Monday, November 28, 2011

A Colourful Walk

The recent wet and cool weather suddenly turned to bright, sunny, late Spring over the weekend. I spent almost all of the day out in the sunshine with Peter yesterday, either walking in the sun or sitting outside with a cheeky lunchtime white wine with Peter and his friend Kai. Glorious.

What About Sunday To Tuesday?

What happens Sunday to Tuesday?

So I grabbed my camera this morning and decided to enjoy the continuing sunshine and walk into work. (And work off a bit of the food and drink excesses of the weekend.) I changed my usual route a little and along the way spotted some street art I hadn't seen before.

Smoko Break

Smoko break.

The curious wizards of the Bureau of Meteorology have read the entrails, cast the stones, and forecast yet more rain and cool weather later in the week. Bah. Until then I think I might make the best of it and see if I can't try a different route each morning, and see what else I can find.

Friday, November 25, 2011

5 Things About Friday, 25th November 2011: Blood Crazed Zombies of Newtown Edition

  • Technically this is about last night, not today, but I stopped to grab a take away burrito last night and I must have made a tiny cut in my lip with the foil wrapping. Ever cut your lip? They bleed like crazy! There's nothing quite like the feeling of realising people in the street are looking aghast at you, only to discover blood dripping all down your chin. Sorry residents of Newtown, rumours that the zompocalypse has begun are overstated!
  • Speaking of zombies, my sleep problems have plumbed the depths of horribleness this past week. Numerous wake-ups throughout the night have left me feeling like a zombie. I was mildly offended the other night when Peter made a comment about my low energy levels, but I have to admit that he's right. Time to go back on the super strong meds I used to take methinks. Boo! I hated those expensive, nausea inducing little tablets. Nausea, empty wallet and possible liver damage Vs low energy zombiedom. It's my Sophie's Choice.
  • Today I read in the news that we've been treated to just 45 minutes of sunshine this entire week. This is LATE SPRING. Summer is but a cooee away! There should be children and puppies gambolling in the sunshine. Hotties lying on the beaches. This should be shorts weather. But no, Sydney has been plunged back into cool days (fair play, it's not eactly COLD) and torrential rain. Whoever is responsible, fix it.
  • Maybe I have Seasonal Affective Disorder? SAD. I haz a SAD!
  • On the upside (and lest you think mention of said burrito would infer otherwise) I actually dropped a bit more weight this week. Once I got to around the -13.5kgs point a month or two ago I sort of took my eye off the ball a bit, and relaxed my attitudes to food. What was really reassuring was that I haven't gained any weight at all since then. So the past few days I've generally been a bit more disciplined, burrito breakout nothwithstanding, and as of this morning I passed the -14kgs mark. Woohoo!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Summer Nights With Vincent

It's been a few years since I deliberately planned and treated myself to a good summer read. A book made for reading in a park, or sitting in my courtyard on a warm early evening, or even for reading in bed on the too hot nights when I can't sleep and the ceiling fan just isn't cutting it. Something interesting, preferably weighty and a bit challenging, and maybe something I've promised myself to read for a while. A book with gravitas, or at least some eccentricity.

I'm not much of a beach goer, so not for me the slim, trashy, beach read. (It's an important distinction.)

I seem to gravitate towards art books and biographies as summer reads. Once, many years ago, when I was on what should have been a short work assignment in monsoonal, tropical Cairns, I ended being stuck there for 7 weeks. I was feeling lonely and frustrated, and after finding what was (at that time anyway, I'm not sure now) the inner city of Cairns's only interesting little bookshop, I consoled myself with a spending spree on summer reads. I read about the life of Gertrude Stein. Then I read her "autobiography" of her "tricky, dicky darling" Alice B. Toklas. I rubbed shoulders with Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, before finishing up with Bloomsbury's own "house of lions", Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant et al.

My memories of that time are an incongrous blend of Parisian/English/New York smart sets saying smart things in smart drawing rooms, torrential tropical rains, and hours spent lounging by the hotel pool reading during the all too infrequent breaks in the rain.

A while back I read an article about a new Vincent Van Gogh biography that was coming out based on new research, and which promised to be "the definitive" work on his life and death. Just the sort of thing for a summer read! I had recently signed up with a co-op bookshop that offers substantial discounts to members (after a small one-off membership fee), and a quick search of their website showed they had this book at $45.00, rather than the regular ticket price of $59.95.

So now I have it. Even the heft of it says summer read. It's thick. It's hardcover, which has been nicely wrapped in clear plastic by the bookstore (so as to protect from any summer evening sweaty hands or glass of rose accidents, no doubt). It has illustrations. All in all it looks just the ticket.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homemade Space(ships)

Sometimes it's hard to figure out how you end up where you are. And I don't mean that in the naval-gazing larger-scheme-of-things sense, but in a metaphor free literal sense. On the interwebs specifically. Link leads to link and suddenly you're in some unexpected side road off the great information super-highway.

I'm a bit of an architecture nerd, and being home from work today with a raw sore throat I spent some of the afternoon looking at interesting architecture that is a bit left of the mainstream. I started by reading about the fantastic re:START project in Christchurch, New Zealand. A pop up shopping precinct made from shipping containers which is reinvigorating the earthquake devastated centre of the city, but now sadly faces a lawsuit.

Shipping container architecture in a round about way (so round about that I doubt I could retrace those steps) lead to the "small home" movement. People who choose to live in tiny, often self made, homes. Including one enterprising 16 year old who is building his own tiny mobile house. And when these people talk about tiny houses, they mean tiny, to whit:

More interweb meandering from the poster of the clip above lead me to an interesting website called *faircompanies. Which is essentially an aggregator of clips, blogs and news stories with a theme of sustainable living.

Now I like my creature comforts, but on one level I would love to have the mobility to take off and explore the world. This video introduced me to Kyle and Jeannie, two nomadic artists who built their own simple little trailer and have been exploring the US since. Their trailer is quite basic, and as they put it is more like camping in a tent than being in a caravan. (They also have a charming blog and sell their handmade wares via their etsy store.)

Kyle and Jeannie are doing their travels in a much more rustic way than I think I could cope with. In spirit though they remind me a little bit of Lucie and Lachlan of The Vagabond Adventures. Sadly their blog is now no longer really being updated (as they are back in England running their business The Vagabond Van), but I loved reading about their adventures in Africa with their dog Bow Wow.

An afternoon of wandering the interwebs, that lead to nomadic adventures of a different sort.

