Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This winter, we finally made the pilgrimage to Logan's Beach, a whale nursery in western Victoria, in the hope of glimpsing a Southern Right Whale. In anticipation of a long wait, we had brought along a thermos, a couple of books and even Scrabble.

In the end there was no need: as we joined the other whale watchers at the lookout, we immediately spotted four cows and two calves.
It was amazing how close these beautiful creatures were to the beach. Most of the time, you can really only see the top of their long black bodies (maybe you can see a whale about a quarter of the way down in the photo above), but we did the occasional fin when the whales were body rolling or, more magnificently, a glimpse of a whale's mouth as she skyhopped.

Although the weather turned the next day, to the pleasure of all us crazies braving the wind and rain at the lookout, we managed to spot a tail (more images here). The whales will head to the Antarctic soon, but are in Australian waters for a few more weeks if you're keen.

Of course, my favourite thing to do on a country road trip is visit the local op shops and markets. We bought fresh produce, a bucket of honey and a large assortment of CWA-style biscuits and treats - think anzac biscuits, jam drops, yo-yo biscuits and jelly cakes (our absolute favourite). Oldies but so good(ies).

We also picked up a couple of plates: the first with a sweet floral design, maybe to serve jelly cakes?
And I love the pattern on this oven proof plate. It's oval in shape and the perfect size for steaming a fish in the wok.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Doffing bonnets

I finally graduated a couple of weeks ago, and received a pot of gorgeous roses from m's and ms k (thanks guys!). These lovelies sit proudly on my balcony, greeting the morning sun.

After such a lengthy thesis submission/ examination / revision process, it's easy to overlook the simple fact that being awarded your degree is an achievement to be celebrated, the official coda of your university life. So it was a good opportunity to take a step back, be grateful for making it to the end, and thank family and friends for their support and endurance - not only during my studies but also of the ceremony itself (mum didn't waste time: she crocheted a baby blanket for Elmo's new nephew who arrived on Monday in London).

After the ceremonial bonnet doffing to the chancellor, we joined the other graduates snapping photos with their families on the sunny university lawn. I reflected on all those years spent on the lawns: skipping lectures to lie on the grass on a nice day, sitting with a coffee under my favourite tree or rushing through on the way to a seminar. It was an immeasurable feeling to think: I Do Not Belong Here Anymore.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

ground control to major tom

elmo is about to become an uncle for the first time, so we are sending this cosmonaut over to london, all wrapped up in a kitschy australiana teatowel i picked up at the vic market. the pattern comes from the softies book and was a breeze to make.

we had been to see the Blackeyed Susans at the Forum that afternoon, so i spent a few hours listening to old susies ceedees while making Cosmo. i think this is why his smile looks so sly, like he knows something we dont know. yet.

one down; three more toys for three new bubs due before the year is out.
back to the sewing machine...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Flaming Lips

Flaming Lips @ Festival Hall
29th July 2009

My two hopes for this gig: Wayne Coyne in a bubble strolling over the punters (check), and a live rendition of Race For the Prize (woohoo, check!).

We used to listen to The F'lips every Friday afternoon in the lab. It was the perfect way to end the working week and, of course, we secretly hoped that Coyne was singing about us and our research when he says:

Two scientists were racing

For the good of all mankind

Both of them side by side

So determined

Locked in heated battle

For the cure that is their prize

But it's so dangerous

But they're determined

We can dream can't we?

The Flaming Lips are famous for their spectacular live shows: dancing furry animals situated stage left and right, "magical spheres" gently punched in the air and regular bouts of confetti/streamers snowed on the happy crowd. To the punters' delight, the band delivered all this and more on Wednesday night. All aspects of our aural and visual senses were assaulted: video projections, strobe lighting, giant caterpillars - you could even feel the bass through the floorboards.

In some ways, all this spectacle might equate distraction and render the band as mere soundtrack. During some parts of the evening, all this fervent energy threatened to outdo the true core of an amazing awesome gig: so, was the music any good?

The music of the F'lips veers from sweet, wobbley melodies and characters (think Yoshimi) to crashing, crunching white noise - sometimes within the same song. The production on the night was definitely not as slick as some of their records, and the songs had quite a rough sound at times. The set included a few new songs, and plenty of sing-a-long moments including: The Fight Test, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and Do You Realise?.

My favourite aspect of this gig how inclusive it felt - Coyne is a charismatic front man and speaks to everyone in the room (even the poor souls on the outer edges of Festy Hall). The energy in the room was simply amazing. I think this is what separates the Flaming Lips from other, more pedestrian bands: it was an incredible, intense experience - the animals, the music, the confetti, it was just so much fun. Everything you might expect from the F'lips. I have been finding random bits of orange and yellow confetti in my jacket and purse the last couple of days, and am happy to be reminded of this wonderful gig this week.

So when Coyne asks us all to join in a mass karate chop during Yoshimi (it's our only chance to karate chop in the evening after all) - who are we to say no?