Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something to look forward to

I found out today I'm going to get a WHOLE MONTH off work over Christmas/New Year this year. Yayeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Four glorious weeks of summer time rest and relaxation.

I had already arranged to have a three-week break at Christmas instead of my usual two weeks, beginning mid-December and ending when the office opens again on January 5. I was pretty happy about that and looking forward to it.
But today my bosses decided to close the office for an extra week, until January 12. The business manager asked me if I would have a problem with it and I laughed and said, "Are you serious?!" A problem with an extra week off? No way, baby!

I haven't had such an extended Christmas break since I worked in publishing more than six years ago when everything went into a six-week hiatus over the festive period. I'm so excited about it. I'll be up at my mum's in beautiful coastal Port Macquarie for about 12 days and I'm starting to think about what else I can do to make the most of the free time.

Someone once said the key to happiness is to have something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to. When I'm feeling a little glum I like to think about the good things that are up ahead in my life (as well as being grateful for what I already have). A month-long summer holiday will ensure a smile is never far from my face.

What are you looking forward to?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Culinary achievements and soccer dog

I had home made chicken rice paper rolls for lunch today - home made by me. I even whipped up the dipping sauce. It was all tasty and I was very pleased with myself.

I was particularly pleased with myself because I am in the midst of an allergy elimination diet which mainly restricts me to eating bland food, so to make something that I would eat even if I didn't have to is a joy.

I will be eating them every day for months now!

Bend it like Fido

I saw a dog playing soccer with his owners in the park tonight. They kicked the ball, he chased after it, stopped it with his body and then dribbled it back to them using his nose. He has quite a star performer and put a smile on the faces of everyone walking past.

What's your proudest culinary achievement?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Football, daisy chains and fireworks

I had such a gleeful day today, from start to finish. My little inner spring of contentment is burbling away.

I woke up feeling good from a dream in which I reconnected with the boy I dated briefly at the end of high school. It was just so lovely to spend time with him again and I was pleased he'd left the religious sect he belonged to back then (really!) and we could be together again. Strangely, I didn't feel let down when I realized it was only a dream - just a little warm and fuzzy inside.

I woke up to an absolutely glorious spring day - blue skies and sunshine and a forecast top of 28 degrees C, which is unusually warm for this time of year. I wore one of my new Red Bubble T-shirts with my arms bare all day.

And today wasn't just any day - it was the biggest day on Melbourne's sporting calendar - the Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final. When I went up the street this morning, it was teeming with football fans of all ages wearing their team's colours, many of the kids with painted faces. A chopper was hovering high overhead. A tabby cat wandered among the brunching football crowd on the footpath looking very unamused by it all. The atmosphere was amazing. Even I was feeling a little nervous excitement and I don't follow either of the teams that played.

Eight hours hours later the game was over, and the underdog scored a victory over the reigning premiers, which had only suffered one loss all season. I wanted the underdog to get up - I have friends who follow them and I'm happy they are so happy (although both of my bosses support the losing team....).

I wandered down some new, unexplored streets again today when I was out and about, including The Vaucluse, which is an exclusive enclave of the suburb of Richmond. It has beautiful old houses with shady trees and gardens full of flowers that scented the warm air. In other streets lined with squat terrace houses, you can almost smell the history, it's like a vapour. I love it.

On the way home I saw some daisies in the park, the same kind that I used to make daisy chains out of when I was a kid growing up on a farm, sitting in a paddock in the sun with the girls from next door.

And then tonight, as I was sitting on my couch setting up a profile on StumbleUpon, fireworks exploded, perfectly framed against the night sky through my loungeroom window (below). They were just across the river in the park and so loud it sounded like bombs were exploding around me. It's like living in a weekend war zone here in the warmer months, and although they give me a fright sometimes, I love the fireworks and the fact I don't have to leave my house to enjoy them. I just turn my head! Yet another reason to relish living in this flat.


Have a gleeful weekend everyone!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Favourites - smells

FIVE SMELLS I LOVE (in no particular order)

  1. Fresh lemons

  2. Vanilla

  3. Fresh baked bread

  4. Clean clothes straight out of the clothes dryer

  5. Oriental lilies.


What are your favourite smells?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The letter of glee

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I found out tonight that my apartment building is going to be auctioned next month. I know that doesn't sound like good news, but it is!

You see, the building was sold to developers last year and they were granted planning approval to redevelop the site in June. I was expecting to be turfed out on the street before the end of this year.

But no! They are offloading the property, which means there is a possibility I will get to stay here indefinitely. I have all my digits crossed. It's uncomfortable not knowing for certain what will happen, but it's such a relief to know that maybe, just maybe, I could get to stay.