Friday, November 04, 2011

5 Things About Friday, 4th November 2011: The Power of Tools Edition

  • I was awake and ready to leave home quite early this morning, so I walked around to a nearby cafe and bought a muffin and a cup of coffee, and lingered over them at a picnic table in an adjacent park. An excellent way to start the day, although I could have happily sat there for much more of the morning and skipped the whole 'going to work' thing entirely.
  • I used to do the big Samurai (hai, yah!!) Sudoku puzzles from the weekend papers quite regularly, so with pencil in hand I sat down on the bus to knock one over rated Easy. Easy, like hell. Maybe I've somehow lost my sudoku chops through attrition, but the thing is sitting in my bag still quietly judging me. I choose to believe they mislabelled it, actually.
  • For some reason I felt inspired to buy a paper journal today. Not the lined Dear Diary style journal (with dinky easy-to-jimmy-open lock), but one full of neat little crisp, white, A5, ready to be written/drawn/pasted upon pages. A visual diary made by both Messrs Windsor and Newton. There's been a bit of a lack of creativity in my life of late, and I'm thinking I might give keeping an art journal a go.
  • Not that I need any encouragement to loiter in a stationery store, slack jawed, ready to spend a fortune on all of the Precious Things. Thankfully what the university campus store lacks in range it makes up for in reasonable prices.
  • After work plans today include swinging by KMart to buy a cordless drill. My first power tool! (Quelle butch.) Time to fully dismantle and chuck out the old beaten up outdoor table in my courtyard, in preparation for the warmer Spring/Summer weather. (Which may or may not happen, the way things are going I'm not fully convinced. It's been a cool, wet Spring so far.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


The curious lump in my chest that has been consuming so much of my attention the past couple of weeks turns out to be a not very common, but completely benign, fatty lump. Not even a cyst. Simon, the very sweet ultrasound technician, was prompt in telling me that it certainly wasn't cancer. Then he showed me on the monitor exactly what it looked like. To be honest I could scarcely tell one grey bit from another grey bit, but once Simon said "It's not cancer" he could have been playing a rerun of "I Love Lucy" on the monitor for all I knew.

So yay. On the way home I bought a pig out dinner of some good porcini mushroom pasta, pesto, good parmesan, and a yummy bar of good dark chocolate. Tonight we live a little.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Little Treats

Due to a mix up by the medical centre my (anxiously awaited) ultrasound appointment this afternoon is now actually happening tomorrow afternoon. Only a small mix up on their part, but another day of waiting to put my mind at rest. I was initially frustrated, but then by the time I left work it was almost weirdly a bit like being let off the hook for the afternoon.

So I decided to try and not worry about it and instead enjoy the Spring sunshine by taking a stroll along King St on the way home. The stroll became a bit of bookshop window shopping, then an early bite to eat of a yummy falafel at Sabbaba, and some further strolling nibbling an achingly sweet, delicious, rose scented chunk of Turkish Delight.

Not that I won't be glad to get this damn lump checked out, but if I have to wait and indulge myself in a bit of avoidance then sunshine and little treats are the way to do it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chopping Wood And Carrying Water

Today I was walking home from breakfast with Peter when I got caught in a light spring shower. Instead of putting my head down and making a run for cover, I decided to just enjoy the combination of the mild day, the sun, and the light rain and continue my stroll. I'm glad I did because I spotted these pretty flowers growing beside the footpath and decided to stop in the rain and take a few pics.

Time to stop and smell the flowers, or at least take a photo of them.

The past few weeks have been a bit up and down. Peter's work has been very stressful for him of late, and although we are going great there are times when stress creeps into the relationship. His shift work hasn't helped either as it leaves him struggling with tiredness and a lack of routine. My own sleep has been a bit up and down as well, with my old insomnia problem rearing its unwelcome head again. So just lately we seem to both be struggling with on and off bouts of crushing tiredness. Despite that we've still had some really fun times together, and even on the hardest days a sweet little text exchange will work wonders to lift the spirits.

I also started a new position at work and received confirmation that my contract has been extended until at least 31st March next year, which was fantastic news and means that I can plan a bit for the immediate future. However, for two weeks I was essentially trying to juggle training and starting my new position, with finishing a 5 week stint relieving in another position for someone who was on leave. As understanding as both my bosses were it meant I kept having to shift mental gears (as well as locations) several times during each day and it became surprisingly tiring.

Some days I've had to just "chop wood, carry water" as Peter would say. Just knuckle down and get on with what needs to be done. That may sound unduly negative, because I've also had some great times over the past few weeks; fun nights out with Peter, a friend's spectacular birthday party that I helped organise, dinners and drinks with new friends I've made through Peter, and some quiet nights in cuddling on the sofa. So there have been definite "ups".

Worst of all though I had a bit of a health scare recently too which made me anxious for a while. I found a roughly pea sized lump under my sternum, next to the edge of my ribcage. My forebrain was telling me not to worry and that it was probably just a cyst or something, but the darker recesses of my brain were going holy effing shit. I still have to go and have an ultrasound test done next Tuesday, but my doctor examined it very carefully and pointed out all the signs that say it's a cyst rather than anything worse. So I do feel relieved now that I've seen him, but I'll be much happier after the ultrasound when I have an answer as to exactly what it is. Exhaling a little easier.

(I debated with myself about whether to write about that until I have had the test done, but I figure I should just be upfront about everything that's going on. I really am convinced now that I have seen my doctor that it's nothing serious.)

By the middle of next week I should have positive news on the health front, and from Monday I only have one (enjoyable new) job role to perform. I'm going to work hard at resolving my sleep problems as best I can, including talking to my doctor about maybe even going back on my old treatment regime. So I fully expect this little rollercoaster ride to slow down pretty soon. Until then, time to chop wood and carry water, and smell the flowers along the way.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Taking Care

This weekend marked a couple of minor events that actually represent pretty big achievements for me. One was something I'd been working towards for a while, and the other was something that I had been avoiding for even longer.

Shortly after I started losing weight I decided to ditch my blood pressure and cholesterol medications, so that by the time I got down to my goal weight I could get them both retested and find my new natural levels. I'm still a kilo and a bit from my stated goal, but I decided it as time to get it done.

So I visited my new doctor Doogie John recently (who is both very sweet and about 12 years old, or so it would appear) and had a bunch of tests done. Given my family history I had poor expectations of my cholesterol levels, and even though they were much improved they were still bad enough for me to go back on the medications.

What I was pleased about though was that my blood pressure has gone from high back into the normal range. John was very complimentary, and said that he applauded the changes I had made to be proactive about my health. Frankly it was the pat on the back that I really needed, and I left with a big smile on my face and a sigh of relief. I have terrible family history when it comes to heart disease, and it was the realisation that I needed to try and avoid a similar fate to my father and all of his siblings that was one of the main impetus to start losing weight in the first place.

Secondly, something I have been putting off for a very long time... a visit to the dentist. It might sound like a trivial thing, but it was huge for me. I had very bad experiences as a teenager (4 rear molars pulled by a less than skilled dentist), and so as an adult my relationship to dentistry has been sporadic at best. I'm phobic. So making an appointment for Saturday and actually showing up were a big deal for me.

It wasn't so bad. Best of all my new dentist was very understanding, not at all interested in public shaming, and prone to placing a reassuring hand on my shoulder. I was cleaned, polished, x-rayed, rinsed and swilled, and left with the knowledge that while I have quite a bit more work to be done in the future, I would be ok with that. Yes the cost is daunting, but having just conquered that silly fear was quite a bonus.

