Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Word nerdery, fog blanket, tender

I got a little word nerd thrill when I saw the name of the exhibition at the City Gallery now. Crepuscular! Awesome! It means pertaining to or resembling twilight - in this context it refers to animals that are mostly active at dawn and dusk. And because I'm a super word nerd, I must point out that, specifically, animals active at dawn are matutinal and those that come out at dusk are verspertine. I love the word vespertine. It gives me goosebumps.

The last couple of mornings have been foggy in Melbourne. Unfortunately the fog  cleared by the time I surfaced (I like foggy mornings), but yesterday when I looked out the window of my 47th floor kitchen at work, I could see a thick blanket of fog still covering the eastern suburbs. It was strange and beautiful.

I cooked my chicken to perfection last night and tonight. Tender and succulent. Yum.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New toy, motivated, tonic

I bought a new camera! Whoop! It was a spur of the moment purchase to reward myself for sticking to my allergy diet for a week. I didn't intend to buy something so expensive as a treat - the diet is hard, but sticking to it for a week isn't that big a deal. I thought I'd pop into JB Hi-Fi to buy a CD or a DVD, but I  came out with a sleek new Canon Powershot SX230 HS. I have been thinking about upgrading for a little while and it was marked down by $70 so... I can't wait for the battery to charge so I can play with it

The girl who served me at JB asked if I was going on holidays and I told her I wasn't, it was a complete impulse buy and she  high-fived me. Pretty sure that's the first time I've been high-fived by a sales assistant.

I went to the gym again today. I've been struggling for months to get myself there on a weekend, but today I did it, even though I didn't want to. I thought about how Luke gets up to exercise in the dark before work and decided I should stop being a lazy sook.

In other diet-related gleefulness, I thought tonic water was forbidden on the diet, but last night I discovered a little bit occasionally is allowed. Hurrah! I had a gin and tonic to celebrate.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pudding, saving, stepping

I am on the sixth day of another attempt at completing an allergy elimination diet. It's difficult because the food you're allowed to eat is bland, but last night I made gluten-free butterscotch pudding for dessert and it was delicious. Deeee-LICIOUS.  Luke said it was a "tremendous pudding". *pats self on back* (And there's leftovers!)

I'm slowly starting to feel better and I'm saving loads of money because I can't eat out or buy lunch, which is handy since I'm seriously starting to consider not getting another flatmate in... It's a lot of money, but I think maybe it's worth it.

Today is day 10 of the Global Corporate Challenge. So far walking 10,000 steps a day hasn't been hard. My daily average is 15,950 steps and my personal best is 19,389. I thought my weekend step-count would be much higher than my week-day count because I usually do a lot of walking on weekends and I have an office job, but I'm walking more during the week. That's quite pleasing  - I might work at a desk, but I'm not sedentary.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I saw a huge full rainbow out the window of my 47th floor office window today. It was awesome. This segment was all that remained by the time I got back with my camera, but it was still lovely.

I didn't feel like going to the gym tonight but I went. Go, me.

I walked home in light rain. It was kinda nice.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Birds, happiness, falling leaves

I popped into Borders yesterday and among the fairly sorry array of books going cheap I found The Big Twitch by Sean Dooley, a Melbourne comedy writer and keen birdwatcher (or birder, as he prefers). The book details his attempt to beat the record for the most number of birds seen in Australia in a year (bear with me...).

I read an excerpt of the book in the newspaper last year and found it entertaining and moving. ("If you can write well, you really can write about anything," a line from a Sydney Morning Herald review on the front cover says). So far the book itself entertaining too.

I'm up to the bit where he's on his way back from a trip to Christmas Island with his birding mentor, Mike Carter, to see the Malayan Night Heron. In trying to sum up why Mike is "Australia's premier twitcher"*, Sean writes:
"One answer is his passion. He simply loves birds and birdwatching. For him it is not simply a numbers game.  I've seen him get almost as excited feeding a relatively common Grey Butcherbird in his backyard...as he is ticking off a new bird for his Australian list...
"But this still doesn't fully explain Mike's birding success. Watching him on Christmas Island I think I finally figured it out. Mike has an innate curiosity for just about everthing...It means he can be quite a frustrating travelling companion as he is always stopping to look at or comment on something, often with much more intensity than seems warranted: 'Look at that crab!' 'Look at that butterfly!' 'Good lord! Look at that swiftlet, it's got two primaries missing from its left wing!'
"...It dawned on me that Mike is only stating the obvious because it seems fresh to him. I began to envy his capacity to see the wonder in almost anything. It is curiosity, it is engagement, it is, I am sure the reason why, though approaching seventy, Mike can easily pass for someone twenty years younger - he has a refreshingingly boundless enthusiasm for the world and all that it contains. This is why he is such a top birdwatcher; he is always on the lookout, always engaging directly with what he sees. It also explains why he is one of the most positive, refreshing and seemingly happy people I have ever met."
I'm guessing I don't need to explain why this bit jumped out at me...or why I was pleased to see he spotted 16 species of birds in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

