Saturday, February 27, 2010

Glee: the sequel

The crowd builds

Two posts in one day! This is a first, but I want to strike while the iron is gleeful.  I went to see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the Myer Music Bowl again tonight and it was magnificent. I loved it!

Tonight's performance was an Opera Showcase - bits from various operas - and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Not that I expected not to like it. I've never been one of those people who scorns opera, but I don't own any and I've never really seen it live before. It's so powerful it gave me goosebumps at times. I'm gonna get me some of that on my iPod.

Although it was drizzly at times tonight, I still enjoyed the outdoor setting, high on the hill with the city lights to our left. I enjoyed the opportunity to wear my doona-esque parka in summer too. It got a little cool and breezy, but I was snug.

My friend Anna and I did more sewing practice at Thread Den today in preparation for making a skirt. There was a patchwork class in progress while we toiled away over our zips. When Anna successfully sewed in her first invisible zip, she said, "Yes!" and threw her arms in the air as if she'd just crossed the line in a marathon. A patchworker using the iron looked at us oddly and I said, "We're beginners". Maybe you had to be there..

New York, here I come!

I'M GOING TO NEW YORK CITY!!!!!!!! *squeals*  I booked my flights yesterday. I'm flying out on 14 May and returning on 29 May. I got a really good deal too, which is a nice little sweetener.

I haven't mentioned this before here (I dont think...) because I dread the reaction it usually provokes, but for you to fully understand the gleefulness of this trip, it should be revealed: this will be the first time I have set foot outside Australia. No, really. It's not that I have never wanted to travel, it's just not been at the top of my list of priorities for one reason or another. But I decided I was going to do it before I hit 40, and I am.

So, it's a big deal in more ways than one. And I'm doing it on my own! I can't deny that I'm a little daunted at doing it alone, but I'm also looking forward to it. I know I won't regret it one bit and it'll do me good to push myself outside my comfort zone -  personal growth blah, blah, blah.

Now I just need to work out what I'm doing while I'm there... Of course, I've already decided to visit the libary!

Speaking of doing things on my own, I went to see The White Stripes music doco Under Great White Northern Lights last night on my own and I didn't even feel like a friendless loser. There couldn't have been more than 20 people in the whole cinema and I think I was the only one flying solo, but it didnt bother me. Go, me.

There were only three people in the cinema when I walked in. I made my way to my allocated seat and it was right next to a not unattractive man all on his own too. I left a seat between us (not like it was sold out) and we had a chuckle and a quick chat...and then his girl friend showed up. Dang. Then another lone guy sat a seat away on the other side of me...and then his girlfriend showed up. Story of my life....

Anyhoo, the movie was great, not perfect, but certainly visually and aurally pleasing. It follows the band on a tour taking in every province in Canada to mark their 10th anniversary. They played gigs in small towns in a range of unlikely places, including a bowling alley and a pool hall, and also did a string of impromptu free performances, like the one on a bus where they had the passengers singing along to The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

There was lots of grainy black and white footage, both on stage and off. I love grainy monochrome pictures. The best was the film shot at Iqaluit, waaaaaaaay up in the far north of Canada, where Meg and Jack went for a wander against a backdrop of stark and desolate scenery, including the beach and a cemetery with rows of white wooden crosses. Beautiful.

This is macabre, but I really like cemetries - to look at, I mean. When I was watching Meg and Jack at the cemetery I thought, "Hmmm...maybe I could visit the cemetery in New York...." Yep, I've googled New York cemeteries. Am I strange?

The final scene in the doco was the most powerful - Meg and Jack sitting at a piano as he played and sang White Moon. About half way through, tears rolled down Megs cheeks. Meg is so painfully shy and hardly speaks during the doco which makes the scene so much more affecting.

Oh, and Jack White....I could watch that man all day long.

Here's a bit of the Iquluit footage (wouldn't fit properly, dammit - click on it to view on YouTube).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

So much excitement!

So much stuff to look forward to! I love this time of year - it's Moomba in a couple of weeks, which brings big crowds, ski jumping competitions, colourful carnival rides and fireworks to town. It can be a bit lame but sometimes they have good bands playing for free and I like the atmosphere. It's great for taking photos too.

Then not long after Moomba the Melbourne International Comedy Festival hits town, which also brings a nice buzzy atmosphere to the CBD. I love the Comedy Festival - who doesn't like to laugh? -  although flicking through the festival guide makes me a bit anxious because there's so much to see, but only so much time and money...Decisions, decisions.

In the more immediate future though....I only found out today that The White Stripes' documentary Under Great White Northern Lights is showing in Melbourne for three days only, starting tonight! How did I not know this? I found out from a friend who doesn't even like The White Stripes.  They're one of my favourite bands and Jack White is one of my celebrity crushes. (Yup, I likes the pasty, dark-haired, kooky ones...) I'm going to see the doco after work tomorrow night. Can't wait.

