Monday, March 28, 2016

Autumn sunrise

Last Wednesday, on my way to work, I took these photos of the sunrise over the park out our back door.

Tim was away on vacation, Jonathan was at camp. So it was just me alone enjoying the spectacular colors.

And now you.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Last Wednesday, Tim left us for a trip to the US to spend time with a friend.

No worries. Except Jonathan didn't have school on Thursday, due to parent teacher conferences.

So I took him to my office on Thursday, logged him into the internet, and he watched youtube videos all morning, followed by decorating my whiteboards with mathematics in French while I attended meetings. (My French colleague came in afterwards and noted a few errors, but overall he was impressed.)

This city is well connected with public transportation, but my university is in a different suburb than Jonathan's school. It's not a problem to get from the city centre to the university, or to Jonathan's school, but they're on two prongs of a triangle. It takes much longer than it should to travel that third prong, between the university and the school, and the public transit apps I usually like always want me to take the one bus that comes just once an hour, always late. I hate that bus. I have to come up with creative ways to get the transit app to tell me how to get to the station nearby instead. I'll walk up the hill!

Anyway, after a morning in my office, Jonathan and I headed to his parent teacher conferences. And they were fine, and he's doing great. But it took forever to get there. Then home.

Friday was pouring rain, and Jonathan got stuck in traffic on the tram again. He tried to call me, but I was on the bus, on my own prong of travel, and I couldn't hear my phone. We got everything sorted out, finally, and we survived, but it was frustrating.

Monday Jonathan's year in school all left for a three day camp on the beach. I helped him get to school carrying his gear, and that was fine. And then I was home alone for three nights. I got a lot of work done. No complaints.

Until Wednesday when I had to pick Jonathan up from school at 3. I couldn't leave until after my office hours ended at 2. Well ok, I could leave a little before 2. I left, ran to the bus stop on time to catch the shuttle to the train. And the shuttle was late. And I missed the train. And so I missed the bus that comes once every 40 minutes. So I was going to be late. So I traveled instead all the way to the city centre, switched trains, and traveled all the way back along the Jonathan school prong. By 3:20 I was there, to find Jonathan sitting around waiting for me, bored. And because I was late we missed the train home, too.

So in all, picking Jonathan up took about an hour and a half, and then getting home took another 40 minutes. Google says it's a 16 minute drive between my work and his school, without traffic. There wouldn't have been much traffic before 3pm on a Wednesday.

It's all fine and good to go without a car when there is a parent in the city centre who can deal with trips to the school via train. But dealing with that third prong of the triangle when I'm home alone is not reasonable.

I'm getting a car.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Australian Grand Prix

Every year the Formula One race cars come to Melbourne and zoom around Albert Park, which is about a 15 minute walk from our house. They are loud -- a kind of constant whining noise during the races, and they bring along even louder things, like airshows featuring jet flyovers.

Tim, bless his heart, is away this weekend on a vacation with his high school friend.

So Jonathan and I walked the 15 minutes to the entry, paid the $85 for a general admission ticket, and sat around on the grass eating hot chips (French fries) and watching cars drive by. And airplanes!

It is fun to watch professional auto racing. When the formula one cars come, everyone stands up, and holds up their phones.

Here they are!



Take a picture!

Ack! I missed!


Take another picture!

Ack! I missed again!


Picture! Picture! Picture!

I got one! Do you see it there behind that lady's head?

Forget it. Try a movie!

And meanwhile:




I didn't know what was going on, besides the cars speeding by, but it was very noisy.

Other people seemed to be into it.

The uniform was a pair of jeans and a hoodie and a can of beer. So I'll know what to wear next time.


The biggest question, then, is: Does this count as attending a sporting event?

Sunday, March 6, 2016


By decree, autumn starts here on the first day of March. So we have switched seasons while the rest of the world is still stuck.

When you know it is autumn, you realize that the world is starting to look a little autumnal. There are yellow leaves on some of the trees in the park.

The weather has continued to be warm -- actually a little hot. Apparently these temperatures in the high 20's (or high 80's F) are unusual for this time of year. Next week the temperature is predicted to reach the high 30's (low 100's F). So that doesn't feel very autumnal.

What does seem very much like autumn, however, is the start of all things school. Jonathan's school, of course, started a month ago, and he is now past midterms and looking ahead to the end of the first term near the end of this month. The semester finally started at my university last week as well. I've been teaching again for a week, and meeting with students, and organizing homework and syllabus and things like that. I like teaching. It's nice to be back.

But my morning commute has become much more painful. I take the train to the nearest station to the university, then catch a shuttle to campus. The shuttles run every four minutes. Monday morning, however, the crowd of people waiting for the shuttle ran all the way down the street. I watched four buses pass before it was my turn to climb aboard and stand, sandwiched between students, backpack pressed against my chest while I clutched the pole near the door, while the bus drove to campus. I am rethinking my commute very carefully. I think I will take the bike on the train much more frequently, whether or not I ride it all the way home afterwords. While it doesn't really shorten the commute time much, even with that four-bus wait, it does mean I don't have to wait. I just hop on my bike and get a little morning exercise for that 3.5 km ride.