This is the best place that I have ever lived - and quite possibly will ever live. It's my haven, my own little nest, with awesome views of the city skyline and the sun rising over the hills. It has free central heating and is always warm and cosy. It is full of light and I love to lie on the couch in the sun and read the weekend papers. I'm next door to the river and the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens (above). I'm walking distance to the city, to Melbourne's major sports and entertainment venues, to great shops and bars and restaurants.

Living here contributes immensely to my happiness. But you know what? Finding out I might have to move out has made me appreciate living here even more. When you start to take something for granted, you don't get the same amount of pleasure from it. Knowing something could be taken from you soon makes you want to revel in it while you can.

I plan to keep revelling.

21 degrees in Melbourne tonight

I correctly guessed the temperature on the Nylex clock (below) tonight. I always have a guess at what the temperature is before the clock comes into view around the bend of the river as I walk home. I get a silly little buzz out of it when I get it right. Tonight is the first time I've got it right for a while.

I also like it when the temperature is 11 degrees, because it matches the lyrics of Leaps and Bounds by renowned Aussie singer/songwriter Paul Kelly -

I'm high on the hill,
Looking over the bridge
To the MCG.
And way up on high,
The clock on the silo
Says eleven degrees.

What things give you a silly little buzz?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Warm woollen mittens, thunder and frockage

The cold weather hasn't relinquished its hold on Melbourne just yet, but it's OK. It means I get a little more wear out of the purple mittens my mum knitted for me a few years back. They're quite impractical, but I think of her when I wear them. (She lives interstate, I only see her once or twice a year).


The city was dark and gloomy beneath menacing storm clouds (cumulonimbus clouds!) when I left work tonight. I love that palpable sense of expectation that precedes a thunderstorm - well, actually, I love the storms too (bearing in mind that big storms are few and far between here and don't usually cause much damage). I can hear a few distant burbles of thunder as I type, but no storm so far.

Guilty pleasures
  1. Watching Australian Idol, although mostly I forget it's on.

  2. Checking out the frockery at awards ceremonies, like the Emmy's and tonight's Brownlow Medal (the best and fairest award in the Australian Football League) and...OK, I admit that I get more of a kick out of scoffing at the shock frocks (that's why Go Fug Yourself is one of my fave blogs!)

Got any garments with sentimental value? Do you have good storms where you live? Anyone willing to reveal their guilty pleasures?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The street less travelled

I'm generally a creature of routine, but every now and then I like to shake things up, even if it's only in a small way.

I walk to most places I go in my day-to-day life, but I tend to follow the same routes each time. Occasionally though, I like to take a different path to explore laneways and streets I've never been down before. Just for something different, and I'm often rewarded.

Yesterday, on my way to do my grocery shopping, I took a different street and found the Cottage that Time Forgot (above and below). I was captivated. It's in one of Melbourne's oldest suburbs, which still retains many of its old buildings, tiny terrace houses and grand houses, but most have been renovated and modernised. This one is a little time capsule, a relic in a bustling, inner-city suburb of a modern and rapidly growing city of nearly 4 million people.

It's also unusual because it's a detached timber dwelling - not a common sight in the area. I love the lichen-covered tiles on the roof and the way it's partially hidden by shrubbery, which adds an air of mystery.

I half-expected a grey-haired, wizened woman to come out and screech at me as I was taking photos!

Are you a creature of routine? Do you like to shake things up sometimes? Have you discovered anything captivating on a path less travelled?

Friday, September 19, 2008

The fairytale building...and how to get rich

Melbourne, where I live, has a lot of beautiful old buildings. I have a few favourites, but the one above is my number one at the moment and it's just down the road from my work.

It was completed in 1890 to house Australia's first safe deposit facility, operated by the Melbourne Safe Deposits Co Ltd. It's now an ANZ Bank office. The original vaults in the basement are still largely intact.

It's an example of the Free Gothic style that was popular during Queen Victoria's reign, and it's notable for its off-centre gable and dormer windows (Can you tell I got that from a book on Melbourne's historic buildings?). I love it because it looks like it's from the pages of a fairytale...if there were ever a fairytale set in a city office building. The facade is just so richly and amazingly detailed.

How to get rich

I went to the hairdresser tonight. I reckon if you could bottle and sell that "Wow, I just left the salon and I feel like a new woman!"* feeling, you would get rich.

* I'm assuming it's mostly women who get the "brand new" feeling, but I could be wrong.

