Monday, December 17, 2012

I've decided this year to forgo the annual written, inserted into Christmas card and mailed report and revert to my blog where everyone can see it all. To be honest, when 95% of your Christmas cards are mailed as overseas letters, the postage can make you think twice. Most of you probably send a couple of overseas cards a year but I send dozens, or did until this year. I'll give the year in review and some personal feelings. I might return to the blog if anybody shows interest. I don't do book reports on Facebook and don't feel like joining one of their clubs or apps to do it. I also don't publish some fleeting things I ponder. They aren't private things or I wouldn't put the online at all. Just not Facebook content. What I write below will be partially what you may know if you follow me on Facebook, and if you were one of my stops on my trip this year. Forgive the repetition.

2012 opened with me recovering from the previous year's knee surgery. It is all healed now but there are complications. My knee-cap is very thin and is not being held in the proper position by the various bits of my knee tissue. It's slid down so it's resting over the end of my tibia. This causes pain, especially when the knee is held in a bent position as in sitting. My knee surgeon is the best but he couldn't offer a solution that would guarantee a fix. So the plan is now to lose the weight I packed on while immobile the previous year hoping it will mediate the pain. I have been on a strict diet since my moderate pigout in the States (but I do love bbq and root beer) and can already seen the weight start to go. Walking long distances will never be easy for me and I might never get to climb stairs quickly. The remainder of the infection has left the back of my leg with a large area of discoloured skin so I won't be showing off my legs (as if I ever did).

I spent 7 weeks state-side and aside from learning how out-of-shape I am (I bought a sign that says "I am in shape. Round is a shape"), I had a good time. I visited almost everyone who's high on my list, including both my brothers, but I can't do these marathon trips again. In fact, I'm trying to put together a plan where I come over more often but for shorter times. I'll turn 65 next year and will gain access to my US pension fund so I can afford it. Some other plans flitting about. I love visiting in October for the fall colour. Here we only have isolated trees that turn colour, not entire mountain ranges. Unfortunately Hurricane Sandy screwed up my departure, with Washington braced for the worst and closing all airports. I ended up having to drive to Atlanta and booking a flight on Delta to catch up with my flight back to Sydney. Not to minimize the horrific damage done farther north by Sandy, but she was just a lot of rain in Virginia and I don't believe it warranted closing airports just in case. As has happened before, I return torn between my two homes. I still love the US for all its flaws, but the medical expenses keep me from returning. Besides I still love Australia as well and would not want to give up the things I've made a part of my life over the past 21 years.

One of those things is of course, my football team. The Sydney Swans took advantage of my being out of the country to win the Grand Final, the championship of the whole AFL. I had promisied myself that the next time they made it to Grand Final I would pay the price and go to Melbourne to see it live. Not only could I not do that but I was on the other side of the world! I was able to watch it on replay and have indulged in fan memorabilia. The Swans have sent the Cup out to tour the fan-zones and, when it came to Canberra, I got to hold it and have my picture taken with it.

Back home I moved into renovation mode. Brian's former man-cave has been remodelled into a proper guest bedroom next the the already remodelled bathroom. So there is a suite ready for all of you who keep telling me you're coming to Australia. The former guest bedroom was rather small and is now my study with my genealogy stuff, computer, etc. Next task in 2013 is a new kitchen. I don't look forward to the actual event (and I'm certain Chianna wouldn't if she knew it was coming), but it's past its use-by date and I desperately want a new stove. I've also had a local firm make a wing chair plus ottoman made for my height so I can put my feet up when watching TV. Exit old recliners. Some more cosmetic stuff like flooring and drapes to follow. Then hopefully I will not need to remodel again.

I took another weaving course the the Australian National University and enjoyed it a lot. Met a new American pal who gets my sometime frustrations with Australiadom. The class was enough of a success that I have just purchased a small floor loom to be shipped from the US. It will have a much smaller footprint than the big one I bought in 2007 (and sold in 2008) and I will be able to do things I can't do on my table looms.

I am enjoying retirement, but wonder when I will ever get to everything I want to do. All my hobbies, from my veggie garden to my family history to spinning and weaving all take time. Adding anything else to the mix tends to tire me out extremely. You sometimes can't fight fibromyalgia when it says you aren't going to sleep, or your muscles will hurt despite medication. The fatigue can be crippling. I am very proud of myself for driving to Sydney mid-November to see Coldplay perform live. It was an epic adventure that tested my physical limits (I refuse to play the disability card if I can manage independently) but the experience was absolutely spectacular. They put on a hell of a show with lots of fun effects. It took me about 3 days to recover when I got home but it was worth it.

The genealogy trip is neverending. I got a pile of pictures from my brothers and my father's notes in the family Bible. The research can take forever, and I will need to visit some places in the US for more information. Neither the reference books nor the records are available in Australia. I've made contact with distant relatives via Ancestry. I'm still catching up with American history to learn about the ancestors.

This Christmas I will be alone as my dear mother-in-law has commitments in Sydney. I plan to watch the Lord of Rings Trilogy all the way through. No doubt Chi will spend it on my lap. She has forgiven me for leaving her for 7 weeks but still believes that as long as I am not standing up she has rights to my lap. She did not like the tradesmen banging and bringing nasty smells into her house and hid for days.

I close with a photos of my class project in my weaving course, a scarf woven of white wool with stripes of coloured rayon. When washed, the wool shrinks and the rayon doesn't, creating ripples in the fabric.