Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The year that was

OK, it's time to gaze into the navel of the year that was and pick out some bits of gleeful lint to reflect upon. It's been a momentous year for me - it started out very ordinary and got worse but then it gradually came good. It's ended up pretty damn fine.

In keeping with my happiness commandment to dwell on the positive (see sidebar right), I'm not going to catalogue the bad stuff that happened this year (the blog isn't called Shiteful afterall). I can't ignore the bad stuff altogether because much of it turned out to have a silver lining. Silver lined belly button fluff. Hmmmm.

So...the good stuff...

* After realising around this time last year that I was wallowing in a pit of negativity, crankiness and rollercoaster emotions, I went to see a counsellor. Ten sessions later, I emerged much calmer, happier and more positive, but that was just the beginning of the journey (Gah! I wanted to avoid that word!). In addition to the counselling, I have done a lot of reading and reflecting and thinking about my values and priorities and I'm not the same person now that I was at the beginning of the year. There's still some stuff I want to work on, but I'm happy with how far I've come.

* New and improved me sees life through new eyes - kinda like little kid's eyes, the sort that notice small stuff, the every day joys I never used to notice but which, it turns out, actually make me happy - hence Gleeful was born. I have never considered myself to be a passionate person but seeing my life through kid eyes has administered a kick in the pants to my dormant passion and woken it up at last. I feel so much more engaged with and interested in life now - with the place I live, with the world around me, with the whole world. I feel more grateful for what I have and more in touch with the things that really matter to me.

* I split up with my boyfriend (again, but for good this time). OK, it sucked at the time, but I'm over it and I'm happier now. Maybe the highs aren't as high as they were when I was with him, but the rare lows I do have now aren't anywhere near as low either. I am consistently pretty damn happy for no real reason. I've swapped the emotional rollercoaster for the merry-go-round of contentment. Far less vomit and tears.

* I realised I would probably be fine if it turns out that I never have kids. Which means I feel no pressure to find a man while my eggs are still fresh. Which means I am far more content with being single and childless as I stand on the brink of my late 30s. Yes, I would like to find a man to spend my life with...but there's no rush. Life is great as it is.

* "You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to." This quote, from US entrepreneur/blogger/traveller Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Nonconformity made a real difference to my self-acceptance and happiness levels this year. Sounds kind of obvious when I look back on it, but when I read it, it was a liberating, "Hey, yeah!" moment. Can't believe it took me 30-odd years to work that out. It was an important factor in the realisation that actually I am pretty happy even though I have so far failed to acquire a life partner, children and a mortgage (or even a car) like many of my friends. Non-conformity is ace.

* I started this blog on 1 September and it's been a wonderful and rewarding experience in more ways than one. I started it partly to distract myself from my sadness over the end of my relationship and partly to bring to life my happiness commandments to stop and take notice, and to appreciate the small things. It's done those things exceedingly well. In the beginning, it got me out of my head (where I would have just ruminated pointlessly about my ex) and consciously searching for gleeful things to blog about. But now (most of the time!) I just see life though a gleeful lens without even thinking about it. And if all of that wasn't enough, I've made some new friends in the big wide world of blogging, and very much enjoyed the contributions of 'old' friends who followed me outside Myspace. Thanks guys!

Other stuff that was great...

* Finding out that instead of having to move out of my flat, I would be offered a new 12 month lease (albeit with higher rent).

* Falling hopelessly in love with Melbourne after living here since I was 19.

* Seeing two favourite bands, The Waifs and The Grates, perform live again.

* Discovering a new favourite band - Melbourne country outfit Wagons. I saw them live three times and have been listening to their three albums on my iPod for months on end. Yeah, I might be a little bit obsessed.

* Getting my swisho new camera and getting excited about taking photos all over again.

How was your 2008? What are proudest achievements? Your most gleeful moments? Or are you just kinda glad it's over?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home, sweet home

Ooh! Hibiscus!

I'm back! I returned from my trip up north for Christmas yesterday, and while it was fabulous to get away and spend some time with my mum, it was great to get home too. I love Melbourne. I love my flat. I love my own bed.

And I love mail! I came home to a letter box stuffed with Christmas cards, which made the homecoming even more gleeful. I don't get much 'real' mail these days - mostly bills and junk - so getting not one, but a clutch of cards was fantastic. You just can't display text messages and emails on your mantlepiece and think fondly of the sender every time you look at them like you can with a real, old-fashioned greeting card. I have decided from now on to revert to posting greeting cards by snail mail.

