Tag Archives: stuff

Stairs (first draft)

The leopard stairs are soft and furry
The whiskers tickle your feet as you creep upon them
Softly purring, quietly sleeping
You hope they don’t awake

The spider stairs are sticky and flimsy
You never know if you will make it home
They’re always hidden in the dark corners
Waiting for you to approach

The eagle stairs are loud and hard
Dangerously high and perilous
These stairs soar and glide in the thermals
Before rapidly diving downwards

The shark stairs are sharp and raspy
They wend sinuously through the deep
Hunting, you or something like you
It’s best to not take these stairs

The elephant stairs are long and memorable
The gentle, warm wrinkles or repeated journeys
Slow moving but attentive
These stairs are good to take

The human stairs are regular and boring
Symmetrical and repeating
No fun, nor joy in these stairs
We are stuck with the mundane

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Middle Age

It hit me (briefly) today that I am now officially middle aged.  It should have hit me at my last birthday when I was official middle aged, but these things take time because I rarely reflect on my age as anything other than a near random number.  In a few weeks I turn 36, which also is relatively meaningless to me – I don’t really assign any value to my age so much as my state of mind, capabilities, capacity, fun, happiness and security.

The only reason this has become relevant now is because I have tendinitis in my hips, which makes moving sometimes stiff and difficult (especially if I’ve been sitting cross-legged), and means that most nights I’m waking up in pain from lying on my side (either one).  This was finally diagnosed by a physiotherapist last night, and it can be fixed, but apparently it is a common ailment of middle aged women who have started going to the gym (all boxes I tick – as I don’t tick the ones about being pregnant or carrying young children on my hip). Emedicine has a helpful article which states:

Gluteus Medius Syndrome and Trochanteric Bursitis

The gluteus medius functions as a primary hip abductor. It originates at the external surface of the ilium and inserts onto the posterior lateral surface of the greater trochanter. This muscle is innervated by the superior gluteal nerve (L4-S1).The greater trochanteric bursa lies directly lateral to the greater trochanter. This lateral growth of the femur abuts the tensor fasciae latae and lateral quadriceps muscles. The bursa provides lubrication and cushioning to allow the muscles to flex and extend over the trochanter without damaging the muscles. It also cushions the tendon before the attachment of the gluteus medius and minimus. Bursitis in this area can be secondary to changes in activity or training, biomechanical problems lower down the leg, or from direct trauma. These conditions lead to increased pressure of the muscles against the bursa and trochanter—with resultant inflammation.

Pain will occur with hip flexion such as walking, climbing stairs, or getting out of a car or a chair. Nocturnal pain while lying on the affected side is common. A snap is occasionally felt or heard in the lateral hip with flexion or extension.

Gluteus medius syndrome involves tenderness to palpation of the gluteus medius muscle, which can be triggered by sudden falls, prolonged weight bearing on one extremity for long periods, activity overuse, or sporting injuries. Most commonly, this situation is observed in middle-aged women who have embarked upon a vigorous walking program or who have started working out at a health club. Patients may present with pain that is transient and worsening over a time period, a Trendelenburg gait, and weakness. These symptoms specifically affect runners, as there is tilting of the pelvis with running. It is important for the clinician to examine the patient for a leg-length discrepancy.

Hip-abduction strengthening should be avoided in the initial stages of gluteus medius syndrome because it only provokes tendinitis. As the acute stage resolves, hip-abductor strengthening is important and is best achieved in the aquatic environment.  [emphasis added]

So, no hip flexing, stretches or other such fun things for me until I get better.  Because it is getting worse at the moment, and if I do a Body Balance (my favourite gym class) class and do the hip flexing track, I suffer for it for a few days later.  But at least I know (that and the flare up of an old lower back issue/injury) what is wrong with my body right now and that I can be put back together.  It’s no fun waking up repeatedly during the night while my hips sing a song of agony, trying to find a position to sleep in that is not painful.  So I have around 24 weeks of physio go to through (thankfully I have sufficient money to pay for that), 6 – 12 weeks for my spine and then another 6 – 12 weeks for my hips.  And then… stuff!

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Tropics below Capricorn

[I’d like to state at the very beginning of this post that I am having a small whine.  I, unlike Queenslanders who have been affected by the floods, have a roof over my head and haven’t lost family, friends, belongings, pets, or my house.  If you want to donate to the Queensland flood relief fund go here]

For the past few days, I haven’t been living in Melbourne, well I have, I’ve been living back in the tropics.  The warm nights and warm days, with very high humidity have put me in mind of my time on Christmas Island versus living in Melbourne.  My tiles are covered in condensation, meaning we have towels all over the place, my carpet is damp (and smells of wet sheep or carpet depending on your point of view) and the humidity level inside the house are currently at 98% (only slightly below being immersed in water (this is a joke)).

My back garden (have I mentioned that we’re situated on clay soil?) has taken as much water in as it can, and has flooded into the garage, so for an hour after I returned from the gym we bailed out the back yard, moved stuff that shouldn’t get wet in the garage higher, tried to seal the garage against further inundation, swept excess water from the garage, and then bought cat litter for the poor kittens who don’t want to go to the toilet in a lake.

