Tuesday, December 25, 2007

merry christmas everyone!

we hqve reql chq,pqgne! huzzah!

also v odd keyboqrd so zill not tqx yr pqtience qny further: : :

Monday, December 24, 2007

louvre and notre dame

had a fabulous time at the louvre the other day, saw such brilliant sculpture. i went all through the italian renaissance and saw lovely marbles and then spent the afternoon in the egyptian section - actual mummies, very sad. lovely pink granite sphynix too. louvre was packed out. people got cranky at me for looking at the sculptures when they were trying to have their photos taken in front of them. still, managed to see amny beautilful things and have an ace time. i want to go back and check out the french sculpture section. it's enormous!

yesterday we did wandering (many pretty things to buy) and climbed the arc de triomphe after dark - amazing views. it's not nearly as cold here as in amsterdam. huzzah!

all the crhissy lights are up and there's people everywhere. my french is totally good. i asked for three stamps to australia today, and the woman understood and told me the price very slowly in french so i would undersatnd. except i suck at numbers so i still had to read it off the cash register. anyways. i am v. impressed with myself.

g+b off at gregorian chants. we have spent a lot of time in cathedrals, snorting frankensense.

love to all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

sculpture floats my boat

spent this afternoon wandering round a deserted sculpture garden in minus two - it was glorious. all the leaves were frozen, so i crunched as i walked over oak leaves to find sculptures hidden in the forest. saw some beautiful things, including a bunch of barbara hepworth's early work, two moores and a claus olsenburg. also lots of 1950s cubist sculptures, mostly in steel. very beautiful.

we went out to the de hoge veluwe national park, where grot was chasing van gogh. she and bbb had a lovely time looking through the museum while i explored the garden.

caught all sorts of pt to get out there, very adventurous of us, especially in the cold. we have lots of photos of all these things, but no way of getting them onto the computer, so i will have to do binge photo-posts again on my return.

poffergies and ollibolen hit the spot on the way back to the hotel.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

amsterdam is cool

whee! i logged in! hahaaaaa! computer looses!

ahem. we're in amsterdam! wheee! it's very cold and very pretty. we have been to lots of galleries and museums (except almost everywhere seems to be undergoing renovations so is missing most of the collection - booo) and spending lots of time window shopping. there are bicycles everywhere! bicycles and bicycles! i want them all!

bbb and i spent a day riding round the city (along the canals) and out to nice parks, where all the puddles were frozen.

spent today window shopping. so many beautiful things to buy! got some nice bike toys and postcards. the streets are very beautiful - all tall crowded buildings and cobblestone streets. most people here speak dutch and english and are very friendly and helpful. having a lovely time.

will post again soonish now i've figured out how to login.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

four sleeps

the procrastination gods are making me pay. again.
lookit the pretty pictures!

i have marked about fifty essays (nearly there). i've got some euros, brand new asthma meds ($$$!) and tiny travel shampoo. i have a cv and a kind of, horrible, messed up proposal. three days to go! oh and i have to mark sixty exams after tomorrow as well.

winifred and i have been having study dates at the vancouver public library. the vpl is a beautiful deconstructed sort of building downtown. it's always packed out, but very quiet, and we've spent many productive hours there. plus going for long lunches with gossip and processing. which is also very productive, in its own way.

ziggy is celebrating hanakkah, and has had friends over each night to light more candles on the menorah. the other day they tried to remember some driedel songs and ended up singing a medley of raffi songs instead. "you brush your teeth, ch ch ch ch ch. . . "

the snow has all melted (except on the hill). now it is sunny and very cold. my lettuces coped fine, which is very exciting:

and this is the view from a friend's back veranda. it's typical east-van scenery.

right. back to how my background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities or challenges, motivated my decision to pursue a graduate degree at the university of *****.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

from g+b

We are speaking french!
Bring all black clothes
We are in the middle of all sorbonne students
Room v musty and smokers in restaurants - asthma beaucoup
Food tres bien
Xxx g

Monday, December 03, 2007

snow is fun

so beautiful! and so cold! it snowed all saturday, big fluffy flakes, and everybody wandered round in big coats, looking awestruck. except the cyclists, who looked cool in big coats, with helmets over their padded hoods and scarves up over their noses.
miriam and i had an exciting experience on the way to a brunch - she stopped at an intersection going uphill and the car got stuck! the wheels were spinning gently, and i was squeaking, but she was cool (cos a local girl), and then i got out and pushed the car out of the rut. i felt very tough and manly.

later i got to use the snow brush thingy to clear the car off:

two concerts on the weekend - one gospel choir (v. good fun, with singing along and hand clapping) and handel's messiah. on the way back from the first one miriam, her friend P and i stopped in stanley park and had a snow ball fight amongst all the great dark trees. then we made snow angels - it was perfect. and very very cold. oh yes.

now it's 12 degrees and raining. warm. balmy.

g+b are in paris by now, i think. eee!

