the things i do for me

In the two+ months since I last updated (since Sydney) I:
– Interviewed and was selected for an amazing job
– Travelled to Hong Kong with said job
– Came back to Melbourne to cram for my next uni subject
– Travelled to the far-north-eastern-most point of Arnhem Land and spent a week in an Aboriginal arts centre
– Came back to Melbourne and did a course in conservation of plastics at Melbourne Museum
– Decorated my house in an attempt at procrastinating from uni assignments
– Thrashed out my assignments on Aboriginal art and finished uni for 2015 (much more to come in 2016 though)
– Started my new job in earnest.

But whilst all of the above would make fascinating blog posts, complete with interesting and/or beautiful photos and maybe even some meaningful reflections on art and culture…

…I’m posting now because I am needing to do the whole “today I did this for me” thing again to help me stay positive as I adapt to working very-much-full-time again and try not to lapse back into fatigue. Not very interesting for other people but very much a coping strategy for me!

SO this weekend:
– I got up early on Saturday and cleaned and tidied my house, ran down to Coles to pick up the groceries I pre-ordered online to avoid buying anything that wasn’t FODMAP-friendly (this strategy works wonders for me)
– Met with my new Chinese friend Rinny to smash out 6 (yes SIX) hours of Chinese conversation practice (the new job requires me to be able to talk about archaeology and Chinese history and UNESCO with fluency — isn’t that marvellous?)
– Watched 10 Things I Hate About You
– Read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (a wonderful hommage to The Jungle Book!)
– Failed to get to Bikram on Sunday morning, due to staying up late reading the above (I have lapsed in my Bikram practice and been maybe twice in three weeks, due to intermittent fatigue + working again being a bit much to combine, but I’m confident I’ll be back soon).
– Met my friend Kerry to see Trainwreck at the cinema (loved it)
– Came home and napped (I’ve been told to schedule naps in the day and not feel bad about it, and you know what, it’s so liberating!)
– Cooked low-FODMAPs coq au vin and ragu for the week’s lunches (plus a ton of white rice and hard-boiled eggs) (and can I just say that coq au vin is out of this world delicious for a low-FODMAPs recipe A+++).

Now it’s 9:30pm and time to wind things up for bed. Goals for the week:

– No panicking
– Practice Chinese every night (and not lazy writing or reading, proper speaking and listening!)
– Whether you think you can, or you think can’t, you’re right… so Rosie, know that you can.
– Maybe squeeze in a Bikram class.


week 4 down, how many left to go?

This past week I did some good things — catching up with the lovely Fiona on Tuesday, and attending the Confined 6 exhibition opening night with Kerry on Wednesday. This was my favourite painting:

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It’s called Echidna Dreaming After The Rain by Dennis Thorpe (2014).

This is a story about my family and me going camping for the weekend. It was a sunny day until the afternoon when the clouds came and it started to rain. So we cooked the fish we had caught and waited until the rain stopped. The next morning the sky was nice and clear and my mother said “We are going to find some echidnas because after the rain you can see the new dirt and follow their tracks”.

I did lots of yoga, as my hip injuries have slowly improved, and I can return to more and more postures, with only standing-head-to-knee pose and toe stand being off limits for now. I realised that because of the injuries I’ve learned to pay more attention in each pose, every movement I make. It’s probably, in a hippy kind of way, made me better at Bikram. Also I started doing my physio! Incroyable, non? I realised I should do the exercises in the yoga studio whilst I’m waiting for class to begin. So far, so good.

Every time I think about going to yoga without Polly, my eyes well up and my throat feels constricted. Today she left — following a lovely breakfast with Graham and Skye, who then drove us to the airport — and I feel so horribly empty without her here. I managed to lock myself out of my flat on my way out to yoga; of course, my spare keys were still inside the flat because Polly had only just given them back to me. Fortunately my landlord was in town and she came over after my Bikram class to let me back in. All of these statements are a bit of a mishmash; I’ll blame it on missing Polly.