This La Niña, although successfully having broke the drought for much of Australia, has been incredibly destructive.  My parents have had their property flooded twice, and this time they’ve evacuated because the reservoir upstream from them is above capacity and the Government is concerned about downstream residents.  I’m wondering how many of us want the drought back.

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It’s now 2011, and probably is now across most of the globe.  After a chat with my sister earlier today and reading a tweet from MyMilkSpilt which said:

This NYE do yourself a big favour: don’t resolve to lose weight. Set activity & home-cooking goals instead, if you wanna ‘get healthy’!

I thought I’d write down my resolutions for this year.  I’m trying to make relatively concrete resolutions about things that I am able to control.  The happiness of others, for example, is not something I can control, so won’t be on my list of things that I’d like to achieve/happen this year.

  1. Cook more often – I cooked a lot last year, more than I have other years and consequently I ate a whole lot less take-away than previous years.  I want to continue this into 2011, because I’m an awesome cook and I really love cooking.  I know I’m privileged by both being able to cook and generally having time to cook (as well as a partner who will also take turns in cooking).  I will also attempt to learn more recipes and cuisines.  I had fun exploring Moroccan last year and this year perhaps I should try something else as well.
  2. Exercise – Last year was up and down regarding exercise with time, health, stress and dramas getting in the way.  This year I want to get to the gym twice a week (at least) and to walk more and climb more stairs.  I do actually like being active and the way my body feels (after the initial shock).  So more of that please.
  3. Travel – I will travel to places this year that I have not been to (and places that I have, and really like).  I have rough plans to travel to Byron Bay and the UK, so will travel with an open mind, a willingness to have fun, and understanding that things don’t always go as planned.
  4. Writing – I plan to blog more, and not always write long, detailed and deconstruction posts, but just quick short ones pointing out things that interest me, annoy me, or have made me think.  I might even participate in NaNoWriMo this year to write out the novel that is forming in my head (or another one if I finish that one first).
  5. Believe in me – I’m going to spend more of this year (than I did last year) believing that I am entirely capable of what most people believe I am… well the positive things…. the negative things will not be listened to.

I hope that 2011 is far, far, far more awesome for everyone than 2010.  Do you have any new year resolutions that you’d like to share?

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I’m not on Facebook.  I think this is an important thing to spell out, because so many people are it’s assumed that I am (almost everyone else I know is on Facebook).  I have reasons for not being on Facebook which I’m happy to spell out in this post and to anyone who asks why (which is far less than perhaps should in my opinion).

When I first came across Facebook, it was 2007 and my then boyfriend joined because he was being paid a lot of money by a firm to create an app for Facebook.  At that time he told me that Facebook was a waste of time and collected data on people.  My husband and friends joined Facebook and I sat on the outside and looked in.  From time to time I’d borrow various people’s Facebook accounts from time to time and look up people I’d actually like to reconnect with, often failing to find them.  And I didn’t sign up.

My brother-in-law investigates Facebook privacy for fun and has written many detailed articles covering privacy issues on Facebook (all here) and that also did not endear me to use the networking tool any time soon.  My husband encourages me to go on and make a false persona to network with people, which to me defeats the purpose, but I really don’t want to give Facebook Inc any of my personal data (real or imagined).

Facebook is also another time sink, and as it is I struggle to find time to do all the things I want to do.  Do I want to play this game from my stack of shame, read my RSS feed, chat with friends, spend time with partners or write posts on my blog?  I struggle to get the things done that I want done, let alone adding new things to the pile (thank the flying spaghetti monster I’ve actually finished my degree).

I suppose one of my biggest reasons for not being on Facebook is because I like being different and a rebel.  So, on principle, Facebook is not different and rebellious – though it may have had it’s foundations that way.

So yes, if you want to invite me to that cool event that you’re hosting, and you’ve invited all your Facebook friends, have a think about those of us who are not on Facebook and email us an invite too.

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*trigger warning – this post discusses suicide*

Today is/was R U OK Day – a day where you are encourage to approach people (friends/family/strangers?) and ask them if they are OK.  From the R U OK website:

Thursday 7 October, 2010 is R U OK?Day. A national day of action that aims to prevent suicide by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and help stop little problems turning into big ones.

On that day we want everyone across the country, from all backgrounds and walks of life, to ask family, friends and colleagues: “Are you OK?”.

Because staying connected with others is crucial to our general health and wellbeing. Feelings of isolation and being alone are major contributing factors to depression and social issues that can ultimately result in suicide. Regular, meaningful conversations can protect those we know and love.

It’s so simple but in the time it takes to have a coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life.

I get the whole raising awareness thing, but right now this doesn’t really work for me.  If I had waited until today to ask my friend who attempted suicide a couple of weeks ago, whether or not she was ok, she may not have lived that long.  The analogy for me is something like “Safe Sex” day where everyone practices safe sex and forgets about it for the other 364 days of the year (365 on leap years).  That would be a bad thing, and having one day singled out in a year where you’re told (not encouraged) to ask someone you care about if they are OK, versus the rest of the year, is not exactly helpful.

