Ordinary Situations

Monday, May 3, 2010

I need another weekend to recover from this week!

This week has been a strange one.

Grandpa died, which was just so sad because he was a beautiful, good hearted man. He passed on a great sense of humour and a talent for singing to much of our enormous extended family. He had a long and good life, but it was awful to lose him, and I'm filled with regret at not having spent more time with him. How true that we don't know what we've got till it's gone.

I had been planning to visit him the day he died. I wanted to sing him some songs in the hospital. He died a few hours before my planned visit, and I was really upset that I hadn't sung those songs to him - a hymn called come back to me, and some old songs like 'don't sit under the apple tree'.

However, on a previous visit I had brought him a little contraption that played 'how much is that doggie (in the window)' when you turned its handle. It was a song we used to play on their pianola as kids (I use the term 'play' loosely as of course you only push the pedals on a pianola - great fun for kids, no piano playing ability required!) and grandpa sang along as I turned it for him. I think it's a funny song to have sung the last time I saw him, but it's connected to lovely childhood memories and at least it was a shared musical moment with him before he went. He said to me 'it's funny how at the end all the old songs come back to you'. I think that's a lovely idea - that when we are nearing the end of our life, a history of songs that have accompanied us over the years come back in a medley of memories.

I decided to sing him some hymns when we went in to St Vincents Private to see him after he died. It was one of the saddest and most wonderful moments for me and I'll always remember it. Nothing I could have said to him as I sat by the body would have told him what I was feeling - that I was grateful for the gift of singing that he not only passed on but also encouraged at family events, especially the family singalongs on christmas day; the fact that the last christmas he had with the family, when everyone knew he was unwell and so everyone came along and joined in the singalong, was the best christmas I could ever have had; the way his gentle grumbling that I was wasting my voice led me to seek out singing lessons again after years of not having that joy in my life; that even though I had lost my sense of connection to the catholic church over my life, that singing was the closest I felt to a sense of reconnection (not with the church but with a higher power); that to sing to him was to honour him and farewell him in the best way I could think to...

The day before he died, grandpa took mine and Bertie's hands, put them together, and put his hand around ours. He then said "stick together" in a strong and encouraging voice. I felt like even though he wouldn't be there to attend our wedding next year, he had just given me the strongest and most beautiful blessing of our relationship that I will ever have. The fact that someone from his generation could take our hands and sanction our union in such a straighforward, caring, accepting way touched me so deeply. It was one of the most amazing moments in my life. I will always think of it, and I hope to incorporate it or honour it at our wedding.

It was like at that moment I felt married to Bertie simply by the powerful sense of love and recognition that Grandad was directing to us.

A beautiful example of Grandad's sense of humour was that after he said 'stick together', I teared up and said 'we will'. He looked at me with a glint in his eye and said 'shut up - stop being so sentimental'. He was so cheeky - imagine making me choke up with tears with the beauty of a gesture, knowing I'd be moved, only to tease me for being sentimental! I love that story and I know that it's one I'll tell our children and keep in my heart forever.

Our niece pulled through her brain operation - there are still issues, and she is still recovering, but the fact that nothing bad happened on the operating table is something for which I'll feel very grateful for a long time. She's just a wonderful kid and I'm glad to know her.

My brain test (EEG) on thursday was an interesting experience. I had electrodes glued to my head. The two women at the Austin who did the test were very friendly. I felt comfortable and at ease about the test... UNTIL they got me to hyperventilate and then put strobe lighting in front of my eyes! hey!

The deep fast breathing made me feel very nauseous. After doing that for what felt like ages, I was unpleasantly surprised by the strobe lighting, which had me flinching and feeling like my head was exploding. I don't know what the test results were (I have to wait until a neurologist appoint in JULY when I get back from Europe...geez), but I do know that I never want to have an EEG again.

And even more news! What an emotional, eventful week! I graduated on Wednesday. Bertie took the day off and bought me a new dress, took me in to the ceremony, helped me run around getting tickets and robes and deakin souvenirs and photos... then my parents arrived (nearly too late to see the ceremony! At least I know where I get it from!). Bertie's mum - my mother in unlaw - came along too, which was very sweet. She's really enthusiastic about education and has been really supportive of my educational efforts over the years I've known her. I felt very special getting that piece of paper, finally. It's taken me bloody long enough to get an Arts degree. I find it so hard to finish what I start, so it was a real feeling of achievement and elation when I walked up on that stage and officially graduated. I wasn't expecting the rush of happiness, but it was very welcome in a week where things were so sad and hectic and stressful I nearly cancelled going at all!

