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2013-02-09 - 5:59 p.m.

I'm going to wrap up 2012 by cutting and pasting an entry which began "I'm going to wrap up 2011..." Of course, I'll change the events. I'm sure you worked that out.

Work

After 12 years, in the last month of 2012 I finally moved out of the lab, into the planning department where I have more or less at least wanted to experience (if not move there permanently)for close to 10 years. The lab manager job was getting stale- I wasn't the best thing for the lab and they weren't the best thing for me. One or two people in particular were almost driving me mad. The planning role- I feel like I'm not a quick learner and I'm not a inclined to take the step of working out what I can add to the basic job description to be a high performer. I feel like I see others doing it in my new department, in the lab to an extent and in other roles, but I feel like I'm just doing what I have to. On the plus side, I'm enjoying "what I have to do" at the moment. It was definitely the right move. In other work news, the Refinery will be shutting down (converting into a Terminal which still needs people to schedule product movements so in essence a lot of the jobs close to what I'm now doing will remain, but I'm not exactly guaranteed of a job after mid 2014. Someone once told me that these days on average people get made redundant 3 times in their life. It's not what I want, but if it were to happen I won't be crying "unfair"- I'll be in the same boat as many have been particularly over the past 4 years.

Health/ Family Planning

So both Jo and I have a clean bill of health when it comes to all the parameters you can test for for fertility outside of IVF, yet we are technically infertile (in that we have been having unprotected sex for 18 months now and have not been able to conceive). We have been through two rounds of IUI (where I provide a sample for the "turkey baster") and will probably only give that one more go before resorting to full IVF. It's a bit depressing, and has been getting to Jo a lot- mainly because I apparently have very good sperm (yes, you all wanted to know that), so she figures it must be something to do with her. I don't see it that way, given all her parameters "checked out"- there is something "wrong" (for want of a better word) with the way my sperm are interacting (or not) with Jo's eggs. It can be hard to stay positive, but there's really nothing more we can do between now and the next IUI (or is there? Should we both completely stop drinking, cut down on caffeine, take Elevit? Neither of us really believes those things will help us conceive above and beyond what fertility treatment can offer, and I am almost resigned to not being able to conceive "naturally". It doesn't bother me so much, as we have other good options. I won't be as positive if we've been through a couple of rounds of IVF with no luck. While there are things available to us that we haven't tried yet I continue to remain positive (why would this thing we've yet to try not work when it has worked for so many who have had as much or more trouble as we have?)

The Suburbs

As I have covered in an early 2012 entry- we have moved to Mortdale. Well, in the entry I'm referring to we hadn't moved yet, but you get the picture. Moving day was March 10th- we were up at about 6am- the movers arrived just before (or was it just after) 7am, and much to their annoyance (yet not even the slightest surprise to us), it took until about 2pm to move us. I pity the poor soul with the midday booking. They didn't break anything, but they were a bit precious, and the most annoying this was when they did not move our biggest potplant (in a very heavy ceramic pot) because "the truck (was) full" (ie "we're already running late and don't want to have to move anything else around".) I would've happily taken a dozen things in my own car to not have to have moved a heavy pot full of soil- as it turned out, for all the effort my Dad and I put into it, we thrashed it round too much and it died an inglorious death within a month of the move.

We rented our apartment out a week or so after Easter- there was almost a month in between in which we got new carpets laid, painted the doors and had to get our trusted cleaners in twice but still weren't altogether happy with the outcome. Nonetheless we have great tenants (as evidenced by the fact that we haven't heard I peep from them, but the money keeps going into our account).

Mortdale isn't gourmet central. You won't find galangal in the fruit shop or, (struggling to find another comparison)... hipsters in the Mortdale pub, but we have a great yard (well, a great size yard with plenty of potential, and so far it's given us mangoes, a bunch of bananas, a passionfruit, wintergreens and some great lettuce), a shed (mancave) that is the envy of every male who has seen it and most females, and we have already been drunk with our neighbours 3 times (plus there was a great street party!) I've been driving the 25 minutes or so to Newtown on more than a few Wednesdays for Townie Trivia; we stayed out until dawn on Jo's birthday (when I finally took her to the Judgement Bar), and I can't really say we've seen any less of our friends since we moved.

We love it- we just need some screaming kids to fill some of the bedrooms. And quite probably a dog. And maybe some chickens after all.

I've covered work. I've covered health. I've covered family planning. I've covered thoughts of moving out of the Inner West.

Family

So we don't often refer back to the horrific yelling match at Golden Century back in August... I've come to terms with the fact that there are certain aspects to my Dad that I'll never have a lot of respect for and will likely never change, but he's a passionate man with a good job, still loves my Mum even if he doesn't know how to show it, and has never been abusive or dependent on any vice. Plus both of my parents are in good health and all of my Grandparents lived or are living to their mid 80s, so I haven't got a lot to complain about really have I?

