Posted in Life

Total control

My youngest daughter rang last week with a confession.

‘Mum, I’m addicted to plastic.’

I knew how she felt. I’d been feeling somewhat the same.

I thought about this confession and my own (very similar) feelings and decided that I would reframe it with a more positive spin. I’m not known for putting a positive spin on anything, so bear with me as I struggle to articulate my reframing.

When Tim, my husband, was diagnosed with cancer in July last year, I took over kitchen duties. When we’d moved in, eight years before, we tended to dump things in cupboards and drawers, and over the intervening years we’d not done a great deal to move things around. It meant the cupboards that might more usefully be used for food and kitchen-related storage, instead stored boxes of CDs, VHS tapes, jigsaw puzzles, framed photos, x-rays, and the like.

I took over kitchen duties and thus kitchen organisation. It started my affair with plastic – specifically, Tupperware. One of my daughters-in-law had hosted an online Tupperware party some months before and I’d bought some modular mates to store basic baking needs (caster sugar, cocoa, icing sugar, brown sugar, etc). In my reorganisation I put them in the drawer where the saucepans used to be. My eldest daughter hosted an online Tupperware party some time later, and I bought bigger modular mates for plain and SR flour (regular and gluten free) and cleaned out the DVDs to create space for them. I got a buzz each time I opened the drawer or the cupboard and saw the containers so neatly labelled and organised.

More recently my eldest daughter decided to become an Independent Tupperware consultant and in the spirit of supporting her business, I quite quickly built up my collection of Tupperware. A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter took the same step. Two daughters, two businesses to support. The outcome is that not only are my kitchen cupboards beautifully organised, so too is my fridge and now my freezer.

The satisfaction this brings me could be put down to any number of things (shallowness, not enough else going on in my life) but my positive reframing led me to see it in a different light.


We are into the third year of a global pandemic. This has meant I’ve had limited opportunities to see my family – I haven’t been to Tasmania since January 2021, so it’s been over a year since I’ve seen four of my children and the vast majority of my grandchildren. I haven’t seen my other son, his wife and their children (who live in Qld) in 11 months. I saw them last when we were all able to visit my mother in southern NSW, and so that was the last time I saw Mum, my sister and my brother.

Tim was diagnosed with cancer in July last year. The day before he was to have surgery, we went into a ‘five-day’ lockdown that extended well beyond five days. It meant I wasn’t able to visit him for the whole time he was in hospital apart from a quick visit on day 10. He had a number of complications and so his stay in hospital (the first he’d ever had) went well beyond the 3-4 days we were expecting. Tim started a six-month course of chemo in August and again he had to go through that on his own as I wasn’t allowed to accompany him to any of his treatments.

Not long after Tim started chemo, I was officially informed that my position at the university was to be made redundant. My last day was November 19, 2021.

There’s a lot we have no control over:

  • COVID isn’t over (no matter how much everyone wants it to be)
  • Chemo affects a person’s body in often uncontrollable ways
  • Universities cut thousands of jobs (around 40,000 staff gone across the sector)

And then Russia invaded the Ukraine.

At roughly the same time, floods devastated northern NSW and SE Queensland.

And mosquitoes brought a form of encephalitis to piggeries in the border region of NSW-Victoria. Some people have now been infected and some of them have been hospitalised.

The other thing that’s been on my mind, in terms of ‘things I have no control over’ is turning 60. Today, as it happens. My sister, Debbie, told me on Saturday that 60 is the new 30 (twice), but that didn’t make me feel much better, I have to admit. It’s not that I’d prefer the alternative, it’s just that 60 sounds so old! I know, when I think about it, that it isn’t old – it just sounds it. Deb wrote about this in a recent blog post – and also added some great photos of us from over the years.

After talking to her over the weekend, and after a (very lovely) surprise virtual birthday party on Sunday night, I’m starting to feel better about it. Well, it’s not like I have any control over it. I’m 60 whether I like the idea of it or not.


While I have no control over wars, the pandemic, cancer diagnoses and treatments, being made redundant, or turning 60, I do have control over my kitchen.

I realised, in my reframing, that I’m not addicted to plastic; rather, I’m addicted to an organised kitchen. A little space over which I have control.

And, I have to admit, it feels good.


In Deb’s blog post, she included a clip of Missy Higgin’s singing Total Control (from her latest album). It took me back to the days of Countdown and so I dug out the The Motels’ version, from 1980.

What do you feel you have control over?

The Motels – Total Control
Posted in Photography

Diary of a distancer: Week 33

Week 33 … I counted. I wrote my first ‘diary of a distancer‘ post on Saturday March 28, and it was subtitled ‘Week 3’.

Thirty weeks later we’re still distancing. Not as extremely as we were even a week ago – our bubble has extended from 5kms to 25 glorious, mind-blowing, spine-tingling, breath-taking kilometres and if you think I’m exaggerating that just means you haven’t lived through a Melbourne lockdown – but it’s as far afield as we can go.

And it’s glorious.