My parents were busy trying to help organise the funeral for Friday, so they weren't sure they could stay for the rest of the ceremony after my name had been read out, but in the end not only did they stay to the end of the ceremony, they came out to dinner afterwards too! Bertie and her mum were there too. I felt so pretty in my new dress, and so happy after my graduation, I don't think I would have cared what I ate. Joy of joys, then, that my meal at Number 8 (on southbank, part of the crown complex) was the best lamb meal I've ever eaten. The meat was superb, it literally melted on my tongue. It was cooked to perfection, and the honey jus and caramelised parsnips with it were divine. The only thing I didn't love was the herb crust. In the end I would have preferred it without it, but most of it was easily scraped off. Our sides of broccolini with feta and spinach with pine nuts were also delicious. I was really happy with the whole night. It was a nice break from all of the stress and sadness.

On Sunday, Bertie and I went to some of the gardens in Melbourne to find a wedding ceremony location. We really loved Carlton Gardens, near the Hochgel fountain, on the lawn between the two rows of trees. There was even birds of paradise (my favourite flower) and these other AMAZING orange flowers that towered over our heads and had green/burnt orange leaves. They looked Tim Burtonesque, or like they belonged in Alice in Wonderland. There were also bright red and purple flowers - Bertie loves flowers, and it just seemed like a beautiful setting for a wedding.

We also ended up going to Iron Man 2 - we didn't think we'd have time, but we braved a late night (we're such nannas these days) and saw it at the Westgarth at 9.30pm after all the runaround that day. It was fun, but not as good as the first one. The highlight of the date for me was the little amount of time we had to kill before the film - we wandered down westgarth until we saw Kelvins. I've never been there, but when we walked in and saw the dark comfortable interior with shelves of board games we knew we'd found a good spot. Some girls next to our table were playing connect four, but we opted for Scrabble and played a quick game while sipping on glasses of port. We both enjoyed the Galway Pipe port more than the Bethany, though I do like a sweet drop and the initial taste of the Bethany was delightfully sweet. The Galway Pipe was just richer and had a nicer aftertaste.

I always think of Bertie's dad when I drink port. He's the reason I got to like it in the first place. It was the first year anniversary of his death the day after grandad died, so it was hard for Bertie being around death and funerals and mourning right at the time she was grieving afresh for her own father, who died so young at 59. She was so strong for me over those few days, but it was a sad time for both of us.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2009 review

I started a '2009 review' of the goals/ideas/crazy harebrained schemes that i had come up with and posted about here, and realised how often I never finish what I start. I am a changeable, flighty kind of personality who requires new concepts, projects, hobbies, situations all the time. However as much as I need change, I also need to learn to finish things so that at the end of a year I can look back and see how much I've achieved rather than thinking 'where did that go? what have i got to show for all that time?'...

Funnily enough, and true to my nature, I never even finished the review! So, nearly four months into the year of 2010 already, here is my review of 2009 (only for months where I posted ideas to try and start/stick to):

Jan 2009 - already reviewed in this post:

essentially it was shorter showers, dishes using soap shaker, cleaning without chemicals, researching and trying kangaroo meat/sustainable fish, making own bread/cheese/jam, public transport activism, getting license, recycling old unused phones, learning to use my old sewing machine, getting debt free, using my bokashi compost bin, and not buying food from stupidmarkets... VERDICT? FAIL! I started many of them but the only one I stuck to was cleaning (the bathroom only) without chemicals, eating sustainable fish, making a batch of jam ONCE, and getting debt free. Still that's something, I guess.