That, and I’m kind of not great overall. Despite all the yoga, I had a meltdown at work on Thursday and told my bosses I can’t do it anymore. We’re moving to new offices tomorrow so everything is very hectic at the moment, and they have asked me to reconsider what it would take for me to stay, but it’s going to require so many changes that I don’t see how I could last much longer there. In any case, I have to stay for another couple of months as I am managing a software development project that would take just as long to train up someone else to take over, as it would to see through to completion, and once it’s done, it will be much quicker and easier to train my replacement. It feels good to have put my unhappiness on the table and have some open discussions about how I don’t want to be there anymore, so overall, I suppose my hatred of work is somewhat diminished, but I don’t know for how long. I am at least looking forward to going into work tomorrow to see my new workspace; I’ll try to remember to take pictures!


After Bikram today I was chatting with the teacher, and he asked me if I had thought of doing Bikram teacher training. This question surprised me very much as I am definitely not a teacher — from teaching English as a foreign language, to training new staff, I detest teaching other people, I think because my success is dependent on their success, and if they are failing, then it’s my fault. I’m impatient and rude and a perfectionist and I have a long way to go before I could conceive being zen enough to become a yoga teacher!

Anyway, whilst I adore my Bikram teachers, and obviously worship Bikram yoga, the idea of being trained (along with 350-450 others) by Bikram Chaudry himself does not appeal. Besides anything else, my mat and towel are both green, a colour which is banned from his training course. I am so grateful to all the people who went and did the training so I don’t have to!

However when I replied “Oh no, not at all, definitely not” he seemed quite surprised. I guess I have the kind of smitten fervour and passion (bordering on being a raging bore who has to restrain herself from talking about Bikram all day, to everyone she meets) that drives many to become teachers themselves. I am always emailing poor Polly links to Bikram/yoga-related articles and blog posts, and appraising her postures, and passing on tips accumulated from Ashtanga and Bikram teachers over the years. I feel like Polly would be a great yoga teacher, I think she should definitely save up and go off to Thailand for the 9-week training.

Speaking of Polly I can’t believe she is leaving in a week. I am scared I will miss her so much that I will also start missing James, and missing James is just not an acceptable thing to do.

hanging in there – week 2 summary

Last check-in I had a list of things I wanted to do. I’ve achieved mostly just the Bikram (injuring my hip in the process but that’s ok, I can still go, I just spend a lot of time standing/laying down instead of doing the poses).

The highlight of the week was extending Polly’s stay here for another 2 weeks, which makes me so happy. It’s the kind of thing you agonise over for hours and the moment you decide “to hell with the expense!” you realise it was absolutely the right decision!

I did get my hair cut, and I even have a delightful picture of my sister and me (and the haircut, which looks identical from this angle but is in fact very different I promise), from a 70s-themed party we went to. Polly is Hunter S. Thompson. She is fantastic.

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We were planning to visit the ACCA Menagerie exhibition today but Polly was quite hungover and I had to work this morning… next weekend is the long Australia Day weekend so I’m sure we will make it somehow!

In terms of how much I currently hate my job, well. Let’s instigate a scale which goes from 1 – “I quite enjoy this really”, to 10, “Will someone please firebomb this place already”… two weeks ago I was at a solid 11, which was downgraded over the course of the week to a 6, and then fluctuated between 7 and 8 over the course of last week, depending on how long since I’d been to yoga. Unfortunately by Friday I was well up to 9 1/2 and having to work on a Sunday morning did not help.

Here’s hoping for a week that tops out at 8. Hoping, but not daring to believe. I don’t believe in a higher power, so… Oh Bikram, give me strength!
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a trip to Wangaratta

I haven’t spent much time in regional Victoria, so it was lovely to escape to Wang (as it is affectionately known) to see my dear friend Bonnie for a couple of days. At Bonnie’s we made friends with a foal at the end of the garden:
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“Excuse me, I’ll take care of that”
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We also befriended two darling little dogs, Neddy (seen here in Polly’s lap) and Puppy.
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Sorry for the badly exposed picture, however it captures Neddy and Puppy’s personalities so well!
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Bonnie had to work, but kindly dropped us at the Milawa (which I kept accidentally calling Malawi, not quite the same thing) Cheese Company, where Polly and I devoured this platter of local produce and some Cabernet Sauvigon.
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Then we walked back to Milawa, enjoying the Australian landscape and bright skies. I was wearing SPF30 as always, but unfortunately I was a bad sister and didn’t check if Polly put sunscreen on… so here she is, pre-sunburn.
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We stopped to walk around the cemetery, which drew us in with its cheerful signage.
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Can you spot the mini-ponies?
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I was fascinated by these “tennis-ball trees” — the fruit are the exact same size and colour as tennis balls. I looked them up — they are Osage oranges, apparently.
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By this time Polly was really burnt — I feel terrible for her!
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We had a couple of drinks whilst waiting for Bonnie to come back from work…
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…and then another drink at a different pub, with Bonnie. Because that’s what one does in Australia!
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The pub Bonnie took us to had a little museum in its cellars.
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There’s a tunnel which Ned Kelly allegedly used:
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And a useful illustrated tale of Ned Kelly (yes, Wang is Ned Kelly Country!)
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This picture was my favourite: The North Wangaratta Picnic Committee, c.1910. A highly important organisation, I’m sure.
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I’m so grateful to Bonnie and her mum for having us stay — it was well worth the 3.5-hour train journey; it’s so weird to reflect on how vast Australia is, as 3.5 hours by train could take you to another country in Europe, and we didn’t even leave Victoria.