One of my friends (who has a somewhat less consuming interest in birds) knows Sean Dooley and in his acknowledgements, Sean singles out someone else I know for special thanks. Melbourne can be such a small place sometimes...

* twitchers are um...hardcore birdwatchers.


Autumn is in full swing. I walked into the city this morning and leaves were falling all around me and blowing past me on the breeze. The banks of the Yarra are golden with fallen elm leaves.

Speaking of birds, on my walk I saw Mr and Mrs Plover hunting for food,  a White-faced Heron wading in the reeds near the river bank, and pair of wood ducks waddling about. You know that friend I mentioned above? We went out for a while and his interest in birds rubbed off on me a little. Just a little, in the sense that I pay more attention to feathered things. I still had to ask google just then what the blue-grey bird wading in the river shallows was called.

They won't let me get close enough for a decent photo

The bird formerly known as the blue-grey egrety thing

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Connecting, leaf collecting, seed popping

Dawood, who works at my nearest supermarket, is the most delightful check-out operator there is. He's friendly and chatty, and he when I said I didn't need plastic bags for my groceries, he commented that I never get bags. He hasn't served me in ages but remembers my bag habits!

This is part of the reason I'm determined to avoid using the DIY check-outs that are popping up everywhere in Melbourne supermarkets - a machine is never going to recognise me or serve me with a smile. Life is impersonal enough as it is. We should be connecting with each other, not retreating. I also had a chat with the butcher too, and not just about the weather.

Actually, I don't think I mentioned it here before, but rather than making a normal New Year's Resolution this year I chose a one-word 'theme' to direct my energies into improving part of my life that I felt was lacking. My theme is 'connect'. Just one short 'doing' word.

And so far I'm doing pretty well. I've made some ace new friends, I've resolved some ongoing issues with a close family member, and  that guy I've liked for ages? He's now my boyfriend. Wooh! Always more connecting to do though...

I saw a little girl in a purple fur-trimmed jacket walking along the street with her parents, holding onto some large, brown autumn leaves. Souvenirs from the park, no doubt.  

I love the way the little round seeds in wholegrain mustard give a teeny tiny pop when you bite on them.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Amelie, rainy morning

I watched the whimsical French movie Amelie last night. It was the second time I've seen it, but the first since I started writing this blog.

My friend Si said he found it much sadder on the second viewing and I did too - but I also connected with it on a deeper level this time because of its preoccupation with the simple pleasures that bring joy to its characters (including the cat who likes overhearing children's stories). In fact, Amelie actively cultivates  "a taste for small pleasures". ..dipping her hand into sacks of grain, cracking the tops of creme brulee with a teaspoon and skipping stones on the canal. I watched it thinking, "Wow, this is kinda like a cute, French movie version of my blog!".

I also love the themes of performing acts of kindness for others and taking a risk to connect with another person and, of course, it's funny, quirky and visually beautiful.

I woke up to heavy rain this morning and stayed in bed for an hour. Aaaah. Lovely.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chocolate, gift, wishing tree, squeezy

What an ace day. My seminar went off without a hitch this morning. I left work at 4.00pm and met up with my friend Si for a chocolate overload at Chokolait. Mmmm....mousse cake....Belgian hot chocolate...

Then we went for a wander and I spotted this on a wall in a laneway off Little Collins Street:

It's a wishing tree! Awesome!

Someone's wish. Awesomer!

I just love that someone did this and people embraced it (apart from the joyless person who wrote FAIL on the trunk). Most of the wishes were 'to be happy'. Which makes me happy, but also sad.

It was Si's birthday last week and I gave him a card and gift, which he was super-pleased with, which also made me happy. It really is better to give than receive and the best kind of giving is when you give with no expectation of anything in return, just to put a smile on someone's face.

It was raining when my tram arrived, and it was packed full but I squeezed on. Normally I dislike squeezy tram rides (doesn't everyone?), but this was the best jam-packed tram ride ever. The people were in good spirits - most were going to the Andre Rieu concert or the Dinosaurs Alive  show. They were chatty and friendly, the children were excited and the driver was also chatty and in good humour. At one stage the lights went off on the tram and everyone went, "Oooooh" and the driver joked, "That's a concert warm up for you." It was quite lovely.

