on the market display. Now I have them sorted in a single box, separated by labelled dividers, so I can instantly pull the exact card I want.

I also want to take individual photos of all the stock, possibly tomorrow, so I can build myself an Etsy store to sell the greeting cards. I need to find more ways to reach customers, and this seems like a good avenue. I’ve had a look at their terms and conditions and looked at a few stores selling photo greeting cards, and I think it should be easy enough to get started.

While in a work mode, I spent time going through recent ISO Photography standards ballots that Australia needs to vote on, and downloading all of the reports presented at the recent meeting a couple of weeks ago. I still have an action item and some follow-up work to do, writing a report for Standards Australia.

After completing all this, and also taking Scully to the dog park for about and hour and a half, I managed to squeeze in assembling a couple of Darths & Droids comics before cooking dinner (vegetable fajitas), and then making myself a dessert (apple and blueberry crumble), which is right now baking in the oven as I type. I can’t wait…

Update:

Apple and blueberry crumble

Mmmmm….

New content today:

No-holiday Monday

Today was the Labour Day public holiday here, but I actually did quite a bit of work-related stuff for my photography business. I worked on my portfolio a bit, booked a hire car for transporting goods to the market in a couple of weeks, and ordered some more stock of greeting cards to replace stock I’ve sold in the past markets. I also took care of some accounting and tax record-keeping stuff. Fun fun fun.

This afternoon I dedicated to writing more Darths & Droids comics, and got a good batch completed.

In between I went to the park with Scully, to do some ball throwing and get her some exercise. Otherwise we mostly spent the day inside, as it was pretty hot – today it got up to 34°C here where we are – yesterday’s sea breeze failed and we didn’t benefit from lower coastal temperatures.

New content today:

Market results

I had my market stall today, selling my photography prints (as described yesterday).

It was really quiet today. I’ve pretty much never seen a market so dead. We had a social distancing limit of 40 people maximum inside the community hall where my stall was (there were also open air stalls outside, but I need to book an indoor one for rain protection for my products), and it never even got close to that many people at once – and that’s including ten stallholders.

In the end I made $7 short of the stall hiring fee, so it was a loss for the day. I did however hand out a lot of business cards. I had two or three people sounding genuinely interested in checking my website and possibly ordering a custom large sized print for their walls – although I’m not counting those unhatched chickens.

I think it was a combination of people starting to get nervous again about COVID, with infections in the past few days looking like they might ramp up here in Sydney again, plus the fact that it’s the last day of a two-week school break, and probably a lot of people might still be returning from vacation driving trips.

There are two more markets next month, and hopefully (1) COVID won’t cancel them, (2) people will be more able and willing to come out and shop.

New content today:

Organising for market

Tomorrow is the market day – my first one since March. I did some preparation today – checked my box of gear and added a few items, and charged up my Square reader so I can process payments. A friend is arriving early tomorrow to pick up me and all my stock and gear and take us to the market to set up by 9am.

I also started work on a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I’ll need to get a batch completed in the coming week, so I hope to have them written by Monday and take photos Tuesday.

Next weekend I have a weekend trip to the country planned with my wife and Scully. We had to cancel a similar trip planned for April, and we rebooked it for next weekend when New South Wales COVID restrictions eased off… but now there are more cases popping up and I’m hoping it won’t get bad within the next week and end up with restrictions being imposed again. We’ll have to wait and see.

New content today: