Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Avatar aka Fern Gully 3 (Spoiler alert)

James Cameron’s recent film Avatar was an exciting, visually amazing ride that ‘did it’ for me as a viewer. I gasped and smiled and even shed a tear. I got completely involved in the characters and their struggles, and I came out of the cinema saying ‘WOW!’ That being said you could be forgiven for enjoying just about anything if, like I had, you had finished watching the spectacularly boring and irritating new bundle of crap in the Twilight saga fifteen minutes before Avatar. The only consolations in the pile of smelly film that was New Moon were a disturbingly attractive shirtless teenage werewolf and half a minute of a vampiric red eyed Dakota Fanning who tortures then pouts. Delightful.

Anyway, after a few minutes of raving about the wonderfulness of Avatar to my less enthusiastic partner, my ‘children’s literature’ brain that had worked so hard at uni a few years ago switched itself on… the movie had reminded me of something. Dinotopia? Lush tropical plants and some pteorodactyl-like creatures, sure, but no. Fern Gully? Yes! In fact, I realised – and bored my partner to death as I explained it all out in excruciating detail – they had the exact same plot!

I got home and instantly googled ‘Fern Gully’ and ‘Avatar’. I was a little disappointed to realise that ten billion katrillion bloggers and youtubers had realised the same fact before me, but at least I knew I wasn’t being crazy. It really was the same plot: human male comes into forest as part of team destroying the forest, upsetting the natives who are in tune with and connected to the forest and who live in the trees. The handsome human man is transformed into a native and learns their ways, slowly (and almost too late) figuring out the error of his own people’s ways. He falls in love with the pretty native lady, pissing off the handsome native man who had dibs on her first, and decides to join forces with her people to defend them against the evil human tree destroyers. In typically unrealistic hollywood fashion a few key-but-not-too-key people kick the bucket, the handsome human gets the girl, the evil treehaters leave, and the natives live happily ever after in their magical forest (one presumes until the next technologically advanced exploitative bunch of humanoids decide to drop in for a visit/war).


That being said, Avatar was way cooler than Fern Gully. If it did copy the plot, it also improved on it. Plus the chicks were way hotter (and isn't that the most important thing, really?). That’s why it pains me to tear into it the way I’m about to. I hope that after analysis it will still hold up as a movie I can enjoy.

Will start posting my savaging/comparison of Fern Gully and Avatar soon...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

January review

Goal/Plan/Idea 17/01/09: was inspired by ‘Towards Sustainability’ blog and a few amazing books like Animal Vegetable Mineral and Chemical Free Home. Started the ‘Ordinary Situations’ blog to document my steps toward a more principled life.

Current situation: have stopped my shorter showers, my dishes using a soap shaker; only thing I’m doing still is cleaning with vinegar and bicarb around the house instead of chemicals. Want to at least get back to where I was – 4min showers and soap shakers for dishes (although I find the dishes one hard to keep up because soap scum is an issue – you can add bicarb to the washing sink and vinegar to the rinsing one but I got lazy, harrumph it shouldn’t be that hard).

Goal/Plan/Idea 18/01/09: research kangaroo meat and more about sustainable fish eating.

Current situation: trying to be a vegetarian again but never seem to be completely successful; don’t seem to have the willpower; wonder why I cant just admit I’m an occasional meat/fish eater and just research the most sustainable and humane options possible. Think I will always feel conflicted because the ideal in my head (an ideal I had once achieved) was vegetarianism and everything else feels uncomfortable and weak. Still want to research kangaroo meat and more about fish, especially as this will be helpful information to know as a dietician, especially if I work with clients who are struggling with meat related ethical issues

Goal/Plan/Idea 18/01/09: adding skills like cheesemaking, breadmaking etc to my dietary self-sufficiency repertoire; retrofitting an existing house to be eco-friendly rather than building a new eco-friendly one from scratch further out from the city; getting involved in public transport activism and using public transport/carpooling/walking as much as possible to make the best of the convenient location we buy in...

Current situation: haven’t learned to make cheese, but I have a book (typical), haven’t learned to make bread but we’re going to use a myer voucher we got for our engagement to get a breakmaker, we haven’t bought a house, I haven’t gotten involved in public transport activism (no time!) but I have started learning to drive and will try to carpool as much as possible once I have my license, and I will make sure that wherever we buy a house it’ll be close to a train station that I will use as much as possible.

Goal/Plan/Idea 18/01/09: “Bertie and I are planning to upgrade our mobiles soon, so it was fortunate I spotted this article. Our old phones will now be dropped off at Melbourne Zoo, where they'll be given to Aussie Recycling who are refurbishing the phones. They're then resold, which reduces the demand for coltan; the money made from reselling them also goes to the Jane Goodall Institute's primate conservation program.”

Current situation: I never did this. My old phone is still around somewhere. Meanwhile I have bought YET ANOTHER phone, this time an iPhone, but I am still using my old one while I transition to a new number. I am currently springcleaning my house so I’ll try to find the old one, and when I’m done with my newer old phone I’ll drop them both off at the zoo. I’m a shocker.

Goal/Plan/Idea 19/01/09: had found my beautiful old sewing machine I inherited and planned to learn how to use it.

Current situation: Never ended up catching up with my friend so she could teach me, and enquired about some lessons at a local shopfront in Northcote but never came up with enough money to do it.

Goal/Plan/Idea 20/01/09: getting debt free

Current situation: got free of the debt! Now can focus on paying for driving lessons and test I’m about to go for, singing lessons I’m about to start, Christmas presents that need to be bought, and then the Europe 2010 trip!

Goal/Plan/Idea 23/01/09: borrowed the idea to shave your legs before taking a shower and use running shower water to rinse off from the government’s save water site.

Current situation: did it for a while, but slipped back in to old habits.

Goal/Plan/Idea 23/01/09: bought a bokashi compost bin.

Current situation: never used it. Realised it was going to stink my apartment out because of the heat in our kitchen. Decided to start using it when we get a place. Besides I have nowhere to bury the compost and no garden to soak up the compost juice you get out of it on tap. Still plan to use it but it’s a waste of space right now.

Goal/Plan/Idea 26/01/09: made my own jam. It rocked. Nicest jam I’ve ever eaten except for Grandma’s.

Current situation: haven’t done it since. Dammit. Need more yummy homemade jam.

Goal/Plan/Idea 28/01/09: don’t buy much food from the stupidmarket. Instead get it from the farmer’s market or psarakos; use freecycle to get rid of things I don’t want, and declutter frequently.

Current situation: don’t get to the farmer’s market often but go with mum when I can. This will be something I can do more when I have a car to transport my shopping home when I can’t get there with mum; in terms of freecycle I used it to give away a few things, and got myself a used dryer that was on it’s last legs that tided me over for six months (it died but has been replaced with more power efficient model). I am currently decluttering for the first time since writing that post, so I get a big fail for that one.

Goal/Plan/Idea 31/01/09: tour an abbatoir

Current situation: nope, cos I’m a wuss

Time to look back before going forward

So it's almost December... 2009 has been a crappy year all round for Bertie and I.

Still, this blog started out as a really regular outlet for my thoughts and plans, and a great way of trying to find positive things to focus on in my life.

Now that the end of year is nigh, however, it's time to look back on those thoughts and plans. I thought there might be a 50/50 ratio of achieved to not achieved, but the reality was more depressing... it gave me a great deal of insight into how fickle and changeable I am, and how quickly I get excited, plan and possibly follow through briefly, then abandon and forget and jump on to the next thing. Hopefully next time someone advises that I'm changing things too often and suggests finishing something or thinking about an idea for a bit longer, I can see where they're coming from instead of scoffing at them internally for being unsupportive.

Keeping a blog is a great idea for a personality like me - at the end of each year I can go back and recommit to good ideas that I've let slide, pick up good ideas that I never even started acting on, and discard/laugh at the things that were either bad ideas or which I know I'll never find time for. I'll try to be realistic and only recycle the best ideas into the new year.

I started my review series with Jan 2009. I had a new idea for every day, and sadly nearly all of them either never got started or failed soon after they had begun...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Get off yer arse!

Amazing day today at the track! I haven't been going to the training/coaching sessions run by wheelchair victoria because my leg had been locking and making it imposible to run without falling. Today was my first day back there in months, and while I'm exhausted after a long day, it was worth it. I feel so fit and wonderful, even if my body is a bit mad at me for putting it through so much...

First day back at TAFE tomorrow - the plan is to run there, and just do without all of my textbooks. I need to get as much training in as possible before next weekend's 5km run in the city. Oh my god what am I doing??? We'll see how much I end up running, haha! I'll be lucky if I can do a kilometre made up of short bursts throughout the 5. Oh well even if - worst case scenario - I can't even make it to the finish line next weekend, whatever I achieve will be amazing considering I'll have had one week to train on the leg, and considering where I was physically a year ago!