I walked through Gosch's Paddock in the chilly night air in light rain. AAMI Park was lit up and looking stunning under the cloudy sky, tinged with orange by the city lights. Megabats (of the grey-headed flying fox variety) flew overhead. (Since I found out they are classifed as megabats, every time I see one I think, "Megabat!")

I was very happy to get home to my toasty warm flat. I think it might be mitten and ear muff weather now. Yay.  Well, sort of yay.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Globetrotting, early, surprise lamb

I'm gonna walk around the world! OK, not actually. I've signed up to participate in the Global Corporate Challenge, a three-month walk-a-thon to aid charity and increase physical activity. You wear a pedometer everywhere, every day and log your steps (aiming for 10,000 a day), and they track your team's distance on a map of the world.  

I'm assuming it won't be too much of a challenge for me given I walk a lot anyway. I might as well do it for a cause and 'see' the world while I'm doing it, eh? I'm curious to see how far I walk in a day given that my job is not particularly sedentary, even though I'm a desk jockey.

I get to leave work before 4.00pm tomorrow. Yay. The downside is that I'm starting at 7.30am to greet clients as they arrive for a seminar my boss is running. I might have mentioned I'm not good at mornings...but I will get to see the sunrise and I've enjoyed helping to organise the seminar. 

I like it when I think I've eaten every morsel of tasty, tasty lamb in my casserole but then I find another surprise piece.

Tonight at the gym when I looked at the monitor on my exercise bike, most of the readings (heart rate, time, distance, calories etc) ended in '34'.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Awesomely bizarre

Goodness me, the world is a weird and wonderful place, isn't it?  If you're at all hesitant to agree, check out this gallery of bizarre animals. It really is mind-boggling the vast array of hideously, hilariously, and occasionally adorably strange creatures we share this planet with. Look at the blobfish! The star-nosed mole! The lamprey eel! The tree pangolin! The... oh, just look at them all and tell me you're not amazed.  I'm also surprised by how many of them I've never heard of before.

If, like me, you're facsinated by the strange life forms that live in the dark depths of the ocean, have a look at this gallery. Many are actually quite beautiful. But look at the piglet squid! Hahaha.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Willkommen bei Fröhlichen

Those Germans, eh? I always thought German was a rather unpleasant-sounding language, but it sure does make up for its lack of auditory appeal by having some awesome words - particularly words for quite specific things for which there is no equivalent word in English. 

We're all familiar with the wonderful  Schadenfreude, meaning to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others (it translates literally as 'damage joy'), and perhaps Weltschmertz (broadly meaning world weary), but they are just the tip of the German awesome word iceberg.  

Here's some more, which I gleaned from Adam Jacot de Boinod's I Never Knew There Was A Word For It.


Backpreifengesicht: a face that cries out for a fist in it.

Krawattenmuffel: one who doesn't like wearing ties.

Geisterfahrer: a person driving on the wrong side of the road.

Putzfimmel: a mania for cleaning.

Gruebelsucht: an obesession in which even the simplest facts are compulsively queried.

Korinthenkacker: one who is overly concerned with trivial details.

Fisselig: flustered to the point of incompetence.

Drachenfutter: the peace offerings that guilty husbands offer their wives (literally, dragon fodder!).

Urlaubsmuffel: a worker who is against taking vacations.

Torschlusspanik: the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older (often used in relation to women worried about getting too old to have kids).

Finally, one of my favourites, Katzenjammer, which I've blogged before. It means a very severe hangover. Not only is this a fantastic sounding word, but its literal meaning is hilarious - the noise made by extremely miserable cats! 

Those Germans, eh?  Oh, one more thing. In German, 'snap, crackle, pop'  is 'knisper, knasper, knusper'!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Party time, gig, pony grooming

Autumn colour

Luke and I ate dinner at the amusingly kitsch (but tasty) Gaylord's Indian restaurant last night (the place that lists its desserts on the menu under the heading "Happy Endings"). Our serviettes were folded into cones and sitting upright on the table. Luke put his on his head like a party hat. Ten minutes later the woman who sat down at the table next to us did the same thing (Luke had taken his off by this stage).

We went to see Graveyard Train at the Hi Fi Bar afterwards. I enjoyed it, but I think I enjoyed their Spiegeltent gig more, although maybe that's because it didn't start at 11.00pm. I might be getting too old for this...

