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It’s Time for Glasses – Struggling with Multifocals

20 Oct

About a month ago I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer and went and had my eyes tested. Because being able to see street signs before you’re right on top of them would save me some frustration from having to do u-turns, and others from the frustration of me decreasing my speed suddenly in my attempt to avoid having to do a u-turn. So in the best interests of everyone I had my eyes tested.

This is not the first time I’ve been in to have my peepers checked out though. The first was when I was a young thing (oh, way back then!) when I had a lazy eye. My mum swears the first time it happened was when they arrived home from hospital with my new younger sister. They walked in the door and I looked at them and turned one eye in crazily. I think there was always an inference I was jealous of my sister. I’m pretty sure I was just trying to focus on that little ugly pink monkey they’d strangely decided to bring home. Okay, shes not ugly, and she doesn’t look like a monkey but that’s just between you and me, she doesn’t need to know. Anyway, after some years of wearing a patch and being mortified about said patch because quite frankly it didn’t make me look like a way cool pirate, it just confirmed my nerd status with the rest of my classmates, and then an eye operation to correct the lazy eye, and okay, nerd scale went down and cool scale went up, slightly, after that, and then eye exercises which I only pretended to do because there was no way that lion was going in that cage no matter how many times tried, I finally ended up in glasses at about age fourteen. The thing was I really, really wanted glasses at the time. So I pretended I couldn’t read the letters. And I finally got my wish and they got me glasses. Except I never actually wore them. Because it turns out when you pretend you need them when you don’t you can’t actually see out of them. I’m pretty sure that to this day my mum thinks my eyesight deteriorated because I never wore my glasses as a kid. Turns out though that my deteriorating eyesight had nothing to do with that and everything to do with…getting OLD!

Sigh.

So three years ago I go and see my doc, who is lovely, but his sense of humour amuses him more than me. Okay, I find him pretty funny. Except about the age thing. I tell him I think I need my eyes tested. Well, it could be a good idea at your age he says. Hmmm. So I get a referral to an eye specialist. Who tells me it’s normal to have deterioration at my age. AT MY AGE! But softens the blow by saying I’m still young enough to avoid glasses for the time being and my eyes aren’t that bad. He then let me out the door with blurry vision eye drops in and I had to negotiate my way to the train station through the darkening streets where the street lights became a blurred line of blinding starbursts while a freakish congregation of squawking birds screeched at me as I passed them. I somehow survived this Hitchcock moment and made it to the station without getting run over or pecked to death.

Three years later though and I’m back to the optometrists who tell me I now need specs due to my age related sight deterioration. Age related. At least the old lazy eye not being as strong as my good eye thing is a factor too and its not just about my age. Or maybe it is and I’m just looking for an excuse.

But here’s the thing. I need long and short distance help. So, they put me in a pair of reading glasses and a pair of multi-focals. But I’ve spent the better part of the past four weeks rotating my head from side to side to try and get the focus right through the reading bit. Shame about the crick in my neck. But that’s not important. At least I can see road signs just fine. That bit is great. And I can see through my reading glasses just fine. That bit is great too. It’s just all the other bits. Like trying to see stuff on my dashboard without circling my head around like a game wheel, or reading through the multi-focals without having to turn my head at a weird angle to read through the bottom of them. I noticed this tricky reading through the bottom thing when I picked them up but they assured me it was just about getting used to multi-focals. Except the weird head turning thing didn’t go away after one, two, three or four weeks. I closed my left eye and read out of the right side perfectly. I closed my right eye and couldn’t see a thing. I tried it again. And again. And again. Still blurry. So I got retested. And had the multi-focals realigned. And the script is being adjusted. And I now wait two weeks to see if making me new glasses will help.

So, it’s back to u-turning for a couple of weeks, and I’m now off to see my physio about my hip. Which is NOT age related. Or maybe it is. But if he knows what’s good for him he’ll use words like elite sporting related overuse even if it has more to do with age than any real athletic prowess.

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The glasses that work.

Tulip Time

2 Oct

In the outer east of Melbourne there was recently an explosion of colour. Any flower enthusiasts will probably know what I’m talking about. The tulip festival at Tessalaars in Silvan.

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At $22 per adult entry, and lacking kids myself I was a lone entry, I thought the price was a bit steep but children under 16 are free so for an outing with the kids its actually pretty good value. The parking was extremely well organised and the colourful flying flags along the roadfront means it’s easy to find as you come along Monbulk Road.

Before you even get inside the gates you will be able to spot the huge array of tulips growing. Reportedly there are over half a million tulips and the color range needs to be seen to be believed. I’ll do my best with a few photos. The nice thing about walking along the tulip beds was that it’s hard to know where to look. Tulips of every colour are on display and dotted thoughout are art intallations from various artists.20140930_105016

There were a huge number of people too, who to my surprise stepped into the flower beds to take photos amongst the tulips. I say surprisingly though because people were respectful of not crushing the flowers and I didnt see any damage as a result. And I must say it’s tempting to climb amongst them for a photo op as the flowers are so beautiful.

