work life balance

a Claytons life

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From time to time I catch myself humming Dolly Parton’s theme song from the movie Nine to Five.

Workin’ 9 to 5  [and then some], what a way to make a livin’…

There’s a better life and you think about it, don’t you?…

For his last birthday I gave the G.O. a card that featured a photo of the Banksy ‘Out of Stock’ street art –
Sorry! The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock. A year later it is still on back-order.

Luckily the lifestyle we have will get us through another year or so. But sometimes it’s tricky. We live in the city primarily to work, as a means to end our being in the city. Mostly we’re busy but in the lulls we catch up on the rest of our life. Occasionally we take some time out for ourselves.

My annual leave balance generally hovers around zero as I use the days when the G.O. gets mandatory no-work long weekends & holidays, and we head to our house at Taylors Arm to take care of business there. Conversely the G.O. has accrued about 400 hours annual leave and 60 untaken rostered-day-off hours.

In late August we’re taking a whole week of holidays for a road trip to visit far-flung family and friends outside our city-Taylors Arm orbit, an exciting but exhausting prospect we are anticipating. Starting with a 3 night pit stop at T.A. then 5 nights away it will be 2500+ kms and est. 30 hours driving.

In the meantime, an appealing aspect of my life is my blogging-virtual neighbours who share their neighbourhoods, lives and travels. They take us on tours of their gardens and invite us into their kitchens for a cup of tea and a chat about what’s cooking or new. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Dianne‘s renovation of the RUC and her upcycled pantry, Kate‘s & Anne‘s teapots & cosies, and Francesca‘s love of old plates, and want to invite you into my kitchen to share my own.

TA Old dishes etc
From the kitchen at Taylors Arm

In real life I’ve been aiming at combining virtual and real for a meet up with fellow Sydney blogger Celia of Fig Jam & Lime Cordial. However, akin to the storage space I’m without that prevents me from acquiring the tempting array of kitchenalia many of her posts showcase, coordinating available time I’m inevitably without (as happens with existing family and friends) isn’t simple.

I’d also like to share my review of Dianne Gray’s novel The Everything Theory which I finished recently, the culmination of reading all her novels.

I would love to see this novel made into an Australian film. The characters, dialogue and story line are so comprehensive and 3 dimensional that in your mind while reading it, you are there witnessing it unfold. The story is contemporary and intriguing. The detail locationally is amazing but what really impressed was the minutiae that made up the premise of the narrative. Read this novel and take another look at those conspiracy theories, ancient history, myths and so-called mysteries – the way you look at things will never be the same again.

Note: Claytons is the brand name of a non-alcoholic, non-carbonated beverage coloured and packaged to resemble bottled whisky. It was the subject of a major marketing campaign in Australia and New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s, promoting it as “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink”… the name has entered into Australian and New Zealand vernacular where it represents a “poor substitute” or “an ineffective solution to a problem”. It can also be used to describe something that is effectively in existence but does not take the appropriate name, e.g. a common-law couple might be described as having a “Claytons marriage”.

seeking the sea

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The G.O. and I came up with a plan to sneak off for a quiet a couple of days away. At least that’s how we thought about it until an inspirational daily quotations message “Going for guilt-free play” popped up in my In-Box.

“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do. The fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.” ~ Mary Little.

That, last weekend, we only drove an hour and half south and were gone just under 48 hours doesn’t reflect how happy we were to have a change of scenery and time together.

We’ve just emerged from the worst part of our year, winter months with few public holidays or 2 day weekends for the G.O. The dry season weather meant production in full swing.

It’s a fine balance to encourage the G.O. to take a Saturday off for no other good reason than to have a break. His work waits for him, often augmented, upon his return and he never departs without exhortations of are you sure you can’t change your plans

When I utter the words I’m worried about you, they are met with why? A couple of weeks ago having not seen him between daylight and dark 6 days a week I risked expressing my concern. It may be that when I responded to his predictable why? with I need a new hobby to fill my time, the G.O. took the not-so-subtle-hint, and arranged the following Saturday off work. It may also be that his feet are still bloody sore, and he is tired.