I'm currently listening to the new Wagons album which was released yesterday. I like it, especially the long-awaited recording of 'Willie Nelson', one of the staple songs in the band's live act.

I spent half an hour today shampooing, conditioning and detangling the manes and tails of my recently acquired stable of My Little Ponies.  They are now on top of my TV, staring at me, all silky-haired.

I bought myself another colouring book. A My Little Pony colouring book! I was a tomboy as a kid (I still am a bit now), so I think I'm having a second girlhood.  It will be good practice before I start colouring in the beautifully illustrated colouring book I bought a few weeks ago.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fungii, night lights, skywheel

Look at all this fungus! I've seen numerous varieties on each side of the path walking to work beside the river. Lucky I took photos when I did, because they've all been lopped by the council mower man now. (Mushroom murderer!) 

Yesterday (when I was on late shift) was the first time I've been at my new job when it's got properly dark. It's so nice to look out and see the city lights all around. It really does help to ease the gloom of shorter days. There's too much reflection to take a photo unfortunately. Here's one of tonight's setting sun.

The Skywheel is back in town! It seems odd to bring it back for the cooler months, but I'm glad it's here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Compliments, presents, exactitude and pie.

I have worn a top to work twice in the past two weeks that has been in my wardrobe for more than 10 years. I have never received so many compliments on an item of clothing before! It's a 3/4 sleeved, V-neck top with fine diagonal purple and black stripes that meet at a mid-seam on the front and back. There's a little bit of silver thread through it too.

I forgot to mention yesterday that one of the young solicitors I work for returned yesterday from a trip to Thailand with a present for me - a colourful woven cotton scarf. What a sweetheart!

My grocery bill at the supermarket came to exactly $20.

I'm making shepherd's pie for dinner tomorrow night. Having someone to cook for and the cooler weather have combined to get me more excited about being in the kitchen.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lovely card, delicious quiche, Fleet Foxes

I received the most beautiful card in the mail from a friend today to mark the first anniversary of my Dad's death last week. She made the card herself (which she's very good at) and the words were so lovely they brought a tear to my eye. It makes me think that I should send nice cards to friends to make them happy...

I made the most delicious crustless quiche in all creation last night for dinner for Luke and me. Yummy  cheese n bacon goodness. There were leftovers and I thought about them all day at work and then at the gym. They're all gone now... My beetroot, feta and walnut salad was tasty too.

Check out this awesome Zen Habits post, which I think should be sub-titled "How to be happy".

I'm loving this Fleet Foxes song that Luke put on his mix tape for me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The cycle of life and cupcake coincidence

I know I've written many times how much I love the Royal Botanic Gardens, but I'm going to say it again: I LOVE the gardens.  One of the things I enjoy most is being able to feel like I'm close to nature despite living almost in the centre of a city.

Because I visit fairly regularly all year round, I witness the cycle of life repeating itself year after year - the hatching and growth of ducklings and cygnets, the breeding season of the turtles, new green shoots, tiny buds, flowers in full bloom and then decline, crisp pods rattling with seeds, the changing colours of the leaves, drifts of dry leaves on the ground, the return of the bees.

I went over to the gardens today with my camera. I was looking for the Fern Gully Rest House, but got a little lost finding it (after all this time....), but I did discover the herb garden. I knew there was one, but somehow I have never encountered it. Say it with me, "There's always something new to discover in the gardens."

The sun dial at the centre of the herb garden

I did eventually find the Fern Gully Rest House. I wanted to see if there was any little fungii growing on its mossy roof. I found one.

There's lots of spiders hiding in their little leaf houses throughout the gardens. See its legs poking out the bottom?

I saw two dead leaves stuck to a strand of spider web, blowing in the breeze as if they were dancing with each other. I visited the Ornamental Lake to see the eels (or eel, in this case) and the ducks.

Click here for more photos from my gardens jaunt. 

I walked into the city after the gardens and found myself at a bookshop. Bad move...or good move. I'm not sure. I bought three books, including a very handsome* hardcover Winnie-the-Pooh: The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems. I've been meaning to read it for years. 

I also bought the perfect birthday card for a friend. 

I had an ice-cream while sitting in light rain at Southbank and wandered into the city, where I ate a red velvet cupcake. It was only after I bought it that I noticed the sign saying the red velvet cupcakes were gluten-free. Hurrah! Of all the varieties I could have chosen...

I wandered about some more and then headed home. Did I mention my flatmate has moved out now? Yay for living alone again (for now at least).

* I've decided the word 'handsome' has gone into decline so I'm bringing handsome back.