AND! AND! I also have a date on Sunday. Ooooh. It's just a casual drinks thing with a boy from Twitter. Twitter is ace! 

Saving the best for last...

The most exciting thing is that I'M GOING TO NEW YORK CITY IN MAY! Aiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! OK, I haven't booked anything, but I'm on the brink of shelling out the money and I've ramped up my savings.   

It's super exciting, but also a little scary because I'm not well travelled and I'm going all on my lonesome. I can't wait around for a travelling companion to come along...

I'll be going for two weeks. Please feel free to offer me any advice on what I should see and do.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MSO at the Bowl and new shades

I saw the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the Myer Music Bowl tonight. It's the third time I've seen them perform in under six months and I think this was my favourite of the three performances (not because it was free either!).

It was less formal, the crowd was more diverse, I was familiar with some of the pieces (excerpts from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream) and there's just something nice about listening to music in the open air, especially with the city as a backdrop and the sun setting over your shoulder. 

I'm going again on Saturday night for the final of the series of four free concerts.

I got me some prescription sunglasses. Yay. I had been using an old pair of glasses with clip-on sunglasses, but they're small and didn't cut out enough glare, so I decided it was time for a proper pair of prescription ones. It's such a relief not to be Squinty McSquint anymore. And they're kinda cool too...

What's also pleasing is that after claiming on my insurance, they only set me back $140. Not bad for a pair of Vera Wang prescription sunglasses, eh? I reckon I must be one of the few people who gets back more than they spend on private health insurance (but then I only have extras, not hospital).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Birthday and feng shui

Pink sky at night....

It was my adorable quasi-nephew's third birthday today so I travelled out to visit, presents in hand. Of course I was pleased that he played with my presents all afternoon  - a Bob The Builder chainsaw (with moving, whirring 'blade') and a purple car that makes revving and wheelie noises. ("Is it a Hummer?" he asked.) Still, I guess cars and power tools will always win out over clothes and books. Aunty Jayne rocks!  He chainsawed the furniture ("Why are you sawing the couch?" "It's my job.") and tried to chainsaw his cousin but she ran off.

My flatmate did a feng shui make-over of the loungeroom this morning. I'm very skeptical about the whole feng shui thing, but the place sure does look better. More welcoming and roomier. I likes it. It's fun changing the furniture around. It's a tiny bit like being in a new place.

Before the couches were in an L-shape, one with its back to the door which apparently is a feng shui faux pas.

If I do suddenly meet the love of my life or win the lottery, I'll know who to thank though...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Surprise book

A duck in the gardens tonight

Online shopping really is great for enlivening an otherwise ho-hum day at work. I was sitting at my desk this morning enduring yet another day of mental inertia when the book I ordered from Amazon a few weeks back arrived. Yay. I'd nearly forgotten about it, so it was a nice surprise.

It's a very nice book too - the 150th anniversary illustrated edition of Henry David Thoreau's Walden. It's cloth-bound and has beautiful colour photographs tracking the seasons at Walden Pond (near Concord, Massachusetts, US). It's now sitting on my bedside table while I finish the book I'm reading.

I'm currently reading Capital by Kristin Otto, which is about the time from 1901-1927 when Melbourne was the capital city of Australia. I'm not very far in yet but I read about how Prime Minister Alfred Deakin used to walk from his house into town across "Anderson Bridge". That's right near me! I walk that way to work too! The house he lived in is a few minutes walk from my place, on Walsh Street.

Walden was a reward to myself for sticking to my allergy elimination diet. This week's reward was a half-hour massage which I had at lunch time today.  Hmmm...what will I give myself next week? I'm thinking either a professional eyebrow shaping or manicure, things I wouldn't normally pay for.

Rewarding yourself is fun!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A loss equals a win

You may have seen on my other blog that the tree outside my window was cut down yesterday. Normally tree-felling wouldn't be a source of glee, being a fan of trees, as I am, but the absence of said tree gives me a virtually uninterruped view to the horizon from my bed.

And not just any old boring horizon, but the bit of it where the sun comes up. I reckon it's pretty damned special to be able to watch the sun rise from your third floor flat, so close to the centre of a sprawling city, without even getting out from under your doona.

Last night I left my blind up when I went to bed so I would be woken up by the golden sunshine. I got up, took a couple of photos, then pulled the blind down and went back to bed for an hour.

Yes, sunrise was 7.00 am, generally considered a quite respectable hour to be up, but not by me. I do really like being up around sunrise on the rare occasions when it happens, but I don't need to get up that early on a work day and I'm too chronically tired to get up - and stay up - just for the sake of it.