So two fears put to bed, and most importantly two steps towards being more proactive about my future health. Two big steps for me.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

5 Things About Wednesday, 5th October: Tumbling Edition

  • In merrie olde England one of the most feared diseases was known as The Falling Sickness. Whilst I certainly don't have that, just lately I do seem to have caught the knack for falling down. Twice in the past few days I've taken a tumble, including falling UP the stairs at work this morning after misjudging a step. I saved the iPod but bashed a few fingertips (and my pride) in the process.
  • Yes I did have a brief and appropriate earworm this morning of I'll Tumble For Ya by Culture Club.
  • What age do you have to be before the word "fall" gains a capital letter? You go from having a fall, to having a Fall. I guess it's maybe less about age and more about consequences?
  • It's only a short week this week, but I'm still celebrating hump day.
  • I'm into the second week of a 5 week job change, relieving for an admin staff member who has gone on leave overseas. It's still technically part of my department, but I'm stationed in a different part of the university, at a different desk. Here's the thing, I hate the desk and chair set-up. Especially the tilt on the chair which some days makes my back a bit groany. So do I a) change everything to suit me and incur the potential gripes of the returning owner (a known curmudgeon), or b) tough it out? Which could be the lesser of the two evils?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Power Of Words

Sorry for the short absence, amongst other things I lost my internet connection for 5 days. I can do a bit of web surfing at work, but whenever I'm home I normally have the laptop fired up while I'm watching the tv. Without it, oh em gee. Cut off! Is this what being on Survivor feels like? Without the poor hygiene, rice rations and scheming. I'd like an immunity necklace though. Tribal accessories, so hot right now. Sorry, where was I?

I spent some time over the past couple of days thinking about the power of words. Words can hurt and heal. Inspire and disempower.

Peter and I already have a whole list of cute names for each other. Yes, we are those people. A harsh word at work can make for a bad day. Recently Peter and I were walking down the street holding hands (as we usually do) when an older lady came up to us and told us we were a sweet couple, making our day with just a couple of kind words. (Mind you we've also had at least 3 occasions when Mumblers, as we've come to label them, walk past and mumble chicken shit insults at us as they pass. Here's a heads up Mumblers, enunciate.)

At this point, lets have some musical relief before passing on:

What are words worth? Indeed.

I'm also currently reading (and enjoying) Embassytown by China Miéville, a novel that places language and communication at the very centre of the story. I find Miéville one of the most incredibly creative writers working in science fiction today, and this book about Language uses language in a creative way to examine the dramatic and unexpected effects that communication can have. There is a fantastic review in The Guardian by science fiction heavy hitter Ursula K. Le Guin

(And if you have a moment, check out Miéville's tumblr too, where he posts all sorts of interesting stuff. Then spend a moment contemplating the fact that he's also the humpiest piece of sex on legs working in science fiction today.)

Every week I download podcasts and vodcasts (speaking of words, because language is an organic creature we sometimes make them up!) by the guys at Monocle Magazine. This week there was a fantastic vodcast called Class Acts about some interesting goings on in Bogotá, Columbia.

The second story on the vodcast really affected me, and it was about an organisation whose name means The Power of Words. Don José Alberto Gutierrez is a rubbish truck driver, who lives with his wife in a disadvantaged suburb of Bogotá. Over the years he would rescue books that he found in the rubbish, until he amassed a collection of over 10,000 volumes. Along the way he used rescued books to educate himself, and now the ground floor of his house has become a community library

Watch the vodcast and have a look for the website of La Fuerza de la Palabras because they explain the amazing feat this man has achieved, and his noble aims to bring literacy, culture and advancement to his (and other) communities. [Note: click the little language flag widgets on the right hand side of their web page for an English Translation.] Watch it and let your cold dead heart melt a little/lot.

Then read a good book, or say a kind word to someone.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Interim Birthday Post

I celebrated my birthday last weekend, and I had a fabulous time. Really, it was an embarrassment of riches. Amongst the gifts both physical and emotional, I also received a cracker of a head cold. Ugh. I struggled into the office on Monday, but yesterday and today I've rarely moved from the bed or the sofa. Possibly the worst cold I've had in years! And it's gorgeous and sunny outside!

I call no fair!

Anyhoo, I'm struggling to do much of anything that involves a thought process, so I'll post some pics and thoughts about the weekend sometime in the next day or so. See you then.

Friday, September 02, 2011

This Never Happens In My Office

Why does this never happen? This should happen!

An Open Letter To My Sinuses

Dear Sinus,
Wow. Is this how things are going to be between us now?

I mean, how am I supposed to fix whatever this thing is that has gone so wrong between us if you won't be honest with me about what's the problem? One minute you're all "we made out with this hot rhinovirus and now we have a cold", and next you're just being all stuffy and uncommunicative. That really blows, you know? I've apologised for that thing with the finger, and anyway that was years and years ago. I think the time is right to move on, don't you? Unclench a little, we might both feel better for it.

And I really don't see why you get so irritated by pollen, she can be really sweet. At least she doesn't stab me in the forehead with a thousand fingers of pain just because I drank a frozen lychee slushy.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Somewhat Of A Breakthrough

I've mentioned my weight loss journey more than a few times recently, and things have been progressing pretty well, but in the past few weeks I haven't lost any significant amount of weight. I've been going out for dinner, having a few nights on the beers with Peter and other friends, and although (reassuringly) I didn't gain anything I haven't really lost anything either. (Although as I mentioned the other day, I did just recently go down a trouser size.) I've been bouncing between a narrow window of around 70.2kgs and 70.6kgs on average.

69.7kgs this morning. Awwwwwrighty then!

I upped the exercise this week, walking the 40 minutes walk to home from work, and watched the diet a bit more closely, and I'm over the magic 70kgs hurdle. My goal is 68kgs, so this puts me a bit closer. I'm in the 60's! This weekend is Birthday Weekend, so I'm expecting a bit of an eatfest and not much of a loss (if any) over next week, but if I can just keep on chipping away at it then it's all good.

Swimsuit weather is just around the corner, so the less wibble the better.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Snippets

Today I'm mixing it up a little. If you've read this blog for even a little while (like, er, since last Wednesday in fact) you'll know that I love my lists of 5 Things. Love! Them! I could write you a list of 5 things I love about 5 Things. But today I'm gettin' loose. I'm throwing out the rules! No loose themes for today. And why only 5 things anyway? 5's not the boss of me. I'm too wild for those sorts of rules, man.

So today is all about the the snippet.

It's official, my work has been extended past my finish date of 9th September, and I'll now be putting food on the table, and buying reasonably priced clothing from a certain large Spanish retailer with which I am borderline obsessed, until the end of October. Yay. It means a relocation to another part of the University, where the largely male workforce wear rugged 'workwear' and lift heavy electronic things, which you know can't be all bad, right?

Next weekend is Birthday Weekend, and the best gift of all is that Peter has the entire weekend free of work commitments. You know how there are some gifts you just can't wait to unwrap?

I've gone down another trouser size, and now fit into the two pairs of Aspirational Trousers that have been quietly judging me from the darkest recess of the wardrobe. One pair has never been worn, and still had the price tag on them. (They were aspirational even when I bought them, on sale, a few years back.) See hoarders, never throw anything away.

I read a report in the paper today that said sitting at a desk all day is as bad for your health as smoking is. It raises interesting questions about the outdoor 'ciggie break'. Clearly some of my co-workers, who are never at their desks and favour the long, languid smoke-o vs the quick nip outside for a gasper, are actually just looking after their health. It's a world gone mad.