Yay :D

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Leg leg leggity leg leg...

So my amazing prosthetist Hannah, and the awesome Mark and Al from the Royal Melbourne Hospital have made my running leg happen.

Mark made it possible, Hannah made it work, and Al made it HOT!

We used fabric from my year 11 formal dress, a horribly pink fru fru kind of thing. It had been unused in my cupboard for years, partly because I had a yukky year 11 formal and didn't like to wear it. What better way to make a positive from a negative than to use it as fabric for a prosthesis!

After being laminated it came out a beautiful textured blackcurrant/plum colour, and I'm looking forward to taking some photos of it to put up on this blog.

Tomorrow I'm taking it out for its first spin - I haven't been to any of the wheelchair sports Victoria sessions for months because my other leg was locking and I kept falling... now I can go back and get some pointers and some practice one week out from the 5km run!

I am going into this run with no expectations, as I'll only have had a week to learn my new leg and how to use it. and I'm really really unfit after a few months of no running. I imagine I'll be doing short bursts of running followed by long bursts of walking. It'll be interesting walking on this running leg as it's definitely not designed for it. It's a bit awkward but this afternoon I wore it around the house to see how it'd go... time and practice.

I'll muddle my way through the 5km run on the 11th, then train properly and get better on this leg in preparation for the Marysville marathon where I'm planning to do a 10km run/walk. It's on the 8th of November so I'll have just under a month.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting all growed up...

Well it's been a tough year, and this post is going to be about the educational issues I'm come face to face with in 2009. A bit boring, so feel free not to read ahead (if there is in fact anyone who actually reading this blog):

Last year I was studying literature at Deakin University, and while I loved it more than anything I've ever studied, it didn't feel like a career in the field of literature was going to give me job security and a decent wage - both of which I need if I'm to support the children Bertie and I plan to have in the near future. The plan is for me to be the main breadwinner, as Bertie's keen to have the babies and stay at home (and I am not!). Then again, I'm miserable when I'm not doing something I'm absolutely passionate about, so this career needed to be something I was really interested in...

Well, over last year an idea started to form. It got stronger and stronger until it turned from an idea into a plan. A job that was interesting, challenging, offered lots of room for moving up, sideways and topsy turvy (policy, hospitals, private practice, education, product development) - nutrition and dietetics!

I knew I was interested in food for a number of different reasons - I have been trying to lose weight and get healthier, and wanted to know more about how to do that; I am struggling with cravings for meat and want to know more about replacing the nutrients I'm missing with nonmeat alternatives; I have many friends who are vegetarian, vegan, or lactose/gluten/fructose intolerant and wanted to know more about how to understand/help/cook for them, and I was feeling drawn to issues of food activism other than vegetarianism - questions about genetic modification of food, preservatives and additives and the harm they might be doing, advertising of junk food to children, etc etc...

So what better area for me to get into?

But I couldn't entirely let go of my Arts degree. I had actually finished enough subjects to graduate with one major (in Arabic), but I wanted a major in literature too, so that (in typical me style), I would have a backup plan, an escape route, a passionate fling with books that would be waiting there for me to return when I tired of nutrition. So I gave up four advanced credit points I had got for my days in journalism at RMIT so that I could do the four literature subjects I still needed to do to get that second major, then I deferred my arts degree and planned to finish the literature subjects online along the way. I enrolled in a TAFE science bridging course that I had been told would get me into science courses at university, and off I went for 2009.

Well it turned out that my Certificate IV in Science is not recognised by universities as a replacement for VCE biology, chemistry or maths (why is it called a bridging course if the bridge only takes you halfway across the river?), so I was left with the knowledge but not the entry requirements. The nutrition course at latrobe needed VCE Chemistry, and I had been led to believe that this course would suffice... but it wouldn't. Should I redo VCE? That's what one person in the course planned to do when she too found out... Should I do biological sciences for a year and then transfer into nutrition if my grades were good enough? It was a decent option - many of the subjects were the same as the nutrition course, so I'd be getting a headstart on my nutrition degree. But what about my literature subjects? What about my arts degree?

Stuff it, I thought. Bertie and I have a house deposit, two overseas trips, and a wedding to save for. I'll work next year and study my lit subjects online - and finally finish my Arts degree.

However over the last few days, for a number of reasons, I've been thinking about things a little more seriously and carefully. I've decided to do nutrition. So why am I still mucking around with a literature major? So I could do a postgrad course in literature somewhere amongst the nutrition studies? I am making Bertie wait for those babies while I dabble about in this and that at uni, and it's really not fair on her. The pressure for her to come up with the money for everything we want was making her consider another year on a campsite job, away from me, and boy have I had enough of that. I realised that it's time to get all growed up...

So yesterday I began the process of finding out if I can get those credit points back, and graduate from my Arts degree. I'm pulling back from the Cert IV to a Cert III, as this will allow me to get the knowledge I need to survive at uni next year while also allowing me to work part time through Nov & Dec (because for the last few months since Centrelink recognised our same-sex relationship and cut me off, Bertie's been supporting me financially). That way Bertie can put that money into our savings and our travel plans, and I can financially support myself.

And I will apply for biological sciences at Latrobe, or Nutrition & Food Science at Deakin (no science or math prerequisites for either of them), and get on with the job of getting a job.

Now that I've finally made this decision, I feel hugely satisfied. After all, there is nothing stopping me from having passionate side projects once I'm working in nutrition. I can start writing articles for online literature journals. I can get those singing lessons I've always wanted and try to get a gig or two. I can get better at knitting and try to sell a few things online. I can do a short course in poetry and write a collection. I can do what I want, as long as I'm also doing what we need.

I feel a little like an adult. I feel like someone who's ready to get married. I feel good, gosh darn it (and I haven't felt good about my life's direction since high school, when I thought my road stretched straight ahead of me, clear and visible and easy to follow). Hell yeah.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

bit by bit, I'll learn to knit...

I've done lots of 'practice starts' with the continental knitting, but couldn't seem to get the hang of it... I knew I needed more lessons, but wasn't going to CCCK until Sunday. I found a book with some really clear instructions about casting on, then starting to knit, and then casting off - the problem was that they were in english style. The book was 'Knitty Gritty: Knitting for the Absolute Beginner' by Aneeta Patel.

I looked online for some good continental style tutorials, but none of them seemed to take me from casting on to the first row of knitting. Instead there would be a casting on tutorial, and then a knitting tutorial where a few rows had already been knit. The first step from casting on to knitting might have been self explanatory to most people, but not to me.

So I got some tips on English style knitting from a friend, then followed the book until I had the hang of the new style. I quite like it, though I'm sure the continental style would have been just as good with some more practice. After a few test runs I've started the 'scarf proper' - any mistakes from here on in are staying in that scarf. And I'll be buggered if I won't wear it every cold day there is until I've made a better one!

Today is a bit chilly, but with sunny patches, so I've set up on the front step, with a cushion behind me, knitting in the wind and fresh air. Delightful. Dwayne is playing at my feet, but every now and then the little rascal comes and plays with my wool and I have to get him off of it. He also likes tapping the loose knitting needle so it rolls across the table/floor making a funny sound. What a beautiful, funny little cat he is :)

The colour: bright green
The wool: Studio Mohair 12
The needles: 5mm
The book: Knitty Gritty
The project: chunky scarf

Monday, September 21, 2009

overly ambitious, non crafty, extremely busy person attempts death-by-craft

OK... I love to make plans. I especially love to make overly ambitious plans that I cannot possibly follow through on.

Here is my 'if-i-don't-eat-sleep-or-study-this-might-actually-work' plan for learning some crafts, and some of the reasons for learning each:


Wedding reasons: I'd like to make the invitations and thankyou notes for the wedding myself, as this seems to be a pretty enormous cost when you have lots of people coming to your wedding. Also, it'd be nice to be able to tailor each invite to the person your sending it to. And if i'm not too exhausted post-two-weddings, I'd like to make a scrapbook/photo album of our weddings and honeymoon.

Other reasons: I'd like to be able to make birthday and Christmas cards for friends and family in the long term, as i think it's ridiculous to pay $5 or $6 for a card that isn't personalised and probably isn't that funny. I'd also like to be able to scrapbook special events in my life as they happen.

Plan: There appears to be a scrapbooking and cardmaking shop in High St Preston, called Flutterbuys, which sells supplies but also runs classes. The first one I want to go to is on 'stitching cards' (for own info: 15 oct, 1pm-2.30pm, $25 includes materials). The second is a class on scrapbooking for beginners (for own info: 20 Oct, 1-2.30pm, $15, bring 4 photos)


Wedding reasons: I'd like to make the guestbook out of recycled paper (if it looks good and Bertie likes it)

Other reasons: I'd like to put less stuff in the recycling bin each week and try to 'reuse' more often. Making scrap paper and cardboard into something useful would help with that. It'd also be nice to have some homemade stationary to write letters to friends with.