Anyone got a favourite building? What feeling would you like to bottle?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The rising and setting of the sun...and tintinnabulation

I saw the sun rising while I was tucked up in my bed this morning. I've only recently become an early riser so seeing the sun rise is still a novelty for me. An awesomely serene novelty.

I live on the top floor of my three-storey building and am lucky to have an unobstructed view to the hills on the horizon from my bedroom window. At this time of year, I can see Mother Nature's morning show without even getting out of bed (although I admit I don't see it as often now that it happens earlier than it did in winter!).

I left my blind up when I went to bed last night and woke up to a strip of orange along the horizon and then golden light flooding into my room. Seeing the dawn of a new day always makes me feel insignificant - a "speck of dust inside a giant's eye" - but also exhilarated.

The sunset tonight was beautiful too. There was heavy cloud cover when I left work, but as the sun sank below the cloud line, it lit up the western sky pinky-orange, which reflected onto the river as I walked beside it on my way home. I kept twisting back to look at it. (I took some photos, but they don't do it justice. Those are the best ones above and below.)

Word of the day

Dictionary.com's word of the day is tintinnabulation...a tinkling sound, as of bells. I love it when I'm looking up a word in the dictionary and inadvertently stumble across a funny or cool word, but sadly it doesn't happen much now that I mostly use online dictionaries. Word of the Day helps though.

Are you an early riser? How often do you see the sun rise? Do you still use a proper dictionary? Have you stumbled across any funny or cool words while looking up something else?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hot baths and love

I eased my gym-weary muscles into a nice, hot bath tonight. Aaaaaah. In fact, I always say "Aaaaah" out loud as I sink into the water.

I know it's not good for the skin, but I like my baths really hot, to the point where I think maybe I should step out and top it up with some cold water. But I rarely do.

Getting into the hot bath made me think of something Aussie comedian/writer/musician Josh Earl said recently when asked "What does love feel like?" -

"That second before you get into a bath and it's just a fraction too hot and you contemplate getting out and letting it cool a bit but then you just continue with it and after a minute you realise it was perfect all along and you just had to get used to it."

I like that.

Anyway, now I'm all clean and freshly scrubbed, brushed and moisturised; I've got my comfiest pink stripey pyjamas on and I'm off to bed for an early night. The only thing missing is crisp, clean sheets, tightly tucked in with neat hospital corners. Oh, and someone to cuddle up to, but I won't let the perfect be the enemy of the good (thank you Voltaire and The Happiness Project).


Monday, September 15, 2008

Triumphing over laziness...and magic trousers

I had a debate in my head all afternoon over going to the gym (a debate I have before nearly every gym visit). Today I was tired and I didn't feel like going, but I decided to suck it up and just go.

...Oh, but I'm too tired. I won't go today. Nup. I'll go tomorrow. All righty. That's sorted.

And then when 5.30 rolled around I turned off my computer and went to the gym! I did a full work out, got sweaty and then walked home feeling pleased with myself for getting the better of my laziness.

Magic trousers

I wore a new pair of black trousers to work today. It's like they were cut especially for me, they fit so well. And comfy! It's funny how a flattering, well fitting garment can give you a little boost.

I think they will be my new Monday Trousers. I like to wear my favourite trousers on Mondays, as if it will ease the Mondayitis somehow.

What do you have ongoing debates in your head over? Why doesn't the feeling of triumph when you do the right thing put an end to the debate for good? What clothes give you a boost?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another happy coincidence

Another serendipitous discovery has brought me joy today. Happy little coincidences seem to be happening to me more often since I launched Gleeful, which is a tiny bit spooky, but pleasing.

Last week I vowed to avoid shopping at the two supermarket chains that dominate Australia's fresh produce and grocery sector, after a report on TV exposed their less than exemplary business practices.

But it has turned out to be more difficult than I expected, particularly as I'm not made of money, I have numerous dietary restrictions, I don't own a car and I want to buy local, eco-friendly products.

I wrote a post about my frustration on my Myspace blog last night after walking away almost empty handed from my local fresh food market and Aldi store yesterday. Then today I saw an ad in the paper for an online organic store that home delivers. Initial investigations suggest it's quite reasonably priced.

This could solve my problem with the click of a mouse! Yay!


I saw a man at at the traffic lights today wearing a kilt with thongs (or 'flip-flops' for my American readers. What you call a 'thong' we Aussies call a G-string. No, I don't know why.)

What's with the happy coincidences? Is it just lucky randomness? Is the universe looking after me?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

There's something in the air tonight

The air is abuzz in my neighbourhood tonight. One of the things I love about my inner city abode is that it's walking distance to Melbourne's sports and entertainment precinct. When there are major events happening, I'm right in the thick of it.

