Family outing

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We all had Friday off. Well, I had one meeting I had to go to, but cannily organised for it to finish by 11am, so I could be picked up and we could head for the hills. First stop, the Cotter.

april 010The boys had fun in the playground, and then we walked up to check out the dam construction.

Such a beautiful day for it as well – lots of sunshine and blue skies.

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From there to Tidbinbilla for a picnic lunch.

april 021 april 020…and some playing in the playground, naturally.

april 022We then went for a walk around the Sanctuary.

It was all very lovely (we’d even seen platypi) until Sebastian got stung by a wasp, and we headed back to the try and find some first aid. The Sanctuary Visitors’ Centre was not staffed, but we had an ice pack in the car, so that had to suffice. And he wasn’t exactly dying.

It was then back to the playground area for afternoon tea.

april 042 april 045We were joined by a couple of kangaroos who hopped on through.

april 053 april 055And once Zachary had estalished himself as king of all he surveyed, it was time to head home.

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The week that was…week 16: autumn holidays

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Walking at home after work now that daylight savings has finished and the days are shorter gives me a chance to admire the beautiful autumn skies.

I also did some admiring of the mornings and the changing leaf colours when I got back on my bike for a couple of early morning rides.

2013-04-18 07.01.22 2013-04-15 07.38.40With autumn comes the colder weather and a chance to get back into stockings. Here are the fabulous ones I bought in Brooklyn.

2013-04-17 10.06.11 Although one can look a little ridiculous when riding a bike in fishnets.

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We played some D&D – here is a fight in the Ghirad-alley (get it, OK, don’t worry…)

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With school holidays come school holiday activities – I hired a court at ANU to take the boys skating.

The next day we went to the National Gallery for a production put on by the Canberra Youth Theatre called 35 17 South. It involved using a tablet or phone to follow a story and find your own way through the adventure. A story from the future, there was interaction with actors, puzzles, tasks, orienteering and games. It was a lot of fun – Zachary and I worked together while Jude and Sebastian made up the other team. We managed to come in ahead despite losing our progress at one point.  This was the first time Canberra Youth Theatre had done something of the sort, and while there were a few things that could be tweaked or improved for next time, over all it was really good.

It is hard to keep Sebastian away from the cooking – he bought himself a second hand recipe book of desserts, and whipped up a fabulous chocolate cake on Sunday.

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The week that was…week 15: more birthdays and boys and other stuff

2013-04-08 08.15.33Jude was very keen to wear his fez and bow tie all week. It was hard to get them off him.

2013-04-08 18.31.01 2013-04-08 20.19.40He certainly kept them on for Korean food with family and friends to celebrate his birthday – and Koko Black afterwards.

2013-04-10 19.56.07 2013-04-10 19.55.25It was a bit of a big week for Jude. Not only did it see the end of his birthday celebrations, but he got a special end-of-term award at the final assembly and also he got best Wicket Keeping award for his cricket club. Apparently the boys are going to specialise behind the wickets.

2013-04-09 19.40.29 2013-04-09 19.40.51Sebastian did some chocolate making this week for the chocolate stall the grade 5s and 6s had to raise funds for some charity. He was talking about ambitions to be a chocolatier in time and was creative in his combinations and additions to the chocolates. Apparently they all sold too.

2013-04-11 18.34.52 2013-04-14 12.30.41Zachary went to choir for the first time this week, and has been inspired to do lots of singing for us since then. He isn’t doing too badly for only one choir session and reads the words to the songs really well.

April 2My hair changed colour again, and got quite a lot redder.

2013-04-12 08.36.20 2013-04-12 08.41.55I got to walk the boys to school a couple of mornings, particularly because James was away one night. As you see, Jude was still wearing his fez.

2013-04-12 22.27.53 2013-04-12 21.57.00Friday night was one for catching up with friends old and new, finishing with cocktails. Walking home after listening to my iPhone and dancing with my own shadow was probably more fun due to the wine + cocktail combination from the rest of the evening.

Saturday the small boys and I headed out to Mongarlowe for Beth’s 30th. It was a beautiful day, and it was lovely to spend the afternoon eating, drinking, chatting and playing badminton. The boys got their faces painted and I caught up with friends and enjoyed possibly the last really nice day of the season.

various 27Even robots have to practice violin.

various 29And hooray for boys who can now amuse themselves. Games are awesome.