Plan: A CAE course somewhere along the way, maybe? Or perhaps I could just get one of these papermaking kits and start figuring it out by myself.


Wedding reasons: I'd like to write the invitations and any text for the guestbook myself, not to mention the wedding program and the thankyou cards. And I have terrible handwriting! I need to learn to make it pretty.

Other reasons: it'd help to make those handmade birthday and christmas cards look better - no point making a pretty outside if the writing on the inside is scrappy and scrawled!

Plan: there's a CAE calligraphy course (thursdays 6-9pm from November 11 to December 12) for $230... as calligraphy isn't something I think I can learn by myself, this might be a good idea.


Wedding reasons: I'm seeing more and more knitted wedding dresses online, and the idea appeals considering that the Canadian wedding will be in wintertime (!)... However I recognise that that's a superambitiouss idea, even for me, so I'm content with just planning to knit matching shawls/shrugs for myself and any of the bridal parties who might want one :)

Other reasons: making clothes for myself, Bertie, and future offspring. Not to mention knitted soft toys like my Nanna used to make for us when we were little.


Wedding reason: making ties that match my dress, making flowergirl dresses if I have time, and sewing a 'first night as a married couple' nightgown (teehee!)

Other reasons: clothes. Clothes clothes clothes. Cheap, ethical, fitted to ME, and personalised.


Wedding reason: making a fascinator/veil for both the Australian and Canadian wedding, to match my outfit

Other reasons: I want to make hats as presents for friends - cool, different, and practical


Wedding reason: I'm leaning towards making my bouquets out of felt. I have a few really pretty patterns but have to figure out how the hell to follow them. A class or two may be in order.

Other reasons: seeing lots of felting projects jumping up on the net lately - bags, hats, cushions, toys... I think it'd be something cool to know. A complement to the knitting!

Learning to knit, cos knitting's the shit!

So... I went to the knitting class at CCCK yesterday. Didn't do too terribly - Ewelina taught me the continental style of knitting (it turns out she's also a talented artist with an exhibition on at fortyfive downstairs), and Andrea helped me decide what needles and yarn to use. They both seem like lovely, friendly people and I definitely plan to practise my knitting this week and then return for more advice and more yarn next Sunday.

I must admit I found it difficult to do things correctly when I tried it again at home. I couldn't seem to get the logistics right - what side does the knitted bit of the scarf sit while you knit, how do you stop the tail getting in the way or getting mistaken for your yarn, and worst of all how do I go back and fix mistakes (Ewelina tried to teach me this but I'm a bit slow and couldn't figure it out.

Still, I plan to get better at knitting - I am keen to start making some of my own clothes (shrugs, shawls, jumpers, hats etc), and making presents for family and friends that have a personal touch and haven't cost the earth.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

DIY 18 month project - my wedding!

Hi folks, I got proposed to a few weeks ago (yay!!!)

It was a beautiful thing to have happened after so much sadness (Bertie's father passed away earlier this year, we inherited his beautiful little cat and then she passed away recently after we fell in love with her, I found out my tafe course won't get me into the uni course I expected it would, I've been suffering from insomnia and flashbacks to hospital times, and someone I know has gotten involved with a disturbing religious group...)

But I'm getting married to the love of my life! And what bad news can top that, hey?

Also, in news that is ALMOST as exciting (haha yeah right), I'm on holidays from TAFE! It's been a long stressful year and I'm pretty keen to get back into my blogging over the holidays and renew some of those ideas about life changes that have fallen by the wayside due to stress...

I've been reading this amazing blog called offbeat bride, which has great ideas for weddings that aren't the normal run-of-the-mill production. A lot of the brides or brides-to-be on the site are pretty alternative, and a lot of them are into DIY projects. I love the idea of having some personal touches.

Here is what I aim to do myself (if Bertie likes what I come up with):

- save the date cards, invitations, thankyou cards
- a knitted shawl/shrug for myself and anyone in the bridal party wanting one
- my own non-floral bouquet (felting? crochet? knitting?)
- wedding party favours
- fascinator/veil
- cake topper

OK so that's a whole lot of DIY for a currently non-craft-skilled person! I plan to have a crafternoon instead of a 'bridal shower' (ick), and I'll have a few projects ready to get friends to help with. I'm thinking I'll experiment with the centrepieces and decorations until Bertie and I like what we've come up with, then I'll organise the crafternoon and see if I can get some mates to help out with making those. The bouquet and the fascinator'd be a nice thing to do by myself.

Tomorrow's the high vibes festival up in high st northcote, and there appears to be a wool selling shop called CCCK there. Excellent news is that they are running knit and crochet classes throughout the day. Yay! You have to buy a beginner's kit, but I need one of those anyway. There's a good start.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


TAFE - constant state of stress. No structured 'exam week' - instead, an exam every week or two, with assignments and prac reports galore... Never a chance to wind down, even over the holidays we had a TONNE of study and homework to do. Feeling utterly overwhelmed, not enjoying myself much anymore, just trying to get it finished

UNI - pulled out of the one online subject I had been doing (Shakespeare: eight plays), as the essay question was utterly ridiculous and I couldn't handle it on top of the TAFE stuff. Feeling like an epic educational failure right now. Oh well I seriously underestimated the difficulty of the science course, guess this is the consequence. At least I did it in time to escape it going on my academic record...

FRIENDS - friends? What is this word you speak of? I have been a craptastic mate this year, pretty much disappearing off the face of the earth. Every time I do go out, I'm still stressing about something or other relating to tafe. Can't wait to be working normal hours in a normal 9-5 job (did I just say that?) so I can have the weekends to catch up with mates. When I was working full time, I might have been tired from work on weekends, but at least I didn't have to stay up late on saturday nights writing essays while my friends go out and have fun >:(

BERTIE - she's still away working interstate, just went back today after a week home. It was insane as usual because we were both just exhausted and run down. BUT it was amazing to see her after a month away, and we did have the most wonderful weekend before she left (equal love rally, harry potter 3D, wicked for the 3rd time, drinks with mates we've missed, a nice hotel room...)

WEIGHT LOSS/FITNESS - bad, bad, bad... I can get the exercise happening on an ok scale, but the food? I'm out of control. I make bad choices again and again, then feel discouraged and go 'oh well, I've stuffed today, I might as well go all out and fix it up tomorrow'... but when you eat fifty points in a day instead of eighteen, no amount of good behaviour or exercise is going to get me back to where I need to be for the week. So eventually, as the points go over and over and over the weekly limit, I give up a few days before weigh in and stop tracking until that thursday. Gah! I had done so well, lost twelve kilos, was getting fit. And yet, every time I feel like getting the routine back in action, the stress of tafe makes me want to eat until I puke. Unfortunately I'm an emotional eater, so I am hoping to speak to someone about trying to break that link in my mind.

LEG - My wonderful prosthetist Hannah, and Mark from the Royal Melbourne have been amazing. Hybrid running/walking leg has been doing wonders but has some issues with locking, and the new proper running leg is on the way.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dreaming of a dreamless, deep sleep...

Back to TAFE today, and straight into a week of exams and assignment due dates. I've been steadily putting on weight, and have made some really bad food choices over the last few weeks... aagh! That being said, when I'm stressed and sad that tends to happen. Hopefully getting to a happier place in my mind will mean getting to a healthier place on the scales. I plan to see a counsellor to help me manage stress levels, get running in the mornings to put me in a good frame of mind, and try to pack lunches so I always have something healthy and yummy to fuel my brain each day. However, the most important thing I plan to do this week is to tackle my insomnia - each night I'm going to have a hot shower, then get into bed at 11pm with a herbal tea and a book or my laptop, lights out at 11.30... I'll let you know how it goes.

I probably won't be posting much this week because of the stressful tafe situation, but I'll try and do some cooking/photo posts as I've been slacking off on the cooking front lately. Maybe a nice soup, what with this super cold weather and rain we've been getting...

OK, wish me luck! See you after exams :D

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Loving a reality TV show... what the?

I am loving Masterchef at the moment, and was so keen for more cooking reality fun, I tuned into 'Ready Steady Cook' this afternoon - I had to turn it off, it annoyed me so much. Luckily, I had just got my hands on some 'Iron Chef' episodes and so got to watch American chef Bobby Flay beat Iron Chef Morimoto and challenger chef Kandagwa beat Iron Chef Sakai in the '21st century battles' episode... very entertaining!

