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Saturday, 20 January 2007
I should be packing
Topic: Illustrated

I leave for a beach holiday on Monday morning.  I'm unlikely to pack tomorrow evening after Ro's birthday party, and most of tomorrow morning is likely to be taken up with grocery shopping for the trip and helping Ro get ready for her party.  But it's muggy and I'm tired, and I really don't think I should be expected to do anything more demanding than faff around online, sitting in front of the fan. 

Besides, I'm unwilling to confront the fact that I have no suitable luggage for a short-ish trip.  For an overnight, my backpack suits just fine, and I have two monster suitcases suitable for moving or extended trips, and one really good piece of luggage that has survived many a beating since my graduation from college - possibly the best graduation present I got.  It's my lucky suitcase - it has failed to arrive with me on several occasions, but has never outright disappeared.  Not that I've ever lost any of my luggage, but it feels fortunate that there's only one piece that occasionally doesn't arrive on time, yet always arrives in the end (and I'm very sad that it seems to be approaching the end of its useful life).  But that one's more of a 10-days-to-2-weeks bag.  I'm going to be gone for a week, at most.  So I have to decide whether to turn up looking ridiculous with one outrageously oversized bag, or looking ridiculously improvisational with my backpack and several small tote bags.  

I also do not feel up to making decisions about which shoes to take.  By the time I pack flip-flops for the beach and sneakers for exercise, I'm already up to 2 pairs of shoes for less than a week, and I really don't see how I'm going to get away without at least two pairs of sandals, unless I leave all my fun pairs behind, and who wants to be without fun shoes on holiday?  I'm going to be mocked if I turn up with four pairs of shoes, I just know it.  And it wouldn't be undeserved.  But I dislike being without multiple footwear options.  

Blah blah blah petty concerns of the grossly overprivileged.  If you've made it this far, you may collect your reward in the form of a picture of the Twelve Apostles, from my trip down the Great Ocean Road with my parents and our gracious chauffeur, GSBoy, last month.  Mom and I were mesmerized by the colors in the water, and its incredible clarity.  This photo doesn't quite capture the intense bottle-blue quality of the water just behind the breakers, but it comes closest of any of the pictures I took.  


12Apostles312Apostles3 Hosted on Zooomr

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Updated: Monday, 9 April 2007 2:49 PM BST
Monday, 13 November 2006
Topic: Illustrated

Sydney was lovely.  We left a gorgeous day in Melbourne, the first blue skies we'd seen for what felt like ages, and landed to gray skies and the threat of rain.  But by the time we'd settled in at the hotel and I could head out for afternoon, the worst of the clouds had cleared and it was quite a pleasant day.  

The hotel was near the Botanic Gardens, so I headed there to wander around.  The gardens are gorgeous - it's possible in some corners to forget that you're even in a city, but then you'll come round a bend and the view opens up to the skyline behind the trees, which is a striking sight:



Eventually I found my way down to the waterfront path through the gardens to a site known as Mrs MacQuarie's Chair.  All along the path, there's a stunning view of the Opera House framed by the Harbour Bridge: 



After having seen so many pictures of the Opera House, all of them better than any I've taken, I was sort of expecting that seeing it in person wouldn't really be a big deal, that media saturation would've robbed the image of its power.  But it wasn't the case at all.  The whole site has been designed for maximum impact, and the Opera House changes shape depending on the angle from which it's viewed.  It's captivating. 





It also plays hide-and-seek with you as you walk through the Botanic Gardens, cropping up behind the jacaranda trees that bloom so vividly violet-blue that they were visible from the air as we approached the city: 


Friday morning, I took the ferry out to Manly, just because the name amuses me, and because I wanted to get out on the water.   Sun on my face, wind in my hair, salt spray on my lips . . . yeah, it was gorgeous. 


I wasn't sorry to get back to Melbourne - the thesis awaits, after all - but I'm definitely looking forward to going back to Sydney at some point to explore it more thoroughly.  