Spring is in the air. I bought fresh flowers for the house the other day. My sweet pea plants that I planted in Winter and which have been growing at a slacker's pace have suddenly started a growing spurt. Short pants. Jacket free days. Hallelujah!

[Oh crap, that's 5 isn't it?]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

5 Things About Wednesday, 24th August: Cube Farm Edition

  • The crushing disappointment of finishing your trip into the office, sitting down at your desk, and lifting the lid on your coffee... to find the normally reliable cafe (which every morning remembers both your name and your order) has given you the wrong coffee.
  • Then finding the silver lining in the form of an opportunity to suck up to the boss, who likes a free cappucino very much indeed, as it turns out.
  • I sit a glass panel and narrow walkway away from the staff break room, and fyi the tech guys in our area take the longest breaks, have the filthiest mouths, and the dullest anecdotes.
  • I work in a very multicultural office, and from about 11.30am until around 3pm it's a constant parade of delicious Thai/Chinese/Indian/Middle Eastern smells. Even the Aussie guy who regularly makes toasted cheese sandwiches in the sandwich press manages to make it smell yummers, but maybe that's just my diet talking.
  • It's working again today (hello, web surfing) but yesterday our intranet web server crashed, which meant that all the software applications I use (all of which are web based) were offline. I filed. I tidied. I looked out the window. I made lists. I washed my mug, twice. I've had marginally more productive days.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Positive Effort

In an introspective moment this morning it struck me how grateful I am for the changes that my life has gone through this year. As painful as the start of the year was, with work dramas and depression, the complete 180 degree turn around since then has been incredible. I feel healthy, happy, and most importantly I feel excited about the future. Considering that I was struggling to see any kind of positive future earlier in the year makes this feel kind of like a miracle.

And the most important thing is that I'm actually really proud of myself and that I've made this happen.

It's kind of weird to write that because bragging, tooting one's own horn (call it what you will), is something I can be kind of scathing about. But credit where credit is due, and I'm proud of the effort I've put in to move my life in a positive direction and so grateful of the fact that the effort has paid off.

One of the toughest things to get a handle on was my health. When I hit rock bottom in terms of how I was feeling physically and mentally I had hit 82.7kgs (182lbs). My blood pressure and cholesterol were high, my skin was in a constant Rosacea break out, and I was miserable about how I looked and felt. Tying my shoelaces, walking up stairs, catching an accidental sideways reflection in a store mirror, were all excercises that reflected physical and emotional shortcomings. I felt middle aged, fat and unhealthy. I wasn't huge, I don't want to overstate the situation here, but as a real shorty I had developed a pretty impressive belly and set of man boobs.

After being unemployed for about 5 weeks, feeling pretty low and about to become very broke, one morning I stuck out my chin and decided that I had to get a grip on things. I dug my heels in, dug out my old Weight Watchers points/calorie guides, went to the supermarket and bought a basket full of healthier food choices, and knuckled down for the fight. This was one thing I could control, even if the rest of my life felt like it was on the downhill slope.

In the first week I weighed myself and the numbers were good. I had achieved something positive, and I instantly felt better about myself. That for me is a really important lesson about depression too, when you feel frozen, stalled, you just have to achieve something that feels difficult. Do the dishes. Shower and get dressed. Go for a long walk. Something that you don't have the motivation to do, but is a goal that you can measure, big or small. As Peter (my beautiful new boyfriend for those of you tuning in late, but more on him later) would say, you just have to keep moving.

So, a new job arrived about this time. It's a temp contract but my team and I get along well, sometimes the work is a bit dull, but most importantly my effort is really appreciated. The stress is low, the pay is pretty good, and although it doesn't lead off into the distance as something permanent it's just fine for now. My stay has already been extended twice and I know that they want to keep me as long as they are possibly able.

The more things started to move, the better I felt. I stuck to my guns with the weight loss, and once I was in that feedback loop of effort and results it got easier and easier, to the point where as I write this I'm 70.1kgs (154lbs), and not too many kilos away from where I ultimately want to settle. Work is ticking along fine, and it now looks like my contract will be extended to the end of October. Even if that falls through, I feel confident that something else will come along.

Then one night last month a handsome young man who was tending bar started flirting with me, and after a few beers and a couple of hours of conversation over the bar I gave him my number. That was a big step for me, I'm very sociable but I don't always have a lot of confidence. I've dated plenty of guys, but I'm always surprised when somebody finds me attractive. I can be gregarious when I'm comfortable, but can also feel very shy. That night I was in a good mood, feeling pretty confident and upbeat, and Peter's natural friendliness and kindness put me at ease straight away.

We clicked immediately and praise be we continue to keep clicking. He's the most open, warm and funny person I could ever have hoped to meet, and we really get each other. It feels effortless, but even in that I can see the positive effort that we are both bringing to the table. There is effort involved in throwing caution to the wind, in making yourself open and trusting someone with all your vulnerabilities and your strengths. We both share a very similar moral compass, and in that I mean we see the world in very similar ways and have similar ethics even though our life experiences have been quite different.

So this entry is about counting my blessings, about reaffirming all that is positive in my life, and especially acknowledging that along the way I've had to make hundreds of little decisions and hundreds of little actions that have moved things along in the right direction. Chance has played a role too, but making decisions to grasp opportunities as they present themselves has been just as important. What a year it has been so far, and how excited I am to see what will happen next! And that is most definitely a 180 degree turn for the better.

It's About Time

First Blossom

The first blossom I've seen this year. And because I love the word, could this be the harbinger of Spring? After the cold, wet Winter we've had I freakin' well hope so.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lazyass Laziness

I like the word "indolence." It makes my laziness seem classy.
~Bern Williams

I'd like to pretend that I woke up at 6.30 this morning because I'm a person who gets things done, who has cleaned the kitchen and other Herculean tasks before homemade croissants and coffee for breakfast, but essentially I just moved from the bed to the couch and have been here ever since.

But I did make coffee.

And not from a jar.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Return To Form

A couple of weeks ago I remembered that I still had an unsused gift voucher for the gay bookstore The Bookshop Darlinghurst that I had received as a birthday gift last year. And given that my next birthday is not all that far away (start saving now) and these things have an expiry on them, I should probably get into action and spend that sucker. So on a Saturday trip into the once bright and shiny gay mecca Oxford St (now sadly a tarnished and half shuttered shadow of its former self) I popped into the store and spotted a hardcover edition of the eighth Tales of the City novel by Armistead Maupin "Mary Ann in Autumn".

I had been a bit ho hum about buying it when it was first released because I was really, really disappointed by the previous book in the series "Michael Tolliver Lives". Ugh, that book nearly killed the whole series for me I disliked it so much. I feel like I need to go back and reread it at some point though, just to see if the scorn I've heaped on it since is still justified. At the time it felt like the mean spirited odd one out in the series, with some of the characters I had loved so much over the decades being cast as horrible middle aged versions of themselves.