Masterchef is getting so exciting, and the contestants have all improved so much. Sam left the comp yesterday, and I was sad about that because he seems like such a lovely guy, and obviously had a lot of talent to get that far. The thing I admired most about him was the way he stepped up whenever he was put under pressure - who survives 10 bouts of elimination rounds and survives? Very impressive. I felt that the pannacotta/macaroons challenge yesterday was a really tough one and that he went out on a real challenge. Better that than to have left on one of the taste testing elimination rounds, where for example Tom's guess of 'thyme' instead of 'oregano' kicked him out of the competition.

I like Julie best, she seems so down to earth and unpretentious. Each week she is improving so much, and getting more praise from the judges, but she takes it all so humbly. I just want to hug her every time I watch the show. She seems like a real 'mum' sort of figure, and I think if she sets up her home-style cooking restaurant after the competition, I'll be heading wherever it is to sample the fare!

I really like Justine too - she's given up the challenge of facing a celebrity chef a few times now so that someone else can have a go, and it is just refreshing to see someone in reality TV who isn't constantly playing the game. I also like the way that she seems so young but seems so talented and 'with it'. She does a good job of being in charge of others or working in teams - I get the feeling she'll do really well outside of the competition when she's working in a real kitchen.

I think what I've loved so far about Masterchef - yeah it's got a bit of the trappings of reality TV, but on the whole the judges aren't horrid to the contestants, in fact they seem quite chummy and supportive, and most of the contestants have come across as really good natured. It's refreshing!

Anyway, tonight's episode is about to start! Time to get on the bike and see if Julie can beat a celebrity chef to go through to the finals :D

Sunday, July 5, 2009

No pain no gain as they say...

I'm so happy today, despite the fact that my good leg aches like a biatch, and I'm so tired I'm heading to bed really early (unusual for me!).

Today was the coaching session with Wheelchair sports Victoria. Tim Matthews was there to help us, and having read a bit about him and his sporting and paralympic achievements, I was a bit embarrassed and shy to be getting on that track in front of someone so impressive - after all I'm a bit overweight, very unfit, and new to the whole running thing.

I might have been gasping for breath for much of the session, but you know what? I came away feeling proud and excited and exhilarated, not embarrassed. I've been running for such a short time, and have been exercising for less than a year, but I was motivated enough today to get on a track and run till I felt like I'd hurl or keel over. And look, it can only get better from here - my difficulties today make me feel like working my butt off to get fitter before the next session so I can get even more out of it.

Tim was very approachable, and very helpful. I got some fantastic advice - I need to lift my knees up higher when I run, and push off more from my good foot. I also swing my leg out slightly as I run. I felt like my technique really improved today, but I'll need to keep those tips in my mind all of the time so I don't fall back into the old way of running.

One of the best things about today was meeting another amputee who has a c-leg and a running leg, and just looks so fit and healthy and is running so well. It was very inspiring! It was great to see the people in wheelchairs (coolest wheelchairs I've ever seen) doing the athletics stuff too. It was clear that ther were a lot of people who had just gotten on with it, despite their disabilities. It was a really affirming experience. Today I got this sense of being in touch with myself and my body for the first time in year - I was always at pains to reassure myself and everyone around me that I was coping fine, that the leg didn't bother me or affect me at all, and that I didn't think of myself as n amputee or as disabled. And yet ignoring the leg and my experience of amputation for fourteen years didn't work all that well: I've been so busy trying not to think about my disability and trying not to seem 'disabled', I've actually closed myself off from accessing all of the amazing opportunities and information that have been out there the whole time.

But today I ran, anyhow. Tim suggested I run about three times a week - I normally run from bus stop to bus stop, pausing at each one for about 5min to catch my breath and rest. Now I have to run from the first bus stop to the second, then straight away walk back to the first. Three of these to begin with, then five, then eight... on the days I don't run, I'm going to get on my exercise bike - Tim suggested about 40 to 50 seconds of normal pedalling, then ten seconds of pedalling as fast as I can, then back to the normal pedalling again and so on.

And on Thursday I'll have enough to become a member of Disabled Wintersports Victoria, and hopefuly learn how to ski. The parentals are helping me with the cost of that, and a friend who does skiing has offered to lend me some decent gear too! Very excited at the thought of learning a completely new skill.

Finally, there's the gym - I want to get there once a week to do machine weights, fitball/handweights, and treadmill. I think I'll get to the gym tomorrow so that I can improve the fitball balance and core strength stuff before my next physio session on thursday.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Holidays speeding by, reality setting in...

I've been up in Phillip Island for a little while, and boy was that good for the soul/body. Relaxation, walks/runs on the beach and along the coast road, delicious healthy food, and time spent with family... Sorry I've been out of touch on the blog!

However, the dream had to end - I had to go to tafe today to sit a prac I missed during last term (nice of the teacher to give us that opportunity), and today my off campus material arrived for the Shakespeare subject I'm studying at Deakin this semester.

I decided that tonight I'd try reading the first Shakespearean play that we're studying, Henry IV Part 1. It's meant to be a cold, stormy night so what better way to spend it than reading a play that is meant to have been extremely popular in it's time? I'm also planning to watch 'My Private Idaho' tomorrow, which is meant to be loosely based on the play.

My other exciting news is that I finally have access to a camera again (yay!) so I'll be able to resume my cooking challenge... apparently taking photos of the food as a document of my success/failure is a big part of the fun for me, as without my camera I never managed to complete a dish past asparagus rolls (maybe I lost a bit of motivation when they sucked too haha! I will be trying them again at some stage...).

My nieces are coming over on Saturday, so I'm hoping we can all make some banana date scones together from Julie Stafford's More Taste of Life. I'm tring to think of something yummy and healthy and (most importantly) quick and easy that we can also cook for dinner - something that little kids would like to cook, and then eat. I found a recipe in Stafford's book called 'Party Sausages', which are vegetarian and sound similar - but healthier - than something I already make. Hmmm that might be a winner...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Holidays can't come soon enough...

I had a physio session today, and my physiotherapist Miyuki seemed really happy with my progress as a runner. I did a quick lap, and then explained which muscles were a bit sore or stiff - she's given me a number of stretches that I can now do before running, and before my gym exercise too (yay!)... I also got some techniques for core strength and balance using the swiss ball and some hand weights.

I'm a bit behind with TAFE at the moment, as Bertie's been home and I've also been losing focus as my excitement about spending time with her, and about my newfound love of exercise and fitness, grows. Also, my mind and body have switched into holiday mode early, maybe because I've pushed myself so incredibly hard this term. No excuses for dropping the ball though, I'm not working this year, so one course, no matter how full on, should not be overwhelming me in the way that it has. I'm disappointed but hopefully I can get on top of some homework and study this holidays, especially while I'm up in Phillip Island with no distractions (apart from beaches, relaxing, time spent with family, cooking, etc... lol)

Other priorities for this holidays are working for a few days, catching up with long lost friends, going to my first coaching session with Wheelchair Sports Victoria, and getting some decent, long sleeps so I don't end up crashing and burning in the second half of the year.

Speaking of sleep, it's time for me to finish off some homework and jump into bed *yawn*

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I have a few more days of TAFE this week, and then I'm off to Phillip Island with my family for a week or so. My poor kitty cats are going to a cattery... hope they'll be ok. Meanwhile, I'm planning to take my chemistry textbook and do my holiday study on the balcony overlooking the cliff, with the beach below... heaven.

I was planning to stay for a full week if I could, but I might come back a bit early to go to Melbourne Uni's physics lectures that they hold for the public in July. The first one, on July 3rd, is called "Galileo's invention of the astronomical telescope and his remarkable discoveries: moons, stars and a new planet"... definitely worth coming back for I think.

In other exciting news, I had an email from Disabled Wintersport Victoria to say that yes, they can help me - a person who has NEVER skiied, with any amount of legs - to get on the snow and get skiing. Fabulous! Apparently they have camps that you can attend...

And my first running session with Wheelchair Sports Victoria is on July 5th, so not too long to wait!

Finally, in an attempt to finish my neverending arts degree, I'm doing a literature subject at Deakin next semester. It's a subject on Shakespeare, involving EIGHT plays, so I need to spend a little bit of time this holidays reading a few in preparation. I know that next term it'll be hard to find the time, as I'm only just keeping up with all of my TAFE work this term as it is.

Bertie is leaving soon, which makes me terribly sad, but at least between Phillip Island, skiing, running, Shakespeare, and free physics lectures, my holidays will be jam packed full of fun and busy-ness... it'll be next term before I know it *groan*

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"The will to win means nothing if you haven't the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

As a kid I did jazz dancing, ballet, tap dancing, tennis, athletics, basketball... I was active and sporty. When I lost the leg at age ten, I became much less active - it wasn't all to do with the amputation, as I was at this stage getting more and more interested in reading, studying, singing, politics and activism, and other non-active hobbies - however, looking back I think I did let the amputation slow me right down. For example, I was too embarrassed to keep up my dancing with a prosthesis because I thought it'd look awkward and strange, and that people would stare or laugh. It seemed pointless putting so much effort into sport and dancing when I had so many other interests and hobbies to keep me busy.

