I can’t wait.

We went for a walk to the beach last weekend and I got a glimpse of those summer days that come around each year.

It won’t be too long until we are wearing bathers and hats, and carrying towels and boogie boards down to the beach to go for a swim. I can’t wait.

Until then, however, the sea has to warm up a bit for me. I don’t have a wetsuit and like the weather and the water to be a bit warmer until I dip my body into it.

I love the summer jaunts down to the beach, and coming home while it’s still light to eat a late dinner after washing the sand and salt off. I can’t wait.

Cliffs along the coast. Day 239/366.

5 small ways to easily improve your social media experience

My work desk

There’s some things that I repeatedly see on various social networks that really grate at me.

Sketchy Twitter updates

On Twitter when someone has obviously uploaded a photo to one of their favourite photo sharing sites and the link that’s automatically posted to Twitter just says: “I’ve just posted a photo on *insert latest social network here*.”

Because I have to click to see what this photo is a description about the photo might make me want to click it, not the fact that you’ve just uploaded a photo. It’s lazy. Next!

Automatic cross-posting from Facebook to Twitter

Again on Twitter, automatic posting from Facebook to Twitter and the link that’s posted just goes back to Facebook. I never get why people setup automatic tweets from their Facebook updates. If you’re using Facebook as your website and need somewhere to post a longer version of your tweet, at least mention that.

Twitter and Facebook are quite different and should be used separately. Unfortunately this automatic posting also means that they’re not really following what their fans are saying on Twitter therefore don’t engage with them. It’s very frustrating, and not a good look.

Same updates on Twitter and Facebook

I’ve been guilty of this once or twice because I have most different friends on both platforms but when there is a crossover of friends on both, and I see they’ve made the same update on both platforms, I feel like I may have missed out on some of the conversation because there’s now two places that the conversation is occurring. It’s just a little thing, but a tad annoying.

Jumping on a Facebook question bandwagon

I often see this question in Facebook: “I’m cleaning up my Facebook friends. Let me know if you want to stay.”

Surely it’s up to the individual who they want to keep as friends and they can add and remove friends at will. I’ve never responded to any of these and if I’ve been unfriended – oh well, too bad. I  don’t think I ever have been though.

Make it easy for me to subscribe to your blog

Lastly, if you’ve got a blog I presume you want people to read it? Do you? Well have you got an easy method for people to subscribe to your blog updates? SO many blogs I read don’t have this and it’s dead easy to do. And by this, I mean a RSS feed icon, or a ‘Subscribe here’ link.

All blogging software automatically has a feed built-in and usually it’s a matter of adding a widget or something to link this feed to an icon. I use Feedburner to redirect my WordPress feed. This way you can track your feed subscribers and you can also provide them with a way of subscribing via email if they don’t use or know what an RSS feed is.

 

Do any of these annoy you, or any other things?

I will remember her

Jules holding Connie

The clock in my kitchen stopped today.

Time stood still for the time that Connie died. Connie was my mum and dad’s dog and she had become quite ill in the last few days and had to be put down late last week.

I found out while I was at work and it was a little bit hard to carry on as though nothing had happened.

I felt very close to Connie and her death day should also be a rembering day for the dog she was.

Dogs are an important part of many of our lives but unfortunately they’re only here for such a short amount of time. Then you get attached to it, it gets old and dies.

Why are dogs here for such a short time?

A six year old boy got it in one when he said about their dying dog:

“People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The Six-year-old continued,

”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

I got to know Connie fairly well over the years even though she lived around two hours away and we didn’t see her that often.

She spent some time with us when Dad had his stroke five years ago and was in hospital and rehab for two months. As Connie was quite little, I had to make sure the little escape holes around the backyard were filled in as she could squeeze through and when I found her under my car hiding one day, and the wrong side of the gate it freaked me out.

She was great around people but put her in front of a dog she didn’t know she could be a bit vicious. In fact a friend nicknamed her Killer Connie. This was probably more to do with an ironic take on dimunitive stature than her personality, but either way it kind of fitted.

She had the typical small dog syndrome. At the park one day I let her off the lead and she ran straight up to a much much  larger dog barking at it. I don’t think she realised that this dog could have swallowed her as if she were a seed. Luckily that didn’t happen.

