Saturday, August 29, 2009

Grumpily gleeful

I confess I have been glumpy* since yesterday and I don't really know why. Yup, it's true. I'm not always dancing happy jigs and clapping my hands with glee. Sometimes I am a moody cow, and occasionally I am a moody cow for no good reason.

But rather than sitting at home sulking today, I went out and managed to have as gleeful a day as you can when you've got your cranky pants wedged up your clacker.

I felt like a change of scenery so I donned my doonaparka and walked to St Kilda beach. It started to rain with determination just as I arrived and I was very damp by the time I sat down to a hot chocolate and (very sub-standard) fruit toast on Acland Street. I got some nice photos of raindrops on purdy flowers on the way to the cafe though.

Thankfully the rain stopped by the time I finished brunch, and I headed to the beach. I like the beach in winter and today the grey clouds and almost deserted beachfront suited my mood.

Visiting St Kilda brings back a lot of memories, happy ones and less happy. One of the happy memories is of a really fun (and somewhat alcohol-fuelled) date I had on Grand Final night a couple of years back which involved my date risking death to rescue a blue-ringed octopus that some callous fisherman had left on the pier. It also featured dodgem cars at Luna Park, a pub crawl and pashing** at some underground bar. Sighs....

After taking photos of the boats and clouds, I walked back up to Acland Street for cake and then jumped on the No 96 tram to the other side of town where I went to the Rose Street Artists Market. I've been meaning to go there for ages, and today I finally did. I bought myself an awesome Cybertart bag, which temporarily lifted my flagging spirits (I got the Grrrr one on the bottom left. Of course). Some of their bags have a clever zip-off, interchangeable flap/pocket feature so you can have several bags in one. You can also customise some of their products with your own photo. Hmm...*thinks* what an excellent gift idea....

Returning home to discover I'd won a book from Readings bookshop also lifted my spirits. I won a copy of Literary Melbourne just for sharing (on Twitter) my favourite place in Melbourne to read a book (I said on my couch, with the winter sun streaming in the window). Sweeeet.

I walked nearly 15kms today. Tonight I'm going to put my pyjamas on, eat cheese and Vegemite toasties and watch Clerks on DVD. I think I'm slowly emerging from my grump...

My photos...

Is this the fiercest merry-go-round seat in the world or what? It's at Luna Park

Luna Park is pretty much craptacular, but its merry-go-round is stupendous

* glum + grumpy = glumpy

** tongue kissing, for you non-Aussies

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More than a trace of awesome

I saw the show Traces by French-Canadian collective 7 Fingers tonight and it was fantastic. My hands got itchy from all the clapping.

Traces is a high-energy show combining acrobatics, dance, comedy, and theatre, all set to a thumping soundtrack. There's even a bit of basketball and skateboarding. Oh, and did I mention that they're all pretty easy on the eye (yay for third row seats!)? And they have accents?

The highlight was when one of the guys spun around in a giant hoop (called a roue cyr if Google serves me correctly). His shirt was undone. He had nice abs. I've tried to find a video for you but I can only find one with a previous member of 7 Fingers, set to different (and far less awesome) music, which doesn't really do it justice. Go see it for yourself!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Giving: it really does feel good

About this time last year, to help assauge the guilt of getting a generous payrise I felt was grossly undeserved, I decided to channel a little of my fatter pay packet into sponsoring a child through the Smith Family's Learning for Life program.

My $35 a month helps a low-income family pay for things like school uniforms, excursions, books, music and sports activities, the sort of stuff that can help kids to feel like they fit in and to enjoy being at school. It also helps to fund literacy programs and mentoring support.

I am on to my second sponsor child (the first left the program due to improved circumstances). His name is Jamie and he's in year 9. This morning I opened a letter from The Smith Family which enclosed his updated student profile. It lists things like his favourite subjects, books and movies and what he likes to do in his spare time.

Under "I would like to tell my sponsor that...", Jamie has written "I'm very happy with my life". It makes me tear up a little when I read that.

If anyone reading this wants to put some money towards a good cause, please consider becoming a Learning for Life sponsor (or making a donation). It really costs very little - less than the price of a meal at a nice restaurant each month - but the difference it can make is enormous. It's an Australia-wide program and it provides support for children from pre-school age right through to university.

The thing I like about Learning for Life is that it's preventative and built on the premise that education is the best way of breaking the cycle of poverty. It helps to prevent kids from underprivileged backgrounds ending up under-educated, unemployed, alienated and worse. It gives them a real chance of reaching their potential and leading happier, healthier and more financially secure lives.

If you need more convincing:

* Every year of schooling completed increases adult wage by about 10%;

* Poverty rates among those aged over 15 decline sharply as education qualifications increase;

* Young people aged 16-18 who are not participating in education are more likely to experience depression and poor physical health by 21;

* The rate of Learning for Life students progressing from Year 10 to Year 12 continues to rise - from 44% in 2005 to 53% in 2007; and

* In 2008, more than 50% of Learning for Life students who completed Year 12 progressed to tertiary studies, up from 21% in 2005.

Imagine thinking you would never be even finish high school and then getting to go to uni! Being a part of that really is an amazing feeling.

You can read some real-life case studies here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My walk home

Close-up of the Concert Hall

I had a pleasant walk home in the almost-dark tonight. As much as I am looking forward to the arrival of daylight savings, I do love the sight of the city at night, especially the reflections of the lights on the water.

I could smell flowers on the breeze as I walked beside the river too.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday in photos

I went to see Dali: Liquid Desire at the National Gallery of Victoria

Statue in NGV foyer


Lamp on Morell Bridge

Sunny break

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hello sunshine

The setting sun hitting the top of the GPO spire

Spring is just around the corner now. The days are noticeably longer and the sky is still blue when I leave work at 5.30. I like it.