Fast forward fourteen years, and I'm struggling with my weight, I feel sluggish and unhealthy, and I want to change my activity level dramatically.

For the last six months or so, I've been on weight watchers, trying to shed the kilos until I feel healthy in my own skin again. I don't think the program is perfect but it gives me a bit of structure, discipline and assistance in my weight loss struggle.

At the same time, I've been working out at the gym semi-regularly (trying to get big biceps so that Bertie will be impressed), walking as much as possible from place to place, and riding my fabulous new tricycle around the inner northern suburbs like a one legged, three wheeled hoon.

Meanwhile, my fantastic prosthetist and physiotherapist have been getting me toward a goal that in the last year has become very important to me - getting an energy returning foot, and learning to run! My prosthetist Hannah has also made me a fab new socket with a silicon suction suspension system, which took a bit of getting used to but is now working fabulously.

I am now running a little every day, and have decided to take a big leap of faith in my newfound ability - I've signed up to the Melbourne Marathon's ASICS 5km run on October 11 this year! I'm a little nervous about whether I'll be able to do it, but I guess if it gets to the day and I can't finish the race, I'll try and be happy with whatever distance I achieve.

I'm also wanting to learn how to participate in other sports and activities too - I've never been skiing, and would like to learn; I've played netball before and wouldn't mind having another go with this new running leg (before I used to kind of skip sideways to get down the court fast); I want to get back into swimming in a big way; and, somewhere along the way, I'd like to do some sort of dance to prove to myself that an amputee dancer can be as impressive as any full bodied dancer, if not more in this guy's case!

I'm no Oscar Pistorius, having only been running for a week, but today I rang Wheelchair Sports Victoria, hoping they might have contact details for a sports organisation or group for amputees I could get in touch with, and it turns out that they have an athletics coaching program on once a month, held very close to where I live, for wheelchair and amputee athletics! yay!

So, on the 5th of July, I'll be heading down there to make a fool of myself, have some fun, and get into a sport that in one week has made me so much happier about life, the universe, and everything :)

Good things come in small (reusable) packages

On my wishlist on the side of this blog there are a number of big ticket items I'd like to get, like a breadmaker, slow cooker, and food processor... I ducked into the Environment Shop the other day and decided to get a little item off of my wishlist - a reusable sandwich wrapper!

These 4MyEarth products come as either a pocket (which I bought) or a wrapper. I can now chuck it in the washing machine and then use it again and again... Yay for a tiny but important reduction in my daily plastic wastage!

Asparagus Rolls (first attempt)

- Ok so the puree wasn't perfect, but I still would have expected the finished asparagus rolls to taste better than they did.
- The puree was bland, the wholemeal bread was bland, and the fat free cottage cheese was bland. No surprises then that the finished asparagus rolls tasted... BLAND!
- I tried to season the puree (which pre seasoning was just blended steamed asparagus with some lemon juice) with some salt and pepper, but it went from 'still too bland' after three shakes of the salt shaker, to 'SUPER salty tasting' after four shakes...

-I'm wondering if some other vegetable or ingredient should be included to add more flavour to the sandwiches, rather than using salt? The tarragon the recipe called for was optional, and as I'm not too keen on the flavour of tarragon I left it out. I doubt tarragon alone is enough to unbland the asparagus rolls entirely, but perhaps next time I could either use the tarragon and try to get used to the flavour, or substitute it for another herb. I wonder what other herbs go with asparagus?
- maybe a better quality wholemeal bread to add more flavour in that department?
- buy a proper rolling pin - a foil roll is not a good substitute lol.
-Maybe I just need to try making these a few more times to perfect the techniques involved - you wouldn't think puree would be hard, but I may have oversteamed the asparagus, overlemoned the asparagus, and in the end oversalted the asparagus *sigh*

Better luck next time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boogers-in-Bread (Asparagus Rolls)

I was planning to blog about my cooking adventures as written about in the last post, but couldn't find my camera battery charger. I was so irritated at not being able to photograph my delightful asparagus rolls, I decided to restart the process again when I could find or buy a new charger... However that never happened because I can't find the bloody charger and can't find where to buy a new one! Anyway, I started the asparagus rolls WITHOUT the camera, which might end up working well if they look crappy.

Tonight I made the asparagus puree and put it in the fridge to chill overnight (asparagus rolls for lunch tomorrow, weeeee!!!!). It didn't taste too bad. A few things though, for next time: the juice of one small lemon is too much, use half instead; try steaming the asparagus spears for a little less time so they retain more flavour; recipe doesn't call for salt and pepper but the puree needed it, in my opinion.

Hopefully by the time I get a working camera happening again, I'll have perfected the asparagus rolls and can put lovely green sandwich images all over the place! I'm planning to have a picnic birthday later in the year, and make all of the food myself... and these yummy little bites will definitely be on the menu!

Hats off to Julie Stafford for using an asparagus puree instead of gross canned spears. Genius.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Julie Stafford's asparagus roll ups (or as I like to call this one, 'Boogers-in-Bread')

(Makes 10)

- 1 cup asparagus puree (Lightly steam fresh asparagus until tender. Drain. Squeeze over lemon juice. Puree and chill)
- 10 slices wholemeal bread (crusts removed)
- 1/2 cup non fat cottage cheese
- 4 tbsp fresh finely chopped tarragon (optional)

Using a wooden rolling pin, roll out slices of bread until they are very thin. Refrigerate for 30min or longer. Push cottage cheese through a fine sieve. Spread bread slices with cottage cheese, then with asparagus puree. Sprinkle tarragon over the asparagus. Roll bread up, and secure with a small toothpick. Repeat to make 10.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, removing toothpick before serving.

Julie Stafford's 'More Taste of Life'

A random pick off the shelf - mum had a Julie Stafford cookbook or two when I was growing up, so when I saw More Taste of Life at an op shop in Moe, I grabbed it. And, of course, never opened it... until now!

I've challenged myself to pick one of the cookbooks off of my shelf, and make ten recipes from it, documenting my successes and failures here on my blog. I figured starting with a cookbook published in 1985 would be kinda cool.

The first recipe from this book that I've chosen is an exciting one - asparagus rolls! I never ate these in the past because they always looked gross (but then i usually see them with canned asparagus inside them so I'll give this fresher version a try)... I'm going to make them tomorrow to eat while i study chemistry. Good brain food, I hope!

Here are the others nine I'm planning to try soon:
- cabbage and potatoes
- ratatouille
- spinach lasagne slice
- whole fish with shallots
- vegetable shepherd's pie
- corn and vegetable chowder
- garlica whole schnapper
- mushroom and tomato rolls
- tomato and rice slice with rosemary


Friday, June 5, 2009

Masterchef? Pffft, more like a masterwannabe...

The science course I'm doing has certainly been keeping me SUPER busy! I've hardly left the house in months... I'm doing chemistry, biology, maths, computers... I was also doing physics, and finished the waves and optics module, but decided to drop the kinematics and dynamics modules so I can focus more on chemistry and biology. I'll pick physics up again when they get to the electricity module because I think that sounds really fun!

There had been two directions I felt I might go in once I had finished this course - nutrition/dietetics, or renewable energy technology. I'm now leaning more strongly toward the nutrition path - I think it's a job that will not only be interesting and challenging, it will also be helpful to the health of myself and my partner (and any kids we have in future).

My interest in food and health has definitely been growing in the last year or so, and my addiction to a new TV reality cooking show called Masterchef is now steering that interest toward the cooking side of things as well as nutritional issues. I don't think it's a good idea to start planning any more education - I've got enough on my plate with an almost-finished arts degree, a begun-but-then-deferred small business certificate, my current science certificate, and a planned nutrition degree with a possible masters in dietetics afterward. Phew! So... I'm going to have to try and teach myself what I can about cooking.

One thing I have lots of is cookbooks - I have bought SO many of them over the last five years or so, and have hardly even looked at them, let alone used them. So here's my plan. I'm going to start making ten recipes from each of them - I'll adapt each to make them suit my palate as well as my energy/vitamin/mineral requirements for that day. As I cook I'll write about the food and post photos of the process and the final product. It'll encourage me to cook, it'll encourage me to post, and it'll encourage me to finally use some of those recipe books, and enjoy the consequences!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Book Review: A World Without Bees

Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum shed light on a fascinating (and previously unknown to me) topic: the unexplained, and so far unstoppable, deaths of honeybees around the world in recent years. Some blame viruses, or parasites, or pesticides... other options explored by the authors include the overworking of honeybees and climate change. They don't seem to come down on the side of any particular theory, which is refreshingly objective and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions from the information presented. However, whatever theory readers prefer, in the end we're as much in the dark as the authors, beekeepers, and bee researchers are on this issue.