8:05 AM GMT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006 8:19 AM GMT
Monday, 4 September 2006
It's been a big week
Topic: Illustrated

And it's only Monday.  Oy.

Miss C's birthday party was a blast.  Yesterday's rain broke in the late morning and stayed away until the evening, so her parents were able to execute their master plan.  See, they live in a near suburb and don't have a big yard for the kids to play in, so they were worried the cousins might get bored at a party.  So they put their concrete back yard to good use - the told everyone to wear old clothes, put out a big sheet of paper, bought some white baseball caps, and set out trays of paint.  The kids started out with paintbrushes, but quickly graduated to hands, and then to feet.  Miss C paddled in the paint happily and then tried to eat it.  It wasn't long before the paper and the concrete around it were a slick swamp of paint, perfect for barefoot skating. 

I was trying to help Chuckles step in and out of the trays, and he set his paint-covered feet squarely on my shoe, so I yielded to the inevitable and jumped in with both my own bare feet.  Oh, and there were spray bottles full of paint, too.  The kids ran wild, in a surprisingly well-behaved way, and I had lots of fun carrying on with them.  The aftermath looked like this:

aftermathaftermath Hosted on Zooomr 

I did manage to get the worst of the paint out of my shoes last night, but I suspect they're never going to be quite the same color again.  The other parents will now have the far more difficult task of convincing their own kids that a painting party is not the best birthday celebration ever.  I don't envy them that job.    

The other big news is that the Three Bears are now Four, and Little Bear will have be known as Brother Bear from now on, because he has a gorgeous little sister, born just this morning.  I went over to the hospital to visit and to give Mrs Dr a hand with Chuckles and Miss C, since Mr Dr couldn't get away from work this morning.  Brother Bear and Chuckles were gleefully wound up, running off the high from yesterday and excitement about the new baby.  Mama Bear looks good, especially considering the effort she put in early this morning, and Papa Bear, though working on about his fourth wind, is doing fine, too. 

So I'm getting off to a late start today and I'm already beat.  I'll be quite happy if the rest of the week is a quiet one!


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6:13 AM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006 6:16 AM BST
Saturday, 2 September 2006
Topic: Illustrated

We've had two days of absolutely glorious weather - blue skies and sunshine that brought out a widespread display of winter-pale limbs.  Yesterday I had lunch on the lawn at uni with some friends, and we just sort of refused to move and half-seriously talked about taking the rest of the afternoon off to drink champagne in the sun.  We mustered up some virtue from somewhere and managed to knuckle down to work until 4:30.  There was still plenty of sunshine to enjoy, and skipping out a half-hour early made us all feel just decadent enough.

Today . . . today I dusted off my red sandals and my favorite summer skirt and trotted off to do some shopping.  I had great fun pretending it was actually summer until my feet let me know that I should've taken a bit of time to break my sandals back in before trekking all over the city in them.  I found a birthday present for Miss C, who's celebrating her first birthday tomorrow.  Her mother says she loves books, and I'm more than happy to indulge her in that.  It was fun browsing the baby books and rediscovering some of my old favorites.  I wish I'd asked which of the classics Miss C already has, because 'Good Night, Moon' and 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' are both available as board books now, and should be part of every child's library.

Shopping for myself was not entirely as successful.  I found no sandals, and none of the few other items I was looking for.  I did find a straw hat, which will come in very handy, both as an accessory and a project.  I have two projects now.  Here's the 'before' picture:

The hat, as you can see, is rather boring.  It is sitting on a sleeveless black linen dress that is also boring.  The original picture showed more of the dress, but I decided that was pointless, because it's boring - and slightly mutilated.  The neckline has a keyhole that apparently tied at the top until the previous owner of the dress decided to cut the ties off, leaving ragged edges around the neck.  I tried sewing them up, but they had already frayed quite a bit.