Feb 2009 -

- reduce or give up sugar intake (started; not stuck to)
- use the easiyo yoghurt maker to make my own yoghurt (started; stuck to for months but not currently using it)
- give up soft drink (started; not stuck to)
- give up chocolate unless fair trade (started; stuck to inconsistently)
- use shower timer (started; stuck to for months for not currently using it)
- use shower bucket (started; not stuck to)
- use each towel for 2 days instead of 1 (not even started)

March 2009 -

- get tshirts with amputee slogans made (not started)
- tricycling (started; stuck to for months but not currently using it)
- start cooking snacks like muffins, cakes, dips, muesli bars, biscuits etc instead of buying them with high sugar/additives content (not started)

April 2009 -

- sign for trike 'three wheels, one leg' (not started)

June 2009 -

- running with new running leg (started; stuck to; need to get the knee fixed to keep using it but have to find time to get in to see the prosthetist)
- cook recipes from Julie Stafford's 'Taste of Life' cookbook, and post photographs and descriptions of the experience (started; not stuck to)
- use my reusable sandwich wrap from the Environment shop (never started)

July 2009 -

- see a psychologist (started; stuck to for months but not currently still doing it)
- start running each morning (started; not stuck to because insomnia meant I was too exhausted in the morning)
- pack healthy lunches (started; stuck to inconsistently)
- learn to ski by joining disabled wintersports victoria (never started)

September 2009 -

- DIY wedding - learn millinery esp fascinators, papermaking, scrapbooking, card making, felting, calligraphy (never started)
- learn to knit, make clothes for winter and as gifts (started; not stuck to)
- give up idea of postgrad lit and apply to graduate from arts (achieved!!!)

I'm going to take any of the ideas I still want to do from this list, and add them to my 'to do list' on the side of the blog. Hopefully my review of 2010 will be a little better ;)

Modified exercise and sport for above knee amputees

I'm trying my best to gather information, mostly from the net, about normal sports or exercises that have been modified to suit amputees. Probably mainly above knee amputees just because it's what I know.

I want to teach myself - and then record my results - for yoga, tai chi, martial arts, swimming styles (this at least I already have experience with), gym techniques, cycling etc, but all without my prosthesis if possible, because of the pain in my lower back resulting from using the prosthesis so much. Maybe when I can afford to buy a better prosthesis that isn't so heavy and awkward, I can start to incorporate exercise with a prosthesis.

However, as far as I'm concerned, my real body is legless on one side, and the prosthesis is just a tool - like crutches or a walking stick - that helps me get around in a world made for people with two legs. However, my most natural and comfortable state is without a heavy weight hanging off of my shorter left leg. That's what it feels like - a dead weight. It is not part of my body, so I will never be able to move it gracefully or naturally.

I've found a few sites that mention different modified poses for amputee yoga, so I'll incorporate those and credit the sites I got them from when I mention each pose. I've now found Gisoku Bodu's site so I'll try some of the moves he mentions and credit them to him when I mention them on the site. Obviously I'll have to modify some of them as he seems to use his prosthesis. Who knows, maybe once I get started I'll prefer using the prosthesis anyway.

I'm going to try not only posting about my adaptations of different activities, but also putting up photos... we'll see if that ends up happening or if I'm too shy ;)


I've just started reading a blog called 'Gisoku Budo' (Gisoku means artificial leg in japanese; budo means martial arts) which is written by an above knee amputee, so really relevant for me. He obviously uses a silicone sheath like mine, too. AND his amputated leg is his left leg. So lots of similarities.

I found it so relieving and validating to read one of his posts about having to stay home from something because of sores on his stump. It's a hard thing to talk about sores or in-grown hairs on your stump, mostly because it's so hard for others to relate to it. I have sometimes said to people that 'I'm having trouble with my leg' when i need to cancel going out to something, rather than the more specific and honest excuse 'I have a painful infected in-grown hair on the weight bearing part of my stump because I have sweated lots inside a tightly fitting silicone covering'. I mean, firstly yuk, and secondly? Lame excuse. It sounds so weak to me, so to read this post and say yes! my pain from one bloody hair on my leg is awful enough to cancel something and someone else gets that! is lovely, though to be fair if I was honest and told my friends the more specific reason, they would probably be more understanding than I give them credit for.

Anyway here's the quote from his post in full: "woke up on Wednesday morning with an absolute cracker of an infected sore on my stump. This isn’t necessarily anything unusual by itself, it’s just annoying. I think a lot of these instances are caused by infected hair follicles or in-grown hairs, both of which are apparently pretty common amongst amputees. The reason behind them as I understand it is due to the nature of the situation – the stump’s generally wrapped in a non-porous material (in my case, a sheath of silicon that acts as a membrane between my stump and the socket), you get sweaty over the course of the day (exasperated at this point in time by the Australian summer heat), and being a guy and having hairy man legs (is this too much information at this point??), something’sgot to give. If I get them in random spots on the leg it’s not too dramatically bad, but when I get them along the areas that support my weight around the socket (typically around the top of the socket and at the very base), it can be extremely painful. Imagine a crazy blind pimple on the ball and heel of your foot, that’s what it feels like."