There's a crowd of about 75,000 people at the MCG stadium for a football semi-final as I write and with each goal, I can hear the roar through my open window. There's also a Judas Priest concert at another nearby stadium, but I won't mind so much if I can't hear that!

The warm, windy day has given way to a beautifully still, mild night. I walked up the street at sunset to pick up take-away for dinner and the streets were thronged with people in team colours, having pre-game dinner and drinks. Beer gardens were packed and buzzing. Music fans were also lined up outside a local live music venue for a gig there.

I sat on the bank of the river and ate my satay beef noodles, enjoying the feel of my bare feet on the cool grass and the reflection of the city lights on the dark water.

What do you love about where you live?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Miss Independent

I went to a movie on my own tonight. I know, it doesn't sound like something to be happy about, but I do feel pleased with myself for getting over my fear of looking like a friendless freak.

I couldn't rustle up anyone else who was available or interested in seeing a Jim Henson screening at ACMI with me, so decided I'd go anyway.

I picked a seat about half way along the second row from the back, but I admit I was relieved when a couple sat right next to me, without leaving the usual one-seat buffer, so I didn't look like a tiny lone girl island in the sea of couples. The guy even spoke to me, which was nice. And then I spotted other people who were alone and I felt fine.

Go me. I'm so independent.


I know the weather is generally a banal topic, but it's hard not to get excited about warmer weather after a long, chilly winter (chilly by Melbourne standards!). It reached 23 degrees (celsius) today, which is close to double some of our recent maximum temperatures. And it's going to be 25 tomorrow! Ahhhh, spring!

La la la

I walked through the park on my way home tonight. It was deserted but well lit by the big lights from the nearby sports stadium, so I walked along and sang out loud to the music on my iPod. (Still listening to the Juno soundtrack).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cheesy tunes, dogs and hot choccy

I met my friend Luke at the bustling Shanghai Dumpling House in Chinatown last night. They always play cheesy music there, which I find perversely enjoyable. Anywhere else, I'd be groaning and rolling my eyes. Last time I went, they played My Heart Will Go On, Rhinestone Cowboy and Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home. The only song I remember from last night is Happy Birthday, played at ear splitting volume just as Luke stepped through the front door as if they had been waiting for his arrival. No, it wasn't his birthday. I assume someone there was having a birthday, but it wouldn't surprise me if they played it just because.

I find much of the dining experience at the Shanghai Dumpling House perversely enjoyable. You're crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with total strangers, you eat off plastic plates and drink your wine out of plastic picnic cups with handles and the staff bark at you like drill sergeants, "Fried pork dumplings!!".

Two dogs

I saw that guy from my street out walking again this morning, only this time he had two dogs with him. You know how last time the dog ran along in front of his owner with a really long stick sideways in his mouth? This time, both dogs ran along side by side, jaws clamped on the same long stick.


I had an awesome hot chocolate at the European Cafe after work tonight.

What do you find perversely enjoyable?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Serendipity, ducks and dumplings

I often seem to discover things by chance, which is perhaps even more exciting than finding something that you have been searching for.

Today I found a song. I recently watched Juno on DVD and fell in love with the soundtrack, particularly the quirky, folksy ditties of Kimya Dawson. I've been listening to it constantly on my iPod for about two weeks.

Curious about the rest of her work, I looked her up on MySpace and ba-bing! She sings a song about being a speck of dust inside a giant's eye, which I'd heard on the radio ages ago but missed the title and artist. Attempts to track it down via Google were also fruitless.

But now I know! And I found out totally by accident! It's called I like Giants. It's simple but profound.

Ducks and dumplings

I saw a pair of ducks on the river this morning, swimming single file and bobbing their heads as if they were dancing to music I couldn't hear.

Tonight I'm having dumplings with a friend I haven't seen in ages.

Have you recently discovered something wonderful by chance? Is stumbling across something unexpected more exciting than finding what you were looking for? What's on high rotation on your MP3/CD player?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A day off, finding a book haven and counting my blessings

I had the day off work today which always lifts the spirits. Not that my job as a legal secretary in the city is joy-crushing, but I do enjoy having a week-day micro-break. It's great being out and about in the world when everyone else is at work and everything's open, instead of getting a quick, rushed bite on my lunch break.

Books again

I checked out the almost 168-year-old Athenaeum Library in the city for the first time today. Although it has modernised, it retains a cosy old world atmosphere with lots of dark timber bookshelves, an old telephone and a copper sign announcing subscriptions cost "one guinea per annum" (it's a private library). The library also provides free coffee and tea making facilities, which I think is very charming. I'm going to join (even though subscriptions are $65 now). I want to be part of the little book haven in the heart of the city.