Monty and Connie

Even though she came to stay with her bedding, which was placed right near Monty’s, she would always take Monty’s much bigger bed. One time Connie was on Monty’s bed, and Monty tried to squeeze up onto Connie’s. That’s what’s great about Monty – she’s very giving like that.

Connie was a great lap dog and the only dog that comes to stay here that’s allowed on the couch any more. It probably helps that she didn’t moult like my other doggy resident and guests do. Mind you, Monty isn’t capable of hopping up onto the couch these days. I had to carry her down some stairs yesterday, but that story is for another time.

Connie no eyes

But while we’re on the subject of other dogs, even though Connie wasn’t very well socialised with stranger dogs, she got on well with her doggy pals like Monty who she’s known nearly all her life. Also, she got on well with my sister’s dog which was just as well as both Monty and my sister’s dog spent time at Connie’s house on occasion.

I’ve never been a fan of  little lap type dogs but Connie totally changed that for me. She was gorgeous and I’m going to miss her.

The clock in the kitchen started again two hours later, but only lasted for another couple of hours before it stopped again. I had to replace the battery. Time ticks on.

 

Remember when?

Jules loving his bug catcher in his stocking

On those days when you just feel like strangling them because they are giving you the shits, just look back through some old photos and it takes you back to how cute they used to be.

Last play before bed

You remember how chubby their cheeks used to be when they were a toddler.

You remember holidays you had when you didn’t have to think about when the school term was.

Happy birthday to me

You look back on the birthday celebrations that you’ve organised for him. The larger parties and the smaller dinners.

Dressed as a fairy

You remember when they didn’t mind going to a party dressed as a fairy because it was all girls and he was the only boy and the theme was fairy.

Drawing before the pageant

You remember getting up at the crack of dawn so that you could take him to the Christmas pageant. You also remember him asking you if he could go to the toilet just before the pageant started. Hmmm.

In bed with a shark

You remember how he used to go to sleep while he was playing in bed. He used to go to sleep with all sorts of things.

Waiting for fish and chips. Day 192/366.

But one day you’ll look back and remember how he used to be at the age he is now and miss it like crazy. You’ll remember that even though he’s nearly as tall as you he still doesn’t mind having a cuddle on your lap. You’ll remember that he loves being tickled before he goes to bed. You’ll remember that he shares all the details of his changing body with you. You’ll remember that he used to be a kid and was on the cusp of adulthood. You’ll just remember.

 

I stopped running, but it’s okay

Exercise. Day 4/366.

Back in November when my relationship went very sour and I thought I’d take up a new hobby and run him out of my system. I continued to run over summer as well.

In April some time my hip really started to hurt while I was running. As I’d had this type of problem before I booked into my chiropracter and got her to sort it which she did. My running didn’t stop but I wasn’t doing anywhere near as much.

My hip problem then became my knees problem. My knees have never been great. Problems started with my netball injury in high school which meant a few weeks of crutches and an operation to remove a bit of bone I’d knocked off the back of kneecap when my patella did a funky move where it’s not supposed to.

I tried playing netball again in my 20s and did so for two-three years but then stopped because my knees were really hurting.

Ever since then I’ve used sore knees as an excuse to not run until I decided not to use that excuse any more, but now I am again.

The chiropracter suggested I take up pilates to strengthen my muscles and I have and I love it. I go to a local physiotherapy place that has a pilates studio and do group sessions once or twice a week. And I have toned and strengthened up but my knees still hurt when I run.

Exercise. Day 230/366.

After I’d stopped running for a few weeks I decided to try again and got back on week three of my couch to 5k program and the knees weren’t too bad but would be sore afterwards until the next run when I’d make them sore again.

I’m one of those people whose knees creak when they bend down and get up again. Even my physiotherapist has commented on my knee noise.

I think I take after my mum with my crappy knees. She’s had osteoarthritis and more recently a knee replacement. I want to avoid that down the track if I can which is why I’ll continue with pilates to strengthen everything around the knees.

I can’t believe I haven’t discovered pilates before. I do a group session on machines and because I have extras health cover, I’m not too out of pocket for each pilates session.

I’d started running to get more fit and to try and keep weight off – and lose some if I could. I haven’t really lost weight but I definitely got fitter and more toned.

So my fear with not running anymore is losing all of that.

The physio suggested I take up bike riding but I’m really fearful of riding my bike in traffic. I know lots of people do it but it scares the hell out of me.