The week that was…week 14: back to normality

2013-03-31 12.20.48 Here is the view of the sunrise on Monday morning from the plane as we headed back into Sydney. Back to Australia, back to work, back to normal life.

2013-04-03 08.43.10I got to wear some of my new socks, bought on Fifth Avenue.

2013-04-03 09.54.42Krystal, reflecting her usual practicality, gave me a birthday gift for the office which meant she no longer has to look at my previous collection of plastic spoons and forks.

2013-04-03 21.42.51Time for some mid-week game playing.

2013-04-05 09.12.44In fun work things, I went to E-Oz’s c0nference on Women in the Energy industry. It was excellent and inspiring and fascinating to hear about the challenges women have faced and continue to face in these industries. I got to put my total feminist hat on, and was privileged to hear the stories from other women who have forged their way often where other women had never been before. You wish all work days could be that brilliant.

2013-04-05 15.39.52I could not resist buying this book. It is brilliant.

seb and HAMSebastian was nearly as interested in the arrival of one of my birthday presents as I was – here he is absorbed in Hit and Miss.

Sunday morning, Jude’s actual birthday, all his guests had left by 9.30am. James had some work to do and it was a beautiful day, so there was time for a birthday park visit with added icecream.

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Despite getting a Wii U, Jude’s favourite birthday present may well have been his fez and bow tie set. Fittingly I note there is a Tardis also appearing in this photo. Would that all presents were so enthusiastically embraced.

2013-04-07 18.11.40And finally it was back on skates after about three weeks. Hard work but awesome fun, resulting in unexplained bruises….

May the Gods grant you a happy birthday!

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Jude decided to dare the gods with an ancient Greek themed birthday. Here he is as Perseus, ready to receive his guests.

various 4Naturally, they all went off an fought a mini-Trojan war. It was then time for some Olympics.

For their sporting excellence, all were awarded laurel wreaths, even the disturbing looking Hades when we could stop him saying “arise my harpies.”

It was then time for feasting – slow cooked octopus, calamari, hommous, spanikopita, prawns, lamb skewers, Greek (ish) salad, olives…. it was fit for the gods themselves.

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As usual, Rachel came through with a most awesome cake – the head of Medusa!

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There was then the watching of the original “Clash of the Titans” before even the rest had to rest. Of course, the less said about the waking at 5am the next morning, the better.

Happy 9th birthday Jude!

The week that was…week 13: old friends

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This was a week of old friends – Frederique and Eric, Deanna, academia and my PhD and New York. And of course it started on my birthday.

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2013-03-26 11.34.01New York really is an old friend. I worked out that I have visited it more than any other city in the world I haven’t lived in, with the possible exception of Brishane – I’ve been there six times.My first visit was my shortest, back in 1989 when, after visiting friends in San Francisco and en route to Paris I didn’t want to miss the chance to see the archetypal Big City (little knowing I would later spend a year living in another archetypal Big City, Tokyo). I have loved every visit and I have done something different every time, and, of course, there is still so much to do. Having two of my most loved friends living in the city certainly helps to draw me back, but the city itself has lots to make you love it.

For my birthday I shopped on 5th Avenue,

2013-03-25 12.07.57 2013-03-25 12.14.02.. and went to the “Top of the Rock” – despite urging from the person at the box office “visibility is low don’t you want to come back tomorrow”. Nope. Foggy New York views were cool. And it actually snowed on me while I was out on the 69th floor.

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Then it was time to ice skate at the Rockefeller Centre rink. This was fun, even though the snow I encountered on the 69th floor had turned to drizzle by the time it hit ground level. And ice skating is different to roller skating – it took me a while to get my Ice Legs, but I didn’t fall over and managed to get up a bit of speed by the time I was done.

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After an hour or so of skating, I decided I was wet enough and could retire to drink gin and spectate.

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My lovely friends Eric and Frederique made sure I had a lovely birthday dinner too.

2013-03-25 20.11.55 2013-03-25 20.12.45 2013-03-25 20.20.17Fred even made me a cake (we ate it the next morning so the small boys could join in too).

2013-03-26 07.54.12My next day in New York I did two completely new things and one incidental thing:

First, The Frick.