Count yer blessings

I discovered a great happiness quote in my wanderings about the blogosphere today.

"Just think how happy you would be if you lost everything you have right now, and then got it back again." ~ Frances Rodman

I read it on Jungle of Life, a blog I have just found. The quote is very similar to another I like by Marcus Aurelius (the Roman emperor), which I read in the wonderful book Enough by John Naish.

"Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess and thankfully remember how you would crave them if they were not yours."

Two nice reminders to "count your blessings", as the fusty (but wise) admonition goes.

And finally...

To my surprise, my private health insurance sprang for more than half of the cost of my two new pairs of glasses. Nice!

Do you belong to a library? Got any favourite happiness quotes to share? Or favourite quotes about anything really!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The glee of book finishing and parcels in the mail

Isn't it a relief when you finally turn the last page on a book you have struggled all the way through? I stayed up late last night just to knock over a book I had laboured over for about a month.

I feel like I've accomplished something (albeit a small something) by sticking at it, although I can't say the book has particularly enriched my life (apart from introducing me to the word "spaving"), so in a way I've just been wasting time. But I do feel lighter and happier for getting it off my bedside table and off my mind and making room for a new, hopefully more enjoyable book from the pile on my coffee table. Hmmm...which will it be...

Many wouldn't bother slogging on through a book they're not enjoying, but I'm a book finisher by nature. There's only one book I've started but failed to finish and it sits on my bedside table taunting me with its unfinishedness. One taunty book in my life is enough. Perhaps it wouldn't bother me as much if the book hadn't been highly recommended by a friend? Or if I'd borrowed it from the library instead of buying it? Maybe not finishing it needles me because I'm the type who gets a buzz from crossing jobs off my 'to do' list - and that damn book is a job that will never be finished.

Bubble girl

I was gripped by glee today because the two T-shirts I ordered online about a month ago finally arrived in the mail. Yay! I don't get much in the mail these days besides bills so the arrival of something eagerly anticipated is a delight.

There are many levels of glee here, however. I ordered the T-shirts from a site called RedBubble, a virtual artist community/art gallery I stumbled across one day by chance. It's an absolutely fantabulously awesome site packed to the gills with cartoons, drawings, paintings, photography and digital art created by thousands of artists. You can buy the designs on T-shirts and as greeting cards and wall art. You can comment on the works and buy stuff (at pretty reasonable prices) and you can join up and sell your own art too. I've spent hours just browsing through it all.

I love the idea that I am helping unknown or emerging artists and designers to make money from their passion. I also get a kick out of knowing I am one of only a handful of people - possibly the only person - in a city of 4 million people who owns that T-shirt.

Here's what I got -

Dgz gorgeous by DellaGunz
(on a black T-shirt)

Party Time by Jess White
(on a dark pink T-shirt)

Check out www.redbubble.com. You won't be disappointed! And you'll have a parcel in the mail to look forward to.

And finally...here's one of my new pairs of specs, as modelled by my rubber band ball.

Are you a book finisher? Have you got anything cool in the mail recently? Anyone else have a rubber band ball? Did you have a look at RedBubble? Whaddya reckon?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

More Muppets...and wuv, tru wuv*

I laughed so hard today that I cried a little bit. I went to see Muppet History 101, a series of clips of Jim Henson's early work, one of which was the first appearance of those pink and orange tubal creatures dancing to the jaunty Java tune. It's ridiculously hilarious (like most Muppet skits really!) and I laughed and laughed til I was wiping away tears. I remembered a later version of the skit from The Muppet Show when I was a kid so it had nostalgia value too.

Here is the modern version.

I love it - especially the way the big Java (as they came to be known) takes it so seriously. But it doesn't tickle my funny bone quite as much as the original black and white version where the big Java dances a little more manically (it's rare footage - not lying about on YouTube).

Muppets and sex v2.0

If you thought I couldn't work Muppets and sex into another post, think again! My favourite Muppet is Grover. He's nerdy, kind and well mannered...similar traits to those I look for in a man now that I think of it. Hmmmmm. Anyway, I have a plush Grover who sits on my bed and the last thing I do when I make my bed is to plop Grover down against the pillows.

Sometimes, to my never-ending amusement, he lands in quite a saucy pose. He reclines against the pillow with his legs parted and his arms out in a gesture of invitation. I imagine he's saying, "Oh, hello there ladeeeeeeeez. Come on. Come and get some furry blue monster loving. I know you want me." (It helps if you read that in Grover's voice in your head).