Can I get a "hell yes?"

health problems... and learning to look after myself

Well, in a few hours my niece goes in to have brain surgery at the Royal Children's Hospital. She collapsed from a brain bleed after an AVM in her brain ruptured. I'm thinking of her and getting as close as I get to praying (sending silent pleas out to the universe to keep her safe. I think of them as being waves of emotion being sent out, probably useless but even if the only effect is to make me feel better then I guess it could be seen as worth it). Anyway, I'm hoping she pulls through it ok, she's only 12 and has her whole life ahead of her. I love her a lot, she's a great kid.

It's been a bad time lately health wise for my nearest and dearest. My grandfather is sick with cancer at the moment and went in to the hospital yesterday with breathing trouble.

And I've been experiencing seizures. About four in eight days. I had a CT scan and it came back clear (a huge relief as there was a possiblity of secondaries of my cancer showing up in my head, or a lesion of some sort). I'm having an EEG to check for epilepsy in a few weeks too.

I'm considering the possibility that they're stress related, too. I haven't had one for about five or six days now so I'm not sure what that means. I was trying to think of what was different in the week I had them, and I couldn't think of anything. Then Bertie pointed out that it was in that week that we'd been visiting the children's a lot. Once I stopped visiting so much (due to a combination of full time work and a throat/ear infection that I couldn't pass on to Ebony), I stopped having them. It could just be a coincidence, the seizures could happen again at any time according to the doctor, but I do remember that every time I came into the childrens hospital it brought back traumatic memories. The triggers for those memories weren't spectacular, in fact they were quite mundane - the artwork on the wall was the same, the food outlets were the same, the elevators were painted the same colour, the same statue was in the foyer... in fifteen years it seemed to be the same hospital that I had basically lived in during the time of the cancer/amputation. Also, seeing my niece at 12 (I had been 9/10) in the bed in the hospital made me experience my cancer from the perspective of a visitor/adult, with all the worries and fears for a helpless child before my eyes. I do wonder if the hospital triggered the seizures, or at least triggered stress in me that could have triggered seizures...

I noticed too in the MRI that as I went into the tunnel (a tunnel I found scary and upsetting as a child), tears started pouring out of my eyes and I couldn't stop shaking. I had to have the nurse come and comfort me and move my head back in to position, and I was very embarassed and surprised by my reaction. The nurse reminded me that having been through this before as a child with cancer, the reaction was in fact very natural and understandable. Once she had given me permission to feel what I was feeling, I just tried to acknowledge the stress and then calm myself. I realised that I was thinking 'not again, not again, not again', and that the possiblity of having cancer in my head was being linked to the experience of having cancer in my leg. I don't feel that I'm that traumatised by what I went through, but obviously deep in my mind - and in connection, my body - I have some buried emotions and memories that are coming back.

It's interesting, because part of the reason I started therapy was because I was having dreams and flashbacks about the cancer/hospital experience, so I am wondering if these seizures are just another manifestation of that stress that I have buried - in my therapy I never got around to tlaking about the leg and the hospital (did I purposely avoid it?). I ended up talking about things that were bothering me about life right now, mainly. I ended the sessions because I had run out of the government subsidised sessions and I couldn't afford more. It might be time to reconsider that and make room in my budget for it. I ended my time with the psychologist by simply never calling up to make my next appointment, so I feel a bit uncomfortable about that. Still, she was very good and if she'll have me back I think I'll go and see her again.

I know that stress is sometimes a trigger for Bertie's IBS symptoms - I was skeptical at first but over the years I've had to accept that stress is very closely linked to our body's physical health, and that it's important to acknowledge and deal with stress in your life.

As well as considering returning to therapy to try and deal specifically with issues relating to the experience of cancer/amputation/hospital, I'm also considering taking up yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage... I'll even give things like hypnotherapy and acupuncture a go. I just want to get rid of my stress so I can prevent health problems from happening instead of dealing with them when they hit.