October things

The beginning of October was all uni. I am just finishing up my Analytical Chemistry subject, in fact this series of blog posts is the result of procrastination against my assignments. The object I’ve been researching is a bronze dagger from Palestine, from the Middle Bronze Age (2200-1500 BCE) and I used to love it, but now I hate its stupid face because I have to write so much about it.

Just kidding. I couldn’t hate this thing if I tried!

I don’t often share the pictures I take in class these days as they would be quite boring to just about anyone and are more for functional than entertainment purposes, but I do like this little series of my very first resin-embedded cross-section.

Embedded in this block of resin is a tiny fragment of a paint chip, from Melbourne’s historic Princes Bridge. The bridge was cleaned a few years ago, and our lecturers gathered up all the paint chips and use them for our practicals. We didn’t get to pour the resin ourselves, so I don’t have pictures of that.

(Sorry that my annotation is the wrong way round. I am not very smart and I only remembered I wanted to rotate the picture after I had edited it.)

Once the resin has set, you need to carefully place the block in a small vise and then saw as close as possible to the sample:

Sawed through one edge! it’s hard work.

After polishing completely smooth with sandpaper, you can now see the cross-section:

After sawing and polishing all the edges:

And then the final results underneath a compound microscope, magnified x100 (and photographed by moi, such an achievement)! Visible are all the layers of paint from decades and decades, all different colours:

Other October things — all entirely unrelated to each other:

Possum in my tree!

I went to an exhibition about Japanese earthquakes and I found this so poignant. Sisters are special.

My friends from way-back-when (“when” being Taiwan 2006!) Mélodie and Duncan paid a surprise visit, as is testified by this incredibly blurry photo — the only one we took, unfortunately. Oh well! it was fantastic to catch up with such lovely friends, and I hope they come back to Melbourne soon.

We moved all the furniture around in my house and now the sun hits my bookshelves as it sets. This makes me grin.

My manager had her baby and my ovaries kicked into overdrive:


Polly in Aus

As I mentioned in the previous post my sister Polly came to stay with me for two months. We were both a little apprehensive about such a long stay but in fact I loved having her here with me — loved it even more than when she came to visit in Sri Lanka in 2012. I miss her and I am quietly hoping she will come back soon. I went through some pictures of us and the various fun things we got up to and decided I wanted to pop these on here for my family to see and so I can come back and reminisce whenever I want! Some of these are just random and some have proper activities attached…

When James was here for his surprise visit, he kindly drove us out to Healesville Sanctuary so Polly could get up close with native animals.

Polly and James watching koalas

One of our favourite sights: Kangaroos chillin’ like a villain

James and Polly make such a great comedy duo

Polly and I paid extra for a Magical Moment where you can pet a Real Australian Animal (originally with a tree kangaroo but it wouldn’t come down to play, so we got an echidna instead)

I always seem to be trying to escape in pictures of me + animals… don’t know why?

Wombats are my favourite animal and I thought these big sleeping fatties in glass boxes might be my only sighting of them…

but luckily later in the day we stumbled across the same zookeeper who was carrying a teenage wombat around for petting! Yes, she looks deranged in this picture. I chose it cos I am jealous of her job.

So much cute!

This is a not terribly interesting picture of a goanna. The reason why I include it is so I can share this fact: Early colonists of Australia named it “a goanna” as a contraction of “iguana” (totally unrelated species of course). Aaah Aussies.