I mentioned in the 2011 wrap up that my brother got engaged on Boxing Day 2010 and married as far as Sikh "law" goes in early April 2011. Well they got married according to Australian law at the Sebel in the Hunter Valley the day after my 35th birthday before honeymooning for 3 weeks in the Cook Islands. I mentioned my sister got engaged while we were at Splendour in 2011- well, she got married at the Fairmont in Leura (Blue Mountains) in late November before heading to Europe (and North Africa) for about 6 weeks (including Xmas and New Year- the first Xmas where my nuclear family have not spent Xmas together). Both weddings were fantastic, and it was so good to spend more time with my cousins- particularly those from Queensland who I feel I relate (God, I just can't help myself can I?) to really well but don't catch up with nearly enough. I mentioned that that was what got me most when my Grandfather died- the simple fact that in his 87 years I didn't see this amazing person (or his other grandchildren) nearly as much as I feel I should have, or at least would have liked to.

The older of Jo's two brothers (both younger than her) quit his job in about March, stayed with us for about 3 weeks while he got his affairs in order and then jet-setted off to Canada for the rest of the year. I don't think when he left he thought he'd be back for Xmas, but he got a little homesick, and I think also had one of those familial epiphanies where he realised how much his parents had done for him and how little he felt he'd shown them he appreciated it, and decided to come back not just for Xmas but at least until his Mum turned 60 in March. So he is staying with us and it's working quite well- Jo and I cook while he fixes all the things that I'm too inept to fix. Tonight he's at his Mum's place and Jo is travelling for work- thus I have actually put some time aside to update here and my "pen-and-paper" diary.

Her younger brother is unexpectedly dealing with the trials of a long term relationship after a trip to Europe to catch up with the in laws made his wife realise she was terribly homesick and as a result she is back in Germany indefinitely. Her Uncle is the contract manager for a team who just lost their tender, her cousin was diagnosed bipolar in a family who is much less familiar with the concept than I am and her Mum is having surgery next week so it wasn't the most uplifting of Christmas nights when we caught up with her Mum's side of the family after hosting our nuclear families at our place.

The only other thing I wanted to say about Christmas at out place is- I roasted a goose (2 geese actually- they're not as big as you might think)- it was fucking awesome and anyone who asks me nicely can come around for a repeat performance if they give me about a months notice given it was also pretty easy. Although if anyone is still reading this (a relic in your RSS Feed?), I'm pretty sure at best there's one vegetarian and one expatriate living in the UK, so once again- Lucy, the goose is yours to try if you want it!

Travel

The big one was New Zealand for 3 weeks in October/November. I think the photos tell the best story (which reminds me I haven't actually uploaded all of them onto Facebook yet). It's hard to describe- two days in just sitting in a hotel room watching the Six O'Clock news I felt like "I could live here". Seeing how much respect the Maori get and comparing it to how Aboriginies are treated- you just felt like "this is how it is done". The natural beauty cannot be summed up in words. Milford Sound is a humbling and breathtaking experience. Hobbiton is a North Island must do, even if (like me), you're not particularly a Tolkein fan. Relaxing naked in a private thermal pool out in the open but completely secluded was thrilling (sorry, my diary, my oversharing). Maybe I'll just chronicle the trip in terms of cities/towns visited as I'm finding it hard to really *describe*...

Flew into Auckland, had some amazing meals, took a ferry to Rangitoto Island, drove up to One Tree Hill, then North, and West, to Kare Kare beach, where "The Piano" was filmed (or parts of it anyway), Crowded House recorded "Together Alone" and Eddie Vedder almost drowned while staying at Neil Finn's place. For somewhere not half an hour from Auckland it is a postcard of the wild. Continued to drive North to a sleepy beach town called Ahipara (at the South end of 90 Mile Beach) where we stayed the night. Drove up to Cape Reinga (the "pointy bit" at the top of the North Island and an extremely important place in Maori Culture), then down to the Bay of Islands where we took an overnight cruise which included fishing, snorkelling and kayaking as well as just taking in the views. Back through Auckland and then to my Mecca, or at least my equivalent of Liverpool (UK) in New Zealand- Te Awamutu- birthplace of Tim and Neil Finn, and immortalised in two of my favourite Finn related songs:

"I was born in Te Awamutu/25th of June 1952/10 Pounds of Boy/Haul Away Haul Away Haul Away/My mother and father's pride and joy/ Richard and Mary drink to my journey" (Split Enz [T. Finn] - Haul Away)

"She came all the way from America/She had a blind date with destiny/And the sound of Te Awamutu/Had a truly sacred ring" (If you need a citation for that one, you're more un-Antipodean than someone who doesn't use the word "mate" or eat lamb on Australia Day)

Stayed the night in Hamilton (where Kimbra grew up incidentally), and after a nice meal Jo and I holed ourselves up in Karaoke pub for 5 hours and got through no less than 12 songs (including, despite it not being on the printed list, a certain song written by Mr Wouter DeBacker). "Call Me Maybe" got 3 runs, and "Gangnam Style" 2, though none of them were Jo and I.

