Monday, June 30, 2008

in other news

i went and saw the long road north, a film about some people who decided to cycle from patagonia (tip of southern america) to the arctic circle (canada). it took them 18 months.

now i've decided i want to cycle around scandinavia.

mail love

ooo, so many good things in the post the last few weeks! i've been too tired/busy/lazy to update as they came through, so here's some images in a bunch.

first was itchy's fabulon, long-awaited, beautifully crafted "short but interesting photographic journey through the city of melbourne." i love it to bits!

that's the cover. when you open it it unfolds accordion style, and the story continues on both sides, leading us through some of my favourite bits of melbourne. nostalgia and "i've been there!" moments abound.

it also came with a very clever moo card with a photo by itchy:

then was fabulon b'day pres from g+b, the more exciting for being several weeks early and thus completely unexpected. huzzah for forward planning!

b'day pres had many many tiny and big parcels all wrapped up with ribbons. two of my favourites are the incense wombat and shaun tan's new book, which i never even knew existed til it turned up in my mailbox!

there are many other goodies, including snowgum seeds which i have to go pop in the fridge right now. . .

Friday, June 27, 2008

gardening update

lookit my radish! it's huge! unfortunately it's only the plant bit that's huge - see the little stubby red thing at the end? that's the radish. le sigh. possibly the phd of the soil is wrong - the balance that encourages leaf growth rather than root growth. anyways, i'm going to let the other plants grow out and harvest their seeds to try again with different potting mix.

there's lots of lovely fresh food around. see my haul from the farmer's market! yep, that's fresh strawberries! and brie! yum yum yum! up the back are cucumber and basil plants, so i can try again, my attempts to grow them from seed having failed miserably. i've put the basil in the window box and the cucumber in a 10L fetta bin on the back verandah. you should see the tomatoes i've got growing on the back veranda too! i spent half an hour out there last night staking them and pinching off the new plants they keep trying to put out. concentrate on fruit, now, kids!

the african violets are still blooming wildly, which makes me feel better about the gum tree and so forth keeling over.

life is good. lots and lots of working, but i've got into a pattern now. i hate the esl less and find the bike shop less tiring. i have, predictably, fallen in love with a bike. don't you think a girl *needs* a nice commuter bike once in her life? especially one obtained with a staff discount?

Monday, June 23, 2008

bad news

one of my tiny gumtrees suddenly upped and died for no reason. you see it in a half-alive state - i just threw out the shrivelled corpse this afternoon when replanting its healthy sister.

i still have two lovely healthy plants, each in their own little terracotta pot. they bring me great joy, but i can't help worring about them now. i figured i've gone through about twenty seeds to get to this point, which makes it a 10% survival rate. i hope i never have to start again!

all else is well. summer has sprung, i'm eating snowpeas and strawberries warm off the plant and cycling everywhere. ah. . .

Saturday, June 14, 2008

treasures found downtown

i had a two hour break in between teaching the other day and was able to spend a little time exploring downtown, something i don't do very often. i went down to the shore and found the most beautiful view. that's canada place on the left, where the cruise ships come in, that's the north shore in the distance (you can watch the little ferries crossing over), and that's the docks on the right:

the weather was lovely for this one day, with beautiful clouds roiling over the sails on canada place:

i also ducked into macleod's, a fabulous second hand bookshop. there's a main floor and a basement just crammed full of books, piled on the floor, stacked two-deep on the shelves and balanced up to the ceiling. i tend not to go there too often cos i always come out with a pile of books, but i just got my tax return, so i figured it was okay. and look what i found!

it's the most fabulous book all about the life and art of maurice sendak, with lots of great reproductions of his work and some interesting commentary and biographical detail. there's a photo of him as an infant, and he looks just like a cranky goblin.

i do love reading.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

k-rudd and me teach esl together

me and my new teaching tool:

seriously! i have k-rudd stuck in my little cubicle, and after we've laboured our way through a narrative in english i say "now i'd like you to tell my friend kevin about what happened in that story." it turns out that asking "what is the basic idea of that story?" or "what's that story about?" is a very difficult question, so having a third person to refer to is invaluable. thanks, vta!

one of my students recognised k-rudd, chatted knowledgeably on recent events in australian politics and spent an hour yesterday grilling me on the stolen generation and canadian indigenous relations. in contrast, a man i taught earlier in the week went on a long rant about how hard australian accents are to understand and what odd vocabulary australians used (he'd visited there) , so i talked to him for an hour in a canadian accent. it was v. good practise.

teaching is getting better now i'm getting to know my students. i'm also getting better at teaching ESL and explaining stuff like which words need an article. i'm not getting better at coping physically with all this work, so i'm off to buy iron supplements and green leafy things. there comes a time when pale and interesting goes too far. . .

