Sunday, 28 July 2013

The fourth weekend in July

July, thou art a fecking cold month.
Thou art dark too. And rainy.
And this year no wine

Hey I think that is almost a Haiku.

Hi, how YOU doin? How was your weekend?

Thankyou for all your insights re: the royal family and the royal baby. It is different strokes for different folks and I enjoy all points of view. 'Cause thats the way I roll.

Did we just not have a weekend? Gosh it went by fast.

On Friday, my clinic had been cancelled so I did my work in the morning and played hooky in the afternoon (and dragged the fella with me). We went to see the Afghanistan exhibition at the Melbourne museum. As you could imagine, it was quite a small collection of treasures. The Russians and Taliban had blown up a few museums and rendered lots of archeological sites unsafe / useless over the years. A pity, as, with it's strategic position on the Silk Road, Afghanistan is an historically rich place, with Greek, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern influences.

What survived, though, was lots of gold blingy stuff.

You would not normally associate such beauty with Afghanistan....It is a shame.

I joined the fella to have some beverages at the pub with some of his work colleagues.
Much needed chips and nachos were eaten.

Unfortunately I was really grumpy from a frustrating morning. Seeing others enjoy their wine made me even more grumpy. So I thought "Fuckit, I am buying a golden ticket". I got shouted a couple glasses of wine. Then a third. Strangely, I could not finish it. I was just....full. I know wine and carbs go into different stomachs (It is a medical fact) but it just wouldn't go. Interesting.

On Saturday morning, I went for a longish run with my mate Deb, who is training for the half. The run was notable for a. being slow b. inducing underarm chafing and c. seeing a little dog dangle by its jaws from a stick that its mistress was holding up. Kind of like this dog here:

Funny little dog!

Saturday evening the fella and I went to see Behind the Candelabra. Michael Douglas deserves an Oscar for it. Matt Damon was pretty good too. It portrayed the relationship between Liberace and his toyboy lover more sympathetically than I would have thought.

Sunday involved a visit to a friend and her 3 month old girlbaby. The bub was a tad fractious, so I busied myself assembling lunch then a banana cake. Because all good family homes need the smell of baking in them on a weekend winter's afternoon, no? After a feed, the baby graciously bequeathed me some Aunty cuddles, but did not look terribly interested in the cake baking in the oven.

My fella is big into music, and last night, we went to see a gig by a mini-hipster called Jake Bugg. He gets lots of airplay on Triple J. He sung good, but the banter between the songs was lacking. Maybe it's a hipster thing, or the fact that he is only 19 or something, and may have had his mum lurking backstage. I could not understand a word he sung but his music is very catchy. The audience was full of mini-hipsters. God love them. I asked my fella whether he was a wanna be hipster and he replied earnestly "no, I'm a dirty old man". God love him.

Here is a youtube clip of Jake Bugg. I am very anti-smoking but I concede that this song is quite catchy, and I like the sentiment of holding two fingers up to yesterday, sometimes it helps to let the past go.

I am looking forward to this week. I have just reached a milestone in my study (yay). Dry July is over (yay yay yay). Offspring is on (yay). Me and the fella are approaching our one year anniversary (yaaaaay)

What are you up to this week?
What type of music do you like?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Things that make you go "meh".

Last post, I talked about my mind being like an internet browser with 8 tabs open at once.

How many of those tabs normally contain stuff to do with the Royal Family? None.

How many has it been in the past week? One, probably.

It's been impossible to ignore the royals, with beaming pictures of Duke, Duchess and Baby C (or Kate, Wills and Georgie Boy) slapped all over every newspaper and webpage.

I would really like to get excited about the royal birth, and I did, a little bit, for a few hours, then...nup.

There are lots of things I care about, and am passionate about, that I get revved up about and can rant about. This whole Wills and Kate Baby stuff is not one of them.

I love Offspring, and lose my shit every Wednesday evening, but some people don't. It's ok. Different strokes for different folks.

My Mum loves the Royal Family. She rang me up crying when the Queen Mum died. Of course it was sad when Diana died, insofar as any young mum dying too early in a tragic car accident is sad. I watched Kate and Williams wedding on the box - I loved Kate's and  Pippa's dresses, but bemoaned Wills' coif.

I like the Queen. It is good to see folk robust and mobile well into their older age. Philip, I believe, has been retired from public duties/speaking.

Diana, come to think of it, had it hard. She was barely 20 when she got married and had to learn a lot very quickly. And make a few very public mistakes. And find her husband was in love with somebody else. What was never in doubt was her love for her little boys, and her compassion.