I will leave you, finally, with one last picture of autumn: figs ripening on the giant Moreton Bay fig trees in the park! They are evergreen, so this is as autumnal as they get. The flying foxes seem to love this fruit. But I haven't stayed up late enough to watch them eat.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


The biggest problem with a migraine is that it will not work within your time frame. If I could plan for the visit of a migraine, I would pull out the calendar and circle a date that could work for both of us. But that has never happened.

Sunday night was the worst possible night for a migraine. The migraine medication would interfere with my sleep, and I really needed my sleep Sunday night. So when I started feeling the headache just before bed, I declared It Must Not Be, and I went to bed without the medicine.

Lying there, feeling very sleepy, I could meditate. Focusing on my brain very very carefully, I could make the pain dissipate as long as I could hold my focus. Long enough to fall asleep.

Turns out you cannot meditate in your sleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I awoke when a drill bored through the back of my right eyeball.

OK. I guess will-power was not enough. I got up, fumbled in the dark for the bottle, fumbled in the dark for some water, and finally swallowed the migraine pill, eyeball screaming in agony. Then I fumbled in the dark back to bed, and lay down, throbbing, waiting for the medicine to take effect.

My body very much wanted to be asleep, but the pain in my head would not allow it. I began dreaming of riding the train lines around Melbourne. But with every frequent stop someone pounded a screw driver into the back of my eye.

South Morang. BAM!

Epping. BAM!

Cragieburn. BAM!

Kooyong. BAM!

Tooronga. BAM!

Rolling over gently, I understood that I was going insane. I found it very discouraging that insanity hurt so much. I had expected it to be more freeing.

I had to wake myself up to meditate again, to tell my brain that in fact, there was nothing drilling into the back of my right eyeball. Nothing, brain!

Eventually the train lines gave way to the flickering light of thousands of strands of fiber optic cables, their tips dancing in red and purple behind my eyelids. In a moment of lucidity I realized that this is what life would probably be like when my brain had worn itself down into the late stages of old age. Full of vibrant color and pain.

And then I realized that I was going to throw up. And if I threw up, I would lose the pain medicine and I would be stuck all night with the screw in the eyeball. So I focused again on breathing.

Breathe slower!

And rolled over and focused again.

Even slower!

And slowly, slowly, the interminable night crawled along and the next thing I knew I was asleep, really sleeping, dreaming that I had to pee really badly. But no matter how many times I checked out the public facilities, nothing seemed to give me needed relief. Why did I still have to pee?!!

Oh. Because I was asleep.

That thought did it for me. I woke up, took myself off to the real bathroom, then crawled back into bed.

Checked the head.

Not too bad! Just a little residual throbbing.

Checked the stomach.

Not bad at all! Almost no nausea.

Stretched out a little, congratulating myself on a migraine finally averted.

Rolled over to go back to sleep. And my eyes popped open. And stayed there. Wide awake.

Why am I awake?

Oh yes. Caffeine in the migraine pills. That's why I felt no more pain and nausea. Because the blood vessels in my brain were all comfortably dilated once again! Blood humming through my thinker, causing all sorts of thinky thoughts. Think think think.

But not at this time in the morning, brain! Don't you understand that I need to sleep???!! That this is a Very Important night for sleeping?

I almost gave up and got up.

But then I decided that it was probably better for my body if I pretended  to sleep. So I lay in bed, breathing, listening to the thinkiness in my head, wishing away that last little throb, and pretending I was asleep.

I pretended all the way through the crack-of-dawn call of the kookaburra, off on the other side of the park.

I pretended while I listened to the first train of the morning clackety clack far away by the river.

I pretended through the rattle of the earliest morning trams, early morning bell.

I pretended after the magpies began serenading the first traces of sunlight. And the noisy miners joined in. And the wattle birds.

And I stayed there and pretended all those hours until Tim's alarm went off, six-thirty a.m., and he stretched and smiled and asked, oh so innocently,

"How did you sleep, Love?"

I know what it will be like when I am old and insane and in pain and screaming in frustration at those poor dear nurses who are trying to get me up for the day. I pity them. I pity poor Tim.

Good morning, Monday.

Happy first day of the semester!

Happy first day of teaching, ever, in Australia!

You're going to be AWESOME!

Living here

Saturday afternoon, after dropping Jonathan off at a birthday party, Tim and I took a train on the Frankston line, heading south, down the peninsula. We got off at the Seaford station, and walked a couple of blocks to where a wooden pier poked out over the bay.
The sky was blue with pale white clouds. The sea was green and clear. The sand was pale yellow white.

We walked north, following the beach, with the water to the left, a sea-side reserve to the right, passing only a handful of people.

As we approached the train station to the north, feeling the warm water on my bare feet, I decided to swim. Tim waited in the sun on the beach while I jumped in the waves and swam.

A little while later we caught a train north again, to meet up with Jonathan after dinner.

I always wanted to live close to the beach. I always wanted to be able to spontaneously go for a swim on a Saturday afternoon. And now I can. I live here.

My world is colored blue and green and white and gold. And I live here.

A week ago Monday, while washing the breakfast dishes, I looked outside to see a large hot air balloon floating across the park just out the window. I called the family to see, and then another drifted by. And another and another.

I hurried and put my shoes on, and headed out into the park.

A large group of hot air balloons had landed in the fields all over the park, and the riders were in various stages of collapsing the balloons after their sunrise journey.
What a lovely sunrise for me!

The world is colored in green and blue and gold and pink. And I live here.

Today, I am feeling grateful.