A posse of pelicans fighting over fish off cuts

Anyway...my holiday

It was wonderful seeing mum again for the first time since last Christmas and lapping up the motherly hugs and home cooking. She took me to see the new house she has just bought in a little town inland from Port Macquarie. It's completely her style and I think she will be much happier living in a country town again (population 6,000 to Port Macquarie's 70,000+). All she can see from her back deck are trees and horses grazing in green paddocks.

We had a Scrabble match which I won 2-1, partly because mum only got O's and A's and I was able to marry Zs, Qs and Xs with triple word scores. We enjoyed a nightly dose of Seinfeld and Frasier. Mum absolutely adores Frasier - she still relishes it and laughs out loud, despite having seen most episodes many times already. Frasier is one of my favourite shows too and I enjoy watching it with her (seems like TV1 hasn't changed its evening line up in years). I loved seeing Seinfeld again too. The Penske file! The nipple! It was a scratch! Not a pick!

Port sunset

I watched half of the latest season of Scrubs on DVD while I was there too. I stayed up really late watching it because I love it so much I just couldn't turn it off. I watched the rest last night and now I feel bereft because it's finished. Think I might start watching it again from the beginning. Scrubs is the only TV series I own on DVD.

Mum and I saw Madagascar 2 at the movies (my choice!), which was cute and funny, and ate pizza on the foreshore afterwards. We went to the beach and read our books, and even though it wasn't hot, I had a dip in the surf. Bit nippy at first but quite pleasant once I got used to it.

Nobby's Beach where I swam

We had a low key Christmas Day with a yummy roast dinner and pavlova for dessert, although we had already tucked into the pav on Christmas Eve because we couldn't wait. Mmmmm...pavlova with big fat strawberries on top.

I slept late every day. I read two books and started another one, which was published in Australia by the publishing company I used to work for. I love coincidences!

On the first Saturday, I met one of my online friends, Wayne, for the first time. We had lunch at a beach-front cafe, followed by a wander along the foreshore and marina, where I had to stop for fish-spotting and was gleefully rewarded. (Yep, I'm that Viking in The Far Side cartoon who's storming over a drawbridge, pointing into the moat and saying "Ooh! Goldfish!"). I've met quite a few of my online friends 'in the real world' now and hope to meet more next year.

One of the town's few original buildings (and also where I had lunch with Wayne)

I saw a really, really big hornet! It was like a small bird (and fortunately on the other side of the window to me)! Everything's bigger up north. And there's frogs! I love listening to them burbling away in the distance at night.

The marina

I had window seats for nearly every flight. I love looking down at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the wide rivers winding their way through green hills on the Sydney-Port leg of the trip. And I know it's silly, but I can't help scanning the ocean for sharks ("Oooh! Sharks!"). Always in vain, of course. But most of all, I love looking at the clouds. It's so surreal being up in or above the clouds and being so close to them. I saw some really awesome fat, fluffy ones.

And, as you can see, I took plenty of photos.

I love frangipanis

Go, me!

I bought a digital set top box for my TV today, mostly so that I can watch the national broadcaster's digital channel, ABC2. And guess what? Despite being 5/8 techno-twit, I managed to stick all the plugs in the right sockets and make it work! I am so proud of myself! (Still can't get the lid off the jar of homemade tomato relish my mum gave me though. Dang. That's going to have to be a job for a guy downstairs.)

How was your Christmas?

Last night in Melbourne

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas greetings

Before I head off to bed before Santa's arrival, I'd like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas with your loved ones and a gleeful New Year.

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing the glee. It's been a fabulous few months and I look forward to more in 2009.

Jayne x

Friday, December 19, 2008

Post card from Port Macquarie

The view from my mum's place

Hello from Port Macquarie! It's my second full day here and it's great to see my mum and her little dog Sam again.

I've been doing some serious relaxing and sleeping and have already knocked over one of the books I brought with me - the one about the Amish, which was fascinating, especially their dating rituals. On their first date they spend the night together in bed, side by side and fully clothed!

Yesterday we had a sensational thunderstorm, with huge thunderclaps and fork lightning and near-torrential rain that blew in sideways. As you can see from the picture above, my mum's house is a great vantage point for storm watching. It was awesome! We rarely get decent thunderstorms down south.

Now that's a giant freckle! Mmmmmmmmmm

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Funny, cool, weird words - Part II

It's time for the second part of my list of words harvested from Foyle's Philavery and http://www.rinkwords.com/. (You can read the first part here if you missed it.)

* Groak - to stare longingly at someone, especially someone who is eating.

* Infundibular - funnel shaped. I love the way this sounds.

* Lethologica - the inability to remember a word or call to mind the right word. From Greek lethe for 'forget' and logos for 'word'. I seem to be suffering from this more and more, although perhaps it's no surprise when I keep stuffing my vocabulary with new words.