Kate and Wills have done it differently. A bit older, a bit wiser, and neither of them ever put a foot wrong, at least not publically.

I think this is the reason I can't really engage with them. They are perfect. A bit sterile. They are nice and pretty and shiny and smiley and...well...insipid. I don't even think I have heard Kate's voice. A woman very much in the public eye who looks pretty and has no voice. It's probably not her choosing but it's a bit boring and it's not what we need nowadays, is it?

Kate rocks a frock very well, but wouldn't you, too, if you had the dosh for a posh frock and the proper bling?

I love a baby, and was excited for them, for a little while. The excitement evaporated with the media saturation of the story, and I don't even read the women's magazines.

It also evaporated with seeing Kate's choice of dress, probably a deliberate play on Diana's. Give me a W, Gimme a T, Gimme an F!! Wearing a dress like what hubby's dead mum wore to carry bubby hubby out of hospital?!?! Weird!

I love seeing new mums. What I love is that they look pallid, with bags under their eyes, messy hair, puffy tummies and wearing only stretchy gear, making me want to say "sit down, let me make you a cuppa". And they still glow and look beautiful, they way only a new mum can.

I would have been delighted to see Kate wearing jeggings, a singlet and some Havianas, with face devoid of make up and hair in a messy top-knot. Keeping it real, as it were. Kate could wear a potato sack and still look fetching. I don't know how the world's press would have dealt with it.

After some consideration, I can say that my favourite British Royals are Harry and Zara. Harry will make a great uncle, giving Baby G his first drink, smoke and lad mag. Harry has a bit of a rough, mischievious edge to him, which I enjoy.

Zara looks very much like she has better things to do than being a royal, vis a vis riding horses and winning Olympic medals and getting knocked up to rough and ready rugby players. I think she is far more beautiful than Kate. But that's just me.

There is no harm in the British Royal Family, and they graciously attend chilly events and smile with aplomb, but I really struggle to see how they are relevant today. To be sure, I am more than happy for any of them to prove me wrong.

When you think about it, they are there because their ancestors were more brutal than other people's ancestors. In those days, that meant you were chosen by God to rule. Nowadays if you went on like that the CIA might have you killed.

And inbreeding de rigeur up until far too recently. Were Chucky and Di not distant cousins?

But good luck to whoever enjoys it, and may you get full enjoyment. Chuck a party! It's what the royal bub would want you to do. Perhaps a bit of light entertainment is what it is all about really.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Who do YOU talk to?

A bit of a different post today.

It's said that being a woman is like being an internet browser with about 8 tabs open at a time.

I think that Offspring's Nina Proudman is a character that connects with women because she has a lot of internal chatter. Some of it uncomfortable.

Some of it is just banalities. What to pick up from the supermarket. Who to call.

A lot of it has a bit more of an emotional edge. Fears. Doubts. Worries. Worries about stuff that will in all likelihood never, ever eventuate. Assumptions about what other people think.

Stuff that, if it is said out loud, loses power, as it doesn't make a great deal of sense, or is unhelpful.

When there are too many tabs open full of crap (say facebook, twitter, a few unhelpful diets, and 3 email accounts) it can be overwhelming.

It can make the computer shit itself and go all slowly. We need a way to press ctrl-alt-delete on it.

A good internal "ctrl-alt-delete" mechanism is a good thing. We all need to tell ourselves "stop, just hang on" sometimes.

It is really important, too, that we have an external ctrl-alt-delete mechanism. A person to talk to, that we can workshop some of the cray-cray shit with.

One that won't judge or necessarily offer solutions, but reinforce our own trust in ourselves. One that we trust, that we can make ourselves vulnerable to, that we feel safe with. It is a function of both the person and our own ability to put trust in others.

It is good if we have somebody in our lives like that.

Even if we have to pay them to take that role!

So tell me...

Do you have an 8-tab browser mind?
Can you press ctrl-alt-delete on yourself?
Do you have a person who you can download to?

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Run Melbourne Race Report. Plus Recipe.

Howdy pardners!

Hope all the Bowling and time Ashore or whatever you did on the weekend was enjoyable.

I joined the army of 20000 people in lycra to do Run Melbourne yesterday. They had 3 events on offer;  5km, 10km and Half-Marathon (21.1km) races.

The forecast was for rain and hail. Instead we were treated with this vista over the Yarra:

The good old Melbourne weather Bait and Switch....gotta love it.
It was FAREEZZing though and a few of us girls from run group were huddled up at the start line.