Kiama, NSW Australia
Kiama, NSW Australia

Lack of notice and only a single day conceded gave me carte blanche to book somewhere nice. I tossed up mountains vs. beach and luckily came up with beach, given that bushfires began to rage around the Blue Mountains shortly after.

As we still haven’t fulfilled our outstanding visits and spent much time with our nearest and dearest we didn’t broadcast our excursion. It seems along with the wine and sunscreen I packed, some guilt snuck in there too.

getting all our ducks in a row

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Although our aim is to move from our small city apartment to our house in a tiny country village 6 hours drive up the coast and live more simply and creatively, probably by necessity as I dare say we’ll be a lot poorer financially than we are now. Part of that move is also to hook up to a caravan and the great Australian dream of travelling around the country, which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve read the Wherever you go there you are… blurb on the RHS sidebar of this page, the G.O. and I know it isn’t a move to make without getting all our ducks in a row.

Ducks all lined up at Sydney Park
Ducks all lined up at Sydney Park

A few weeks ago, the G.O. & I over a bottle of wine had the conversation. The one we have every year-ish… Where are we at – where are we going? Although we’d quietly stated intentions Year End 2013 would be the time, as 2013 dawned, unspoken it seems we had come to the same conclusion: the reality of the benefits of postponing our planned exit from Sydney until Year End 2014 make sense.

We both are working on projects that have anticipated end dates of December 2014.

We will make our last house payment in December 2014.

My youngest-younger sister’s wedding is in May 2014. There’s no point in being on the other side of the country.

Our landlord/eldest-younger sister has no plans to do anything with her apartment other than rent it out, so we still have a real estate agent-free place to live.

2013 has passed quickly – we’re in the 4th month already and I have dates pencilled in my diary as far as August.

Life’s not getting any cheaper. Another 2 years of full time work salaries, superannuation contributions and bill paying will make a huge difference to how much poorer financially we are then, and the travel & lifestyle we can afford.

Things changed. When we’d made our Year End 2013 plan, we were living in our old apartment and paying much less rent. Figures, at least in this case, don’t lie, and money only goes so far.

We’re a little disappointed but simultaneously relieved of the burden of ill-advisedly making a premature move, and for now the logistics of packing, and unpacking the contents of our Sydney apartment into an also fully furnished house at Taylors Arm.

It’s not all bad. We enjoy living in the city fringe-Inner West. We love the proximity to Sydney Park  and Newtown,  if not the proximity to the trains. Interestingly there was a “Petition Against RailCorp 2013” flyer in our mailbox last week stating “In the past 18 months there has been increased activity on the rail tracks resulting in a substantial increase in track noise and ground percussion”.  We’ve lived in this apartment for those 18 months!

EllaDee_the office
EllaDee_the office

I fair a little better than the G.O.  I work 5 days a week. He works 6 mostly. I work in the CBD with a short train commute, in a nice office building with a sunny desk and an iconic view. The G.O. commutes by car in iconic traffic congestion to a construction site on the other side of the city, and works in dirt at the mercy of the weather.

The G.O. on site.
The G.O. on site

We will continue to spend long weekends and holidays at Taylors Arm.  We estimate from now until Year End 2014 only 23 more 6-ish hour trips.

Reassuringly, around the time of the conversation our horoscopes echoed what we already knew.

Sagittarius: Sagittarians who have been going backwards and forwards with questions about where to live and even who to live with, and/or regarding selling or buying property – there is good news ahead. You should now feel a lot clearer about your best course of action. The past few weeks have revealed the facts and now it’s time for decisions.

Cancer: Crabs who have been waiting for Mercury to end his reverse cycle to make decisions about where to go traveling or when to start studying are in luck. That cycle is ending now. Hopefully you have reviewed over and over again re: your options and have a better idea of what to opt for. Give it a few more days if you can.

Followed a few days later by a final Mercury Rx message “Important News! All is well. Everything is happening exactly as it is supposed to, with hidden blessings you will soon understand”.

Today I consulted Lynda Hill’s Sabian Symbol Oracle and got Capricorn 29 – Woman Reading Tea Leaves… Oh yes, that’s me: always looking for answers even when I’m not sure what the question is.