From Hamilton to Hobbiton (a little worse for wear after our 3am Karaoke finish), and then on to Rotorua (also known as the outdoor nudity thermal spring place, or if you actually are interested in going there, the Polynesian Spa). The next morning a working Thermal Village(meaning that instead of catering for Australian tourists who like being naked in a natural hot tub, the Maori live, bathe, cook and wash up using the natural thermal pools). From Rotorua to Taupo (not that much to see if you're not there for adventure sports but pretty nonetheless), then to Tongariro National Park (where you will find an active volcano which looks suspiciously like Mount Doom) where we did a short (2 hour) hike before continuing on our merry way to the least impressive town we stayed in (but geographically conveniently located- Wanganui. The trip down Whanganui River Road was worth the underwhelming stopover destination. And yes, the name of the river has a "h" while the town traditionally doesn't. Because you were about to ask.

Thence to Martinborough, a lovely boutique wine region that is far less touristed than its South Island sister Marlborough. And then to Wellington, which takes the combined Bohemia of San Francisco and Newtown (and the crazy hills of the former) and leaves you wishing you had more than a day there.

Took the Bluebridge Ferry across the Cook Strait, picked up our next rental car, and made it to Marlborough. Dinner quickly cemented itself in our Top 20 Fine Dining Experiences (TM)- if you have money to burn and expensive taste in food and wine, do not miss Herzog Estate. They're also pretty much the only Cellar Door in Marlborough which does gutsy reds (there is really only so much Sauv Blanc you can taste).

Kaikoura is a former whaling town turned Whale Watching Mecca- but just a tip- when trips are regularly cancelled due to rough weather, and if exactly that happened to your afternoon trip so you booked yourself into one for 11am the next morning, perhaps meeting some locals and like minded tourists at the pub (which of course you went to so that you didn't have to miss trivia just because you were overseas) and drinking until 2am isn't the wisest idea. Or who knows, maybe I would have needed the sick bag anyway- small boats and open waters are not everyone's idea of fun.

Christchurch- come back in 5 years when it isn't so depressing. But if you happen to be there there is still good food to be had. We caught the TranzAlpine Railway across the mountains from the East Coast to the West, a trip in which you inevitably get sunshine on one side a rain on the other (ours was in that order). Drove from Greymouth station to Franz Josef (a backpacker town which shares it's name with the famous glacier 10 minutes down the road). It bucketed down all night, and it was the only time we had to stay at accommodation that wasn't recommended by "Lonely Planet" so I was terribly paranoid that I was going to get Bed Bugs or something. It was fine, and so was the weather early the next morning when we hiked (or tramped as they say in NZ) to the base of the glacier.

The drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown is one of those "can't describe, had to be there or at least look at the pictures" moments. Wow. Queenstown was quaint, despite the backpackers, and just gorgeous. Milford Sound defies any desription you could try to give it. And that pretty much wraps up the New Zealand trip.

That also more or less wraps up 2012 travel, with the exception perhaps of a trip to Melbourne on the back of one of Jo's training sessions, and of course the weddings.

Music

Weezer (playing the Blue Album in full) supported by Cloud Control and the fantastic (as in, saw them, loved them so much I bought both of their albums the next week) Ball Park Music at the Sydney Ent. Cent. last month. Crap. That's 2013.

The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary concert- okay so Brian Wilson is not completely "with it" after numerous breakdowns and decades of cocaine abuse followed by controversial psychotherapy. Okay so a lot of the high notes and harmonies were hit by the backing singers. Okay so (even if he didn't show it at all times on the night) Mike Love is an utter tosser. But damn they put on a good show. And hearing Brian Wilson singing with little to no assistance from the backing vocalists (you could tell by the imperfections) during "You're So Good To Me" and some of "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" very nearly moved me to tears.

Sebadoh at the Metro in about July were fantastic, and it was mildly amusing watching Evan Dando hold the show together when he played with a somewhat messed up (emotionally, I don't think drugs were involved) Juliana Hatfield in their own Metro show in December. Unsurprisingly, Tom Morgan was a feature of the support acts on both occasions.

Food

In some semblance of order of impressiveness, our fine dining experiences in 2011 ranged from:

The aforementioned Herzog Estate winery dining room during our New Zealand trip.

Est for our 2 year wedding anniversary- better than Quay, Marque and Bilson's, ranks with memories of Assiette and Becasse and probably even gives Tetsuya's a run for their money.

A return to Billy Kwong's with Lucy for her 30th Birthday present.

The aforementioned's 30th at Bloodwood, because that place is awesome and so are Lucy and even moreso (on this night anyways) are Lucy's amazing friends.

Ms G's for my 35th "friends' birthday" and Muse (in the Hunter Valley) for my actual birthday.

Jo's usual birthday trilogy which this year consisted of Peacock Trattoria in Kyle Bay (a few suburbs from our new place) for "family birthday", Spice I Am in Darlinghurst (followed by drinks at the Victoria Room, followed by drinks and Karaoke at a K-Box that was about to close, followed by drinks at the Judgement Bar) for "friends' birthday", and (preceded methinks, rather than followed) by Bentley (I think- we went there, it was great, and now I can't remember if it was for Jo's birthday or not) for "two of us birthday".

So I'll leave it there, with just a taste (pun still intended, in spite of the entire sentence being cut and pasted) of 2012.

 

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