As much as I enjoyed learning about a new and interesting thing, I was disappointed by the way the book was written. The structuring of the material was incoherent, and was presented so repetitively that the book was very annoying to read in some ways. There was no logical progression from one theory to another, and no helpful collation of information about each theory in one place. Instead it jumped back and forth from one to another, over and over again. It felt like the authors were writing the book in a hurry and hadn't bothered to organise it better, and that they had tried to make it longer than it needed to be by repeating themselves constantly.

So, I would recommend that people read the book because the issue is such a fascinating and important one, but that if anything else on the subject comes out which is clearer and better written, go for that instead. I'll definitely be looking for some more books about bees in general - for example, I want to know more about the 'waggle dance' the bees do to communicate information back to the hive, very cool!

For all its faults, at least this book got my attention - I now know something about the issue of honeybee deaths, and how the world would fare without these important insects. I'm definitely interested in knowing more about what is causing this terrible phenomenon. Hopefully some governments somewhere will realise how serious the problem may get, and throw some money at solving it, because by the sounds of it, it's a bit low on the priority list right now...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thankyou Sara for being such an inspirational amputee and blogger

I mentioned earlier tonight that I'd reread a post on tricycling by Sara from Moving Right Along. Just now I decided to see if there were any new posts on her blog, and discovered to my shock and sadness that Sara passed away.

I had only just started reading Sara's blog a few weeks ago, but in her posts she came across as funny, intelligent and inspiring. Her posts about her trike helped me so much with getting the confidence to cycle with one leg. It was also her Jan 09 post about the different colour of her new leg that inspired me to ask my prosthetist to laminate some brightly coloured cloth to the socket of my new leg. Thankyou Sara.

May you rest in peace.

an awesomely active amputee...

Just found a blog called http://activeamputee.blogspot.com/, brilliant stuff! The guy writing it, Michael, has had his leg amputated recently and yet manages to rock climb, bushwalk, swim, mountain climb - you name it. For a lazy sod of an amputee who's exercised little in fourteen years, this is a very inspiring, motivating blog to read!

A spot of bother!

After cycling to and from TAFE in morning and afternoon peak hour traffic yesterday, I wanted to know if I was alone in feeling like amputee trike riding might turn into a high contact sport if I'm not careful. I may need to adjust a few spots on the route... Anyway, I was rereading Sara from Moving Right Along's account of riding her tricycle, and something she said really jumped out at me, as it's exactly what I've been experiencing as I ride on the road.

Says Sara, 'I have a couple of minor complaints/adjustments to make. First of all, it is really a freakin' pain in the backside to get my left foot into the toe clip and also have that pedal properly positioned, near the top of the rotation but just slightly forward, to start off from a stopped position while facing uphill at a stoplight or stop sign. This is especially frustrating when people in cars are waiting for me, with both politeness and fear evident on their puzzled faces. It would help if the weight of the toe clip did not force the pedal to hang vertically forward by default, meaning I have to get very tricky with my toes to slip them into the basket and not flip the pedal over at the same time.'

This very thing has been driving me nuts, especially because motorists and other cyclists don't know what the hell I'm up to as I sit there for ages trying to get my foot into the pedal or get the bike started while on a slope. Aagh!

I'm seriously considering getting a little disabled sign made for my trike's basket so that those behind me can see that I have a good reason for having a wee bit of trouble occasionally. Or something like 'Amputee on board' or 'Three wheels, one leg'...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I'm a big kid now...

Today I rode my bicycle out of the apartment block, for the first time. No more circles around the apartment block carparks - I rode on the footpath till I got to a nearby park, then rode around and around that damn park until I felt safe and comfortable on the trike, and finally I rode home using the road.

Best. Feeling. Ever.

Penders Park, where I first rode my shiny new trike!

Later in the day, Mum came over and we rode the route that I'll be taking to TAFE each weekday from now on. I was having trouble with getting the bike started using the prosthesis when my feet were in a particular position and I was on a slope facing upward - it may just be that the muscles in the stump are not up to the challenge yet - but Mum pointed out that I could move the pedals backward without moving the bike (can't do the same thing forward), so if I rotated my feet backward to the position I could start the bike from, it'd work. It's still slow, and sometimes I had to move the pedals back two or three times to get the amount of push I needed to get the trike moving, but it's surely better than being completely stuck, in traffic, unable to get moving on the trike at all.

All in all I did about three hours of riding today. I'm sore and exhausted but I feel so happy that I now have a way of independently travelling around that is faster than walking but more environmentally and financially friendly than driving.

I'll let you know how the first week of cycling to TAFE goes... I wonder if I'll be riding every day or if that'll be too much!

look out for landmines... careful of clusterbombs...

Today is International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. This is an issue that encompasses war and violence against civilians, disability and the loss of limbs, and internation co-operation and action (or lack of) and it's something I feel very strongly about.

It's bad enough that people lose legs in car accidents and to cancer, but for innocent civilians to be losing limbs for no reason except that other countries have used disgusting weapons in their area that last long after wars finish, and because the international community lacks the willpower to a) ban the further use of these weapons and b) clear those that are still in the ground. The UN is trying to achieve these things, but in terms of the rest of the international political world *insert sarcasm here* it's not like people being blown up or limbs being blown off is on a par with important issues like the global economy and the G20 conference...

Anyway, the UN have a site called http://www.mineaction.org/, but if you don't have time to go there, here's a snippet of what they're saying there: "With high level interest in the new Convention on Cluster Munitions, the innovative Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and an upcoming review conference on the groundbreaking Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention in Colombia later this year, worldwide efforts to remove landmines and explosive remnants of war are at the top of the United Nations agenda... The joint effort by mine-affected countries, the United Nations and mine action partner organizations to clear mines, provide mine risk education services and destroy stockpiles has contributed to a reduction in the annual number of new casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war to about 5,500—down nearly 75 percent from a high of 26,000 in 1997."

For more info on cluster bombs, see the wikipedia article - according to www.clusterconvention.org, the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) "prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Cluster Munitions". Cluster munitions are banned for any nations that ratify this Convention, which was adopted in Ireland in May last year, and was signed by 94 nations in December last year in Oslo, Norway. There have been recent controversial cases (or allegations) of clusterbombs being used by the Russians in Georgia, Israelis in Lebanon, Hezbollah in Israel, and Sri Lanka against the Tamils. For more info about the anti-clusterbomb campaign, see http://www.clusterbombs.org - according to this website, between 5 and 30% (sometimes up to 40%) of the bomblets used in cluster bombs do not explode on impact, causing future harm to those who happen to come into contact with them in the days, weeks, months or years after the bombs are dropped. According to www.clusterbombs.org, "children represent 27% of the victims of non-exploded submunition bombs. Attracted by their bright colors, children sometimes mistake them for food rations or toys."

Evil stuff.

Space versus location...

I always wanted to own a home... at fifteen I drove by a big property in Apollo Bay - a rambling old house on a large piece of land in a place called Wild Dog Rd. I still remember the road, the land, the house on it, and all I did was see it from a car nearly ten years ago as my parents drove by it. Later, when we got back to Melbourne, I remember that I rang the real estate agent pretending to be an adult interested in buying the house, and got them to send information about the property to me. I remember thinking at the time: I have fallen in love with this place. When I'm older I have to come back here and buy something like this, somewhere like this. I cried because I wasn't a grown up with enough money to but it then. It seems incredibly overdramatic now, but that was genuinely how I felt at the time. I wonder if part of its appeal was that it was a ten minute drive from the beaches, the cafes, the people in the town part of Apollo Bay, but once you drove into Wild Dog Rd you immediately felt as though you were in rugged country. I wonder whether it's still the same.

Anyway, that longwinded and sentimental bit of my childhood crept back into my memory today when I was pondering the country-vs-regional-vs-suburban-vs-inner city property question - Bertie and I are cautiously looking at places to buy at the moment. We love being close to the city, but we also want space (especially a decent sized backyard). I'd like to grow most of our fruit and vegetables, and for our future children to have space to run around and play and grow in... but it's all about space vs location. We can't really have it both ways, unless we compromise on one in some way. I'm worried that whatever side we err on, I'll find a way to regret not erring to the other.