That also means Gleeful's first birthday is almost here. I kicked off on the first day of spring last year. It's gone so fast!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I saw them!!!

I was just past here when I saw them

I saw dolphins in the Yarra this morning! I was wandering through Birrarung Marr on my way to work and I happened to look up at the exact moment their fins briefly broke the surface.

There were two of them, and they were heading upstream.

I got my camera out but they mostly swam under the water, and only came up for air briefly about four times - and I couldn't anticipate where they were going to surface. Dang!

But still. I saw them this time! Yays! There were other people around just going about their business, completely unaware. It was like I had a magical little secret, which was probably mean of me. I should have spread the glee, shouldn't I?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fruity and fun

I've become addicted to the fruit toast from a place next door to my office. It's SENsational - it's thick and chock full of chunks of apricot and fig and nut bits, and it's encrusted with poppy seeds. Scrumptious. I wish I had some right now.

I did my new work out at the gym for the first time unsupervised tonight. It's still fun on my own. I did a pretty intense cardio workout too. Endorphin high is ace.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I had soy milk on my porridge today and it was delicious. Who would have thought? (Well, all the soy drinkers, I suppose). I also had fresh passionfruit on it. Is there anything more divine than the smell of fresh passionfruit?

I got a new program at the gym today and it's fun. Fun! It's against the natural order, but in a good way.

Aaaahhh. Gotta love thick new towels and crawling into a freshly made bed. *sighs happily*

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Spring: poised for action

What an absolutely gorgeous winter's day it was in Melbourne today! Yes, we need rain desperately, but if we can't have that, then I'll gladly take a day like today - blue skies, warm sunshine and a light breeze.

On an impulse I wandered over to the Botanic Gardens with my newspaper and spent several hours in the sun reading it, listening to my iPod and people watching. lt felt like a luxury to be able to sit outside in winter...although I was swaddled in my doonaparka. (It was too warm for it today, but I love wearing it.)

The best thing about my visit to the gardens was seeing - and smelling - the imminent arrival of spring. Spring! My favourite season, tip-toeing slowly into town. As soon as I walked through the gates I could smell the sweet scent of flowers on the breeze. Flowers are blooming and buds are budding.

There were some cygnets on the ornamental lake, which is looking far healthier than it has in quite a while, I was pleased to see. I even saw some bees buzzing about.

At the risk of repeating, I love the gardens. They never fail to lift my spirits (not that they were low to begin with).

More pics:

And also...

On the topic of flowers and glee, I was the lucky (and slightly red-faced) recipient of some red and white roses, delivered to my office yesterday. Squeeeeee! A girl can't get enough of that.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Astor cat patting

"All right then. Just one photo. Make it snappy."

I went to the Astor Theatre last night to see Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese's rockumentary on the Rolling Stones. I also went to see and pat the theatre's house cat.

It seemed unimpressed with the intrusion, until I offered pats anyway. You'd think it would be used to having its sleep interrupted by now.

My friend Anthony went to the Astor a few weeks back and the cat sat on his lap though the entire movie - a Bond movie, I think it was. I had to make do with the pat. Maybe Astor kitty doesn't like the Stones?

I, however, do like the Stones. I'm not a long time fan, but Shine a Light is awesome (I've seen it twice now). I also ate a sensational wildberry choc top. So...a good night but I knew it was going to be good because the ticket machine at Richmond Station gave me too much change, I made it to the train with a minute to spare and a nice man put my seat down for me (it was one of the flip-up ones). Good omens!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A mini make-over

I got my hair cut into a new style yesterday. I got bored with the way it was and decided it was time for a change. Happily I'm pleased with the results. It's nice to have a little make-over, isn't it?

Here would be a sensible juncture at which to provide you with a picture of said new 'do, but I haven't taken any photos of it yet and I'm not going to whip out my camera now because my make-up has worn off and I have a big pimple on my jaw that you can do without seeing.

But, I will show you a picture of how it used to look.

And here's how the new 'do looks on someone else's head.

Not hugely different - even shorter and sticky-uppy in front rather than the back - but I have strayed further into boy hair territory (hers actually looks a bit softer and girlier than mine). When I first got my hair cut short, I was concerned people - well, single guys, mainly - would assume I like girls because of the combination of short, spiky hair and my preference for T-shirts, jeans and sneakers, but obviously I'm over that now. It feels good not to care what people think.

I went to a party with my new hair last night and came home with a guy's number in my phone, so maybe I never needed to worry (but in the interests of full disclosure, I should add there was some cleavage on show).

Good things about short hair

* It can be lower maintenance (depending on style). This morning I towel dried my hair, and voila! Pretty much good to go. Ace! I might get a few extra minutes of sleep.

* The wind can't blow it in your face.

* It doesn't hang in your face and tickle and annoy you (or *coughs* anyone else's face).

* You can't get trapped when you try to roll over in bed but find you are lying on your hair.

* It's less prone to fluff and frizz and fly-aways.

* You never get split ends.

* It doesn't stick to your lipgloss.

* It doesn't need to be tied back at the gym/doesn't leave sweaty hair streaks on your glasses.

* It dries super quickly.

* It's cooler in summer

* It's cheaper to get it coloured.

* There seems to be an instant bond with other short haired women (or that could be my imagination)

* It's nice not looking like everyone else (obviously not an advantage if you like to blend in).

* There's less hair collecting in the corners of your bathroom and sticking to your carpet.

Of course there are some downsides, but I don't do downsides here at Gleeful.