So, I’ve been pretty stressed over the AWOL passport. The process has been ulcer-inducing from the very beginning, when I was told that my birth certificate was the wrong size, through the interminable wait to now–when the universe had one last surprise to make sure the process was consistently stressful, right to the end.

For the record, it took around 14 weeks and countless packets of QuikEze.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent a complaint to the APO’s feedback email address. They never responded. But the following day, I forwarded it to the staffer from my local MP’s parliamentary office who’d been quite responsive, and sent him a FYI: here’s where it’s at.

The next day, I had a call from someone in the MP’s local office, who told me that the MP was very determined to help, and had interceded with the Minister. She further told me that despite the website never updating or progressing in terms of the passport’s status, that it had been approved. She then warned me it could still take a while to get through the printing queue and mailing and it could be another two weeks.

That night, I was at a function with said local Member, where I personally thanked her for being the Passport Fairy. “Oh,” she said “I’ve been the passport fairy a lot this week. I just don’t understand why people wait until two days before they’re leaving to contact us.” And so it was that I got to tell her about the new advice on the APO website which says, don’t call your local Member, it’ll just drag staff off processing and won’t make things faster. But let me tell you, Dear Reader, in my experience it’s the only thing that makes things go faster.

On Thursday of last week, I got a follow-up call from a caseworker at the APO, who reiterated that it was in the printing queue in Melbourne. “It takes about ten days to get through printing,” he told me, as my heart sank. Then he added “but it’s already been there about nine.”

He then told me that he was going on leave for the next three days, but would be sure to check when he got back on Wednesday of this week. My grandfather used to have a saying that ran through my head at that exact moment: “I’d rather believe you than look for the truth.”

On Wednesday, we had to get up at 3.30am to take Tony to a very inconveniently-timed medical appointment in Wollongong. I spent four pre-breakfast hours in the waiting room and when he was returned to me at the end of the procedure, he announced: “It was a general anaesthetic! It was like it was only a few minutes!”

“It was a lot longer than that,” I told him. “You were in there so long, I got a passport.Well, sort of.”

Both the email and the text to say printing was finished and the passport was with Australia Post came through while I had been sitting there, cooling my heels. Tracking was not activated until Wednesday night, when suddenly the passport appeared to be in Strathfield. No mention of Melbourne.

Thursday morning I was in a Zoom meeting when my phone went off, with a Canberra number. It was the APO caseworker, back from leave and calling to check I’d received tracking. “Last I checked it was in Strathfield,” I told him, “but it’s been a busy morning so I haven’t been able to keep an eye on it.”

“It’s still in Strathfield,” he told me.


Until about 6am this morning. When it suddenly showed as having made it to the Nowra Distribution Centre. The passport and I were in the same postcode.

This morning as my husband was leaving I ran in, waving the phone excitedly. “It’s out for delivery.”

That was at 7.09am.

I promptly reorganised my day to work from home. No way I was letting this thing sit in the Cambewarra Post Office all weekend; I was going to be here to welcome it home.

I was a bit distracted all morning; one ear out the whole time, not game to run and put a load of washing on between work tasks. And then at 11am I checked my phone and it said the passport had been delivered.

Where? I thought. I’ve been sitting here this whole time, at a desk strategically positioned to be able to see anyone pulling into the driveway. Answer: Cambewarra Post Office. At 7.59am. Processed and ready to be picked up at 8.02am, not that I had received any notification to that effect. Still haven’t, come to think of it.

So off to the next suburb I hared.

Initially, the lady struggled to find it. I could hear her rummaging and I was trying to recalibrate my expectations and figure out next steps. And then she appeared, with a way-too-small-for-the-stress-it-has-caused envelope.

“I’ve been waiting nearly four months for this,” I told her, as she saw a range of reactions flash across my face.

She was incredibly empathetic.

Turns out, she’d applied in April, and hers had taken four months, too.

New Habits

So here we go: two weeks in a row. It’s a new record.

Well not really, but it sure feels like it.

There was a time when I had WordPress Wednesday in my calendar and it was sacrosanct. Now, it’s in there but I move it around other things and sometimes to other days and then it gets to the end of the week and I just delete it rather than have it taunt me. Et voila, that’s how we get to the end of March with nary a post.