* Moodle - to meander, pass time in doing nothing. I'm so going to incorporate this into my every day vocabulary - I moodle every day at work.

* Obdormition - numbness caused by pressure on a nerve, as when one's foot is "asleep".

* Pandiculation - the stretching that accompanies yawning. Hmmm...not sure why this action needs its own word, but I like that it has one.

* Pinguid - fat; also, greasy.

* Popliteal - of or pertaining to the back of the knees. There's a word for that?

* Quisquilious - like rubbish; trashy, worthless. This just sounds funny. For some reason, this word gets stuck in my head, like the philological version of an ear worm.

* Sternutation - the act of sneezing; also, a sneeze.

* Subderisorious - ridiculing in moderation. Is that the opposite of damning with faint praise?

* Ultracrepidarian - expressing opinions on matters beyond one's knowledge, ignorant and presumptous. I had a date with a guy like that a little while back. It annoyed me at the time but I didn't have a cool word for it then.

Enjoy. (I also have a slightly longer list on my listography page if you are hungry for more.) And now I must go and pack for my holidayeeeeee.

PS I plan to blog a little when I can while I'm away, so stay tuned.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rain, glorious rain...and books and long walks

I'm on holidaaaaaaays! Friday was my last day of work for a month and it was capped off by my work Christmas party at a new Middle Eastern restaurant in the city. It was a fun night and the food was delicious. I love Middle Eastern food.

It rained all day Friday - the first time in a long time that we have had a proper rainy day, not just showers here and there. It was fantastic. It was drizzling when I left the restaurant around midnight and as I crossed Little Collins Street, I glanced to my right and saw a blue glow above the Rialto (above) as the lights atop the building lit up the misty rain.

I ended up walking all the way home in the rain which would normally be quite dismal, but it was a mild night. I like the sound of rain on my umbrella. I couldn't get to sleep for ages but it was nice to be able to lie there listening to the rain. It was still raining when I woke up and continued on and off for most of the day.

We had 48 mm of rain on Friday and Saturday, equivalent to the average total rainfall for December. I know I'm going on about the rain a lot but we are so desperate for it that it's become a novelty. People don't complain about wet weather like they used to before the drought started. Spring is usually when our water storages get topped up for the long, hot summer, but this year we had a our driest spring ever and our water storages are only around a third full.

Port Mac, here I come!

I have only one more day in Melbourne before heading up to my mother's in Port Macquarie on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. I'm very much looking forward to seeing my mum. Apart from a fleeting visit back near the start of the year, I haven't seen her since last Christmas, which wasn't a happy time for me. I'm hoping it will be different this year.

While I'm there, I want to tackle the beachfront walk which runs from near my mum's house all the way into the town centre. I'm not exactly sure how far it is - just that it's a looooong way - but I'm going to have a crack at it. I have my Nikes packed!

Booked up

I went to the library today to stock up on books for my holiday. I joined the City Library a couple of months ago, but this is the first time I've borrowed books (I've been very slow finishing off the books on my bedside table). It's the first time I've borrowed a book since university actually. I was ridiculously pleased about it all. I chose three books from my Must Read list -

and I also got Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, which is often cited in the personal development blogs I read. I'm itching to get into them.

Yep, that view again

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday, sunset, baboon and moon


Tomorrow is my last day of work for 2008. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I am flying up to visit my mother in the lovely seaside town of Port Macquarie next Wednesday with a suitcase of books in tow.

Fire in the sky

We had a beautiful sunset tonight. It snuck up on me when my back was turned. I stopped on the the bridge to take some pictures of the fluffy clouds overhead (obsessed, I tells ya) and when I turned back towards the city the clouds were tinged with pink. It quickly deepened to a fiery orange. I was in the right place and the right time.

For the bibliolistophiles

I stumbled across another great website the other day for bibliophiles (and list lovers) - Flashlight Worthy. It's a compilation of lists of recommended books across 53 categories, and you can also contribute your own lists. I haven't had a good look yet - something else to put on my holiday to-do list.

Baboon in my boudoir

I dreamt there was a baboon on my bed last night, which has today got me thinking what a funny word baboon is (and every time I type it, it comes out as "baboob").

Big moon rising

The moon is looking in my window as I type this. It looks a little filmy and fuzzy from the high clouds. Did you hear that tomorrow night there is going to be the largest full moon of the year? It will appear 12 per cent larger, in fact, because it will be closer to Earth and low on the horizon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cow eyes...and big plans for 2009

OK, this is a baby cow

I made eye contact with a cow today. It's not every day you get to look into the big brown eyes of a cow on the fringe of the city.