And once you tire of looking at the tulips…actually I jest, I reluctantly took leave of them, there’s a range of activities, mostly involving eating as there is no shortsge of food and drink on offer. There’s gift stalls, a concert area from what I could see in the distance, baby animals, and various crafts.

My only disappointment, not being a keen gardener, was that there weren’t any tulip bulbs actually for sale. But since they’re all in flower it’s not really possible to sell the bulbs until the flowering period is over. A brighter spark than me might realise that without having to have it explained!

20140930_110641But having seen them in all their splendid glory I think I might be visiting their website to get some of those bulbs…at the right time of year of course. I think it might be time to consult a gardening almanac!

 

Winter Woolies

19 Sep

Chunky cream scarves are way cool. Everyone should definitely have one! I’ve had a skein of cream coloured pure wool in my knitting stash for about a year now having bought it at one of my favourite wool shops, Sunspun, which is a small shop in Malvern packed with beautiful wools that cry out for me to purchase them even though I already have more wool than I can possibly knit into anything useful in my lifetime.

So mum took pity on me and bought some lovely cream pure wool (so that I can someday complete my own scarf with the wool I bought) and knitted me a scarf, complete with wool flowers. I am spoilt and my neck is loving my newest wooly accessory in this new bout of freezing Melbourne weather.

The pattern is easy, on size 9 needles. Cast on 27st, kn 3 rows. Row1: knit. Row2: k3, purl to last 3 st, knit 3. Row 3: kn3 (yfd kn 2 tog…) yo last sts. Kn2. Row 4: repeat row 2. Last 2 rows form pattern. Knit 136 cms. Knit 3 rows garter st. Cast off loosely.

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Probably not enough time left for this winter but it’s a good time before it gets too hot to get your knit on and create one for next winter!

It’s Tea-time…Again!

12 Sep

I don’t mean to make this blog about tea. But I felt the need to mention a new tea I’ve found at one of my local cafes (The Village Foodstore, if you’re ever in Heathmont I recommend it). So I tried something called Melbourne Breakfast.  I much prefer English Breakfast to Earl Grey. But this Melbourne Breakfast is even better. It helps if you like a slightly sweeter tea. It’s very refreshing for a mid afternoon pick me up.

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I’m ready for the rest of the day. Bring it on!

You Can’t Beat Real Chai

11 Sep

Over the years I’ve mentioned my love for Chai on and off. And continuing on from my previous post where I was in Queensland and unable to find a decent cup of chai I thought I would share how I make a cup of chai. I don’t profess to actually making the chai itself but I do consider myself a bit of a chai snob. Because I find there is something extremely satisfying, calming and rewarding in settling down with a pot of chai sipped in contemplation.

IMG_3357So after a disappointing two weeks in sunny Queenland with my favourite person in the world (who, btw, is not a chai lover!)… Let me clarify that. It wasn’t a disappointing two weeks because I was spending it with him. It was a disappointing two weeks because I didn’t have access to making my own chai and had to rely on cafe bought chai lattes, which I knew as soon as I tasted them they were of the powdered or syrup variety. You know that the situation is bad when you find yourself looking for a Gloria Jeans as the best option for a chai latte. Not that there’s anything wrong with their chai, it’s very popular, but it’s not real brewed chai which is my favourite. So even though we had an apartment (our indulgent holiday for 2013 and 2014, not having had a real holiday for two years) we had decided that we would buy food supplies for breakfast and lunch only and everything else we would go out for as it was too difficult to not over-buy ingredients and end up at the end of the fortnight with food left over. The other hindrance is that in a unit like this there are limited kitchen items. Just basic stuff like a dinner setting, glasses, cups, cutlery, a few frypans and saucepans, etc. But nothing extra…like a teapot! So it was out to cafes every time I wanted a chai. And considering the quality of the chai available in the area I wasn’t able to indulge my passion very often as the disappointment was too great.
So, I have come home and consumed a rather large quantity of chai now to make up for it. I use T2 Chai on a regular basis. Over the years I have found other brands which are extremely good as well, usually from specific tea shops rather than commercially made teas in the supermarkets. But I use T2 Chai as my fall back tea for everyday use. Not that I have one every day. I somehow manage to limit it to one or two days a week!
A chai blend is made up of black tea and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and black pepper. And different recipes may add even more spices such as star anise and fennel. And although I profess to being a chai snob I realise that I do take shortcuts by buying an already made up tea/spice blend and not actually brewing it in a saucepan. One day I will make my own blend and brew it on the stove top as per traditional methods but in the meantime I thought I would share how I currently make my tea because it is quick while still maintaining a real chai taste.
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I use a teapot with a wire basket to hold the tea blend as I find it the most convenient to clean afterwards. I then fill the wire basket in the teapot with 2 teaspoons of the chai blend, fill the teapot with boiling water, and allow to steep for 4-5 minutes. I then fill my cup, or more recently I have taken to using a tall double-walled tea glass, with milk and warm the milk. It’s important to get the ratio of milk to tea correct too – traditionally chai is a sweet, milky spiced tea so about two thirds milk to one third tea. Once the tea has steeped to the strength I like I pour it into the warmed milk, add honey, and it’s ready to go.
Mmmm, and that is my small piece of heaven for the day.