I have really got back into the running. My goal this year is to do my best 10km time (sub-60 minutes is my Everest).

I took almost a year off after running the London Marathon in 2012, as I had some lumbar nerve root injuries, and plus I got a bit lazy about it. However later last year I got serious about rehabbing and slowly got back into it. I re -joined running group a few months ago. I find I am more likely to stick to an exercise regimen if a. I have paid for it, and b. it is at a set time and c. if people are expecting me to be there. Yes 9 times out of 10 before a session I have an attack of the CBFs, but I nearly always feel better after the session.

Anyway back to the race. It was a fairly packed event, with a convoluted course, lots of dog legs and everything.

But if you know Melbourne, you will agree it is quite scenic. And we go DOWNHILL on Anderson street.

I started out running with a group mate but I find it is nearly always best if I do it at my own pace. Hence, as she was bearing ahead of me, I yelled "just go, run!".

I enjoyed the atmosphere, the weather and some of the bands that dotted the course. Early on, there was an opera singer. Later there was a DJ playing Eminem's "Lose Yourself" (love that ditty), some African drummers, and some brass musicians playing the Rocky theme. There was also a band playing Bruno Mars "Amazing" - not what I would have thought typical, but it was appropriate.

I cheered on some folks who looked like they struggled - there was a blind runner with her companion, so I gave her a cheer.

I high-fived the volunteers, God love them, they are enthusiastic. I love it when a line of them put out their hands and you run past and high five all of them.

Though I love the atmosphere of a mass-participation event, I never fail to get annoyed with some people who do stupid things on the course. I am a stickler for the rules during these things. I have seen some nasty tumbles.

Like the people who walk from the start and don't start at the back.

And those who duck and weave quickly through the course. It's dangerous.
And people who yap on their phones and walk arm in arm five abreast.... Annoying as hell.

After the 5km mark, I had a lady come to a complete stop in front of me. I yelled "careful".
She said "sorry" then muttered "fuck off"
I said to her "beg your pardon?"
She muttered "you heard".
I COULD have gone all ghetto on her, but I decided to do the thing that would piss her off the most, and that was to keep running, ahead of her. I didn't get the last word, but I kind of did...

Given that I had not been running that distance consistently recently, I was glad that I was able to keep up the running throughout most parts. I had to walk at a part under a bridge that was a bottle neck. Also, there was an overpass that gets all bouncy and I hate running on bouncy things so I walked 100 metres. Then, just after 9km, there was a big hill and I walked part of that.

I like to go all-out in the last 1/2 to 1 km, really empty the tank. I saw a lady walking through the finishing chute and I yelled at her "RUNNN" and she duly picked up the pace, thanking me as she ran past me.

I was quite happy with my time, with an average pace a little under 7 minutes per kilometre, sparing the walking/drink breaks. It is something that I can work off.

To this end, I have signed up for the Sandy Point 10km in a few weeks, plus the Melbourne Marathon 10km event in October. I would like to do the spring into shape series as well. I find fun runs very motivating. I will do some longer runs in the 12-15km distance range, as these will make me very comfortable running the 10km - I think I struggled a little in the last few km.

I am always very tired after a race and need a shower and a lie down. I did not feel like eating out so instead I made some of these bad boys:

The glob on the bottom right is some guacamole from a tube! I KNOW RIGHT!!

This is my healthier version of Nachos. I adore nachos, and indeed all Mexican food, but it is calorific.

I start with some corn tortillas. I freeze them so they don't go all mouldy. 4 small ones were used here.

I cut them into wedges, and spray them with a good amount of olive oil and then sprinkle over some salt.

I put them into an oven at about 200 degrees till they are golden. They come out all crispy.

I then arrange them on a plate, and pour over some salsa. If I am in the mood for a more substantial meal, I use the old el paso bean mush or some mexe beans. You can put some chilli con carne or chicken strips here too. I top with a little grated cheese (low fat if that is your thing) and then grill till the cheese is melted.

I add some chilli sauce and guacamole.
And then I nom.

So, over to you:
Have you ever done a fun run?
Are you a stickler for or enforcer of the rules?
And do you like Nachos? (Rhetorical question. Everyone does)

Friday, 19 July 2013

From the department of random...

Hello! How are you? Good? Good.

Happy Friday!

How's your week been?

It's been a bit of the usual for me.