Saturday, December 01, 2007


happy b'day to grotty! you will run away from summer soon!

(yesterday in aus)


squee! so pretty! i woke up this morning and there were big fat flakes. it has stopped snowing right now, but the forecast was for flurries this morning and *serious* snow in the evening, so there's hope yet.

i am making faces cos it's so damn cold. can't smile in minus two!

Friday, November 30, 2007

found on my morning walk

yes, the fallen leaves are frozen.

final day of teaching

had my last classes yesterday. it's kinda sad. i'll miss the little buggers.

a bit.

and i usually run a good it turned out to be a day of evaluating. first i made all five tutorials fill in evaluation forms about me. i feel like i have a good relationship with most of my studentstutorial. they made jokes about me being for the chop - i figure that's a good sign!

i also had the prof sitting in on one class for her to evaluate me, which i'm also not worried about. it was a good class. we talked about the upcoming exam and then did a character map of the play, with a focus on class and gender and the movements between them. smelly felts and big sheets of paper are a crowd pleaser, also v. educational. we got some good discussion going in the end.

then i coordinated a lecture hall of 100 students filling in evaluations of the prof. that could have done with more forward planning on my part.

then i had a packing out office hour, mainly workshopping on thesis statements for their final essay. i like working one-on-one with students. it's very satisfying.

then i came home and did some serious chillaxing after all that being-judged.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

poooooor ned kelly

wheeee! australiana! mask is from g+b (ta!) and the eucalypts are from the local florist. very good they smell too.

i actually wore the ned helmet back from the grocers this afternoon, because it's nice and warm. just the thing to keep your nose toasty on a freezing cold day. there was lots of snow on campus yesterday. i was very glad to get off the hill and into my nice cozy apartment, where ziggy was making apple crumble. i showed her my new toy and tried to explain what it meant. she said "so he's like a terrorist?"

still working on phd apps. it's a very involved process. after you've done all the figuring where to apply to and when the due dates are you put together an application package (or two, often, going to different places at the university) which generally includes transcripts from each previous institution, three reference letters, a writing sample (25p academic work), a research proposal, academic cv, and statement of purpose (essentially "i'm the best student in the world for x, y and z reasons, you're the best university in the world for x, y and z reasons - we belong together!" except with more name dropping). some of this stuff goes in the mail, some of it is on electronic forms and some of it has to come direct from previous institutions or referees. figuring out who wants what and when and where is half the fun.

so far i have the transcripts in the mail (cross fingers - i filled in lots and lots of forms at both institutions), the ball rolling on reference letters, and decent drafts of all the other stuff, except the statement of purpose, which has to be individually tailored for each program you're applying to. i hate writing these statements, and often think it would be easier if i were an american. it's so uncool to talk yourself up in australia or canada. but i'm not doing too badly, on the whole. slowly and surely, with lots of cursing and whimpering.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

bookshelves and reminiscing

i'm really very happy about the way my bookshelf looks now, with all its decoration. see, that's the picturebooks up the top left, then graphic novels, then general fiction (alphabetical by surname) and misc, with hardcore theory down the bottom right. if you click on the picture you can see more closely to browse my collection. I do still have occasional pangs for my many books packed in boxes in the 'dale (with g+b caretaking). today i was remembering my enormous hardback book of famous photographs (it is just called "photo" if i remember correctly, which isn't much help) and my fabulous hardback two volume OED (c/o the rellies).

hmmm. too many big decisions. more herbal tea! tea is the answer!