2013-03-26 13.02.34One is not allowed to take photos inside, so this is all you get. But it was a great collection. And who knew that Monet started his career as one of those people who drew caricatures of random people with gigantic heads and tiny bodies to support himself as a student. I love when the museum itself is as interesting as many of the paintings – this former residence was a beautiful house. You do wonder if some of the Frick heirs might be unhappy their great grandfather was such a philanthropist! I enjoyed the museum, and even better, got in for free. An older woman started chatting to me in the line and, weirdly immediately mentioned Kakadu, just like Miles had. She had also been to Kangaroo Island. Anyway, she was a volunteer at the Museum of Natural History, so got free entry, and got me a free ticket as well. “People were so nice to me in Australia.”  Thank you fellow Australians.

2013-03-26 14.22.36I then went by Grand Central Station to see Nick Cave’s horses dance. As I only got there a few minutes before it started, I had to stand on tippy toes to see. It was cool, if somewhat weird, but certainly had the crowds there.

It was then time to head way downtown to Chinatown and surrounds as I had an appointment with the East Village Tenament Museum.

2013-03-26 17.23.43This is a fascinating place – an old Tenament Building which has been restored and fitted out as it would have been at various points in its history. Completely focused on social history, you don’t just get to wander it, but have to particiapte in a tour which takes you through aspects of life as it would have been in the Tenament. I went on the “Sweat Shop Workers” tour which was really interesting, focusing on the life of recent migrants jsut before and after the beginning of the 20th Century who worked in the garment industry, a staple of the lower east side.  Worth going back for another tour another time.

Here are some random arty shots of Brooklyn, just for interest.

2013-03-26 10.43.00 2013-03-26 10.44.15On Wednesday it was off to Washington on the Amtrak.

2013-03-27 12.08.55It must be said that on this visit, I really didn’t see much of Washington as I spent the entire time at my hotel at the Popular Culture Association conference where I was part of a roundtable on the “Afterlives of the Sixties.” I loved revisiting the world of academia and my thesis, and indulgently attending sessions on Zombies, Vampires, Fringe, Sherlock, Battlestar Galactica and Gender in Science Fiction amongst other things. It was an absorbing couple of days.

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Compulsory hotel window shot.

2013-03-28 13.08.54It was also super cool to find the book by one of my friends on sale – this was her PhD thesis when we were doing them at around the same time.

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And then it was time to start the trek home – from the Washington-Baltimore International Airport which is, clearly, actually in Baltimore.

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But before I got all the way home, one last old friend – Deanna in Toronto. I am completely hopeless and failed to take a photo of us together, but her is the icecream sandwich we shared.

2013-03-29 21.09.15I do love seeing the friends I first made 20 years ago and still having a strong connection, even when it is sometimes years and years between seeing each other.

And then home. First from Toronto to Vancouver. I had a snack in Vancouver waiting for the flight to LA.

2013-03-30 12.27.06it was a big trip – I caught 10 flights, visited 7 airports and caught one train. But I saw old friends, met new people, saw different things and had good outcomes. But, as I got on the flight from LA to Sydney, it was nice to think I was going home.


Ride the sea wall

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The conference in Vancouver finished early enough on the Friday that I could borrow a bike from the hotel and set out to ride the sea wall. I was a little bit tentative on the bike at first – my last bike ride had ended in a horrible smash and a black eye. But once I got going, it was fun. It was a beautiful afternoon – cold but clear and sunny – and after two and a half days in an underground meeting room, it was lovely to feel the wind and look at the sky. And it is a beautiful ride.

2013-03-22 11.13.14While the mountains that ring Vancouver are spectacular, the urban cityscape is also impressive, especially where it borders the ocean.

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In Stanley Park there is testament to the indigenous culture of Canada, which I didn’t get much of a chance to see anywhere else during my brief sojourn.

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And here I am. You’ll note I made sure I borrowed a helmet from the hotel along with the bike.

2013-03-22 16.58.06The suspension bridge is quite spectacular, so I decided to get a bit arty with my photos.

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It was cool to see beach, as one rounded on to the open sea.

2013-03-22 17.06.48 2013-03-22 17.10.28And then I rode back through the park to ensure I got to dinner on time!

And here is a link to the route.