'Cept on Wednesday, instead of going to running group, I went to see Ballet Revolucion at the Arts Centre. This is a dance troupe, with musicians, out of Havana, Cuba.

You're Welcome :D
Some actual dancing.

I actually was lucky enough to go to Cuba in January. I had an absolute ball. One of the things I particuarly loved was the music and the dancing. I salsa-ed my toosh off at any available opportunity.

This was actually more contemporary/ballet/hip hop, set to live pop music. Beyonce, Sting, Cee Lo Green, Shakira and others. A little bit of African. But very little Cuban music. This I was a bit disappointed about. Cuban music does not fail to get you dancing. Or chair dancing, as the case may be.

Yet the mastery in the dancing could not be denied; these were beautiful dancers, and amazing to watch. We were third row from the front (I booked in Feb) and we could see every twitch of the muscle. We saw the sweat dripping from them. We saw all their little grins. They were great performers as well as being technically great dancers. The fella second from right in the top picture was the best of the lot, all of his moves just contained....un pequeno mas (a little more...).

Cubans are beautiful to look at. They are all descended from either slaves out of West Africa or Spanish invaders. Hence there is pale, dark, and every shade of bronze (or mulatto) in between. This makes for some stunning, stunning people. These dancers were no exception.

I should add here that there are no "native" Cubans, like say the Incans of Peru. The Taino people don't really exist as a group in Cuba (though there may be descendants). Most of them were killed off by fighting, disease or privation when the Conquistadors came in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a pity, as, from all accounts from the era, these were lovely, generous people, and murder or aggression were unknown.

We need more of that in the world.

Well that was an interesting aside. Bet you can sleep better at night.

In the spirit of Dry July, getting healthy and generally practicing what I preach, I started tracking my food and drink using the weight watchers app on my iPhone. I decided it was time I got a bit more mindful, the wardrobe fairies have been coming in and sewing my jeans a bit tighter at night over the past year or so. I have even restarted pilates. My abs are a good-sore!

Yet a few days I was really tired in the afternoon, and craving carbs, so some crack was in order:

FYI Furry Friend chocolate is better than Freddo Frog chocolate. 

Speaking of Dry July, I have been good. A golden ticket (exit pass) was bought one day to go out to a dinner, and I didn't go berserk. I am learning to handle dinners out, or chilly Sunday afternoons, or stressful days without a glass of wine in hand. I have also raised over 500 bucks, through harassing friends, family and colleagues.

I had a lovely card from one of my study patients today. She was very excited to give it to me. I told her I would treasure it.

She thought it was hilarious. I agreed.

After receiving an email from a shoe retailer advertising cheap boots, I decided a trip to Northland (Or Norflands as it is known to the locals) was in order. I decided my old pair of black boots needed retiring. Out with the old, in with the new:

Last Sunday, Bastille Day, I bought a bottle of Investment Champagne. And a croissant. As you do.

It will be drank after July.

On Sunday, I will be doing the 10km Run Melbourne event, with a few girls from running group. That evening I have organised a dinner at a gastropub.

I just came across this old pic.

I bet you just squealed in delight. Admit it.
It is Candy the Staffy. The ex got custody and I have not seen her in some time....she had been sick. It was best not to hear anything further. I would prefer to remember her like this, hiding under the table and coming up for a pat and/or food and cuddles.

I will not leave things on a sad note though, no siree

I will leave you with the following questions:

What are you up to this weekend?
And where do you stand on the "double leather" look (ie knee high leather boots with leather jacket)?

I personally won't go there, and these boots have introduced a fashion conundrum with regards to jacket choice.

It's good to see I am considering the important issues.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Trayvon Martin and Australian politics. A rant. And a connection.

This post contains coarse language. And politics. And over-use of capital letters. And might not make a great deal of sense and you might not even agree with it.

Consider yourselves warned.

Happy Monday Peeps! Many thanks to those who commented on last post. I am feeling a bit better now, perhaps over the worst of it.

Now, the real purpose for the post. 


And when I say You, I don't mean the average American. The Americans I know are lovely people. It's the Powerful, Faceless Interests. The Faceless Men of the Labor Party have NOTHING on these guys. Big "too big to fail, too rich to jail" banks and bankers. Big Pharma. Big Tobacco. Big Oil. Big Religion. BIG STUPID WHITE MEN. (And a few women in there too, unfortunately).

Barack has his heart in the right place but I really do wonder what hope he has against all this.

100 million people with no health insurance. If they get sick, they are fucked. And a powerful right wing blocking Obamacare every inch of the way. Because it's unconstitutional or some shit like that.