Actually James took a much better one of me and Polly getting friendly with a goanna.

This is not really Polly-related, but that evening I went down to the beach with James. Couple selfie! You know I can’t resist ’em!

Continuing the trend, we follow with some more completely unrelated pictures (except they do feature Polly:

Swimming sisters!

Visiting the Immigration Museum

Pictures of Polly drinking a beverage with a straw!

I miss going for walks together. Along the river in Collingwood…

…and of course along the beach at St Kilda

We went to Melbourne Museum a couple of times — once for a night-time event at the Smartbar (which I have attended previously and LOVED) and once just for casual funtimes because I wanted to show Polly the Melbourne Story exhibits.

This particular Smartbar event wasn’t quite as thrilling in terms of lectures — the interesting ones had mostly been cancelled sadly — but we still drank lots of wine and had fun being in the museum at night with no children around: my personal idea of heaven. Random snaps from the night:
Polly being hypnotised by some creepy stick insects

Rosie smirking with a lion (and purple wine-stained teeth)

We watched this fantastic 3D 360o screen thing about the formation of rocks. Very stylish 3D glasses.

We gawked at all the incredible minerals and Polly found this finger-shaped one that made us giggle like drunken idiots

When we went back in the cold light of day we also made the acquaintance of some cute frogs — you would be forgiven for thinking that Melbourne Museum is a zoo.

More silly posing in front of Australiana:

Close-up of that tapestry

Polly is very moved

We went to Bikram yoga a few times and Polly rocked it there. One Friday night however we dragged ourselves out to class and it was canceled, so we went for Ethiopian food. When I suggested Ethiopian (I’d been craving injera), Polly made a face and said she didn’t fancy being bright purple all night. I was confused, wondering if she was referring to food stains… then realised that in France, Ethiopian food is made by and for Ethiopians and is super spicy. I quickly reassured her that in Whitesville, Whiteland Australia, Ethiopian food is prepared according to whimpy white people tastes. We stuffed ourselves accordingly (and the photos are terrible but the anecdote makes me smile so I keep them anyway!).

One of the things I did whilst Polly was here was get some second-hand frames and put up some art on my walls. She was very helpful and I need her to come back and help me pick out the right ones!

Embroidery by me + an old Christmas card from Graham

I love the lime green frame with this pointillist painting which has plenty of chartreuse and magenta to match.

We must save Taiwan! Thanks China! I got these in Beijing a few years ago.

Speaking of art, I also unearthed this majestic pictures from when I was posing for some artists in Taiwan, back in the day… (the day being 2006!)

Graham took Polly and me to Lysterfield Lake for a hike as I really wanted Poll to see some kangaroos in the wild — it’s such a special experience (for me anyway!) We didn’t see any for ages, and I was starting to worry we wouldn’t, but then one popped up from the undergrowth and we saw heaps of them after that.
Kangaroo numero uno

Polly gets in close! You can’t see them but they ARE in the picture.

Rambling hikers


We came home that night to yet another fantastic Melbourne sunset. I love Melbourne skies.

I had been taunting Polly with mysterious mentions of how we must go see the Polly Woodside, without ever letting her know what it was. Eventually we made it there…

It’s a ship! (in case the writing above wasn’t clue enough)

Polly posed with the ship and then swiftly redirected us to the nearby bar, to pose with cocktails.

I think she looks so much like Mummy here! (don’t look at me, I look creepy as usual)

It was a really gorgeous way to spend the end of the afternoon.

But we couldn’t linger too long as we had places to be:

Alan Davies!

Too soon the two months came to an end… My boss took us out for a farewell dinner, where the food was unremarkable but Polly was introduced to the pleasures of the Fishbowl Margarita. She managed to drink most of it by herself, despite the waitress’ suggestion that I share with her (no thanks! I want my own drink!)

Polly and I had our own last supper together — I took my baby girl out for Japanese and it was very very delicious. The dessert was so good – green tea ice cream and sesame ice cream.

As we were walking home for her to pack, I said to Polly, “Do you want to get a bottle of —“ and hadn’t finished my sentence before she made a sharp turn into the bottle shop, immediately saying “Yes!” We chose it based on my time-honoured method of selecting one with a good label.

And so it all ended. Polly! do you miss Melbourne yet? Come back!!