I think I have this paradisical vision of a garden full of luscious healthy food, waiting to be picked and eaten, but I wonder if I will actually find - no, make - the time in my life for something like full-on-food-production-gardening. Am I being too idealistic? Romantic? I wonder about the other plans I'd like to implement too, plans revolving around ideas of self sufficiency and sustainability. How does being in an apartment, or unit, or house affect my plans for these things? How likely am I to follow through and stick to these plans?

Anyway, a bit of a boring post but it needed to be gotten off of my chest. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Insomnia induced internet-window shopping

Tried to sleep post-Bertie-leaving but no luck so far so I'm up to try and get tired by doin stuff...

So I spent my time finding these on 'Amputeehee' and I really really want them! My empty bank account says no, so I'm waitin till payday (and a budget which will probably still say no):

Haha! Why didn't I think of getting amputee related tshirt humour happening sooner? I have the gay tshirts sporting slogans like 'Queer: don't knock it till you've tried it' and 'Every time you see a rainbow, God's having gay sex', but amputee humour? Eeeeexcellent. Now all I need is a queer amputee tshirt.

On another site here I found these:

Hell yes. I think that's going to be my clothing budget for the next year!
P.S. I'm starting to think of some of my own tshirt slogans I could do:
- 'I visited cancer and all I got was this lousy leg'
- 'I think amputees are alright, but then again I haven't got a leg to stand on'
- 'Amputee benefit #32: less body parts to shave'
- 'See my limp? Yep, I'm a gimp'
- 'I may not have two legs but I can still kick your arse, so stop staring'
- 'My hair grew back. I'm still waiting on the leg.'
And my favourite, for when I'm out on my shiny new tricycle:
- 'Dyke on a trike'

Monday, March 30, 2009

Emotional eating - time to 'fess up, then move forward

Today, Bertie went back to WA for work. Just after she left, I skipped the second half of TAFE - a subject I love, biology - to sit at home sniffling and whining, and changing channels like a daytime TV addict on crack.

Meanwhile I devoured three quarters of a block of organic fair trade chocolate, three cans of coke (plus started on a 1.25l), two slices of greasy pizza, nearly a whole garlic bread, and a quarter of a tub of Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig Jam Honeycomb and Caramel Icecream.

Obviously not my best post-Bertie-leaving-day. Other times she's left I've managed to get myself to TAFE, finish assignments, do chores and even eat a healthy tea. What's different this time?

I think I'm losing motivation to lose weight, which is ridiculous because after losing a fabulous TWELVE kilos and feeling happy and (almost) healthy, I have now stacked back on about four. Why spend all that money on weight watchers and go through all that hard work to eat healthily and exercise, if I just stack it straight back on again? The slump in my motivation to lose weight means I'm quick to allow myself 'a night off' from the regime when Bertie leaves. And not just a night off, but a night where I eat my way through every bit of junk I can find/buy.

Note to self: the pizza-garlicbread-icecream-coke-chocolate binge night left you feeling sick, bloated and unhappy. Maybe this is a good thing, as it might help you reassess the way things are going in your journey to lose weight, get fit, and feel good about your body. Remember how healthy you started feeling when you were on track? Get back to that place!!! Forgive yourself for tonight, and then move on to better things tomorrow...

P.S. Don't EVER try and use Dr Phil to solve your problems. NEVER, do you hear me? I'd rather you eat three pizzas and four tubs of icecream and five litres of coke. Just no more Dr Phil!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gettin' around...

As you can see from the previous post, I enjoyed my first (teensy) riding experience today: a few laps around our apartment block's carpark. Heaven! Dwayne came for a little ride but quickly decided he preferred to walk. Bertie watched and took photos - I felt like a big silly kid with my streamers and bell and little tiny laps around and around, but that's a happy big silly kid right there. A great day for me :D

I found I could use my prosthesis while riding - a few times I stalled and couldn't seem to use the leg to push the pedal down, but the more laps I did the less this happened. We'll see what happens when I get out and about a little more...

Speaking of getting out and about, Bertie and I had a super duper busy week, particularly the weekend part of it that we just got back from: a friend's place for morning tea (she served up some very yummy homemade banana bread, and homemade hummus, both of which I need the recipe for!) then down to Phillip Island for a night of fun birthday shenanigans with a friend (where we celebrated Earth Hour, which I'll blog more about soon), and finally a triple-birthday BBQ in Moe today. We've only just got back to Melbourne!

Obviously I couldn't ride my tricycle from Melbourne to Phillip Island to Moe and back again, so Bertie and I took the car...

Those who know me well know that I have been on my learner license for a LONG time (lots of reasons - extreme nervousness in cars & regular car crash nightmares don't help the situation) but Bertie has been trying to help remedy this. We've occasionally had some lessons, but because of my reluctance they were always too spaced apart. Bertie even bought me some RACV driving lessons for Christmas that I'm yet to use.

Anyway, this weekend there was obviously a lot of driving to be done, and the wonderous, wonderful Bertie convinced me to drive from Elwood to the corner of Springvale and Wellington rd. It was a nervous and stressful half hour, but we both survived. I didn't want to get on the freeway, so Bertie drove the rest of the way to Phillip Island. Then I surprised myself by agreeing to drive from Phillip Island to Moe today. The entire two hour drive. I started out stressed and panicky, but by the end of the two hours I felt a new confidence in myself and in my driving. There were still certain situations - like the first drive on a freeway - which freaked me out, but I learnt, finally, not to panic and lose my cool in these sorts of situations! I even confronted my fear of driving through tunnels and over bridges (though my hands tended to hurt afterwards from gripping the steering wheel so hard, haha).

Despite being exhausted by the day in Moe, I even suggested I drive us back to Melbourne. I did, and the feeling I experienced as I pulled into our carpark at home was one of deep happiness. I feel I have conquered a big hurdle: the massive nervousness. I even started to enjoy myself on the drive home. Now I just need to improve my technique and put in the practice to get my hours up. Next step - now that Bertie is going back to work interstate - is to get those RACV lessons happening soon so I don't lose that confidence.

I hope soon to be able to walk and run on my new leg (coming soon), ride around on my shiny new tricycle, and drive around in Bertie's car when I have to. Welcome to 2009, the year of Jess' multiple transportation initiations :)

My first bike (or technically 'trike') ride, aged 24

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bikey goodness for melbourne

I've been reading this newspaper article about the Victorian state government's new bike strategy - 23new bike paths in 18 months, some linking up of existing bike tracks, 33 bike cages at train stations around Melbourne, and apparently even some safe cycling programs in schools and a "look out for cyclists" campaign. Cool.

According to this article, the plan will also mean Vicroads will have to consider bike paths as part of any new major roads project. Hell yeah! As someone who's about to start getting around on a tricycle, I'm pretty keen to know where the existing bike paths are, and what new options there will be in the future.

One ride I'm keen to do (once I get my trike and get comfy riding it) is the Capital City Trail, a 32km loop around Melb city, going by sights like the zoo, Yarra Bend park, Merri creek, Yarra river, Alexandra Gardens, and the MCG...

An 'insight' into childhood obesity

I'm watching tonight's 'Insight' program on SBS, and am finding it fascinating.

I wish I'd seen all of the episode (I was watching RSPCA rescue before I realised this program was on, and had been tearing up big time at a story about a kitten stuck in a car for two days that had been driven around and even crashed. Thankfully he was ok).

Anyway, back to Insight. I'm so impressed by what I've seen. I love that this show is bringing together industry members, academics, dietitians, 'normal' members of public, government, and the fabulous chef/fresh food activist Stephanie Alexander. The members of the food industry made me feel annoyed or skeptical a lot of the time, but it was good to hear what they had to say. I did feel that Jenny Brockie was quite tough on them, and that the right questions were asked within the time constraints of the show.

There was a lot of talk about various ways of listing nutritional information on packaging, which was fascinating - I liked the traffic light system they described because it's easy to understand and quick to read when you're facing a number of choices at a supermarket. However, it was Stephanie Alexander's comment that if you eat fresh, seasonal food then in her opinion, no food is bad whether it be a bit of real butter or some creme freche. Very interesting, as I like to think this but I do eat a lot of low fat processed foods since I started weight watchers.

The most impressive audience member, in my opinion, was Professor Boyd Swinburn from Deakin University. I'll be making a decision at the end of this year about whether to go to Deakin or Monash to study nutrition and dietetics, so it was interesting to see someone involved in the Deakin program in action. According to the Deakin website, "Professor Swinburn leads a research program in the area of obesity prevention, especially in childhood and adolescence", and he certainly seemed passionate and knowledgeable about this issue.

Apparently you can watch reruns online so I'll be doing that as soon as it's available and making some more detailed commentary about what various people on the show said.