It's really easy to get a gun though. It's in the CONSTITUTION, the right to bear arms. And should you get one, and shoot somebody with it, and go to jail, you will get free health care there, though....(I am not saying incarcerated people should be denied medical care, I am just pointing out the Lunacy).

Yet you may not NECESSARILY go to jail.

If you fire a warning shot at an abusive husband, you get 20 years. If you shoot a black kid dead because he looked dodgy - off. Beat a gay man to within an inch of his life - slap on wrists. Deny him the right to marry - hell yeah! But don't, under any circumstances, abort a foetus, 'cause that's MURDER.

Yes, that poor kid, Trayvon Martin. We have all heard about that. It's a bit more complicated than the whole black/white/poor/rich dichotomy, and more based on some convoluted laws related to self defence, but it's FUCKED. My eloquence escapes me on that issue, and that just seems like the most approprate descriptive term.

What a slap in the face for the Parents. For the community. What that ruling by the Florida court did, really, was tell them that Trayvon's death meant nothing. Was not even worth punishing. There is no doubt that Zimmerman killed that kid.

That would fill them with white-hot, desperate, hopeless rage.

Basically, all these examples I give are examples of inequality. From the common and everyday to the outrageous. 

On a more widespread level, it's really hard to see some people getting all the breaks, all the privileges, getting million dollar payrises, when you do it really, really tough. When you can't feed your family because you are on the minimum wage and there is no buffer there. When somebody hurts you and they get away with it. You live life frightened and just fucking angry. The risk of being on either end of a violent crime is high in that kind of environment.

Inequality is a real bitch. The countries with the best standards of living (Scandinavia, Canada, Australia) have good income, but also have economic equality. The technical term is the Gini coefficient. I am a Wikipedia nerd. They have less crime and better health outcomes and better just about everything.
[if you are still reading, bear with me - I am about to make a point here]

America ranks poorly in this area. Despite having shitloads of cash, it will not look after its poor. It openly and flagrantly shits all over them. 

Back to Australia. We have our problems, yes, but the vast majority of people have access to education and health care. Things are getting harder though, I look at the opportunities I was afforded 15 years ago, and doubt that I would have access to them now.

These things are being undermined, slowly and insidiously. As a wealthy nation we need to do more, make things more equal. Neither of the major parties are doing that. 

I went to a fundraiser yesterday, for Greens MP Adam Bandt. He was talking about dental care. Marriage equality. Putting more money into education. He proposed to fund it by taxing mining companies, big banks and people who earn over $1million a year. I thought "FUCK YEAH ADAM, YOU RULE".

It may seem a bit circuitous, a long bow to draw, between the murder of an American teen, and the Australian political system. And they way I have put it might be a bit clumsy but what I am saying is this -

Rather than vilifying those who are disadvantaged, it would not hurt us collectively to say "hey, you, I'm gonna give you a hand, and give you an opportunity to get out of that cycle". There is evidence that that helps all of us. It makes people less frightened and edgy. Less likely to commit crimes against each other.

We will probably still have those antisocial fuckwads who kill/rape - I am really distressed reading about the women in Melbourne who were abducted last week. In my ranty mood, for this, I would like to put up signs saying "hey, You, how about you leave others alone to go about their daily business".

But that is another rant. And that kind of crime, at the moment, is thankfully relatively rare.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Under the weather.

It's FAREEEEEZZZING in Melbourne. No cloud, blast chilly nights, sunny days.
But that is one of Melbourne's quirks. Lots of seasons within seasons.

Yet that is not why I am writing.

I am crook. Under the weather. And I can't talk about it.
When you have a lurgy, you can complain. You can give people graphic descriptions of your mucus/ vomitus/ bowel motions.....if you are anything like me :D

In this day and age, you can also share it with 500 of your closest Facebook Friends.

I am feeling bloody crook, and there are precious few people I can talk about it with. My fella. A close friend. One understanding work colleague.

I feel dizzy all the time. And headachey. I am easily tired. I am usually fit but my muscles ache when I go up stairs or lift some washing.

The worst thing is the nausea. Some stomach cramping, diarrhoea. Irritability. My tastebuds are  not tasting things properly (my medicinal freddo frogs have tasted funny lately).

Last couple of days, I have had to take the afternoons off and go to bed. I feel a bit better after a nap but if I start exerting myself (ie doing the washing) I feel crook again.