Unfortunately, the glee of the cow gaze was momentary because the cow (probably a steer actually) was crammed into the back of a truck with a lot of other cattle most likely on its way to an unpleasant fate...

I have decided I'm going to become a vegetarian next year. Not just from looking into the cow's eyes today - I've been thinking about it for some time, for numerous reasons, including animal welfare.

I would start now, but I have an allergy elimination diet to get out of the way, hopefully early in the new year. It's a damn hard diet to do without adding in the restrictions of vegetarianism.

New year, new plans

I don't now about you, but I'm kind of over 2008 now. I am, however, enjoying thinking ahead to next year and pondering the plans and projects I have in mind.

Apart from knocking over the allergy elimination diet (which will deliver better health and more energy) and becoming a vegetarian, I am also planning to -

* find a new job;

* possibly find a flatmate;

* wade back into the dating pool; and

* launch a new photo blog.

I am also in the midst of compiling a list of 101 things to do before I turn 40 (which is about 3.5 years away). I've got about 55 things on it so far, from places I want to visit, activities I want to do, things I want to learn, creative projects I want to complete, fitness and self-improvement goals, and random silly stuff, like getting purple highlights in my hair!

I have fallen in love with the idea of having projects (and the fact that the 101 things project comes in the form of a list is even better!). I'm hoping that the joy of next year's projects won't only be in crossing things off lists or achieving goals - simply having a project to think about and work on and give extra purpose to my non-working life pleases me.

What are your plans for 2009? Do you have any projects you're working on or planning?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another solo outing and dumplings and dimples

Wagons at the Spiegeltent

Remember how I wrote weeks ago about going to the movies solo and wanting to be braver about doing more stuff on my own? Well, guess what?! On Friday night, I went to see a band on my own. And I actually felt fine about it. Go, me!

I went to see my still current favourite band Wagons at the charmingly olde worlde Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre. They played in the 7.00 pm slot and the audience was seated. I sat three rows from the front and was pleased to see a couple of other people on their own.

I admit that I probably wouldn't have gone to see them on my own if they had played at a pub and come on stage at 11.00 pm like they did the last time I saw them. I would have felt very awkward hanging around on my own in that situation.

But this time, nope. I felt pleased with myself and the show was great. I think I may also be a little infatuated with the lead singer despite the fact he looks like a tall Hobbit. He's very funny and he has a deep voice. A sense of humour and a deep voice can overcome a lot, no?

After the show

I was going to go home after the show, but it was such a balmy night and the city was fairly bombilating (!) with silly season/summertime activity. So instead of going home I went to meet some people for drinks.

We ended up at the same dumpling house I have written about here before and it didn't disappoint - as well as a fill of dumplings for $12 each, we were treated to the usual brusque service ("You want more pork dumplings!!!!) and the double rendition of Happy Birthday at high volume. Everyone in the upstairs of the restaurant sang along heartily, although I'm not sure anyone was there to celebrate a birthday. I'm convinced it's a nightly ritual. I think I'm going to go there every night for a week to confirm.

Cheesy pleasure

I visited friends this weekend who have a calendar from a winery on the back of their toilet door. Every time I went in there, my eyes zoomed in on the words "For extreme pleasure, visit our cheese room..." and I couldn't help smiling. It must be very special cheese.

My friends also have an adorable 22-month-old son who is a gorgeous little ball of blond hair and giggles and dimples. He's started talking since I last saw him and I think he even said "Aunty Jayne" today. Awww. So cute.

A frog astride a toy motorbike!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bombilating with glee

OK, the time has come to hit you with the list of funny, weird and cool words I have harvested from Foyle's Philavery and Rinkworks. It's a fairly lengthy list, so I am splitting it in two.

Part one -

* Amaneunsis - secretary. Henceforth I am going to refer to myself as a Legal Amaneunsis.

* Abligurition - extravagant expenditure on food and drink.

* Agrypnia - sleeplessness.

* Battlefang - to attack with fists or fingernails. So much more evocative than "fight".

* Beek - to warm or make comfortable, to bask in the warmth of the sun or a fire

* Beshrew - to curse.

* Bombilate - to make noise through vibrating, to buzz.

* Cacoepy - means mispronunciation and is in itself a word that seems ripe for mispronunciation.

* Callypgian - having buttocks that are beautifully proportioned of finely developed.

* Cataglottism - kissing with the tongue. Hmmm...doesn't sound very erotic, does it?

* Charientism - expression of a disagreeable thing in a pleasant manner - eg a gracefully veiled insult. I love that there is a word for this!