The other fantastic aspect of the Insight website is that after each show, some of the guests are available to chat. I am doing this right now - I asked Clare Collins, a dietitian and consultant on the Biggest Loser - "Hi, I wanted to ask Clare how she got into dietetics, and what advice she'd have for someone wanting to get into this career themselves?" She hasn't answered me specifically yet, but she did write a message to someone else saying, "I love my profession! It is the only thing I wanted to do since age 14. Within Dietetics I have changed directions many times from working in hospitals, doing research, teaching university students, working with the media and consulting to TV show. There is a lot of science in dietetics and a lot of education but if you love working with people you will love it."

It's the ability to change direction within a career that really makes or breaks it for me, I think. I am the most changeable, indecisive person and I need to put myself into new environments and situations regularly to feel happy and stimulated. I hope that the fact that a dietitian can work in government, industry, private practice, hospitals, consultancy, research, teaching etc might mean that I can move around within my career as the years go by to stay challenged and interested.

*yay* since i wrote the above para, Clare Collins has replied to my question, saying: "when I did dietetics you used to have to do a science degree THEN another course BUT now you can go straight into a university course from year 12. It does help if you have done chemistry because you do a lot in the first 2 years of the course. My advice is that if you are keen to do it apply and go from there. Most jobs are still in ospitals helping people who have medical condition modify their food intake so they can improve their health but the areas where more jobs are becoming available is in working with different companies and in private practice." Thanks Clare! I'm glad to hear there's lots of chemistry involved in the dietetics courses as it's one of my favourite subjects at TAFE at the moment.

Phew! What a mammoth post. As I said, I'll write more when I've seen the full episode online :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Zeroing in on the problem...

Still failing on the coke front *sigh*

I'm not only failing to give it up, but I've been drinking about two cans of coke zero PER DAY since I tried giving soft drink up for a second time. What is wrong with me? I'm wondering if the old reverse psychology thing's at work here - since I told myself I couldn't have it, my desire for it has increased tenfold.

I've also started doing the whole 'oh but I'm studying so hard, I'll have one now and then once I've got these three assignments in, I can focus on giving it up properly...' Totally pissweak. If I can't resist it when I'm studying hard, I doubt I'll stop letting myself off the hook when I'm working hard or parenting hard.

I think I'm going to take down the counter, stop obsessing, and try to let it happen a bit more naturally and gradually. Maybe focus on reducing the frequency again. Obviously the hard line isn't working for me here.


P.S. just found this site called The Zero Movement - maybe this'll help motivate me a bit? It also led me to this site...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Inspired and excited...

I went and paid for my gomier tricycle today!!! Should be able to pick it up in about a week *growing excitement*

I was trying to find some other amputees online who ride trikes, and lo and behold I found Sara who just sounds so inspiring and had lots of helpful info for me as I build up to my first bike riding days in fourteen years *ridiculously frenzied excitement*

First, she listed some links to site's about amputees who ride bicycles (not tricycles, bicycles). Put me to shame. But I'm not going to even think about a bicycle right now, I'm nervous enough about the trike. Maybe that's a goal for later when I'm a total free-wheelin, three-wheelin hoon.

I almost got sad when I saw how pretty Sara's blue trike looked - I ended up choosing the red today after being sure all the way to the shop that I was getting blue. Damn libran personality. But though Sara's is pretty, I hope the red will make me a bit more noticeable to the cars around me (because the bright white helmet, the flourescent vest, and the multitude of lights won't do that...)

While Sara wears her prosthetic leg while riding she doesn't use it. I wondered if I could take the leg off and put it in the basket and then put it on at my destination (usually tafe) but like Sara I've realised that would mean putting the leg on in public places and, while I'm a known seeker of attention, it would mean sharing more of myself with the general public than I care to. So it's either wear the leg and don't use it, or wear it and put it to work. When I tested the bike out in the shop's small yard, my prosthetic leg seemed capable of pushing the wheel, but the muscles I was using were weak and after a few minutes started screaming at me to stop 'fourteen years! we were quite happy wasting away here, so leave us in peace to die already, biatch!'). If I want to use the prosthesis to ride, I might have to do some muscle-building excercises for the back of my stump.

After reading Sara's comment, "I'm still trying to decide whether or not to get streamers for the handlebars, or plastic daisies for the rear basket", I have suddenly got all kinds of silly ideas for decorative features swirling around my head, and I haven't even got the trike yet! *jumping-up-and-down excitement with a little mouth-frothing for added effect*

Actually, while writing this post I've started reading some of the rest of Sara's blog and am quite excited by the awesomeness of the current post about her GORGEOUS 'grape popsicle' coloured leg! As someone who has been an amputee for fourteen years but is only now starting to get informed so I can start being involved in decision-making processes about my leg and my health, Sara's creatively designed prosthesis certainly gave me something to think about!

Friday, March 13, 2009

"Riding around on my pushbike honey, when I noticed you... you looked so pretty when you were riding aloo-oooo-ooong"

Once again study has prevented me from blogging as regularly as I'd like... but I have two really positive transport/mobility developments in the last week:

1. Fantastic new prosthetist, and soon a new leg and some physio sessions!
- It seems I'll be getting an energy returning foot, I think it'll be the 1C30 Trias from Otto Bock - my long term goal is to be able to jog and run (it is apparently very difficult for above knee amputees, but we'll see... I'm pretty determined)
- I have a pretty awesome knee but don't really know how to use to its full potential, such as being able to walk up and down stairs more normally; hoping to learn this with the physio.

2. Gomier Adult Tricycle
- I saw a guy riding one of these around thornbury and knew I had to have one! I haven't ridden a bike for fourteen years, so I went to test one out at the Melbourne Bicycle Centre in Clifton Hill today, and it was fantastic!
- Using my government's stimulus package handout to buy it :D
- I have to decide between red or blue... I'm leaning toward red at the moment.

Both of these will be good for my health as I can exercise while doing something I'd be doing anyway (getting from A to B) instead of having to take time out of my busy life to go to the gym etc. Both will also be great for my environmental and sustainable living goals, as my hope is that unless I'm going really far away, I will be able to get to most places by walking, jogging, running, or cycling. Hell yeah!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

too many lits spoil the broth

I've been studying math, biology, chemistry and physics as part of the Certificate IV Science Bridging course at NMIT for a while now and I love it, but with my off-campus literature studies at Deakin at the same time it's all getting a bit much already! I might need to drop one of the semester's lit subjects, though I'm loathe to lose any of them as they all look really interesting. We'll see how I go...

My plan is to get in a nutrition/dietetics course once I've finished this science certificate, though I'm keeping my mind and my options open for now, as I might find something within the four subjects that I love and want to keep studying. Right now I'm feeling pretty turned on by chemistry. My last biology class was pretty amazing too. I can understand and keep up with math and physics (so far!) but they're not as interesting to me yet. It may take time to get a passion happening for them. Today, at least, I really enjoyed the prac we did in physics, which was about the law of reflection.

My feeling is that some of my sustainable living goals I had for the year - learning to sew, cooking more often and more healthily, and learning to live a more environmentally friendly life - may have trouble vying for my time between science and literature. I always do plan too much for each year, and end up feeling overwhelmed. I think if I manage to think about and try to gradually change some of my ways, it'll be easier to fit it all in with the study.

I'm thinking, maybe, of setting aside a few hours each sunday to cook 1 meal type to freeze for the week (eg a vegetable slice, pasta sauce, soup, stew, lasagne etc) and 1 type of snack to have over the week (eg muffins, yoghurt, cake, dips, muesli bars, biscuits etc).

I think learning to sew will depend on making time with friends who do sew to get a bit of help. This, I have discovered, is a hard thing to organise with my busy life and my friends' busy lives. Oh well it's a long term goal.

As for a more environmentally friendly, ethical lifestyle, I am just focusing on reducing water usage until I'm under the government's target of 155 litres per person per day, learning to use my bokashi bin, giving up chocolate except for maya gold fair trade, and cleaning my house chemical free.

Ooh we have a house inspection next weekend - it'll be interesting to see how well my chemical free cleaning does in getting the place spick and span!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Gah! have had two more coke zeros in the last two days. What is wrong with me? I know it's rotting my teeth, I know it's not good for my system, so why would I keep drinking it? I refuse to accept this ridiculous addiction to a not-even-all-that-tasty bottle of liquid poison.

In other news, using my towel two (gasp!) whole days in a row is going well, though I haven't used the shower bucket yet and I even shaved my legs yesterday while under running water because it was 'too cold' to turn the hot water off (where's the guts? I'm sure I used to have guts). Tsk tsk. Come on, it can't be that hard to be good can it?

Goals for tomorrow, Thursday March 5:
- NO COKE, 1 coffee allowed in the morning
- remember to get the bucket out for my shower
- pack a healthy, filling lunch so I don't go to the cafeteria and
a) spend money i don't have and
b) gaze lovingly at bottles of coke I can't drink