I can also see the Nylex Clock from my bed. I wish they'd hurry up and repair the bloody thing so that if I'm lying in bed at night and feeling curious about the time or temperature, I just have to lift my head and look out the window (well, after putting my glasses on). If the Powers That Be are reading this, GET ON IT, ALREADY! It's been forever.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ducklings, flowers and a bug

I had another bird-related moment of glee today - tiny ducklings swimming on a pond at the Botanic Gardens with mother and father duck. They were so cute with their little brown beaks, paddling about trying to snap up the bread someone was feeding them (which is naughty and I was tempted to tell her so that she'd stop and the ducks would swim away from her and come closer to me. But I didn't).  Unfortunately I couldn't get a clear shot of them.

I saw eels in the Ornamental Lake again too - two of them swimming right in the shallowest part.

Some photos:

Hungry swan looking for an easy feed.

Every rose...

...has its thorns.  Ouch!

Little purple flower

I forget what this is called. Soldier beetle? Harlequin bug?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A new(ish) friend and big birds

(Taken from very far away so doesn't really convey their bigness)

This morning I saw my osteopath for (most likely) the last time before he moves with his wife to Canberra. I've been seeing him at least monthly for the past five years and had struck up quite a rapport in that time. I saw him more often than I saw a lot of my friends after all.

So I'm sad that today was the last time I will see him. Going to the osteo just won't be the same without our chats and his sense of humour,  plus he's always been really good at squeezing me in if I need a "tune up" (as he calls it). You can just tell the guy really cares about his patients.

I was hoping we might stay in touch, but didn't want to be the one to suggest it in case going from a practitioner-patient relationship to being friends wasn't appropriate. But he told me to look him up on Facebook so...yay!  I have a new (old) friend.

Big birds

As I was walking back from the osteo, I saw a pair of very large birds soaring above the top of the new sports stadium. As they flew directly overhead I saw it was a pair of pelicans. Not a rare bird by any means, but certainly a fairly rare sight in the skies around where I live.

For a bird that looks ungainly and even comical on land, they were very graceful in flight as they made wide circles of the area almost until I reached home. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thunder and laughing

After close to a week of hot humid weather, we had a big storm today and what a relief it was. It had passed by the time I left work so I walked home in the rain. I didn't mind that my purple suede flats got squelchy and the bottom of my pants was soaking wet and flapping about my ankles.

I met another Twitter friend last night. Dom was down from Sydney and took me with him to a comedy showcase, which was great - great to meet him since we've struck up quite the online friendship based on some common interests, but also a great night of laughs. I realised recently in response to a question on Formspring that I don't laugh enough. That's just not right!  Last night helped to redress that a tiny bit.  If only someone could appear in front of me every day and sing humourous songs about the Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book. I want roving comedians at work, dammit.

Dom introduced me to some of the comics performing and others who were in the audience (I think he knew everyone in the room) and of course I was all, "Oh, I meet people off the telly every day," at the time, but now I'm telling you about it because secretly I thought it was very cool.

Oh, and Dom gave me a copy of Wacky Wednesday by Dr Seuss, which I read while waiting for my tram home. Sweet!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let's play blog tag...sort of

See what I got? Whee. Bill from Billablog bestowed this award on me, which is very kind of him. I'm very chuffed. Thanks Bill.

The way it works is that I now have to share with you seven interesting things about myself, and then tag another seven bloggers to do likewise. 

This is actually harder for me than it sounds because I've done one of these things on here before and also I'm a relentless oversharer in cyberspace (to wit: more than 12,000 tweets on Twitter in less than 12 months...), so I'm not sure I will be able to dredge up anything that's new, much less interesting.

But here goes:

1. I often feel out of step with people because I just don't seem to care about a lot of the same things they do. Like wine. Alcohol in general, really. And getting drunk (then regaling my workmates with the tedious details). The  Spring Racing Carnival. Fashion. Designer clothing. The Biggest Loser. Having a huge TV. Fake nails. Nightclubs. What's cool and what's not. The zealous pursuit of cleanliness. Women's magazines. Twilight. Celebrities. The list goes on... But I don't mind.

2.  I'm not a very girly girl (but you can probably tell that from my photo). I plan never to grow my hair long again.

3.  I'm convinced my laptop is a sentient being. And it hates me (but I'd hate me two if I punched myself in the hard drive and broke it).

4. I swear way too much (which will not be news to anyone who follows me on Twitter).

5. I'm having hypnotherapy to help me complete my allergy elimination diet. I was sceptical, but it seems to be helping (well, one week in, anyway). Hypnosis made my brain tingle. For serious.

6. I've been a sleepwalker for most of my life, though much less so in the past five years. I still regularly do stuff in my sleep that doesn't involve getting out of bed and walking around - like turning my laptop on or fiddling with stuff on my bedside table. (No, I've never sleep e-mailed/texted/tweeted, but I did once ring my office by accident and hung up when I realised.)