Anyhoo, after I read some reviews that basically said this new book was the addition to the Tales series that we had hoped the previous one was going to be, I was more willing to give it a shot. (Truth be told I probably would have bought it anyway, even if it was just to see if I could throw it further than I had lobbed "Michael Tolliver Lives". But I would have gone for the paperback version, for aerodynamic comparison sakes.) And it was reduced, and it was now priced at the exact same value as my voucher. Sold!

And I devoured it in a few days, like I used to with the others in the series, and I really enjoyed it. The characters that had such a harsh eye cast on them in the previous book were a little more like the characters I had come to love. Older, some a little sadder, and less joyful than their earliest incarnations but still recognisable. The characters have aged along with the publication dates of the books, but this time I think it was handled better. The titular character of Mary Ann in particular seemed to be mostly back in Maupin's good books, after the horrible version of her that made its way into the previous book. I couldn't help but feel that Maupin had betrayed her somehow then. She was always the most complex character in the books, and I think that is just better handled here. The style of changing first person narratives, and the fun elements like the crazy coincidences that tie various plot threads together are all here too, and thank heavens for that.

If I'd thrown a hardback I might really have done some damage.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Rallying Cry

Peter and I got to spend an entire weekend together this past weekend, which considering the barely intersecting work schedules that we have was a rare and precious gem of a treat. After a larger than anticipated night on Friday night where we both sank more beers than is feasible (apparently at 3am I put my foot down with a masterful "bed!", as Peter tells it), Saturday morning was understandably a bit of a slow start. A slow, headachey start.

Marriage Equality Rally

Getting out of bed involved cajoling, bargaining and a few implied threats... and that was just me to me. There was a marriage equality rally at 1pm on Saturday and it was really important for me, for us both actually, to attend and show that it was a cause that we supported. Peter and I both believe in the concept of marriage, and I know it's not important to a lot of gay people but I think just being able to have the choice available is important.

Marriage Equality Rally

The rally was well attended, and we were glad to have gone and added our participation to the cause, but hard to hear speakers meant that we decided to take off after trying to hear our fourth or fifth speaker. Not before we got filmed cuddling by a film crew that is, but I forgot to ask them who they were so I still don't know if we made it onto the evening news!

Marriage Equality Rally

After the rally we walked down to Ultimo to have a swim at the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre. Unfortunately the main lap pool was really cold, so after I pushed through three quarters of a punishingly cold lap, Peter and I headed to the highly warmed kid's pool. Even though it was only part of a lap, I could tell right from the first stroke that losing the 12.2kgs I've already lost was making a huge difference. It certainly made me want to get back into swimming in a bigger way once the weather (and water) starts to take a turn for the warmer.

Marriage Equality Rally

So after a quiet Saturday night, Peter and I spent Sunday morning at the Marrickville Organic Food Markets with my friend Judy. Veggies were bought, dumplings were eaten and coffee drunk, and Peter bought me a lovely gift of a wallhanging with a Buddhist quote on it that we then hung above my bed. Peter and Judy took to each other immediately, which I thought would be the case as they are both very special, smart and funny people.


The rest of the afternoon was spent just the two of us, having lunch, strolling through Newtown and Erskineville, and then a few beers at the latest (temporary) incarnation of my old favourite watering hole The Newtown Hotel. Or, Freaky Tiki as it is now known. On a Sunday afternoon there were just a few of us in there, some locals and some very friendly staff, and thankfully not the crowds of hipsters that the place has become (in)famous for.


Rounding off the weekend with a quiet night in, cooking dinner and watching some tv, was a perfect end to a perfect weekend. Lots of time spent just enjoying being with each other, talking, holding hands and lots and lots of laughter. Lots of laughter, and I think that's possibly the most important connection of all.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

A Walk Through Enmore

I'm having a lazy sort of day today. Sydney is being treated to an unseasonal blast of Spring/Summer weather, and I have the day to myself as my beautiful paramour Peter is home sleeping after working a late night shift last night. I decided a lazy day was on the cards because I'm going out tonight to a big leather themed dance party, and so conserving energy and some later afternoon napping were the two priorities. I had a few minor errands to run, so I grabbed the camera and went for a walk in the sun through Enmore.



Go back through this blog, or my flickr photostream and I guarantee without fail there will be annual Magnolia photos. Bigger men than me have tried, so who am I to fight the power of the Magnolia?

Crochet Garden

Crochet Garden

I thought this yarn bombed old telegraph pole was charmingly done. Not just "Let's wrap this in a piece or knitting/crochet" but a bit more thought had been put into making it pretty.


But don't stop there, because telecomms switching box thingies need some love and pretty too.

Cwtching Time

And just a couple of houses down from the yarn bombed telephone pole this little someone came over for a cwtch*.

Once the cwtching was done, I ran my errands and then strolled home through the glorious sunshine. I even got a couple of texts and a loving call from the boy, before he turned in to catch some zzzzzs before he heads to work this evening. All in all a pretty glorious afternoon.

* For some reason, despite being 50/50 Scottish and English in our house ever since I can remember my family usually always used the Welsh word cwtch in relation to the necessary and important cuddling of animals.

Postscript: Here's a sampling of past Magnolia Madness.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Date Nights

Peter and I are on very different work schedules, while I do a 35hr week 8.30-4 office job these days Peter's work has him on a variety of rotating shifts with quite a bit of evening work. Much of the time Peter's 'weekend' in Wednesday and Thursday, as it was this week. So last night we caught up with my friend David, who was in town for the evening from Newcastle, for dinner and some beers. David is likewise in the first flushes of a new romance, so much of last night was given over to all three of us talking excitedly about what the future holds.

On account of Peter's shifts he's often at home while I'm at work, so the day is peppered with lots of sweet text messages and emails backwards and forwards. One of his emails yesterday contained a link to a newspaper story about a feature length documentary movie showing in cinemas for one week only, starting tonight.

Kylie Minogue's "Aphrodite: Les Folies" concert. IN 3D.

Now not only can you love each sparkle, and each spangle, but you can practically reach out and touch the bouncing pecs on the dancing boys!

So I jumped online and bought tickets, and Peter and I have a date tonight with Ms Minogue (and a cinema full of very excited gay boys, no doubt).

Monday, August 01, 2011

5 Things About The Weekend That Was: Unclenching & Unfurling Edition

  • Spring is a whole month away yet, but the weekend was mild and glorious here in Sydney. It's only a teaser trailer, because in August we usually get a last blast of cold and wet, but it reinforced just how much I am absolutely gagging for the warmth.
  • I had to grab the camera and go for a walk in the sunshine yesterday afternoon. I admire people whose photography is all about beautiful shadows, darkness and moodiness, but I'm most inspired by light and colour.
  • When I was depressed earlier in the year I pretty much stopped taking photographs altogether, and maybe it's because I needed to be able to open myself up to seeing all the colour and the light again.
  • It's official and agreed upon, I have a boyfriend. I even changed my facebook status, which prompted one friend to comment "Wow, it IS serious."
  • On Saturday morning Peter and I were sitting at a cafe in the sunshine, drinking coffee, chatting and watching dogs play in the sun, and I was stroking his back and the thought that entered my head was "my heart is full". What a curious old year it's been. From feeling like my poor little wounded heart was a clenched fist in my chest, to feeling it slowly unclench and open up to the point where I made room for someone else. I had to do it, I worked at it, and it feels like quite the achievement.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Years and years ago I dated a really lovely man called Simon who was a research psychologist, and I remember one particular conversation we had where he explained to me all about limerence. Since then I've read that in 1977 a well meaning psychologist called Dorothy Tennov invented the term for her 1979 book "Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love". Limerence (so the story goes) is the heightened emotional state of falling in love. English has no neat little noun for falling in love, love yes, but the process no. So Dorothy created one and "limerence" was born.