Monday, November 26, 2007

photos from home

the fire goddess doing her thing on bbb's woodfire pizza oven

grot's first water lily!

the family, in the longest photo shoot ever

Vancouver, BC



High: 3°C



Low: 0°C

Saturday, November 24, 2007


sorry i am awol at pres - asthma of death and pain means no talking and no concentrating. hopefully will be back soon.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

vote the bastards out

just realised this my last chance to say please, please, vote the bastards out. no more howard, i just can't cope. often the only thing canadian activist types know about australia is that we lock up refugees in the desert and have a prick for prime minister, who the public inexplicably votes back in again and again.

and again, in song:

i would also like to make a plea for left-leaning types to give the greens first preference. as commenters on this blog have pointed out, labour isn't much better than the liberals at this point. if the greens hold the balance of power maybe they can keep the bastards honest. here's a slightly patronising video which explains how your vote for the green can still get rid of howard. or, here, go to this website and listen to lovely bob brown explaining why he's cool. also their policies totally rock. did you know they have female candidates? it's totally wild.

we all know howard's a lying rodent. do the right thing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

salt spring island

mmm, island holidays. i luuuuurve island holidays. miriam and i had an excursion to salt spring this time, to stay with some friends. it's another one of the little islands between vancouver and vancouver island. lots of ferries and scrabble and drinking wine.

click on the photos to make them bigger - that one above was taken at midday, btw.

stunning view + rainbow:
if you look down the bottom there you can see boats - this was the view to the mainland. you could see the lights of vancouver on a clear night. the stars were so bright (big dipper, little dipper, casio pia) and the trees all dark and pointy. beautiful! the other half of the rainbow:

saltspring used to be inhabited by hippies, as far as i understand, and now houses a strange mix of hippies, yuppies, loggers and hardcore christians. the town we were near was small and cute, with lots of very good bookshops and local handicrafts.

this is a park near the centre of town:

we did a bit of shopping and i got smelly things. yumness:

now i am back in the big bad city, catching up on paperwork and housework. good news - i have a job next semester! i'll be TAing for a medieval literature subject. i just met the prof i'll be working for, and she seems very nice. she's been friends for years with the prof i'm currently working for, which is also a positive sign, as current-prof and i have bonded. i asked new-prof what i should start reading and she said "beowulf." (it's very funny if you're a lit-nerd; beowulf is generally accepted as the first piece of english literature.)

it is properly winter here. top of 7 predicted for most of this week (but sunny!) and it snowed up at uni over the weekend. i just put two wool coats in for drycleaning.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm working on my PhD proposal/statement of purpose, largely by cannibalising old proposals on a similar topic. My writing style has changed dramatically in the last year. Maybe it's just the effect of writing another, say, 30,000 words in the last year, or of marking (and thus reading critically) two or three times that amount of text, or even a sign of my concerted effort to damn well argue something in every essay i wrote last semester. Or maybe I'm becoming a pushy north American.

electioneering meets camwhoring

see my new hair! shiny!

i trotted off the embassy after my lecture yesterday, feeling very grown up and politicised. they wouldn't let me set up my how to vote box cos they had to call sixteen million people first to check it was okay, so i have to call them tomorrow and see how it went. otherwise i'll have to find out where the expats hang in vancouver and do a poster run. or something.

i voted. that was kinda cool. but lonely. i dunno. yay for the democratic process!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

what i'm reading

it's been too long!

i judge people by their bookshelves, so i enjoy this exercise. don't know if you lot do. well?

as usual we have a mixture of teaching, "good for me" reading and plain enjoyable/fluff.

in the teaching category i'm reading the roaring girl and other plays, which are 16/17th plays about london. lots of sex jokes, which the editors have duly footnoted and translated. i'm working a lesson around this observation. . .

i'm also marking essays about anne and awake and dreaming. They're both local books - the kit pearson is set in vancouver and victoria, which is very enjoyable. apparently the author does tours of the cemetery in victoria. i'd love to go. the fat green book is perry nodelman's words about pictures, the classic picturebook criticisms book. highly recommended.

in the "good for me" category i have the fat book on the louvre (very good fun) and, yes, a children's chapter book *in* french. it's slow going but satisfying. i read it aloud and use hte pictures to help me along. next i'm going to tackle harry potter in french. i figure it's predictable and familiar enough to work.

plain enjoyable is bridget jones (always make me snort aloud), doctor dolittle and ivan coyote. i may have mentioned ivan coyote. so very good.

the end.

ps. are you reading anything fun?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

i like pie!

ziggy got a huge box of apples from her friend's tree, so we have had hot and cold running apple pie and apple crumble for weeks now. here's the pie miriam and i made. it was delicious!

i just did a practise run of my picturebook lecture. it went for 50 mins, so i can chop it down a little. last time i lectured i was way too short, so this is very good news. i still have to make a bit of a conclusion. unfortunately my tutorial today was a whole new sort of boring and nasty (i hate teaching referencing systems) so i'm not feeling jazzed up for teaching. i'm sure it'll be fine once i get in front of an audience.

new hair, very exciting! (not that hair in the pie pic - much better). pics to follow.