7.  I'm addicted to Twitter. It's so simple and streamlined and not bogged down with lots of useless nonsense like some other social networking sites. I love being part of a network of Melbourne people (even if I haven't met most of them) and I also get a buzz out of seeing news on there before it hits the mainstream media (although my non-Twitter friends are probably getting sick of hearing me say, "Yeah, I heard it on Twitter".)

And now I'm supposed to bestow the award on seven other bloggers...I know it's bad, but I never do this bit. Feel free to tag yourself or - better still - list for me seven random facts about you in the comments. Or how about listing in the comments seven bloggers you think deserve the Beautiful Blogger award. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Domestic goddess is happy

I have had a very domesticated weekend, which is unusual for me. I'm not much for the cleaning and cooking and stuff.  I do what I have to do to avoid living in squalor and starving, but I'm not dedicated to the domestic arts. I am of the opinion that there is almost always a more enjoyable and life-enhancing way to use my spare time.

But you know, I actually feel really pleased with my efforts this weekend. I've grocery shopped, cooked food for my lunches during the week, had a mini-spring clean, ironed clothes that have been sitting in my ironing basket for months, taken up a hem by hand on a new pair of trousers, mended the hems on several other pairs of pants, washed and folded my laundry (including sheets and dooner cover) and made my bed both days.

I actually feel a sense of achievement, which scares me a little bit. How can I be so easily pleased by such mundane things?  Things I don't even like doing? Domestic drudgery, for god's sake! Am I that small minded?

Apparently, yes. It is nice knowing my flat is clean. It is nice knowing I can reach into my wardrobe and find that pink shirt to wear to work next week. It is nice not leaving a new pair of work trousers in the wardrobe for months until I get around to having them taken up. It is nice actually doing the job myself. It is nice knowing that my work trousers are looking a little bit smarter than they have been (even if no one notices). It is nice to have a fresh doona cover on my bed, all my clothes washed and neatly folded and put away ready for the week ahead.  It is nice having something different and tasty to eat which I made myself from scratch (even if it's only because of this allergy elimination diet I'm on which virtually precludes eating anything that isn't homemade).

It probably isn't that small-minded really. It's not just that I enjoy everything looking neat and clean and organised - I actually get a real feeling of being in control when everything in my living space is in order.  An orderly physical environment seems to clear a little psychic clutter as well, and that's always a good thing.

It's also the case that I wrote a to-do list this weekend - as I do nearly every weekend (yes, I know) - and most of the tasks I completed were on that list. If you've been reading this for a while, you will know I love crossing jobs off my to-do list.

And anyway, even if it is small minded to some, I believe it's far easier to be happy when you can derive satisfaction and pleasure from the unremakable events and activities of every day life. Which is the idea that underpins this whole blog!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

More flattery...

This is my new Hot Wheels pencil case. How kind of the manufacturer to put "HOT" in there where my name is meant to go. Thanks, guys. (First a complimentary fish, now a pencil case...)

I have customised now.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fishing for compliments

This is the rare and special flattery fish, drawn by my Twitter pal Airlee Bee.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day

I've got a new equal favourite Dr Seuss book  - Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! It's not entirely his work because it was published after his death in 1991 using some notes, illustrations and fragments verse he left behind, but it's still unmistakeably Seuss in many ways.

The notes and drawings were fleshed out and pulled together by children's poet Jack Prelutsky and illustrator Lane Smith into a story about the unconventional Diffendoofer School in Dinkerville where the kids learn "lots of things not taught at other schools", like listening, and smelling and laughing and yelling and why a hippo can't fly.

The librarian is unconventional also.

Miss Loon is our librarian
She hides behind the shelves,
And often cries out "LOUDER!"
When we're reading to ourselves

I love that bit (sometimes I forget I'm not actually a librarian).

Anyway, one day the students are told they are to be given a special test to see which school is the best and if they don't do well, the school will be torn down and they will all have to transfer to "dreary Flobbertown"...

"Not Flobbertown!" we shouted
And we shuddered at the name,
For everyone in Flobbertown
Does everything the same.

A teacher called Miss Bonkers reassures the pupils:

"Don't fret!" she said,
You've learned the things you need
To pass that test and many more -
I'm certain you'll succeed.
We've taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more -
We've taught you how to think."

And of course they get top score of all the schools around and a holiday is declared to celebrate, Diffendoofer Day. Yays!

I just love kids books that carry a message about how it's OK to be different and to think for yourself (which is also why I love Aaron Blabey's books). Who the hell would want to live in Flobbertown?

The book also has a section at the back explaining how it came into existence, which includes Theodore Geisel's (Dr Seuss' real name) original pencil notes and drawings, which is pretty cool.