I'm not a fan of the word I have to say. There's no poetry to it, or if there is it's evocative of something that starts "There was a young man from Nantucket...". It seems too small and reductive a label for something that feels so huge. So intense, beautiful, scary, affirming and incredibly human. "Limerence" isn't opera, or poetry, or art, or great literature, or even a pop song but falling in love has inspired all those things. Maybe it's hormones, and juices, and synapses, and blood, and flesh, and a genetic imperative, but at least all those things are rich and powerful.

Falling in love. Falling. Falling in love is rollercoasters, turbulence, bungee jumps into the future and the great unknown. It's a shift in terrain. The rug being pulled out from under you in the best possible way. It's laughing because you missed the last step, but didn't hurt yourself.

I've met someone beautiful, kind and sweet. Who has a wonderful generous smile and thinks I have lovely eyes. He likes dogs, kids and kindness.

And I am so friggin' limerent. Having of limerence? Whatever, I'm falling in love and it feels absolutely grand.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

5 Things About Thursday 21st July: Deluge Edition

  • It's been bucketing down with rain here for most of the past few days. Everything feels sodden and dreary, and yes that's my socks I'm talking about in particular.
  • McGuyver Moment - After some strong wind gusts on the way to work this morning a bunch of the threads holding my umbrella's cover in place parted leaving me essentially with a metal contraption and a piece of flapping fabric. 2 minutes of studious application and 1 office stapler later and it should at least hold long enough for me to get home tonight.
  • Next I might attempt cold fusion with a water bottle, 2 bulldog clips, some white-out and my mobile phone recharger.
  • So that you don't think this winter has been all dreary and without rays of sunshine, as of last night I could fit back into my old 31" Levi 501s. (With a slight bit of sucking it in, but without the need for lubrication or heavy machinery.) Hell. Yes. As of this morning I'm under 71kgs.
  • Speaking of rays of sunshine, I met the loveliest, sexiest man a week and a bit ago. (And he's probably blushing right now because he reads this blog.) It's all very new, and we haven't been able to spend a lot of time together yet because of conflicting work schedules, but we have the entire weekend coming up to spend together. And somehow I don't think we'll particularly care if the rain continues.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fashion In Motion

I love reading fashion blogs and surfing the latest looks on websites like While I was reading the blog Polka Dot I came across this post and this post about a parade of Yohji Yamamoto clothes held at the V&A in London as part of a series of fashion events called Fashion in Motion.

Yamamoto cast real life couples from the streets of London and visitors to the V&A, and what I love is that gay and lesbian couples were included.

Maybe fashion is trivial, and maybe you could say that this is a gimmick, but in a genre populated by impossibly tall, uniformly beautiful people, seeing a diversity of people represented on a catwalk (including gay people) is kind of a fabulous change.

It's also lovely to see relationships being celebrated. In a time when a number of places in the world are legalising gay marriage (although sadly not the country I live in), any forum for equal representation seems like further shoring up of gains being made.

It wasn't so long ago that seeing two women or two men who are a real life couple walking a catwalk holding hands, displaying their real life relationship, would have been shocking. To me it seems like the most normal thing in the world, and hopefully the more representations of equality that are portrayed in all sorts of areas of life (whether 'serious' or 'trivial') the more people might agree with me.

Check out Polka Dot's two posts I linked to above, as she has some lovely close-up shots of the actual parade that give you a good feel for it, and show some other looks from the parade. There is also a larger collection of photos on facebook here.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


One of the curious things about the period of depression and anger I've recently come out the other side of, is that the Buddhist Dharma (teachings) would have been a huge help through that process. While I still considered myself as a Buddhist through all of that dark period, in reality my practice and my reading of Buddhist teachings dropped away to almost nothing. I'm not sure why, maybe because not dealing felt like a failure and rigorous self analysis felt too painful. Totally not what the Dharma teaches, in fact gentleness and kindness towards yourself (as well as others) is a cornerstone of the teachings. But it is what it is, and now I feel it's time to move again.

So, I spent some downtime this afternoon revisiting the website for my old Dharma centre to get back in touch with what courses and meditation classes are coming up. I think I'll dip my toes back into the waters by volunteering at a Vipassana meditation retreat weekend with a teacher with whom I did an 8 day silent Vipassana meditation retreat way back in 2005. There are also some drop-in meditation sessions I might attend.

So thoughts of kindness were on my mind this afternoon when I hopped on the bus to head home, only to be greeted with the loveliest, friendliest "Good afternoon." from the young bus driver. In fact, he said a warm and friendly "Good afternoon." to everyone that got on the bus. Every single person. Sydney bus drivers are not well known for their friendliness, so everyone was just as surprised as I was.

But the results were dramatic. It at least put a smile on everyone's face, and many people visibly lit up. One old chap made his way to the front of the bus as he was getting off, and thanked the driver for his friendliness and his "beautiful manners". Such small gestures of warmth and kindness, with such big results. Everyone's day got a little brighter and that was an important lesson to remember.

Diet Friendly Chilli For One*

I cooked this up this evening for dinner and it was so delicious I thought I might share it. This whole dish taps out at about 5 classic old school Weight Watchers(tm) points - 3 for the mince, 1 1/2 for the beans and around a half for the couple of short oil sprays. All the vegetables are considered 'free'.

125g of extra lean beef mince
1/2 cup of canned red kidney beans (drained)
1 can of diced Italian tomatoes (not drained)
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1/2 an onion
1/4 green capsicum, diced
1 tsp preserved garlic (or 1 fresh clove)
1 tsp preserved chilli (or a small red chilli to taste)
canned jalepenos or mild peppers
1 generous tsp of sweet paprika (or to taste)
a large pinch of ground cumin
a shake of dried thyme
1 beef stock cube
olive oil spray

Spray a non-stick frypan with a quick spray of olive oil spray, and brown the mince. Remove the mince from the pan and set aside. Grate or dice finely the carrot, celery and onion (I use the food processor with the grater attachment). Spray the pan with another quick spray of oil and sautee the vegetables, garlic and chilli until the vegetables are soft. (Because I always cook for just myself, I find it hard to get through garlic and fresh chillis before they deteriorate, so I usually keep a jar each of chopped preserved garlic and chilli in the fridge.) Towards the end of the vegetables cooking I add the spices and allow them to cook off a bit to become aromatic.

Tip in the capsicum, tinned tomatoes with juice, beef mince and beans. Dissolve the stock cube in a 1/4 cup of hot water and add in also. Put a lid on the pan and cook on a low heat for about half an hour, until everything is tender and some of the liquid has reduced. Towards the end of the cooking add the sliced jalapenos or mild peppers to taste.