With my fiendish attention to hand hygiene, colds are a once yearly occurrence for me. This is the sickest I have felt in a while.

I don't really feel that comfortable taking work time off, even though I am no good to man nor beast when I feel like this.

I have what is referred to in the business as SSRI discontinuation syndrome.

Yes, my nice little specialist has given me the green light to come off the Sunny D's and I am feeling reasonably confident to do it. I weaned the dose properly.

I don't remember feeling this lousy last time. Those little serotonin receptors, ubiquitous in the body, are yelling a collective tiny "what the fuck???"

I will get through it. It will get better. Just need to look after myself. Which I am much better at, nowadays.

If you are crook, I hope you feel better soon. And big virtual hugs through the cloud!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Relationship Dynamics the Offspring way.

Hey, and apologies in advance for the year 12 style literature analysis.

Actually, not sorry at all. I love getting all excited and analytical about this stuff. This is about the only stuff I overthink.

If you have read my blog for any length of time you will know that I am a die-hard Offspring fan.

Nikki over at Styling You workshops Nina's style every Thursday morning. It has a big following. And the fashion is one of the big drawcards of the show, along with the brilliant ensemble cast.

What I appreciate about the show, though, is its study in relationships.

Yes - Realistic portrayals of relationships and their nuances make very compelling viewing, and it is magic when people can relate to and connect with the characters. For instance, I never really appreciated Sex and the City until I started dating, and getting out and about a bit. That was a groundbreaking show, insofar as it broke apart the whole "virgin/whore" dichotomy that women were confined to in television prior to this. And there really are "men like that" out there. I could go on about this for a while.

But I digress.

Having had some experience of the ups and downs of relationships, I confess that I find some parts of Offspring especially poignant.

Foremost it reinforces a belief I have about the way we interact, and that is

The way your personality is expressed is very much affected by the people around you....

Yes, though we have an intrinsic personality style, the people that you interact with can bring out your very best, your very worst, and your most neurotic, and your most calm and caring. We are at our best when somebody listens to us, hears us, understands us and loves us fiercely for who we are.

Conversely, when people put us down, and this can be very insidious, we may try and suppress those bits of ourself that we are uncomfortable with, but they come tumbling out in an ungraceful manner, eventually.

This may seem all captain obvious but we can be very unaware of the way in which others can influence how we act.

Take Nina. Nina likes to talk. When Patrick gets all shut down, Nina talks more, and it gets very grating - I even had a text from a friend and fellow die-hard Offspringer during an ad break "Gee Nina is grating on me tonight". Sure, the awkwardness is expanded for dramatic effect, but I am sure we have all been there. She blabbers, she gets cut down, she feels bad, she tries not to do it again, but in doing so, she is denying the very essence of who she is.

I found the scene where Nina was seeing her therapist alone last night quite emotional, as it reminded me of a few sessions I have had with a very skilled therapist. (Though the therapist was not quite as fetching as the one here)

The therapist gave her a compliment, made her feel safe, made her feel good about herself. Nobody there to shut her down.

Nina lay down, relaxed, and said exactly what was on her mind, very clearly and very succinctly. It was an entirely reasonable and understandable thing she said.

Having been there myself, these are the useful times, the breakthrough times, and from there we can work on things.

When Nina is in the operating theatre or labour ward, sequestered from the nurses making biting comments, Nina is calm and in control.

Outside, a different story.

When Nina is with her family, or Billie, or sometimes Patrick, they make her feel like an idiot, then she goes and acts like one. Sound uncomfortably familiar?

Take also Billie. Billie has a heart of gold, but can be abrasive and say the wrong thing. Yet Mick seizes on Billie's traits "scary in a good way" and tells her he loves them. Sometimes in song. And whaddya know? Billie softens and starts acting normal, even nice. And that is great to watch. Billie's belief in Mick, and not so subtle nudges have turned Mick from laconic bartender/handyman/pub crooner into "the Justin Bieber of inner northern Melbourne".

They bring forth the best in each other.

And Geraldine. She was a lovely and supportive mother when she was with Darcy. With Philip? Not so much. Wine and pot with snarky remarks, anyone?

Who we are with can make all the difference to how we are as people.
To paraphrase what a friend once told me "keep company with people who bring forth your best".

It's a hard when your realise that your partner and/or family does not. As it is generally hard to make others change their behaviour, you then have to modify your own. You can make a decision to be kind and understanding, and hope that it propagates, but this can wear you down if it's not returned.

Or you can walk away. That's hard too.