Sunday, June 08, 2008

reading is sexy!

it's been ages since we've played this game! here's what i'm reading right now (just read/am about to read):

from the top!

that's once upon a time in the north, philip pullman's new one. i actually bought this for miram (she's a fan), but then she lent it to me to read on the train. it's about how lee scoresby and iorek meet, back in the day. it's very short but very cool and has a board game in the back cover.

the green mill murder is an early phryne fisher novel, one of my favourites. kerry greenwood rocks my world! it's a detective novel set in 1920's melbourne. in this one phryne flies a plane into the snowy mountains. v.g.

the little stripey book is eloise a paris, which i picked up last time i was at the musee d'orsay. . . i'm trying to read it, but it's slow going, and i have to keep ringing miriam for help. (she speaks french real good.) it has a high "i've been there!" quotient.

then there's nick and norah's infinite playlist by rachel cohn and david levithan. everybody on my elist is gaga about this book, but i only read it for the first time last week (i'm reading it again now). it is totally cool. go, read! be gaga! if nothing else, there's great kissing scenes!

then some jasper fforde novels. i read the first one last week (the eyre affair), and am waiting for the library to deliver the second and third before i can read something rotten, the hardback sitting in the stack there. they're odd novels about literary detective types, with lots of bronte in-jokes. try them, but be warned: the writing starts bad and gets better. hang in there.

funny story: i actually own an uncorrected proof of the eyre affair which tine bought from a second hand bookshop in newcastle. every single "it's/its" is wrong.

also good story: those two books are in pristine condition - they come pre-aged. see the tattered edges? printed onto the cover.

the stripey book near the bottom is peter carey's my life as a fake, which i've never read before. (oh the shame!) i just started it yesterday, and it's promising, though icky, like all carey's stuff. i don't like the cover of this nrth american edition. i remember buying the hardback for bbb's birthday when it first came out. i got it at the sun bookshop in yarraville, and it was beautiful, all textured. i'm reading it now to get more ausn culture. i have oscar and lucinda on order from the library.

then is gardening for the faint of heart, which is one of my favourite books atm. it's written by robin wheeler, who lives in bc, up the coast a bit, so the information is very local, and useful for someone from, say, a different hemisphere. it's very practical and irreverent info, and also very funny. this one of my favourite bits:

"It may surprise you to find "bears" listed after "slugs" in the pest section, but heck, bears aren't such a constant hazard for the garden. They're more seasonal, more regional, and can't hide in the pansies as well. You will never find a bear stuck to the bottom of your shoe."

she also has chapters called "why the heck should i garden?" and "read me when you're down", both of which i've had recourse to recently; my cucumber seedlings keeled over for no reason and my bean shoots got mauled by slugs.

the fat book on the bottom is also about gardening, but it's not funny at all. it's more of an encyclopedia, so i do things like look up "c" for "cucumber" and see if they wanted less water or more light or what.

the last book is the picturebook on the right hand side. it's a promise is a promise, by robert munsch and michael kusugak. munsch is hugely popular in canada (he lives in ontario). you'd know him as one of the authors of the paperbag princess. the book is a story based on inuit myth. the beautiful illustrations are by vladyana kryorka.

that's the lot, though i still have lots of stuff in my "to read" pile. okay, piles. actually piled on my floor. it's called `scholarly squalor'.

you'll notice a distinct lack of theory there (or perhaps you won't. is it only me who's always reading theory? do we have any academics in the audience?). it's kind of a nice break, though i'm worried my vocabulary will atrophy. bring on september, people!

Thursday, June 05, 2008


big congrats to master grotijira, for acing her thesis! now we are a family of masters and will rule the world!

please accept this virtual glass of bubbly, dahling.

ps. have replied to all comments on this page, pls. scroll down for love.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

let's practise pronouncing "locking system"

oof, this working thing is hard work! i'm now working six days a week - three in the bike shop and three at the esl school. the bike shop is uber fun: my colleagues are really cool (we play ani, bob dylan and radiohead), the customers are nice (this is taking some getting used to - why aren't they being rude and sleazy??) and i'm learning a lot about bikes and helmets and locking systems. yesterday i got to try a couple of different bikes, including a cruiser with roller brakes and internal hub, and a folding bike. this job is completely exhausting, though. i've spent most nights in the last week in the bath or in bed, or falling asleep at the table at various social events. i think i'm getting upper body muscles though, which is exciting!

my esl job is, frankly, dodgy. it makes me think a lot about exploitation, of me and of international students. i'm trying to figure out if it's worth kicking up a fuss. i'm going to wait until august at any rate, cos working here beats borrowing money for rent. (doesn't it, bbb???) i'm also learning about teaching ESL, which is a useful skill, and i'm getting to use the teaching skills i already had, and talk about english, which i do enjoy. it's bearable.

speaking of which, i'd best get dressed up and pack food. i have a six hour shift today with no breaks. in a basement. with fluorescent lighting. dooooooooom!