I think the mix of spices in this are important, you need the depth of heat and savoury flavours from the paprika and cumin. Just be wary with the cumin in particular as it's very strong. Better to add a bit extra later if it needs it, once you've tasted the dish in the final stages.


* One fairly big eater, like me.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Dating Game

I have a real live, genuine, card carrying date on Wednesday night. Drinks. Dinner. Maybe even a show (or show and tell, perhaps).

Last night I was in the mood to go out, so after the usual round of texting with friends I agreed to meet up with some of them at the bears drinks hosted by the Harbour City Bears at The Oxford. No exact plans were made, so I arrived reasonably early and was happy to chug a few drinks, see who was out and about, and watch a rather unsettling and eccentric mix of Jackass and gay muscle porn that was playing on the big screens.

Various groups of friends drifted in, and I hung out with them, moving from group to group and getting introduced to their other friends in the process. Maybe the crowd was drawing dawn the moon, but there was certainly a fun energy out and about last night. At one point I circled back to my friends John and Mark, and they were chatting to (read: flirting with) a very cute guy who was inside chatting to us, while his girlfriend was having a smoke out on the little smoking balcony. And that's where things started to get interesting.

No he wasn't exactly straight, but yes he mostly liked girls. His girlfriend was very cool with that. He liked sex with guys when he liked them as people, but no he didn't label himself as bisexual. And he was an outrageous flirt, even opening his jeans at one point to prove he wasn't wearing any underwear (long story about the buying of underwear).

Fast forward a while, and a few beverages later, and I'm standing out in the smoker's area chatting to him, his girlfriend, and some of his friends. All of whom are fun, but really quite drunk. Anyway, one of the group was a blond guy, who like me was way more sober than the rest (I later discovered he wasn't drinking at all) who as it turned out had only met them all tonight as well. Like me he had been drawn into the curious event horizon of Cute Guy and his circle. Lots of conversation later, and as Cute Guy and his girlfriend descend into a relationship crisis that proves that maybe even the most understanding of girlfriends has her limits (for both drama and alcohol I suspect), blondie and I exchanged phone numbers and headed our separate ways.

And then he sent me a text today, and we spoke on the phone, and we have a date on Wednesday night. He seemed very sweet and nice, and it will be nice to have a conversation and get to know each other without the rage and tears (yes it got to that) of the not-bisexuals swirling around us.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

5 Things: The I've Been Dieting Like A Bastard & Lost 9kgs, No Really That's Like Almost 20 lbs, Edition

  • Unpredictability. Just when you think you’re going to ace a good result bam! a small gain, and conversely sometimes a weekend of drinking and carousing with only moderate self control is rewarded with a loss. I’ve learned to be sanguine about day to day fluctuations, it’s the forward momentum that counts. And I suspect it means The Universe smiles upon drinking and carousing.
  • Suspense. (See unpredictability.) Seriously, the only way the wait for the numbers on the scale could get any more suspenseful would be if my life cut away to an ad break just before I found out if I’m going to be above the yellow line.
  • Reward. It’s what I do. Rewards can be given for a) round numbers, b) odd numbers, c) percentages (-10% of my original starting weight was rewarded with retail therapy at Zara), d) for encouragement and e) on a whim.
  • Pride. All kidding aside, I’ve stuck with it even when I was jonesing for a pizza, or any number of other squidgy high fat delights, and both the numbers and vast reduction in belly don’t lie. My all round health is better too, especially important stuff like my blood pressure. For all of the above I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.
  • Smugness. I’m trying not to be, but I have moments of smug.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


ME AT NINE, PERFORMING TO MADONNA IN SUMMER '91! from Robert Jeffrey on Vimeo.

I could (and have) watched this video over and over. Such joy and self expression!

This goes some way towards lifting the sadness I feel about Kirk Murphy and the so called sissy boy experiment. [Anderson Cooper's story on Kirk can be watched here and here.]

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Style Files

I'm going through a mini obsession with sewing and fashion blogs at the moment. Over the past few weeks I dug out the sewing machine and pieced together a quilt top for a simple throw for the couch, bought a Japanese book of coats for men, and started planning fabrics for a new coat for myself. Meanwhile (and in part while I'm waiting for my measurements to stabilise, what with the weight loss and all) reading about sewing is almost as good as doing. To whit:
  • Unsung Sewing Patterns: an archeology of home sewing. Andrea's blog documents her experiment in sewing garments from old patterns and her research into the history of home sewing. What makes her blog fascinating is her focus on the unsung more utilitarian side of things; everyday garments, children's play clothes, workwear, costumes and clothes (like nautical styled "middy" blouses) that had a context that seems obscure to us now.
  • Colette Patterns Blog. The Colette Patterns blog is attached to the commercial Colette Patterns website and is written primarily by the company founder and designer Sarai Mitnick. What I love about this blog are the fantastic how tos, the technical articles (a recent series about fabrics was very good) but especially the excellent profiles of vintage designers. These snapshots of past designers are a great intro and springboard for further research, and I love that some of the designers are influential but perhaps not that well known.
  • OutsaPop is an English language blog by Finish blogger Outi with a particular focus on luscious photography, young designers, sustainable fashion and remade and recycled clothing and accessories. Her "trashion" as she puts it. Outi is so insanely cool and stylish, has a great eye, and has even styled a pop band with her "trashion". We are not worthy.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


In the past year I've had a definite tendency to focus on the negative. I hit a very rough patch that I wrote about here at the end of January, and even prior to that things were a bit up and down for a while. Most of this negativity was turned inwards, manifesting itself in lethargy, in frustration, in a lack of confidence and depression. In hindsight the horrible events of early this year at least helped at times to take some of the focus on me, by me, off me. So to speak.

But that was anger turned outwards, which ultimately is still negativity. (And by anger I mean moments of white hot imagining of head crushing rage.) The problem with holding onto anger towards past events and people that you no longer have any contact with, is that you can run yourself round and round in circles thinking of conversations you'd like to have, verbal smackdowns you'd like to rain down on them from a righteous high horse.

So the point in mentioning this climate of negativity is that sometimes it's so easy to focus on weakness, and much harder to recognise your own strengths. But I do have strengths and one of those is determination. Once I get to a point of resolve, I can be really self disciplined. Past determinations have involved weight loss, giving up meat for a few years, giving up alcohol for a few years, sewing interminable and intricate amounts of braid/gold cord/buttons on various costumes over the years.

Reaching the point of resolve is sometimes a difficult issue, but once I'm there I'm there.

I've been losing weight. I set my mind to do it about 5 weeks ago, and I've stuck to my guns. I just dug out some of my old Weight Watchers tools and set to it. No meetings or anything, just me and the bathroom scales. So far I've lost 7kgs, a very large portion of the belly and several belt notches, and I'm really feeling positive and much healthier. As a friend of mine once said, and it's since become my mantra... it's not rocket surgery.

The WW plan essentially boils down to a) portion control, b) reduced fat and c) reduced calories - they just give specific quantities of food a point score based on the calorie and fat content. You can blow all those daily points on something from KFC or MacDonalds and be hungry for the rest of the day (not advised), or you can eat a decent amount of lean protein, small amounts of carbohydrates and reduced fat dairy, and unlimited vegetables (highly recommended).