Now, I know that I do better when I have a morning routine, and morning pages, and daily exercise, and a sleep routine. I have even read evidence to back it up, and I’ve blogged about it. And yet somehow I have once again slipped out of my good habits. Part of it is to do with my battered old body, which gets very grumpy in multiple joints when I go for a walk or other exercise–my Physiotherapist will be able to put her kids through expensive private schools for life, if she so chooses. Part of it is the appalling weather–flooding rains are not conducive to morning strolls–and part of it is just trying to get back into a going-to-work routine after a working-from-home routine for so long.

So: baby steps. I’ve done the morning page two days running. I’ve done WordPress Wednesday two weeks running. I’m trying to use the email answering half hour at the start of each day and the setting up half hour at the end of each day exactly as they are intended. And I’ve tried to follow Kristina Karlsson’s idea of reviewing the quarter and planning for the next one, albeit somewhat half-heartedly, since she advises thinking about your dreams and I was focused on work goals because the “dream” list was at home and I was in the office.

Like I said, baby steps. Faltering ones, from someone with a dodgy neck, hip and knee (at last count!).

Mea Culpa

Bless me, Reader, for I have sinned. It has been several months since my last “weekly” blog post.

In that time the world has gone to Hell in a handbasket, with continued COVID outbreaks, a war in Ukraine, floods, the Chris Rock/Will Smith saga, and Married at First Sight.

Not me. Just very near our home.
Perhaps most heinous of all …

There’s been some pretty cool stuff, too. With restrictions easing, UOW’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Trish Davidson, was able to come and visit all our campuses, including presiding over graduations in Batemans Bay and Bega. I believe it’s the first time a Vice Chancellor has come to a Bega or Batemans Bay grad. My brand new boss also visited, making it to Shoalhaven campus in his first week on the job, and the others soon after. This feels like a recognition of the importance of the less well-known campuses, and has really buoyed spirits.

I was invited to sit in on a HDR review panel, which necessitated delving into the world of Outlander, which I’d been avoiding out of fear of how long the books are. It’s an adaptation project to boot, so the Spousal Unit and I started watching the telly version together. It’s not bad, and it’s caused some very amusing moments where he (born in Scotland) has turned to me (Scottish by heritage, but never set foot in the place) to ask questions about things like the finer points of the battle of Culloden.

Will my Scottish husband look like this if I convince him to wear a kilt?

I once again attempted to attend the Long Wet Autumn-ish Long Hot Summer Tour, this time in Berry, and we were once again absolutely drenched. That’s the third time, in three different locations and in three different months. We even thought about purchasing tickets to the Kiama version this weekend, but since most of NSW is currently building arks, have held off.

Yeah, those clouds don’t look ominous at all.

As for me, I’m currently in regional Victoria where there’s not a cloud in the sky, working remotely and being an extra adult family member for a little bit. This has some pretty big advantages–four feline ones, for starters.

Cutest co-worker ever
Then the cuteness factor doubled.

So yes: doing OK. And hoping to get back into a good blogging routine … after all, it is almost April!

REBLOG: Why we’re scared as the ‘let it rip’ tide of COVID hits NSW, Australia

A local perspective on the inherent ableism of NSW’s current policy settings with regard to COVID. Shawn, Gina, Mac and their extended family are friends of mine, and live in the next suburb over, so this is very close to home.

Disability & Media Matters

Here’s why we are so scared for Mac and why we are desperate not to be caught in the ‘let it rip’ tide of COVID that’s hit NSW and Australia.

Thanks to vaccination, we are now less worried about the disease than we are about the potential treatment and/or lack of it he would receive in an overwhelmed hospital and health system as a very young adult with severe disability. Mac, Gina, and I are triple-vaccinated and we have done everything possible to follow the health guidance of the likes of Dr Kerry Chant for two years. We have been significantly isolating for the entire time. Even when I returned to face-to-face teaching for a brief time at the start of last year, we did it without fully embracing the ‘return to normal’ we were encouraged to do. As those who know Mac know, he does not talk or walk…

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Another Online Ceremony

This week, our graduate will be admitted as a lawyer.

Once again, the process is not exactly what anyone intended.