Monday, November 12, 2007

picturebook lecture

taken during a lovely sunny day a while ago. we had a fabulous storm this morning. the world was white with fog. all you could see were great black tree branches trashing and the rain belting sidewards at the window.

i have been writing my picturebook lecture all day, which is very satisfying. i so enjoy picturebooks and picturebook theory. i'm lecturing at one of the colleges (like TAFE) about how to read an image in a picturebook, which is a topic i'm very interested in. I'm starting from the very beginning, and explaining left-to-right and depth perception and that sort of thing, and working through relationships between characters; style, colour and repeated shapes; framing, layout and the relationship between text and image.

i'll put an extract below. the bits in ALL CAPS are notes to remind me to show a specific illustration to demonstrate a point. the prof has booked a very exciting machine which projects an image of anything you put below it. in the past when i did presentations on picturebooks i've spent hours and hours scanning each individual image, adjusting the colours and so forth, saving it as a jpg and compiling the images into powerpoint, which is effective but very labour intensive. with this thingy i can just put the book into the machine and point out the relevant bits with my finger. it means i can use a lot more pictures, too, cos it's not such a hassle. anyway, this is still very drafty, but you get the picture. (ha! picture! see!):

"In Western culture we read text from left to right, so we also read the action in illustrations from left to right. If ever a character in a book is running they will run from the left hand side of the page to the right. We also assume that what’s happening on the right hand side of the page happens later than what happens on the left, so if a character is throwing a pie in the face of another character the pie will fly from left to right. ROSIE’S WALK. This is a picturebook from Israel. NODELMAN You see the Hebrew is read from right to left, and the direction of the train is from right to left. This illustration is rather disconcerting to Western viewers who aren’t used to action moving this way. Tell Anne Spudvilas story about her first book.

We use the information about left to right movement to read the action in a story. MAX SAILS TOWARDS ISLAND. We also use it, more subtly, to read when something is going wrong. MAX CHASES DOG W FORK. IDA’S TERRIBLE MISTAKE. When things start going right for Ida she moves from left to right. Movement from right to left can also indicate a home coming (vis. home-away-home pattern) MAX RETURNING, but not always. Rosie, for instance, walks solidly from left to right to get away from home and from left to right to return home. In this case picturebook convention overrides logical meaning. (But did anyone notice that? I certainly didn’t.)"

see how well my lettuces are going! though i haven't checked them since the storm, so i probably should do that. they tend to get buried in fallen leaves.

they still need thinning, which i do whenever i feel i haven't had enough greens.


bonza week in mail surprises!

from VTA, via chicory's human:

very entertaining magnets!

lovely friendly letter from john winston (click on image to make it big enough to read, hopefully) and nummy chocolate!

from nanny, via JT:
shiny congratulation card!

from bbb and grot:
funky australiana and liz stringer cd! eeee!

from nimmersatt and the hard farmer:

glorious mountains from exciting european jaunts.

love you all! watch yr mailboxes. . .

Thursday, November 08, 2007

i'd rather stab myself in the eye with a fork than vote for the liberals OR why i love the interwebs

lookeee! from politichicks. website linked here. go. buy things.

‘Vote Liberal? My Arse!’ undies – Now in new hotsy-totsy leopard print. Wear your political heart on your backside. And let your most intimate friends know you’d rather stab yourself in the eye with a fork than vote for the Liberal Party.