I've been a little bit hungry at times, but not much at all, and even that is part of the process. Not that I enjoy feeling hungry, but in the grander scheme of things it's both worth meditating on the benefits of not stuffing oneself to avoid ever feeling hungry, and on the fact that much of the world lives like this without choice or relief.

I was chatting with my co-workers today about abstinence and addiction (one of the young guys is trying to give up smoking) and one of them praised my determination. I hadn't really thought about it, but it's both a symptom and a cause of a more positive mind set I've had over the past month or so. Feeling healthier, looking better, getting that feedback from the scales, and recognising that when it comes to the crunch I can achieve even long, hard processes (full of temptations) if I put my mind to it. Resolve. Determination.

Ultimately it feels like a kindness I'm paying myself, giving myself the benefits of this both physical and emotional. And on the rare night when I've craved roast chicken and hot chips, or squidgy fatty pizza, I've worked really hard to remind myself of that!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Vivid Festival is Vivid

We've had weeks of cool, rainy weather in Sydney so when yesterday turned out to be a fairly mild and sunny day it was quite the pleasant surprise. Not exactly Spring-like, but more like a mild Autumn day that Sydney normally does so well. (I figure we're owed one, given that we bypassed much of Autumn and went straight to Winter this year.)

One of the benefits of my new job is a 7 hour working day, so I finished work at 4 o'clock and the sun was still out and shining merrily. Blue sky. I decided to make the most of it and walk home from work, and burn a few calories in the process. It has rained almost every night for the past however many weeks, and given the total absence of clouds it looked like we could count on a clear night.

So while I was walking I decided it might be a nice night to grab the camera and go and check out the Vivid Festival later in the evening. I rang a friend who was sadly busy, but figured I'd go home and make some dinner and see if I felt like it afterwards. Almost a very big mistake. Friday tiredness + the lure of sofa = inertia. However, I gave myself a kick up the jacksie about 7.30pm and headed out into a pretty cool, but clear, night.

Wow. I'm so glad I did. These pics don't really do it justice, but it was amazing. The centrepieces of the Festival are the stunning 3D projection mapped animations by The Electric Canvas on Customs House, and the sails of the Opera House by SUPERBIEN.

The walk all around the foreshore of Circular Quay was also littered with light sculptures, performers and interactive artworks using light, colour and sound as their common themes.

Some of these pieces were static (like these jellyfish) but many of the pieces used movement and interactivity. Hard to capture in photos unfortunately, but in the flesh they gave everything a carnival like atmosphere.

People, especially families, were everywhere and all along the foreshore people were lined up with their cameras taking pics of the changing animations on the Opera House.

There was a bit of the usual push and shove that seems to be a feature of Sydney crowds, but it was generally a pretty fun crowd. And boy it was a crowd. It seemed like everyone decided to take advantage of the clear night also.

I shot soooo many pics. These are just a small sampling, and I've already put some more up over in this Flickr set. I'll probably add some more as I sort through them.

After a few hours I was starting to tire of the crowds, so I started to head back to the train station. I'd almost bypassed seeing the amazing Customs House light show, but I'm so glad I didn't because the projection mapped animations were stunning.

Here's a film clip of the Customs House light show, which really is the only way to do it any justice.

Such a fun night, and even home in time to see the room reveals on "60 Minute Makeover". Now that's what I call a good night.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I'm Mad About The Boy

I know it's stupid... be mad about the boy.

I'm so ashamed of it...

...but must admit...

...the sleepless nights I've had...

...about the boy.

[Don't forget, click the pic to enbiggen it.]

Monday, May 30, 2011

Winter In The Garden

As I write this the rain is thundering down outside. It has rained relentlessly all day today, and my normal view of the city from my cubicle at work wasn't. (A view, that is.) Were it not for the fact that my office is on the 9th floor there could have been gorillas in that mist for all I could tell.

Apparently we're rounding off the coldest May in 40 years in grand style.

Winter In The Courtyard - Heirloom Sweetpea

I took these photos of my sprightly new sweet pea shoots yesterday, and I'm hoping they're dealing with the beating they're getting out there. Is this what parenting feels like? The worry? The protectiveness?

Who will think of the children?

Winter In The Courtyard - Heirloom Sweetpea

I planted up two pots, one has the lovely burgundy red heirloom sweet pea Sweet Velvet and the other has a heavily scented dark crimson through to purple variety called Busbee. Both should grow to around 2m tall, so by the start of Spring I should have two tall towers of blooms.

Weather permitting.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Am Alive

I am. Not just breathing. Not just with a heart pumping blood. Alive.

I should fill in some of the blanks on my unexpected, unplanned absence. Such a long list of "uns"; unhappy, undecided, unable. Unemployed. To name just a few.

I've come out of one of the most difficult times I have ever been through. So much unhappiness and anger, that some days I sat on the sofa (unwashed, there's another one) completely stalled. No cogs turning at all. After more than a month of this I thought "I should probably get some professional help".

I didn't, as it turns out. But I am writing this all in the past tense, so it is passed. Past. And good riddance.

By the end of last year I couldn't shake off stress and anxiety, and as the new year rolled around things seemed to be conspiring to up the ante. In late January I was fired from my job. Not retrenched. Not "let go". Not having a contract non renewed. Fired.

Fired by email in fact. By a boss who was so chicken shit, so inconsiderate and so unwilling to see how that might make me feel that he couldn't even speak to me face to face. A man who I thought considered me a peer. I still to this day don't have a real handle on the actual reasons, but I have (largely) gone past the point of caring now. It took a while.

Amusingly, and astoundingly, my boss fired me by email on a Monday and because of a busy week and a midweek public holiday I didn't read my home emails all week. I kept turning up for work, sitting at my desk alongside my boss, all week and he didn't say a thing. Not until he sent me a text message on the Friday night to tell me to read my emails. Such is the measure of the man, I figure.

So I never went back. Never said my goodbyes. Never got to give him the finger he so richly deserved. (And yes he broke the rules against unfair dismissal, and no I didn't pursue the legal action I could have. At the time I just couldn't.)

I spent all of February and much of March bouncing backwards and forwards between melancholy and rage. I ate. I sat on the couch. I cried a bit a few times. And then I decided that things had to change.

And they have. After being unemployed for about 7 weeks I landed myself a great job at a university. Working less hours, and taking home around $120 a week more than in my old job. Then about 4-5 weeks ago I decided I needed to get a grip on my depression era weight gain, and be more pro-active about my high blood pressure, and I started dieting and exercising more. I've now lost just under 6kgs and the gut is well and truly in retreat.

Things are good. I feel like I'm achieving something. Participating. Contributing. Being appreciated. And importantly feeling like I'm in control, energised and excited. Losing weight is a big part of that, and both a catalyst and a symptom of the process. I'm pulling my shit together, being disciplined, and in return I'm getting feedback and reinforcement every time I jump on the scales.

While I'm carefully watching what I eat that's not to say that I don't still want to serve up a big bowl of fuck you to my old boss. But maybe one day that dish can be served up cold.