Here he is....

Love and sex

I don't normally read the letters to the editor in the Sunday newspaper magazines, but today I'm glad I did. This is what a woman from New South Wales wrote -

"Sex is awesome when you're young but real love is so much more than that ("Sex and the Suburbs", August 17). My partner of 28 years and I were washing up at the end of a long day. Nat King Cole came on the radio, singing "When I fall in love, it will be forever", and we danced closely around the kitchen with our aprons on. My head was on his shoulder. He is in his late 70s and we don't know how much longer we will have together but we prize every minute and go to sleep holding hands. Real love is a beautiful and tenuous thing - and unexpected. Hold onto it with both hands wherever and from whomever it comes."

We hear so much about marriage breakdown these days and not enough real-life love stories like this one, I think.

My fave word family welcomes two new additions

Puppet. It's just a funny, cutesy word. I heard it a lot today during Muppet History 101.

Cumulonimbus (the fluffy cloud - see comments on Hatches, cool clouds and spaving). I love the way it rolls off the tongue. Sadly, it's not a word you can slip into everyday conversation (unless you're a meteorologist, I guess).

* I'm quoting from The Princess Bride there just in case you thought it was sickening schnookum-wookums talk.

What are your fond memories of The Muppet Show? Who's your favourite Muppet and why? Am I the only 30-something with a stuffed toy on her bed? Got any tru wuv stories to share (yours or others')?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The joy of specs...and sun kisses

I'm not sure this qualifies as a 'simple pleasure' since it involved spending a few hundred dollars, but it's given me a boost, so what the hell! I got some new glasses today (spectacles, not drinking receptacles). It's like having a micro-makeover.

After more than five years of wearing the same fairly conservative burgundy metallic framed glasses, I decided it was time for something new. The old ones haven't dated and I still like them, but at the start of the year I had my long, wavy hair chopped into a short, spiky crop and I thought it was time I had some funkier specs to go with my new 'do.

And now I have two new pairs! They were two for $250, so I thought, why not? (That's more than $100 less than I paid for my last pair of lenses alone...but I guess it's still
spaving!). Now I'll get to choose which pair to wear every day. I've got a spectacle wardrobe! I can colour co-ordinate with my outfit. They're accessories now, not just a necessity. (I'm tragically colour co-ordinated - sometimes I even match my underwear to my outerwear).

I should take a photo of me wearing them but I'm feeling lazy so I'll just tell you what they're like for now. They're both metallic and rectangular, one with a simple black frame and red plastic arms. The other is rimless along the top, with a gunmetal grey and blue frame and arms.


Clouds might make the world more photogenic, but you can't beat being out and about on a glorious spring day like today. I think it's the first day since the end of summer that the sun has kissed my bare forearms. Mmmmm...warm. It's great to leave the heavy winter jacket and gloves at home.

Jasmine is blooming everywhere and its heady perfume permeates the air like no other flower's. It seems like I can smell it wherever I go, even when I can't see it. It smells divine.


I got asked for directions today when I was walking home from picking up my new glasses. I like being asked for directions, although I don't think I covered myself with glory today. The couple were not native English speakers. I had a little trouble understanding them and I'm not sure I made myself clear, particularly as I ummed and aahed over the easiest way for them to get to their destination (it wasn't close and they wanted to walk).

I was surprised - but pleased - they approached me because I've got a kinda punk Elvis quiff hair do today and shop assistants had been giving me a wide berth. At least I don't scare tourists. Yay!

What's a smell that you love? Did any simple pleasures give you a boost today?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hatches, cool clouds and spaving

The cygnets have hatched! Yay! There's three of them, tiny and fluffy. I feel like a proud aunty!

They must have hatched a little while ago because the cygnets are already swimming solo, rather than riding on their parents' backs. I saw them from afar as I was walking to work this morning. First I spotted the two adult swans on the river and I knew this meant the babies had hatched because one swan always sits on the nest to keep the eggs warm. I looked a bit harder and could just make out the tiny grey cygnets against the grey-brown water as they swam with their parents towards the nest on the other side of the river.

They were too far away to take a decent photo unfortunately. I'll try and get one on the weekend. There was a picture of them in the newspaper today though. Apparently Mr and Mrs Swan have been named Oscar and Lucinda by the rowing fraternity from the boat sheds near their nest. How surprisingly literary of them.