As for Nina and Patrick - when he starts listening understandingly to her rambles, she might ramble a bit less. When she kindly says "ok, I can see you need some space now, I will be here when you need me", he might shut off a bit less. If Nina says to Billie with a loving glint in her eye "steady on tiger", Billie might just back off a little.

Nice that I have learned about how to negotiate a relationship. But sadly it doesn't make for good telly.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Wine (or lack thereof). Weekends. Boss Shoes.

Happy Monday to you!

It was a bit of a quiet one this past weekend. The fella is still suffering at the hands of Mr. Jetlag, and after dinner he is three sheets to the wind. Still, he prefers to fall asleep on the couch rather than go to bed like I tell him. Bless.

Apart from a tease of sunshine on Saturday Morning, Melbourne put on some of its most spectacularly shitty winter weather. Rainy and miserable. This only exacerbated the urge to stay inside with arse planted firmly on the couch.

However, as I am doing Run Melbourne on the 21st of this month, I got myself out for a longer run - I managed just under 10km along the beach path. Going out was windy and going back was rainy, but I managed to get up to Green Point in Brighton to take this pic. If you squint you can see the bathing boxes.

That was my longest distance since March. I tolerated it quite well, though I hadn't had enough to eat or drink before and felt a bit sick after. Rain and cold can hide impending dehydration quite well.

Sunday involved a sleep-in and a drive to charge up the fella's car battery. We headed along the coast and got as far as Mt. Eliza.

The Mornington Peninsula is a very emotionally-laden place for me. My ex-husband lives there, as does a man I dated who fucked me over hurt my feelings - I wrote about that here. So I tersely said to the fella "ok, I think we've gone far enough, we can turn back now".

Later, I gave my fella an explanation for that episode of weirdness. I suggested that we could do a winery tour of the Mornington Peninsula. Something that would cognitively reframe the area for me, and give me some nice memories and feelings about it.

And, speaking of wine, I am proud to say that I have not fallen at the first hurdle, and have remained alcohol free this past weekend. This was despite having a super busy day on Friday, with many of the usual Friday Frustrations. I met the fella for Mexican and could not find a park around Richmond for love nor money, so I ended up parking ages away. Alas, only a virgin Margarita.

But Holy freakin Hell what I would not have given for a nice glass o'red on Sunday afternoon. Something to warm me up from the inside.

I have noticed that I don't look forward to food as much when it will have no alcohol with it. Wine really heightens (perhaps artificially) my enjoyment of food. I eat more when I have wine.

All useful things to note.

I will get there. I will do this. And now I will segway into a bleat for donations. Click here for the link. Cancer Research. St Vincent's Hospital. Super good cause etc.

And now, behold a picture of my new shoes. You will agree they are boss. BOSS I tell you.

With only sockettes. My feet are chilly as. The jeans I got for $19 at coles (mix apparel). Bargasm.

Now tell me -

Are certain areas no-go zones for you because they make you sad? 
Do you have a pair of boss shoes?
Do you run?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Ways to happily eat more vegetables. 3 days into Dry July, I reflect.


In my line of work, I advise people about healthy habits on a(n almost) daily basis, I figure I need to practice what I preach. I have thought this for most of my career, after spending my Intern year getting many of my meals from vending machines. So, though I might fall short of the mark myself, I always have my own health at the back of my mind, and I do try.

The whole eat well and exercise thing is not controversial - all experts agree on this. They might quibble about exactly what food and what exercise is best, but the basic premise remains.

One thing that all health practitioners agree on though is that most of us need to eat more veggies. No, not potatoes, nor really sweet potatoes, they are, as far as I am concerned, in the same group as bread and pasta - yummy and full of carbs.

[I am not talking against Potatoes, I have never met a potato I didn't like.] 

Pretty much every other vegetable has the following qualities
  • full of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals)
  • full of fibre
  • minimal calories
The problem is, with the exception of onion, garlic (herbs) and pumpkin, on their own, they are not intrinsically tasty. Mish Bridges and her ilk would have you steaming them and eating them en masse and telling you that you HAD BETTER LOVE IT, I like the French approach. They eat lots of veggies, but make them tasty. This is what I try to do. 

