Podcast stats for 2021

The biggest surprise to me is the amount of baseball stuff I listed to, since I definitely started souring on the topic after my disastrous foray into collecting cards via the swindling, yet polite John Heckert of Swanton, Ohio. The long story cut short was he stole $1000 dollars of cards from me by refusing to mail them to my U.S postbox address.

Amazingly, the Phone Hacks podcast has continued to be fantastic, and I’m so happy that my friend Michael continues to listen with me year after year to these deviants!

An up and comer I’m really enjoying lately is the NZ duo of Guy Montgomery and Tim ? In The Worst Idea of All Time, so watch for them to rise in the ranks in 2022…

Jigsaws in 2021 – still buying, slowly doing

Thanks to my pusher Elke Scheepers in Perth, I’m continually being tempted by art puzzles. She messages me once a week with “Ooh, not far from you” and leaves it up to me to disappoint her by saying nope, I have enough, it’s too far, I already have it etc.. Since I gave my piano away to Ben and Oui In November, I’ve rejigged the hobby room, so that I can finally do larger puzzles, but due to circumstances (later dinners and then regular TV with Kim, CoHousing Zoom calls, after work jogging, you name it) I’ve actually done less puzzling since. Hope to pick things back up next year. but here’s the slideshow from 2021. About 34k pieces this year, although many/most of the smaller <1500 ones I did completely without looking at the box, the mystery of which I found a real love for.

Tram thoughts

I can hardly think of any major changes I made in my life through the strange year and a bit that is/was March 2020 till now. I’d already stopped running because of my heel (turned out there was nothing they could do for me – even surgery was unlikely to fix it), but I guess I’d begun riding into work in the summer of 2019/20 – maybe 3 days a week? That certainly stopped.

The one thing that ramped up (in opposition to the drop in clothes buying and work trips to NZ) was my buying of baseball cards and jigsaws. I probably spent 3k on those over the year and suspect that the obsessional eBay and Facebook Marketplace searching I did up to 10 times a day were a reaction to the boredom felt and general powerlessness. At least it wasn’t alcohol or promiscuity! Those buying urges have eased off and been replaced by a new one of course. The great caravan hunt ensued, starting in September 2020 and culminated in a somewhat worn Bailey Unicorn making its way from Leeds to Wollongong via a 2.4m wide shipping container. The old van sold and was towed out the door in about 5 hours in early December, giving us a driveway back after 7 years (felt wonderful too).

We did a recent trip to Maryborough and found the van to be beautifully insulated and warm ( Kim’s primary concern) but it wasn’t the smoothest tow and had us searching Carsales in a panic for a 3-ton- capable car before sanity prevailed and we’re now checking a few suspension options and loading ideas. There’s always something to make you worry I think.

Fergus has been yelping a little in the night, having trouble settling and it’s like a baby crying even though he’s not seriously distressed. The tablets don’t seem to work at all, so we’re resigned to lack of sleep as his decline deepens. He got disorientated the other night and weed in the bedroom which is extremely rare, and I think we both looked at each other and gulped. I don’t particularly want to take him to Woolgoolga this year as he is right near the end and the slightest touch will topple him and the inevitable weeing and restlessness doesn’t make for a fun holiday really. Let’s see how we go I suppose.

What did I do in 2019?

Well, I’ll start off with what I didn’t do – run. By May or June my foot soreness had reached the point that I couldn’t go on, and I ended up getting some scans and eventually a cortisone injection into my left heel in August. Managed a couple of runs after that before things returned to their sorry state. I wish I could say that I suddenly found solace in swimming or riding but those things never really happened either. Hello 73kg again.

I did have a great reading year though, and inspired by Kim and Jenny joining a book club, I went to a Meetup book club in North Fitzroy in December and gave away a copy of my favourite book this year (Beauty is a Wound). We didn’t watch as much TV together this year, but Silicon Valley, The Man in the High Castle, The Crown and Game of Thrones come to mind.

This year I got more involved in my fantasy baseball league (UDL), became more confident in my player trading, did some Skype interviews and got nominated as the secretary for 2020. I started collecting player cards for an album that reflected my team at the end of each season. That was really fun.

In Feb I started some piano lessons again at Red Note Studios in Gilbert Road, and wound up doing my grade 1 AMEB exam on a very nervous weekday morning in December. I didn’t think I played my set pieces very well, but the instructor mostly disagreed and I wound up with a great result. My hands were shaking at lunch at Miss Margaret 10 minutes afterwards. I’ll take a bit of time off for a few months before committing to another year – the lessons are pretty pricey and I’m coming up with what seems like some physical limitations, which is worrying.

The jigsaw and podcasts (my god there was a lot of baseball this year – see below) thing is still going strong, and Kim just loves buying me loads of them, which is lovely but at the same time isn’t going to get any home renovations started. I’ve also started drinking more again, which summer isn’t helping but is becoming more steady and regular than it should be. 2019 favourites were Stomping Ground IPA, Hawkers IPA and pretty much anything from Two Birds out of Footscray.

I did quite a bit of travel in 2019 for work to NZ – Bluff, Mount Maunganui, Seaview, Woolston (Christchurch) and Lyttelton and I really enjoyed it. Can I please retire to the South Island oneday?

What else happened? Kim got an electric bike for Christmas and I got a PS4. The people who live behind us on Oakover Road sold their house for a lot. We had a few rats in the compost this year, and gave up on most things except herbs in the backyard (but still tons of pots to water). They redid the whole school oval across the road with irrigation and new turf and it’s wonderful. After the NZ cruise, Kim went into hospital in March for a few weeks for anxiety and was off work for a few months, but she’s mostly fine now. She started playing WoW and D&D with Michael and Sian, Ben and Oui too.

Lastly I started playing some Chess puzzles on my phone, something I haven’t done in 35 years, and no surprises I am not very good at it. Richmond won the Grand Final and Kim is now back on the bandwagon! I must be reverting back to my teens because I’m now finding myself listening to Ipswich Town podcasts and watching game highlight -so weird.

It’s been a solid year really, but apart from my foot, since about July I’ve been having bad allergy symptoms, which disappeared up in Woolgoolga but then reappeared two weeks after getting back – I’ve been on daily or twice daily Telfast for 4-5 months now. WTF!

Piano and West Preston

I decided to begin piano lessons again this year when I realised the studio within 5 minutes walking distance of our house had free slots on weeknights. My satisfaction with living in Preston for the past 28 years (and not succumbing to moving houses out of restlessness) seems to rise with every new local person I talk to and every new shop I can walk to. I’m enjoying being less and less car dependant, and so for now it’s the coffee shop, the hairdresser, the lovely couple who run the grog shop and Red Note Piano Studios. I try hard to remember the shopkeepers and people I run into’s names.

I have long been thinking about what ties me to where I live and whether it would continue in the future, even into retirement. I don’t think I have enough friends or activities nearby to make a compelling argument for staying and I find myself trying harder to find some community I suppose, knowing a decision is coming at some point.

In a silly way I’m enjoying ticking off the years in one place and yet I’m wary of falling into my grandparents scenario of “50 years in our house in Preston, but wow we’re loving this new unit in Heidelberg – wish we moved earlier”. And then dying within 5 years or so.

But back to piano. I stopped in 2007 when World of Warcraft kicked in hard and I just couldn’t keep up the motivation. This time (Feb 2019) my teacher is half my age and she’s got similar classical interests Bach etc..and likes Phillip Glass too. She reckons she wrote a thesis on minimalism. We’re still getting to know each other a bit but it’s going well and I hope to do the grade 1 exams in December.