The clouds were really cool when I left the house this morning. As much as I like sunny, clear blue skies, clouds do make the sky more interesting. The world is far more photogenic with some clouds in it, I think. It looks all dark and moody. OK, nice for artsy fartsy shots anyway; maybe not for your happy holiday snaps.

I took this shot this morning.

And here's some more of my recent artsy fartsy photos with cloudy skies.

Love that reflection of Melbourne Central in the puddle.


There's something about dogs playing that never fails to make me smile. Yesterday and this morning I saw a guy from my street out walking his dog. The dog, possibly a Border Collie cross, had a stick that was nearly as long as he was, but rather than playing fetch with his owner, the dog just ran along ahead of him with the big stick sideways in his mouth as if he was saying "No, I won't let you have my stick!'.

I've discovered a new word. Well, a new made up, combo word. "Spaving" - that's when you buy something on impulse just because the price is drastically reduced. Spending and saving all at once.

Some people abhor those made-up combo words but I like them. I've even made up a few of my own. Glumpy (glum + grumpy), blurple (not quite blue and not quite purple) and facon (meat-free, fake "bacon" for vegetarians).

Do you like made-up combo words? Got any faves? What's something that never fails to make you smile?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The pleasure of giving...and disco balls

I gave away some of the $50 I found on the street the other day. I dropped $5 in the guitar case of a busker in the mall playing blues on the electric guitar, then I gave $20 to a guy nearby selling The Big Issue and told him to keep the $15 change. He said "Thanks, love" and I felt very pleased with myself. I know without a doubt that spending the $50 on a new top or something for myself would not have produced anywhere near the same feeling of joy.

Practising generosity has got to be among the best ways to make yourself feel good. According to Choosing Happiness by psychologist Stephanie Dowrick, "it is impossible to reach out to other people through your emotions, imagination, concern, interest and actions without also benefitting yourself. Your world grows larger; your problems grow smaller".

Stephanie Dowrick on generosity
It takes you beyond yourself.
It brings out the best in you.
It opens your eyes to the reality of other people's existence.
It lets you make connections in the most unexpected places.
It lends itself to small gestures as well as large.
It subverts greed, fear and insecurity.
It doesn't depend on learning, privilege or status.
It doesn't depend on being religious or 'spiritual'.
It is as vital in our public institutions as it is in our bedrooms.
It is impossible to manufacture, measure, sell or waste.
It springs from a belief in our inborn goodness.
It is an act of faith that our lives matter.
It benefits our minds and bodies as much as it does our spirits.

Oh, I gave The Big Issue magazine to a friend at work since I already have it. And the rest of the $50? I frittered it away on nothing, like I usually do when I have cash in my wallet.


I love Melbourne, the city where I live, and one of the things I like the most about it is the cornucopia of culture hidden down its many lanes and alleys. I like that the City of Melbourne actively encourages art to flourish in non-descript little side streets through its Laneway Art Commissions, among other projects.

This is my favourite Laneway Art Commission for 2008.

It's a bulging wall! The red brick wall is the side of a building on McKillop Street and the bulgy bit is the artwork. It's called As it Happens and it expands throughout the day and then shrinks almost flat during the night. I saw it before I knew that it was a piece of art and it was mind-boggling to say the least, especially as the first time I spotted it, it was at full bulge and the second time it was almost flat. What the?! I don't know how they do it, but it's cool.

Today I also walked past the disco balls in Rankins Lane near my work. I love the juxtaposition of glitzy mirrorballs in a lane lined with rubbish bins.

I had worked near this lane for years without noticing the disco balls. It just goes to show that no matter how well you think you know a place, if you look, there's always something new to discover.

Anybody discovered any cool new things recently?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A new favourite word...and baby swans

I have a new favourite word. Snug. It's not like I heard it for the first time today, but for someone reason I've just decided that I love it. It makes me think of being wrapped up in the arms of someone you love and feeling safe and secure, or being tucked up in bed on a cold rainy night. It imparts coziness, warmth and comfort. It's also kinda funny to say.

It joins my little family of current favourite words - glee (obviously), pudding and magnanimous.
I headed out on my lunch break today to find people less fortunate than myself to donate the $50 I found on the footpath yesterday so that I wouldn't feel so bad about profiting from someone's loss. I was specifically looking for a young guy who sells his own hand-drawn cards out the front of a department store in the mall, but he wasn't there today. I saw someone selling The Big Issue but I already have the latest magazine. I could have just given him some money, I suppose, but I suspect most Big Issue vendors would prefer to exchange goods for money rather than being treated like a beggar. Maybe the young card seller will be there tomorrow.
I might not have achieved what I set out to do, but it got me out of the office and away from my computer for a change. It was a beautiful spring day to be out and about - not a cloud in the sky.