Here are a few ideas

Baby spinach
  • I am not a big fan of spinach, but know it is good for me. Whizzed up in a food processor, a big bag shrinks into a small volume of unadulterated goodness. It can be added to spag bol (where it looks like basil), soups, casseroles, pretty much any hot meal.
  • Spinach can go into a smoothie quite well, it gives the smoothie a greenish tinge (hidden well by frozen/ fresh blueberries) but you can't taste it. Breakfast veggies!
Brussels sprouts
  • Unfairly maligned. I have always loved them, because my Nanna cooked the bejeezus out of them and served them with love and a roast dinner. An even better recipe is: slice up about 10-15 sprouts, get a little butter and olive oil, sautee the sprouts in a frying pan, add a little lemon juice, some salt and pepper, sautee the sprouts further until bits of the sprouts become sticky and caramelised, add some toasted pine nuts or flaked almonds and cook for a bit more, then et voila and you are welcome.
  • I always try and buy mushies every shopping trip, and I like the brown ones. For a quick but posh meal, slice up some mushies, sautee in a bit of olive oil and stock, once mostly sauteed add a touch of truffle oil (you can get this in fancy food shops and a little goes a long way). Add some chopped chives or spring onion. Serve with a couple of poached eggs, and let the yolk go through the mushies. 
  • Mushies lend themselves well to being whizzed up in a food processor. I like to add them to a spaghetti bolognese, as they become indistinguishable from the meat, and lend an earthy flavour to the sauce.
  • I am very fond of hommus, it is tasty and healthy and it is a serve of veg. Especially when eaten with veggie sticks. When I get my thermomix I will make my own.
On adding fats to veg
  • This makes nutritional sense. Green veg are rich in vitamin K, and orange veg in vitamin A. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble. Hence adding a little butter to the veg not only makes the taste better, it makes the nutrients more bio-available (in English - more easily absorbed by the intestines)

Other general ideas
  • green beans with a little butter and seeded mustard - oh yeah. A little butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper is good too. Acid helps with iron absorption, and this is good as the iron in green vegetables is not very bio-available.
  • Have a look at anything Yotam Ottolenghi has written, he has a wonderful way with vegetables. His book Plenty is fantastic.
  • Parsley grows virally in the garden - take advantage of this. It is super nutritious. I had a surfeit of parsley recently, which I made into a walnut and parsley pesto.
  • I have my eggplant at the ready. I am going to make this caponata. It is so yummy that I can serve it up with steak or chicken and not even miss the spuds. Really.
  • I am very fond of a slaw. I buy the basic mix in the bag at the supermarket, and jazz it up with chives, and then soak in a bit of lemon juice to soften which will minimise the amount of mayo required
  • If you have a food processor or thermomix, whizz up a couple of beetroot with one carrot, an apple, an onion and some parsley. Add some lemon juice. If you are feeling bold, mix in some mayo. Yum. 
  • Cold weather lends itself well to braises - veggies like fennel, silverbeet and chard are great as a braise. Go nuts with the garlic.
  • Mash some well-boiled pumpkin with some butter and chopped chives, and have instead of mashed potato. More nutrients, less carbs.
Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is. 

 Now. About dry July....

The idea of a month without a bit daunting. I will admit. But, being a reflective person, I have paused for a little thought on this. Broken it down. A lot of people don't, or won't.

The thing is, my enjoyment of nice meals, social events and music gigs is very much psychologically attached to having a glass or two (or sometimes more) of wine. Sometimes cider, but mostly wine.

A couple of glasses of wine is a common edge-taker-offer of stressful days, or meeting new people, especially so with the dating escapades that I went through.

I was driving through Fitzroy, Collingwood and the City yesterday, and I thought about all the memories of nice meals out, making new friends, some awkward/ fail moments. Meeting my fella. All of these involved wine in varying quantities. Ahhh, the memories. The fact that I have memories of all these situations is indeed reassuring!

I was eating dinner with my boyfriend last night, and I noted how slowly I was eating, and how I didn't eat all that much. It's not just the alcohol that is the killer, calorie wise, it is all the other things you ingest with it. I get the wine munchies. Dessert? Cheese? Absolutely! Can't not!

Wine, I will miss you, particularly your red variety. The nice little buzz you give me. The way you make a rich meal or a lump of cheese sing. The way you make it a bit easier to talk to people.

I will not miss the headache you give me after I have had more than a couple of glasses, or how my sleep is disturbed. Or how I am more prone to getting emotional......

I will learn to live without you for a bit. Hell, even maybe thrive without you...


Do you eat enough vegetables (a big serve with lunch and dinner each day?)
Do you have any good ideas for serving veg? If so, I would like to hear them.

Do you enjoy a glass of wine (or three)? How would you go denying yourself for a month? Be honest, no judgement here :D