Owing to a fixed date in her timeline and the Christmas shutdown, Child the Elder couldn’t wait to see when in-person admission ceremonies would come back. And owing to the changed HSC dates, I’m in the middle of night-marking season, so a trip to anywhere, let alone Sydney and back, is pretty much a non-starter.

Oh, and it’s her Dad’s birthday that day, too.

So: on Friday I will finish my day-job and then race home to watch her get admitted online, while her Dad will interrupt a flex day with his brother to get to the same location so we can watch together. We’ll then retreat to our separate corners.

Her brother has been tasked with transporting the physical gift we got to mark the occasion.

Then on Sunday (the only official day of rest from Marking!), we will get a chance to congratulate her in person, and to mark Tony’s birthday as a family.

And then she and I are taking Monday off, to hang Christmas lights on the house. (Well, take the day off from the day-job, anyway). Because otherwise, it might never get done.

So, it’s all happening in Chez Coleman.

Now, can anyone explain to me why, when I googled “lawyer images,” the above was the only option that wasn’t a bloke in a suit?



There’s not a lot new to update since my last post.

The VC’s Strategy Event pivoted to online (remember when “pivot” was synonymous with this, and this alone?) and her visit was postponed.

I’m under regional restrictions but my husband, who works in a school in the Shellharbour area, is under stay-at-home orders, so I can’t really go anywhere or do anything, either. I could go places without him, I suppose, but that’s not really in the spirit of the marriage nor the lockdown–if he is in any way an infection risk, you’d have to imagine I would be, too, what with living here in close proximity and all.

Theoretically his order will lift on Monday because he’ll have been home for two weeks and revert to being regional. But we’re anticipating an extension of orders in a bit over an hour’s time which would mean that if he goes to work for their staff development day on Monday, the clock resets.

Today is a day or great excitement in our household because our new oven is being delivered. Unfortunately it’s also a day of some disappointment since the sparky can’t come to install it until next week. So my plans to bake up a storm as I head into my leave period are on hold.

Tony and I turned on the Aussie v Aussie Wimbledon quarter final at 1.30am.

Six years ago today I was en route to London to see my dear friend and longtime collaborator, Ros Weaver, and we just happened to squeeze in a trip to Wimbledon on the finals’ weekend. It was a longtime dream come true and I still get quite a jolt during the coverage when I see the local shops or the Dog and Fox and have “I’ve been there!” moments.

It was an amazing trip. In addition to watching the doubles’ finals on Centre Court, I had a few other pop culture and high culture highlights, as well–ranging from Womble-hunting on Wimbledon Common, finding Sun Hill Station, Abbey Road, and Mamma Mia on the West End, to watching Richard III at the Globe.

One day, we will travel again. But it’s just been confirmed that for the next week, we’re not going anywhere.

Long time, no type …

Yes, I know. It’s been a few weeks.

I don’t feel as though I have any one good excuse but when I reflect on all the stuff that’s going on, I realise there’s a lot of low-level of second order stress going on in the background.

One friend had surgery and the recovery wasn’t quite the seamless deal he’d been promised. The same week, his mother-in-law had a heart attack.

Another friend lost her grandchild suddenly.

My in-laws are a source of many conversations as we try to understand the increased but not identical needs they are developing as they age.

Sydney (including Wollongong) is involved in another COVID outbreak so we’re once again unable to plan more than a few hours ahead, which makes it impossible to sort out a practical way to get to Queensland to see if we can assist with the above. Nor can I pull the trigger on a quick overnight stay in Sydney to see a mate and a show. In fact, at this point, I’m not even sure I’ll get to the show in Corrimal Jamie and I are booked to see on Saturday night!

Fingers crossed …

Child the Elder has finished Uni and transitioned to the workforce but we still have no details of her graduation ceremony (a month away) and she’s trying to ignore some tests her doctor has recommended. Child the Younger has been on placement in a school and managed to get sick and miss a few days. One of the South American children has had a COVID case in her household and sounds very much to my lay ear as though she’s had it, too.

UOW-Shoalhaven. Photo: Chris Hadley

And then there’s yesterday’s Barnaby Joyce news.