I walked home on the south side of the river tonight to check on Mr and Mrs Swan who are taking it in turns to sit on their nest near the rowing boatsheds. I first noticed they were nesting about two or three weeks ago when I walked past on my way home. I was astounded that they would build their nest in such a vulnerable area - right on the river's edge, just metres from the boatsheds which are a hive of activity in the early morning and late afternoon, and so close to a popular walking and bike path. But so far so good.

I think the swans are the same pair I saw cruising the river during last summer with two cygnets in tow. Those babies must have grown up and left home now. Did you know that swans are among the few creatures that breed for life? They also "court" for two years before they start breeding.

I have this picture on my computer desktop and every time I see it I go, "Awwww! So cute! So fluffy!" I can't wait for the eggs to hatch or to see the cygnets hitching a ride on their parents' backs as they swim in the river - that's what the cygnets do when they're tiny.

Anyone want to share their favourite words with me?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Complaining makes me happy today

I got an unexpected phone call today that gave me quite a buzz. You see, last week I fired off an email brickbat to Macro Wholefoods Market expressing my indignation at its new range of "healthy" food for kids, which includes potato chips, corn chips and "cookies".

I don't have a problem with Macro selling these products, but I do have an issue with spurious advertising claims, particularly about food for kids. I forgot all about the email until this morning at work when my mobile phone bipped at me. It was the founder and CEO of Macro! He had just returned from Beijing to find my crotchety email on his desk. Needless to say, I was quite surprised - but also impressed that he would pick up the phone to call someone who enquired if his company is happy to drop its concern for people's health if there is a buck to be made.

I was less impressed with his defence, but I won't bore you with the details. I will tell you that he invited me to be part of a coterie of customers whose opinions he values. Goodness me! He gave me his mobile phone number and asked me to let him know what I think of the company's first catalogue which should hit my mailbox any day now. All righty!

I felt a bit pleased with myself. It's nice when someone takes notice of you. Just goes to show that sometimes it's worth giving feedback to the companies whose products and services you use. And not only negative comments either. I recently sent a complimentary email to my internet provider and got a free T-shirt and beanie in response. A month's free net access would have been more useful (although an appreciative email in reply would have been enough), but I thought it was a nice gesture all the same.

Apart from that, I had to look pretty hard to find some small pleasures today...and what did I find, but $50 on the footpath near my house! Wheeee! It was a brief source of glee, however, because obviously it belongs to someone else and I know that I'd be bummed if I lost $50. I felt bad, but it's a busy footpath; I wasn't going to walk up and down it in the dark asking anyone if they lost some money, was I? (It's also a very affluent area so maybe it won't be missed so much).

Last time I found $50 on the ground, I bought a pair of black trousers that I never wore and ended up taking to my local op-shop with the tags still attached. And then the shop burnt down.

I think I will give the $50 to a homeless person this time.

Did you get a buzz out of anything today?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunshine, Muppets and soft-porn

Mother Nature turned on a textbook sunshiney morning for the first day of spring. I woke up to warm yellow light flooding in my windows. It was still an hour before my alarm was due to go off though and I was very cosy and comfy in bed, so I rolled over and had a little week day "sleep in". Aaaahhh. I love that.

I walked to work under a perfect blue sky and I got nearly all the green lights on the way, too. It pleases me when the little green man appears just as I reach the curb, and I can cross the road without breaking my stride. I don't know why. Maybe it allows me the brief illusion that the world around me is running on my schedule?

You know that silly song Mahna Mahna from The Muppet Show (and numerous ads since)? Mahna mahna do-do-do-do-do and so on? A friend told me yesterday that it was originally from a soft-porn movie. Haw haw! I googled it on my lunch break today, and it's true! A song sung by furry puppets on a family show was first heard in rudie movie!

It was written by Italian composer Piero Umiliani for a 1968 Italian mondo movie about life in Sweden called Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso (Sweden, Heaven and Hell). According to IMDb, the movie "shows contraceptives for teen girls, lesbian nightclubs, wife swapping, porno movies, biker gangs, and Walpurgis Night celebrations. It also examines Sweden's purported drug, drinking and suicide problems." Whoah!

I'd post the clip from Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso if I could figure out how to, so click here if you want to see. Despite the subject matter of the movie, this snippet is pretty tame - a bunch of fully clothed Swedish women gambolling through the snow and sitting be-towelled in the sauna. No boobies.

Hmmm...Muppets and soft porn. Maybe not an auspicious start to this blog.

Anyone else have any little moments of glee to share?