Coffee Count

21 Aug

Okay, strictly speaking this isn’t a coffee count so much as a chai count. But since it’s still universally accepted to say coffee when you mean any hot beverage, as in, do you want a coffee, having a coffee break, etc, im going with that.

I’m going to explain up front that I don’t do coffee (coffee). I love coffee but I’m allergic to it. Well to caffeine actually. I know it seems to be all the rage to say ‘oh I’m allergic to xxx’. But I really am. It caused severe episodes of ‘IBS’ (allergic reaction it turns out) and angry red welt like eczema patches on my face and body. I scratched. The welts got angrier. People stared. Oh, that can’t be right I said when they told me what I was allergic to after cytotoxic allergy tests. I love coffee. Oh, but it is they said. See this test result. HIGHLY allergic to caffeine. Sigh. I gave it up (along with all those other things… including wine, yes wine. NOOOO!) and my IBS and eczema went away.

So now I drink chai…in moderation. Store bought powdered crap, well that’s okay because there really isn’t much tea in that. But real honest to goodness chai made with leaves and brewed with a touch on honey…to die for. But I save that for once a week because tea still has caffeine in it. But when I’m out and about I enjoy having a chai break.

Which brings me back to the coffee (chai) count. My coffee (chai) count is a result of bad coffee (chai) service. So really it’s just about bad customer service. Today I ordered a large skinny chai latte. And out came a strong latte (coffee). Last week I ordered an extra large skinny chai latte. And out came a large. The week before I ordered an extra large skinny chai latte and out came a large. The week before that…you guessed it. Then there’s been one with no sweetener, one with so much sweetener it set my fillings on edge, and the one with the tea leaves and spices still floating in it (I’d like it without the twigs next time I said. I was a regular and they laughed and forever took my order as ‘chai without the twigs’ after that). Recently I’ve taken to pointing at the exact sized cup I want and enunciating slowly like they’re slightly deaf. I feel as imbecilic as I probably look. And still they get my order wrong.

I know, not exactly up there with international problems but when you can’t drink coffee you want the chai, even if it is fake chai, to bring a little pleasure to your day.

And so begins my coffee (chai) count. How many orders can be delivered wrong to my table. And now that its become amusing I’m almost hoping they dont get it right.

Books Worth Re-reading…

8 Jul

I saw a post on Facebook the other day asking people what their favourite book was from high school. Which got me to thinking about books that I have re-read over the years. It’s something that’s been on my mind recently as we’re cleaning out our bookshelves. As most of you know I used to work at Penguin Books. So I have a lot, and I mean a LOT of books. Six full length bookcases with every shelf double rowed, books stacked horizontaly on top of the rows and an additional three boxes of books stored in cupboards. Oh, and another stack in the ‘present’ cupboard.

So when we decided to rearrange the house the other day…obviously not the house itself because it’s, you know, immovable. But the contents of various rooms are being moved around and something had to give as we are running out of room. You can read that as ‘having too much junk’. So we concluded that we had to start with the humungous amount of books. We were able to arrive at that decision in a number of ways. My nostalgia and sentiments for books with a certain logo on them have changed and I feel it is quite cathartic to burn…I mean clean out some of those memories. We decided there are a good many books that whilst we enjoyed them we’ll never re-read them again. And we have set a challenge to whittle them down to just three bookcases, or one room’s worth rather than two.

So far we have discarded about 200 books and are only a quarter of the way there. I wasn’t surprised to find that a number of those were because I had multiple copies of the same book…A Day in the Life of Soltzenitskyn, Macbeth, Hamlet, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Frankenstein, Communist Manifesto, Bhagavad Gita (I dont really need four copies of that so its doen to one), Cloudstreet (I do need three copies but managed to remove one), Alice in Wonderland (and I’ve still never read it!), Oliver Twist, Gulliver’s Travels, A Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice, and Paradise Lost x 3, so lost two. Oh, and two complete sets of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings…but the original set is my childhood set, re-read and falling apart and something I can’t part with and another set in hardback republished with the original jacket artwork so I can’t part with those either.

So, as I went through the books…I’ve been through them now three times trying to cull more each time with a determined ruthlessness that quickly fades to sentiment each and every time, I came across a number of books that I know I WILL read again – not the only books I will re-read again but they are books that I love and think about often and are amongst the two to three hundred that I’m keeping. And I think it’s nearly time to open one up again…

So, here they are, books that have made it to my keep list because I know I’ll re-read them even though I’ve already read them multiple times:

The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Power and the Glory
Paradise Lost
Lord of the Flies

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And the Loser in all of this that somehow still gets a win is the one and only book that I can’t throw out but know I will never ever read again because just the thought of it fills me with despair…1984.

‘How can I hope to see but what is in front of my eyes. Two and two are four.’
‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’

Hmm, maybe I will put it into the re-read pile after all…

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