* Contrectation - sexual foreplay, compulsion to caress the opposite sex. Again, doesn't sound very pleasurable - more like a medical procedure!

* Crapulous/crapulent - hungover. Interestingly, this word is not related to 'crap'. It comes from the Latin 'crapula' which means intoxication and from Greek kraipale 'dunken headache'. Crap has a middle English origin.

* Cucumiform - shaped like a cucumber. I just like the sound of this (kyoo-kyoomi-form).

* Dasypygal - having a hairy bottom.

* Dentiloquy - the practice of speaking through clenched teeth. I LOVE this word.

* Eesome - pleasing to the eye. This word amuses me. If you compare it to similar words like troublesome and frolicsome...if you take away the "some" they are still proper words. But what's "ee"?!

* Eudemonic - producing or conducive to happiness and wellbeing.

* Expergefactor - something or someone that wakens a sleeper (eg alarm clock).

* Feculent - pollluted, fetid, filthy, containing sediment or faecal matter. I like this word because it perfectly evokes ickiness. It would be an excellent insult...

* Fernticle - freckle.

* Hirple - to hobble or walk lamely. A wobbly sounding word for being wobbly.

* Kalopsia - the tendency of things to appear more beautiful than they actually are...Beer goggles! Also refers to the way a person can appear more attractive to their loved ones than they would to the objective beholder.

* Katzenjammer - a loud, discordant noise; also, a hangover; also, a state of depression or bewilderment. Hmmm, bit of a jack of all trades, that one. I love it because I reckon it would make a good faux swear word. "Oh, kaztenjammer!!"

Look what I found!

I am bombilating with glee, people! I have discovered a site that brings together two of my loves - words and list writing. Awesome!

I was trying (in vain) to find the proper pronunciation of cacoepy, when I bounced onto Wordie which is all about um...words and it allows you to compile your own lists of words - e.g. words you love or words you hate (er...I have already compiled these lists on listography but I have ideas for other lists already).

I am in anal retentive nerd heaven! I haven't joined yet, but I will very, very soon. I've subscribed to the blog though.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Starry eyed

Photo taken by Tom Richards

Did you see the smiley face in the sky last night? I forgot all about it, but a friend texted me, so I wandered out in my falling-down trakkie daks* to have a look.

For those who don't know, the crescent moon and Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest stars, were aligned into a smiley face. I had to walk half way across the bridge over the Yarra before I could see it. It was a perfect night for stargazing - still, clear and mild. I enjoyed seeing the smiley face as well as the reflection of the city lights and the Nylex clock on the black water.

Apparently the smiley face formation won't be seen again for another five years. Not quite as rare as sightings of Haley's comet, but still pretty cool.

* Aussie slang for sweatpants

Monday, December 1, 2008

Camera love, mail and blue nails

In case you can't tell, I'm loving my flash new camera. I've been taking pictures every day - it's almost permanently attached to my hand. I'm making detours on my way home from work to shoot stuff and wandering around the backstreets of my neighbourhood looking at everything through lense-eyes.

This actually blends seamlessly with the rationale for this blog, which is to take notice and celebrate the little things, the finer details of day-to-day life, not just the big, bold brushstrokes.

With 10 megapixels and a 6x optical zoom, my new Canon Power Shot is a massive leap in technology on my old Kodak and I'm getting such a kick out of the things I can do with this one that I couldn't before. The colours are more vibrant and true to life and I can take extreme close-ups and zoom in on subjects in the distance without losing sharpness.

I am continuing to indulge my photographic obsessions - clouds, old doors and windows, trees silhouetted against the sky, the Melbourne skyline, street art and the cranes at the building site across the river from my house. I can't help myself. I also have a new obsession - macro shots of flowers. I'm trying not to inflict too many of my photographic fixations on you though, just in case you find it tedious. (I have a new blog idea for that...)

I got mail

I got another parcel in the post at work today - a singlet and skirt I ordered online from Beserk clothing. I had been looking forward to the package's arrival for a couple of days. Then when it did arrive, I had to wait until I got home to try on the clothes for size. I managed to enjoy the anticipation and when I eventually did get home, I was very pleased with my purchases. I can't wait to wear the skirt.


I painted my nails on the weekend. I can't remember the last time I bothered with polish on my fingernails, but I'm quite enjoying the novelty. I bought the nail varnish - an irridescent indigo - because it's such a cool colour, thinking I would only wear it on my toenails because it's a little out there, but I got curious to see how it would look on my fingernails. Not entirely sure about it, but it's nice to do something a little different sometimes.

PS Only nine working days left for me for 2008. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!