Against this backdrop, there’s been a lot going on at work. Last week, UOW-Shoalhaven hosted a regional campus planning day. Next week, the new VC is running (COVID permitting!) a 2-day planning event as a reset for the institution. And visiting the first of the regional campuses. Again, COVID permitting.

We got the band back together!

So all of that is why I have been feeling tired and generally quite grumpy and not very type-y.

I am working on it.

I have a couple of Physio appointments booked. I’m trying to plan for some nice things to do during our next SAL (unpaid leave) week. I’m on Day 3 of re-establishing my morning pages habit. I actually only do two pages rather than the recommended three, but in rather lovely kikki.K journals. (When the store went into receivership last year I bought up big on these and had them all monogrammed, just in case. I have several years’ worth stored away, so I’m missing out on new seasonal colours, but I’m sure I can cope with that).

At some point I will re-institute my morning walk but for now, I’m just trying to be kinder to myself. Which includes not beating myself up if a blog post meanders with very little purpose … Sorry.

New Beginnings

I’ve been ruminating a lot on cycles lately.

It’s in the air. Our previous Vice Chancellor was farewelled on Friday, and the new one officially began her role this week. Sunday will mark four years I’ve been in this job. My son started practicum this week. My husband is going through a series of “lasts” in his career- notably, this week, his last ever Athletics Carnival. Next Monday, Child the Elder has her last University class ever.

Last day in the “old” job. I did not take a first day in the “new” job photo. Possibly because there was no furniture or stationery in my big empty office for a while there.

I have come to no great conclusions about these cycles, so apologies if you’re expecting insightful wisdom. Still ruminating. Moreso, perhaps, since Melbourne’s latest de ja lockdown was announced a few hours ago.

On the one hand, time seems to be passing very quickly. On the other, things feel very Groundhog Day. Planning ahead or even just having one or two things in the calendar we might look forward seems almost as inordinately difficult as it was this time last year.

Sydney is relatively open; it is the only city in the world where Hamilton is currently playing. Yet organising a night or two in the city with those family members who want to see seems like it currently requires someone with more diplomatic and logistic skills than this mere mortal.

(I also hold a vague fear that it might feel like homework. The topic matter, understandably, isn’t exactly front and centre in Australian curricula).

Again, this pales into insignificance compared to the inconvenience my friends in Victoria are facing. Again, I have come to no useful conclusions. But in a time where I (ironically) feel too grumpy and out of sorts to make time for all the little routines and cycles that keep me from feeling grumpy and out of sorts, blogging has become my new morning pages.

A Shot in the Arm

Happy International Nurses’ Day to all those in that noble profession.

I have enormous respect for nurses. From the unconsciously hilarious Michelle who was my intake nurse when I was having my first baby, who was enthusiastically telling me how much she respected me for being a teacher because it was the “worst job in the world” while testing my bodily excretions; to the fabulous midwives who offered practical advice when I was a newbie Mum; to my neighbour who was also my theatre nurse when I went in for an Emergency D & C and who stuck around past her shift to hold my hand and say comforting things when she realised that what they’d pulled out was actually a tumour; to the nurses who looked after me during chemo; to the ex-student who recognised me from Uni and reintroduced herself when caring for my husband in the local ICU; through to my friends, friends’ kids and ex-students who’ve undertaken the training, I am in awe. These folks know how to show compassion while simultaneously eschewing any and all bullshit.

This morning I started my day via an online link-up to a UOW International Nurses’ Day breakfast and symposium. Our VC designate spoke, as did a program director, and both were impressive and inspiring.

And then I had to pop out of the virtual room and head over the bridge into town for a vaccination.

For me–and, based on the numbers, for many Australians–the path to vaccination has not been easy. My husband and I are both categorised as 1B in the “queue,” owing to our diabetes and other myriad conditions. He works in a high school, so he’s around lots of people completely incapable of “social distancing” every day. One kidult works in retail. None of us is working from home any longer. There’s a certain inherent risk.

Now, I will sheepishly admit that am not as gung-ho about vaccines as most well-educated people of my age and research activity. My brother had febrile convulsions after his childhood vaccinations, which made me very wary. Yes, I know it was the ’70s, and I know things have improved, and I know live viruses are rarely used anymore. But that was kind of a traumatic initiation and my personal threshold for trusting medical people is now also somewhat higher than others’ –see the bit above about cancer. That went undiagnosed for five months by a series of (male) ER doctors, until I finally got referred to a specialist who, you know, listened.