I'm still unsure whether this is a good idea or not, but I thought the dress might be greatly improved by the addition of some visual interest.  Specifically, a trim of random buttons around the neckline, serving to both hide my lumpy repair work and add some color.  A friend directed me to Buttonmania, a little store downtown that specializes in buttons and buckles and such things, so I went there this afternoon.

I had way too much fun picking through boxes of buttons.  I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed playing in my mother's basket of sewing notions when I was a kid, but it came back to me as I was poking through mounds of buttons, looking for anything pretty, shiny, unusual.  I raked up fistfuls of buttons from a basket by the door, digging down to the bottom after the little ones, feeling the slippery slide of them through my fingers and enjoying the cool plastic clatter as they rattled away to the sides of the basket.  I eventually came away with a good-sized handful:

I'm thinking I'll sew them on ribbon or bias tape and then fix that to the neckline of the dress, so it'll be more easily undone if this notion turns out to be a badly misconceived one.  You can't tell from the picture, but the big glass button on the right has a very pretty wreath of blue and yellow flowers around the edge, and the shop owner basically threw it in for free, which was a lovely gesture.  That, and a dark green ribbon, are going to be sewn on the hat, which should complement my green dress nicely when I'm done.

However, neither of these projects will be on public display any time soon, as the weather is about to take a cold turn tomorrow.  It gave the day a bittersweet edge to know that I'd be retiring my sandals and summer clothes for awhile after this all-too-brief airing.

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12:33 PM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 10 September 2006 12:14 AM BST
Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Topic: Illustrated

I found my fish purse!  For some random reason, on my way out the door yesterday I picked up a handbag that I haven't used for months, and noticed that it was unexpectedly heavy.  From it's depths I pulled out my fish coin purse, stuffed full of change.  That made me very happy.  It was one of my favorite 'vintage' finds ever, because I dug it out of the bottom of a box of rather unattractive ladybug change purses.  Even the saleswoman was surprised to see it, because there were only a few fish in the box to start with, and she thought they'd all been sold days before.  Is it not the cutest thing?


And then today, on my way to uni I decided to stop by my favorite thrift store and have a quick look for a jacket, since I have nothing that's suitable for the in-between-y weather we're having now, where it's usually chilly in the morning and at night, but warm during the day.  This isn't perfect - it'll be much too warm to wear to wear during the day, but it isn't too bulky, and it was only five dollars.  I'm happy with that. 



The bag was not a find, it was a gift from Ro, who's just come back from a trip to Cambodia.  Isn't it gorgeous?  It's cleverly put together, too - there's a hidden pocket in both the front and the back, so it has three big sections instead of just the one you'd expect to find in a simple bag like this.  The straps tie at the top, so the length is adjustable, too.  It's miles better than the tatty shoulder bag I've been dragging around for the past year.  

If I can just extend this run of luck to finding a decent pair of sandals that don't cost a small fortune (shoes are so expensive here), I'll be all set for spring.  


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4:18 PM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 2 September 2006 11:41 PM BST
Saturday, 26 November 2005
And so it begins
Topic: Illustrated
I look forward to my evening walks becoming more entertaining as these spring up around the neighborhood like electrified holiday mushrooms:

Nothing says "Christmas" like a house that generates more light than the streetlamps.

1:51 PM GMT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 9 April 2007 3:10 PM BST
Friday, 26 August 2005
Mi casa
Topic: Illustrated
I've never entirely understood why people ask to see pictures of my flat. I'm no "show home"-style decorator under the best of circumstances, and my current living situation is hardly that. I left most of my favorite stuff in the States because I wanted to minimize the risk of breaking or losing it. Furthermore, the underlying design of my apartment is the very definition of "dull", unlike my charming little place in Baltimore, which I still miss. But as I've had several polite requests, and I've come up with no better photos this week, and those who are familiar with my "housekeeping" could probably do with the reassurance that I'm not sleeping on a bare mattress on the floor surrounded by piles of dirty plates and unwashed laundry, please feel free to click on the image below for few snaps of my (very very very) humble abode.