I want to look at other preventative health measures in my life too - mainly diet and sleep. I have been noticing over my last thirteen months of insomnia that my sleep levels are directly linked to my mood for the day:

Three-four hours equals: I can function but i'm going to be on edge all day and then crash, usually accompanied by huge mood swings and emotional outbursts. I will be sick by the end of the day and end up taking a day or two off each week.

Four-five hours equals: I can function but I'm going to be on edge all day and then crash, usually accompanied by huge mood swings and emotional outbursts.

Six-seven hours equals: I can function but I'll feel tired and grouchy during the day, and will not feel motivated to go out at night, or in fact do anything at all after work hours.

Eight-nine hours equals: I can not only function but I feel capable of doing something in the afternoon too, whether it be cleaning the house or cooking a nutritious meal or catching up with a friend or going to a singing lesson etc

These are all variable of course, depending on how i've slept in the nights previous, what my diet has been like previous, and what is happening in my life. But basically, if I get the sleep it's easier to eat well and to feel positive about what's happening in my life... so it seems like a great first frontier.

Now that Bertie's back from work interstate, I seem to be sleeping just fine. So it seems a great time to start ensuring i get eight to nine hours of sleep a night. It's hard though, because my mind is so active at night and it's when I most want to read/play computer/have a conversation/do exercise/watch a bit of telly, etc... still, worth it if I can feel happier and more able to deal with life each day!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Restaurant Review - Maedaya (YUM!)


Maedaya in Richmond is my FAVOURITE restaurant in Melbourne. Big call, but there it is.

I was going to write a post about it, but have found some superb posts done by others, like this one at the My Food Trail blog

And this post at Melbourne Gastronome

Are you convinced yet? No?

Take THAT! and THAT!



See you there :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

beef steak with garlic and grandfather port *drools*

I have been eating a bit more red meat lately as my iron levels are low...

Tonight i had two small beef steaks and didn't want to just fry them up and chew away at the meat like I have a few times since starting to eat meat again. I knew that red wine could be used in sauces, and I felt like spoiling myself. AND we had an open bottle of Penfolds Grandfather port sitting around begging to be used.

So i combined a few recipes for red wine sauces I found on the internet.

This is what I ended up doing.

I cracked pepper and sea salt over a plate, dolloped three teaspoons of minced garlic on to the plate, and then poured a few teaspoons of olive oil over it and mixed it all up with the back of a spoon. I popped the two steaks on to the plate and rubbed both sides in the garlic/salt/pepper/oil, and heated up a pan (with no oil). When it was hot I cooked the steak for about 3 or 4min on each side, then let it rest on a separate plate. I added a tablespoon of nuttelex to the pan, half a cup of stock, a few tablespoons of beef gravy powder, two tablespoons of grandfather port... it mixed in with the leftover garlic/oil/salt/pepper and turned into a rich, tasty sauce.

Loved this sauce so so much. I wouldn't normally use such expensive port in cooking, but for a treat it was lovely. I didn't cook the port for long enough for the alcohol to be burned off, so it tasted lovely and alcoholic. I was surprised at how good the port tasted in it - I ate a few spoons of the sauce by itself before pouring it over the meat and it was so good I went back for a few more spoons. It complimented the beef so so well.

I overcooked the beef slightly for my liking - it was medium well done instead of medium rare - but the port sauce, full of the juices from the pan, made the meat taste delicious.

Win! This recipe's a keeper :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

so I don't forget my first Port Fairy Folk Festival in many years!!!

I didn't see any of the bands on Friday, as I got the train and bus down after work and arrived too late. Karl was good enough to pick me up from the bus stop. We got to the camping grounds and it was pitch black - pretty much straight to bed, which worked for me as I was tired and knew the next day would be exhausting.

First up on Saturday morning was Tenzin Choegyal & the Monks of Tibet... the monks were great, loved some of the unusual sounds they made with their voices, but the highlight for me was Tenzin Choegyal's voice. I thought to myself (as I would during many concerts over the festival weekend) 'I must get this guy's CD later, when I have some money!' Grr at being poor, but I was lucky to be able to afford going to the festival at all considering we're saving for Europe in a few months time. While I was in the tent a woman got up to leave, and it turned out it was Robyn, an old family friend!

Next I went to Kate Vigo and the Undergorund Orchestra, but it wasn't the kind of music I felt like that day (lovely voice though!) so I wandered to the free street part of the festival... that's where I ran into my aunt and uncle, and two friends. I had lunch with my mates and then we headed to the Fiddler's Green. 'The Tiger and Me' were playing, a band from Melbourne I already really like.