'JOHN HOWARD LIES' - BLACK T shirt. Bold, simple, and cooler than fuck, our fuzzy letter-esque tees are the shit you must have during the all-important election campaign. Because if there's anything the electorate needs reminding about, it's that Our Leader is - at best - loose with the truth.

i also found this on a different site:

anyone got anything better to say about k.rudd than "he's probably not as bad as howard"? i'm kinda out of the loop.

dark! cold!

i'm finding it hard to adjust to daylight savings. i left my office at 5pm and it was pitch black. i know it's only getting darker and damper from now on.

thankfully life is going well. i'm still plugging away at phd applications (i hatehatehate writing proposals!) and teaching and marking. i'm giving a guest lecture next week, so i'm preparing for that too. more on that later - i'm very excited! teaching is going well. we played "anywhere but here" in the name round, which went down well. my supervising prof greeted me with "it must be that time of year. epponnee-rae's stopped spiking her hair and i'm lecturing in jeans." hah!

in tutorial we spent a long time going through john donne's poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," which was fun. i drew diagrams on the board and explained the penis joke, and the students did some good interpreting and translating. i'm proud that i've mostly succeeded in creating the sort of noisy, friendly, creative classroom space i wanted. then i made them use the poem to do an exercise on thesis statements, which also got them talking. i hope this will improve the next batch of essays. . .

here are the pumpkin photos i wanted to post like sixteen million years ago. first, how the pumpkins looked all lit up. their round little bellies make me so happy!

second, some of the roasted pumpkin seeds miriam made from their insides. they were delicious.

we were going to make their outsides into pumpkin pie after halloween, but we left it a bit long, and now they have gone to be with the great pumpkin in the sky. ziggy assures me they're happy there.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

naked bike ride

squee! photo!

remember ages ago i was surprised by 50 lingerie clad or naked people speeding down commercial drive at midnight?
(photo stolen from the interwebs - i did not have the presence of mind to document the experience)

oh canada

Okay, it *really* won't let me upload photos. It might be time to pay for our very own internet connection.

My news, um - i finished the GRE! It actually wasn't that bad. I spent three hours filling in little bubbles with a 2B pencil then bought a fat book about the Louvre as a reward. I don't get the marks from this exam for six weeks (!!!) but I think I went okay. There were lots of questions on material I knew very well and could answer immediately, lots of stuff I didn't know very well but had read or memorised in the last two weeks and could answer after a bit of thought, lots of stuff I was able to make an educated guess on (the way the points work rewards educated guessing) and only five I had to leave blank cos of having no clue at all. That's probably all I can tell you, cos of signing a stat dec about not revealing the content of the test to anybody.

Now I'm working on PhD applications and trying to figure out where I should live for the next five or so years. It's a hard decision, as always. Right now I'm loving Canada - this dude in hard hat and overalls just knocked on the door and warned me that if I needed to have a shower or cook stuff I should do so now cos they're going to cut off the water for a couple of hours (burst main). Which, when I write it like that, sounds more annoying than anything, but do the workmen go individually to every house in the block in Australia and give them advance warning? I don't remember it ever happening. And the other day a Ticket Nazi helped me figure out which train I wanted to catch, being very polite and "Ma'am"ing me. And when I was riding home at 1am last night a car stopped in a roundabout and let me go through first.

Ah, the idealism of youth. Ziggy's friend nearly got run over on a pedestrian crossing the other day (wearing a reflective raincoat) and the driver followed him down the street abusing him. These things happen too.

Where was I? Oh, lord, that's right. I was replying to all the emails from my students about their next assignment. I should get back to that and stop blathering about the Canadian stereotype.

Monday, November 05, 2007


i've been trying and trying to post, but the internet hates me. please take this opportunity to imagine some photos of pumpkins and autumn leaves.

i have a ticket to paris in my hot little hands. huzzah!

Friday, November 02, 2007

photos from JT

thanks, jt! they're beautiful. i do miss gumtrees, you cruel auntie!

this is the same lake jt sent me pictures of in summer. remember this?

glad it's not as dry anymore.

i have little news. i have my last exam in the wee hours tomorrow - wish me luck! my main worry are the american poets and novelists. somehow i have managed to do seven years of tertiary education without seriously studying any americans. i've discovered i like robert frost and herman melville, and dislike faulker, emerson and hemingway. never say the GRE doesn't teach you anything!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

your essay would be improved by a stronger thesis

i have been binge-marking all day, cos i kinda left about fifty essays to mark in three days. i have a new red pen and am totally in the zone.

autumn is beautiful. it's hardly been raining at all. squee!
(those are my toes peeking in at the bottom. leaves from the tree in the photo above.)