2:34 PM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005 1:03 PM BST
Friday, 29 July 2005
When bathroom grafitti meets a culture of attribution
Topic: Illustrated
Just a bit of the reading material scattered across the loo walls on campus.

The first week of classes is over, and it went pretty well. Tuesdays are going to be a bit rough because I start at 9:00 and don't finish until 7:15, but both of that day's classes (Gender & Colonialism and Social Impact Assessment) seem like they're going to be good. Then I've got evening classes on Wednesday (Gender, Globalization and Development) and Thursday (International Feminist Political Thought) as well. So it felt like a pretty long week by the time I finished on Thursday. But its good to have a reason to get out of bed and out of my flat on a regular basis. I was actually getting bored with being lazy. Who knew that was possible?

5:01 AM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 30 July 2005 3:46 PM BST
Friday, 22 July 2005
Two birds, one stone
Topic: Illustrated
I recently found out about Friday catblogging, an odd little blog tradition in which blog authors devote one post on Fridays to a picture of and a short story or reflection about their cat. Bizarre. I wanna join the club! However, I have no fuzzy things living in my flat, unless something in the refrigerator has gone off. But as I have no desire launch Friday mouldblogging - if only so that Mom doesn't worry any more than she already does about my housekeeping, my eating habits, and the general state of my health - I won't go there.

I also realized that I've been spending more time writing about news and stuff I've found on the web than I have life in Melbourne, which is presumably what you, my devoted audience, are most interested in. So I thought I should incorporate that, and photos, into a regular Friday feature. I have no idea what to call it, because presumably as the semester progresses, it's going to difficult to sustain something that requires me to leave the flat to take a picture of something, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if you're subjected to at least one semi-coherent synopsis of whatever particularly bewildering bit of theory I'm wrestling with at the moment, accompanied by a photo of the stack of books on the topic that I've checked out of the library but not yet opened. Looking forward to that, aren't you?

But the semester doesn't start until next week, so this Friday you get Brunswick graffitiblogging:

Seeing this picture was one of the things that persuaded me to take my flat. The day that I saw my flat, I had already walked past three buildings with locations I didn't like, and had been in two other flats that were just appalling. I had begun to think that I wasn't going to find anything suitable that I could afford. But that afternoon, as I walked up Sydney Road, which is populated with shops ranging from thrift stores to high-end boutiques, and restaurants that run from fast food/take-away on up to reasonably swank places, with a strong emphasis on foods from the Greek/Turkish/Middle Eastern family, I began to have a hopeful feeling about the place I was on my way to see. I turned onto my street, and immediately fell in love with this bit of graffiti.

Just a few minutes later, I was being shown around my flat, in as much as there's any 'around' to be shown in a wee little studio that's smaller than the front room of my apartment in Baltimore. Although, to be fair, that front room was huge, so this place only suffers by comparison. It's plenty of room for me. Most importantly, it was clean and bright, and housed in a very well-maintained building with the most immaculate shared laundry I've ever seen. Fresh from my visits to a flat that reeked of mildew and the grungy 'villa' unit with neighbors who had insanely kitschy taste in porch decorations, I jumped at the chance to take this flat.

Part of the appeal of this graffiti is the ambiguity of the message. Another part is the reminder to slow down. My neighborhood is wonderful to stroll through in the summertime. Most of the homes have lovely little front gardens. Roses are very popular, as are fruit trees - lemon, orange, peach, and an odd-looking one that I think may be persimmon. Walking down my street as summer turned to fall, I saw for the first time how beautiful olives are as they ripen. The first sign is a soft purple blush at the bottom of the fruit, which gradually deepens and spreads toward the stem. Half-ripened olives look like they're slowly soaking up color. Its nice to have a reminder, as I walk away from the tram stop, that its good to take my time walking home to look for little things like ripening olives.

6:10 AM BST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 22 July 2005 7:50 AM BST

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