2016 was a huge year for me, filled with good and bad things in equal measure.
2016 starts off for me with a final trip to my grandmother's house in Anglesea. One last pilgrimage really, as we sell her house later this year. I stay there by myself for a bit, then Allyce comes to visit. I take her to see all of my favourite places, which ends up being more for my benefit than hers. My Aunt and Uncle come a day after Allyce leaves and we clean out the rest of grandma's things. It's bittersweet and every glass and plate I wrap up leaves me remembering time spent there together. Grandma hasn't lived there for a while (she has been residing in an aged care facility) but it really does feel like a final goodbye to her home I am most familiar with.
Liz and I take photographs together for a joint present we make for Dad's birthday. I take a couple of extra self portraits, the only ones I will take this year. Work begins again. I am working with new people and it takes me a few weeks to get used to the change and the extra workload. I feel more confident this year, like I know what I am doing. Mum, Dad and I begin to look at units and houses for them to buy. I begin to hope.
I visit Allyce and we go hiking along the Mornington Peninsula. The first term is over, it feels like a relief to be away from work. Penny has sugery on her foot and spends a miserable couple of days sleeping inside recovering. The vets don't actually find what's wrong, but I am relieved anyway.
Mum, Dad and I spend a number of days searching for properties to buy. They are in the market for an investment property and I am in the market to move out of home. We find the perfect unit and I move in later that month. Mum and I spend the first night there together. She remarks as we sit on bean bags in the living room that this place already feels like home. Impossibly, it does. Something I wasn't sure would happen. Nights by myself become easier and, piece by piece, this place becomes my own home.
Mum and I climb Mount Tassie in Wilson's Promontory. I take lots of photos but lose the sd card when I get home. Busy with work and life, I neglect photographs for the rest of the month.
Work gets even busier, I spend most of my time writing, editing and rewriting reports. Writing is one of my favourite things to do, but report writing is a whole other thing. Pretty much everything else goes out the window this month but work, which is my least favourite thing but unavoidable. I dress up as the Mad Hatter for work and spend an evening making a vest out of op shop ties.
I attend the local pet stores adoption day so I can play with the animals and walk away having filled out an application for this adorable kitten. Her name is Marlee and I am desperate to have her after she fell asleep in my arms. After days of waiting I hear back that I have been approved. I pick her up on the last day of term. She is precocious, curious and fearless. Marlee takes to her new home like a fish to water, exploring everything. Mum and I spend that first afternoon watching The Woman In Gold while Marlee sleeps in my lap. We spend the holidays getting to know each other.
I attend a writing course at the Abbotsford Convent in the city. It feels like I am heading forward more with my creative writing, after almost a year of only writing personal pieces. It is a fantastic experience and spurs me on to buy tickets to the upcoming writer's festivals across the state. I turn twenty-four, almost a quarter of a century old. I have the nicest birthday in years, spent at work. My colleagues throw a morning tea for me as I am the only one that month with a birthday. We eat cake and all of my favourites (cinnamon pinwheels, so delicious). I get a whole plate of profiteroles to take home as well. Mum and Dad send me flowers that are the cherry on top of a perfect birthday.
August is a horrible month. I spend a week running back and forward between the Alfred Hospital in the city and home. Dad wakes up one morning with a bleed in his brain and all life goes on hold for our family. He recovers, miraculously the doctors say, and slowly life returns to normal. I get to meet Rainbow Rowell at the Melbourne Writer's Festival and hear her talk about her writing. I spend a weekend with my Uncle's family in Bendigo and attend the Writer's Festival there. Getting to see my favourites (Glenda Millard, Diana Sweeney and plenty more new ones) is the one bright spark in this miserable end to winter.
September is spent writing applications. It is job reapplication time and everyone is running around stressed, including me. My hard work pays off though and I come out of this month with a permanent teaching position at my school. I get to spend the holidays relaxing and doing short day trips around the local area rather than rewriting applications. I say goodbye to my best friend Melissa, who moves all the way to Takasago, Japan, to be an Assistant Language Teacher over there. I miss her terribly. Chantelle and I go to the tulip festival in the Dandenong Ranges and geek out over flowers for hours.
My cousin gets engaged and we celebrate at a party in the city. Work resumes. It feels like nothing much happens this month. I barely get my camera out of the cupboard. My lack of motivation spurs me to book a trip to Japan for the upcoming January during the summer holidays. It is my first big trip since Europe a couple of years ago. I want to see Melissa again so I spend my nights planning.
A colleague from work asks me to come on a photography trip to Phillip Island with her and some of her friends. It is freezing and incredibly windy. We hike all over the island, crawling down hills and bracing sand storms in order to get some spectacular shots. I spend most of my time writing reports again, a dreaded twice yearly occurrence.
I put up my first Christmas decorations. My tree is covered in mementos from my trip to Europe and every time I look at it I smile. My weekends are booked up with work functions and birthday parties. I spend one memorable night at a colleagues birthday party on her farm. Another I spend watching the sun set across Bass Straight while eating dinner, then dance and talk till two in the morning. Work finishes and I immediately get stuck in to prepping for the following year. I won't have much time in January, I leave for Tokyo on the seventh of January. We all fly out to Hobart to spend Christmas with my Aunt. Mum rents a whole house for our family to stay in. It turns out that each room is almost it's own suite, with lounge rooms in bedrooms, spa baths, three dining rooms and the most amazing views across the river I have ever seen. Christmas is delightful and spent in one of the prettiest cities in Australia. Allyce and Chantelle come round for New Years Eve. I make bacon and egg pie and a tiramisu. We light sparklers and spend hours taking slow motion photos with them. When we run out we use the citronella candle. I ring in the New Year swinging on my hammock, a Christmas present from Mum and Dad. Allyce, Chantelle and I go for a wander to see if we can spot the fireworks we can hear and stumble across an abandoned supermarket trolley. We take turns riding in it along my street. I go to bed that night happy and full of gratitude for the friends and family I have.
Hi! I'm Louise. I am a writer, photographer, traveler, book fanatic and blogger. I love to post about my adventures and the little things I do that make life fun.
MARLEE'S INSTAGRAM: @marleethecat