Yesterday was a public holiday. It would have been grandfinal eve public holiday, but given the grandfinal is being played in Queensland this year, it was changed to a ‘Thank You’ day. It came at just the right time for me. I was in desparate need of a day off.

It was a relatively warm day – more muggy than warm if I’m being precise, but I’ll take muggy over cold any day – and we decided to make the most of it.

We organised with Alison to head to Warrandyte – a suburb 23kms north-east of here which is leafy, has a river running through it, cafes you can line up outside of, lots of public amenities (for those game – or desperate – enough) and walking tracks that meander along the river for miles.

I said that so casually, you possibly didn’t notice, so I’ll repeat myself. “We organised with Alison to head to Warrandyte …”. We hadn’t organised with anyone to meet up and do anything for some time and while the concept wasn’t new, it was so far back in the depths of our minds that we had to fossick around back there for some time to work out what that actually meant. In practice.

It meant – not necessarily in this order – making decisions about what time to meet, what time to leave, how to get there, what to wear on our bodies, what to wear on our feet, which mask to wear, how many bottles of hand sanitiser to take, what to wear … I know I said that already but when you’re used to wearing nothing but trackies and hoodies, deciding what to wear is a big deal. For those of you who haven’t yet emerged from lockdown, don’t under-estimate how anxiety-inducing this can be.

I found a little room attached to our bedroom – I have a feeling it’s called a wardrobe but as I hadn’t used it in many months, I wasn’t quite sure that was its name although the more I said it, the more it sounded familiar. I took dresses, a thing I hadn’t worn in a very long time, from this wardrobe, tried them on, discarding one after the other until I found one that suited my purpose (to not accentuate the new bits of me that had been created by being locked down) and then decided I needed something else in case the breeze was cool in Warrandyte.

I had a vague recollection of something called a cardigan but I couldn’t easily bring it to mind nor visualise where it might be in the house. Eventually, I remembered that the white thing with handles in the corner of the bedroom is a chest of drawers that holds clothes and one of those clothes might be a cardigan. It was.

Dress on, cardigan on … I was ready.

Nope. Shoes. Slippers and trainers have been my only footwear companions for the duration and again it was more of a struggle than you might imagine to think of what shoes I owned and where they might be after all this time.

Dress on, cardigan on, shoes on … I was ready.

Nope. Mask. We have a cloth bag hanging from the loungeroom door with an assortment of washable masks, plus boxes of medical-looking masks next to the box of medical-looking gloves on the buffet in the hallway. Which one to choose? There’s lots to consider: how long you’ll be wearing it, whether you’ll be meeting anyone hence how much talking you’re likely to do hence how big it needs to be, whether you’ll be getting a cuppa and lunch hence how easily it can be taken off and put back on, how much driving you’ll be doing and if the roads are familiar (ha) hence how fogged-up it’s likely to get hence whether to use tape or not.

Dress on, cardigan on, shoes on, mask on … I was ready.

Nope. Handbag. Keys. Wallet. Hand sanitiser. Spare mask. All the things you forget you need because it’s been so long since you’ve been out, hence needed them.

Ready.

When you’ve only been allowed to go 5kms from home and for only four reasons (to buy food, to seek or give medical care, for education purposes, for work purposes – work from home where possible) can you imagine what it’s like to drive for 23kms?

Exhausting. Why are there other cars? Why are they driving so close to me? Why are they honking me? I’m doing 25kms an hour, isn’t that fast enough?

And exhilarating. I’m moving at 25kms an hour!! The needle creeps up. And up. I’m doing 110kms an hour. SHARON! WE’RE IN A 60 ZONE.

Ah. Yes. Speed limits are a thing.

We went to Warrandyte yesterday. Just because we could. And so did half the population of Melbourne, and their dogs.

It was warm. The sun shone on us as we sat in the main street at the bus stop eating our lunch (no eating inside at the moment – plus, how weird is that? To sit inside with loads of other people, all eating at the same time? Nope, not ready for that yet). We sat and ate and talked with Alison. Not about anything, just talked. And it was glorious.

People wore their masks. They queued up outside cafes in orderly and socially distanced ways, they used the hand sanitiser at the doors of the cafes, they chatted about anything but the situation we’ve been living through, and at other times just sat together. They walked their dogs and watched their children play in the playground and at the edges of the river, they kayakked, ate icecream, forgot that strolling on the road wasn’t a thing you do when there are zillions of cars around, and they smiled.

We’re so close now we can smell it. And it smells good. We still might not be keen to go to the cinema in droves, or hop on a plane anytime soon to share our air with hundreds of others, and we might be wary of catching public transport or of walking into crowded shopping centres (none of which we can do just yet anyway) … but we can get together with others, we can feel a sense of freedom at the edges of our being, we can connect in ways we wouldn’t have been able to before with those who went through this too. There’s a sense of unstated knowing. It’s not something we have to talk about, we just know.

We were out yesterday for four hours. All in one go. Four hours!

It was exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure. By the end of the four hours it was mostly exhausting.

One day, sometime soon, it might even feel normal.

COVID-normal, but that’ll be normal enough for me.

Princes Pier – showing us how to do responsible distancing