What I’m going to do instead is get an exercise bike. I use one after my pilates session and do 4kms in 10 minutes, so I figure if I’ve got one at home I can do 20-30 minutes and get my heartrate up and replace the running. Plus I can do it at home in pretty much any weather. So that’s the plan.

To tell you the truth I’m kind of glad to not be running any more. I really liked how I felt after I ran – apart from the sore knees – but during the run I hated being so sweaty and hot. And I never got that runner’s high I hear other people talk about.

I still get out the house in the mornings and go for a 3 km (or more) walk and I enjoy that much more than running.

So I’ve gone from being a walker to being a runner, back to being a walker and not being a runner, and bike riding is on the agenda. Once it gets warmer I hope to go to the local pool to do laps once a week. I’ll see how/if I can fit that into the schedule.

A reminder that warmer weather is coming

Good morning spring-shine. Day 226/366.

There’s still a couple of weeks of winter left but seeing things like blossoms on trees make me think of the warmer weather around the corner.

I’m glad I live in a place that has distinctive seasons.

Below are some more reminders of spring.

Hope springs eternal. Day 236/365.

Native Frangipani

Spring

This is for Trish’s ‘Wordless Wednesday’ as she undergoes chemotherapy. Hi Trish xx.

Be as prepared as you like

Oh the places I've been. Day 227/366.

JJ has been doing scouts for a few years now and it’s something he absolutely loves and looks forward to going to each week. Just recently he moved up to Scouts from Cub Scouts. This means they get more responsibility and go on more camps.

On the weekend he went on a back to basics camp. We were provided with a list of things to take, and this time we packed it in my old backpack. It was the backpack I bought in 1991 all ready to go travelling with for my first overseas holiday – the obligatory ‘find yourself’ backpacking holiday.

The backpack is a bit battered and worn now and it’s been patched up but I’m glad I’ve kept it because JJ will use it on his next scout camp, the hike. When I dropped him off on Friday one of his fellow scouts commented about the ‘badges’ on the bag, which of course aren’t scout badges.

So we got out the items he was told to take and packed it together. I made suggestions of how to pack and for the most part he put things in the backpack. This included spare clothes incase things got a bit wet because they were camping in the Hills and it rained a lot during the week with a good chance of rain again on the weekend.

I dropped him off on Friday evening and hoped that they didn’t get rained out. It was after 8pm, and dark, when we dropped him off and they had to put their tents up so they had somewhere to sleep for the night. I was glad it wasn’t me as we went to a nearby pub to sit near the fire while eating a late dinner.

I missed him during the weekend but didn’t stress too much about him. Afterall they had my phone number and if needed could ring me.

I picked him up yesterday afternoon and when we arrived they were all kicking a ball around on the grass and seemed pretty happy.

He was wearing someone’s tracksuit pants that were at least two sizes too small, so they were more three-quarter length pants. He was sockless. He was also wearing a fleecy zip up top of mine so that was a bit like a shift dress on him. The bare parts of his legs that I could see were quite muddy.

I knew he’d be absolutely knackered after two nights and days of full-on activities but the first thing he asked me if was one of his mates at the camp could come back to our place. I told him no as it was already mid afternoon and they still had to go back to the scout hall to unpack everything and spread all the tents out to dry.

We eventually did all of this and got home. I helped him unpack his backpack. I pulled out clean pairs of jocks and a clean pair of socks – damp. I pulled out a clean pair of jeans – damp. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing those? He told me that he didn’t know they were in there. Remember we packed the backpack together and I explained that he had a spare set of clothes if he needed them.

I pulled out all the dirty and damp clothes that weren’t in the plastic bag we’d also packed for all the damp stuff. Next time we’ll put all the clean and dry stuff in a plastic bag and the dirty and damp stuff can be shoved in next to the plastic bag.

I put everything in the wash – clean and dirty and he went into the shower to give himself a good clean.

We ate dinner at 5pm. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten dinner so early in my life and was happy that I’d organised osso bucco in the slow cooker earlier in the day. I didn’t make him do his night-time jobs like feed the dog or get wood for the fire. I just let him lie flat on the couch in front of the television then sent him off to bed early. He was still tired this morning.

But he had a great time on the camp and is looking forward to the next one. I swear that he grows up while he’s away at these camps and he loves earning badges. Speaking of which, I have some sewing to do.