So I’ve been listening to a lot of Coronacast and reading a lot of articles shared by a GP friend and colleague, and I absolutely needed to do that in order to get to a place where I was OK with it all. I booked an appointment. And then three days before my appointment, we had that 9pm presser where the PM announced that folks under 50 shouldn’t (and in short order, in fact couldn’t) get the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which is the predominant vaccine in Australia.

The reason? A 48 year old woman with diabetes had developed blood clots and died. As a 48 year old diabetic woman, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to talk anyone around.

The over-50 husband got his first Astra jab, but I had no idea when there’d be a Pfizer jab available. People at work started to get Astra vaccines, and ask me about my (non-existent) one. It was incredibly frustrating to have worked myself into the necessary headspace, only to be told that the wait to proceed was, in practical terms, indefinite.

This week, however, the first big Pfizer-friendly clinic opened in Sydney. And so it was that I booked in to drive myself to and from Homebush, solo. From Nowra. Twice. The few people who knew of this idea thought it was a pretty bad one. And so one helped me find a slot much closer to home.

And so it was that I spent part of my morning on International Nurses’ Day getting a shot in the arm from a really lovely nurse named Tanya.

Best of all, it’s only three weeks between Pfizer shots, so I don’t have to stay primed for long. And I’ll beat my husband to fully vaccinated status. I win!

Ten Fingers, No Frostbite

One week on, and I am again sitting here cursing the cold as we again have tradies here who “need” all the doors wide open. Despite my complaints, no fingers have actually frozen and broken off in that time.

This week, it’s the tilers. Now this is massive progress and has been the cause of much jubilation in our household. You see, we stopped using the ensuite quite some time ago, because we had leaks into the wall, the floor, the bedroom carpet; and from the shower, the vanity, the drainpipes; and just to make sure we had the whole set of malfunction, the toilet had a busted seal so would randomly start –and almost immediately stop–the flushing process several hundred times a day. And night. In the end I turned the water off to it and we moved out.

So we and the builder were anticipating some massive plumbing rectification works might need to be added to his otherwise reasonable quote.

Imagine our excitement when the main cause of the issues turned out to be just a small missing bit of waterproofing at the site of the leak, no bigger than a twenty cent piece! And when the drain problem turned out to be silt and gunk that had built up – much of it, apparently, from the last time we unexpectedly had to rectify waterproofing problems in there, just after we moved in thirteen years ago. Because obviously, shoving it into a pipe that is required for drainage makes more sense than sweeping it up and binning it.

(Well, I was excited. My husband is mostly cranky at the dudes from last time. Since I can’t even remember their names, I figure that ship has well and truly sailed).

So the upshot of this is that everything is progressing faster than expected, and the tilers did the floor yesterday and are moving onto the walls today. This is about a week ahead of schedule. Which is good, because I’m just beginning to struggle with the juggle.

Our tilers are what you might call “traditional” tradies. I’ve been having flashbacks to when my dad used to bring people in to “help” on our ever-changing and ever-growing family home. Think playing the radio from the car, lots of smoko breaks, beanies and flannos. Which is fine most of the time, but sometimes challenging when you’re working from home just on the other side of the open door.

For example, I’m having no problems listen to Outkast second hand while typing this. Yesterday’s Dua Lipa while trying to take notes from an academic journal article, however, was a bit trickier. And Zoom calls with the Boss while tiles are being cut are very interesting indeed.

Subtle background noise

I am sure I can deal with it for a few more hours. I’m hopeful the tiling will be done today. The floors are dry enough for them to walk on, so it’s all systems go. And the builder says he’s not coming back until Friday to start the reinstall, which gives me an opportunity tomorrow to sneak in some painting before the fittings go in.

We have a floor! Which looks exactly like our old floor, because in addition to not actually waterproofing 100% of the floor last time, dudes miscalculated the number of tiles required, so we had another ten plus sq m in the laundry cupboard. Surprise!

These days, my idea of bliss is being able to put a painting platform right up against a wall, rather than trying to suspend myself over the top of a toilet or perch atop a vanity.

It’s the little things.