Next I caught a bit of 'Band of Brothers' with Karl (great guitar work), and then 'Totally Gourdgeous' (who were quite hilarious).

According to the program description for Band of Brothers, "The Grigoryan and Tawadros family names are synonymous with australian classical music. Guitar virtuosi, Slava and Leonard Grigoryan, join the extraordinarily talented Joseph and James Tawadros for an adventurous musical partnership that crosses boundaries."

Met up with my Aunt, Uncle and cousin at The Shebeen and had a Moscato mmm, and then headed to the Lighthouse Cafe to see The Crooked Fiddle Band, who were... it's hard to describe. Some of it seemed to be folk metal if that's possible, while others were more rock or more classical or gypsyish. Meh hard to describe but AWESOME to listen to. One of the best things I listened to that weekend. I bought their cd and haven't stopped listening to it this week.

I wanted to head to the Ruby Hunter tribute concert that night, but it was so packed and in the end i piked (which i regretted). However this meant I got to see the excellent Ego Lemnos, with plenty of room to stretch out and listen right up the front. He's an East Timorese man with a beautiful voice, so smooth and relaxed!

I caught a few songs by the badloves (where had they been? Green Limousine! random but in a good way...) and finished the night off with an excellent concert by Dereb Desalegn & the Lion of Judah. I'd never heard Ethiopian jazz before. I wish I'd gotten up and danced... I'd like to get a cd of his stuff too.

On Sunday we had more rain, and more great music. I started out with Kavisha Mazzella first thing in the morning (she was one of the main reasons I was excited about PFFF in the first place). She was wonderful as usual. Such a lovely voice.

I had some breakfast then headed (too late) to 'A Woman's Voice'. Not too late to hear the music but my god it was crowded. I couldn't get a seat inside the enormous tent, and had to sit outside on the grass. I couldn't see much of the stage but they helpfully set screens up and I watched that instead. I got to hear the awesome sounds of Kerrianne Cox, Eleanor McEvoy, Alanna and Alicia Egan, Kim Richey, Jen Cloher and (again) Kavisha Mazzella.

At half three i went to the open mic retro open stage at the RSL hall. I wasn't planning to sing, but the guy taking names was pretty nice. He'd asked 'are you performing today?' and I must have hesitated sufficiently for him to sense that a part of me wanted to sing something. He encouraged me, and I got up (first) to sing 'The Grey Cock' and 'Red is the Rose'. Nerve wracking as all hell, and my diaphragm wobbled enough that I thought I sounded bad. I was shaking, and even said I'd only sing one song so I didn't put anyone 'through too much pain' lol. I was asked to sing a second song, and the applause and comments convinced me I'd done ok.

The band hosting the open mic session was called 'Dev'lish Mary' (another cd I'd like!) and they were three women, one on the fiddle, one on the double bass and the other on guitar... and all doing vocals - great harmonies - together.

I wandered back and saw a few bands, nothing I remember really, and then caught the bus to the surf club. The four groups were amazing - the Bree Arne Trio, Tara Minton on harp/vocals and her excellent brother on saxophone, Shanachie (both girls had beautiful voices, I particularly liked the girl with the deeper voice), and The Tiger and Me (who were even better than I'd seen them the day before, if that's possible - I think the gypsy rock sound filled that little place and rocked it out so well compared to fiddlers green where the sound kind of disappeared into the air a bit.)

On Monday I finished off the festival with a visit to Glover & Sorrenson (funny but not brilliant, the part I loved was when Mal Webb got a spot in the show. He layered music and sounds over eachother with a pedal thing (got to find out how he did it!) that recorded the sound whenever he put his food down on it. God I'm a technological luddite. Anyhooo it was amazing. Next up at the Lighthouse Cafe at 11am was Alanna and Alicia Egan from Bendigo. They were one of my favourites from the 'A Woman's Voice' concert and I'd hardly seen that except on a screen from a distance... this time on the Monday, I sat right up the front and got to hear and see them much better. I'd like their cd, they were funny and had fantastic voices.

Finally, I found Karl and we watched Genticorum, a band that rocked my socks off. They were a French canadian Celtic band... if you can imagine that! DEFINITELY want their cd.

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