I think I’d be less … something… about this if they more clearly stated that this was an awareness exercise and that this was to raise awareness of the tools available to those who want to ask if someone is ok, and to provide information to those who need it.  Mainly stating that this is the day you should ask someone if they are ok, misses all the other days when they may not be.

It also assumes that everyone has the spoons to ask someone else if they are ok, or are ok enough themselves to ask someone else.  I have had days where I did not have the spoons to ask someone if they were ok because being prepared to listen and engage with that person enough for answer required energy I did not have.  Asking if someone is OK is not a short conversation, and can go beyond the one coffee suggested above.  It requires focus, probing and understanding feedback, and a willingness to engage – and as well the understanding that whoever you’ve approached may not be willing to open up to you and that isn’t something you should take personally.

The R U OK website also has a page providing suggestions and advice on how to start an R U OK conversation.  This page is full of good information except for one bit which I found somewhat problematic.  The page rightly tells you not to offer advice, “Avoid telling someone what to do: it is important to listen and try to help the other person work out what is best for them“.  But then delves immediately into:

Be encouraging

Encourage physical health. Maintaining regular exercise, a nutritious diet and getting regular sleep helps people to cope in tough times

Encourage the person to seek professional help from their family doctor, a support service or counsellor, or a mental health worker

Encourage self-care. Sometimes people need to be encouraged to do more to look after their own needs during a difficult time

So on one hand, don’t give advice, but on the other encourage them to look after themselves more, seek help and maintain their physical health – things the person you are meant to be listening to may not be able to actually do for a myriad of reasons, or who may be doing all or some of them and doesn’t need you to comment on.

When I found out from my friend about her attempted suicide, I hugged her, took her somewhere quiet and listened to her.  I asked if she’d like to come to my place for a while, if she needed to, again being ok with her saying no, because this was not about me – it was about what she needed.

The fact that the R U OK website also lists groups you can speak to if you need help now, is also a great resource.

In the end the R U OK idea is good, but for me to be satisfied with it, it needs more tweaking.  More conversation up front about how this should happen every day and not just once a year.  More tools for people who’ve never had conversations like this.  More information about what constitutes being helpful, how to provide feedback during the conversation so that whoever is being listened to knows that they are being heard, what to do if things get out of hand, how to check up on someone again later and how to debrief with someone afterward so that you too are OK.

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Alice Springs

I’ve just come back (as in Saturday – it’s now Tuesday) from a week in Alice Springs, a town that is very dear to my heart, given I grew up there.  I learned some new things while I was there and was quite happy to see some positive changes to the place.

A little bit of context for those who are interested.  I was travelling with my two husbands, my girlfriend, her husband, my husband’s boyfriend and his two kids.  Nothing bad happened apart from minor frustration occasionally when I wanted space and was surrounded by people who wanted to know things about things.

So, lets start with my favourite things about Alice Springs.

  1. The weather (usually).  Generally Alice Springs, especially around the end of August and the beginning of September is fantastic weather wise.  Spring lasts for about 2 weeks before temperatures climb into what us southerners would think of as “summer weather”.  People who live in Alice Springs think southerners are wusses (and they’re probably right – though they complain about cold and damp – I remember).  This time the weather sucked somewhat.  It was wet on two days, one of which might have reached 14C, which didn’t help my plans to go and see and do and show off where I grew up.
  2. The geology.  Alice Springs is gifted with some of the most amazing gorges, gaps, chasms and “pounds” (no, I don’t know why that was used or what it means geographically and I’m not looking it up right now either).  As a child I spent a lot of time travelling to and from these places with family friends, guests, for school (we swum a lot) and to have picnics.  These places are not only beautiful but are also very special to me.  Here are some photos (more here):
    End of Standley Chasm
    Landscape from a lookout
    Rope Swing at Ellery Creek Big Hole

    Finke River through Orminston Pound/Gorge
  3. The residents are fairly relaxed about things.  Hence my extended polyamorous tribe not being a problem and the only negative reaction to two boys kissing was from someone out of state (we believe this because she flew back to Melbourne with us).

I also learnt some things/discovered some things that I was not aware of before.  I learnt that the Finke River ran through Orminston Pound and Glen Helen Gorge.  I learnt that flocks of wild budgies fly in brilliant clouds of emerald.  I discovered that cooking for 8 really wasn’t that hard.  I discovered that my old home had most of the trees I knew removed (though it’s been 22 years since we left, so they could have died).  I learnt that Alice Springs is one of the lesbian capitals of Australia.

I discovered that the indigenous population of Alice Springs appears to be much better off than when I lived in Alice Springs.  This may be, in part, that as a 13 year old (when we left) that I didn’t pay as much attention as I did this visit, or things have improved – which would be awesome.  I wouldn’t say that there are no racial problems in the town, I was shocked by the sentence of manslaughter for Kwementyaye Ryder’s killers and their alleged “good character“.  However, my memories of the indigenous population as a 13 year old (and my mother was a teacher at the Aboriginal Unit at my school – and was working to get those children into mainstream education – so I was not completely oblivious) and what I witnessed in Alice Springs were at odds with each other.  This I see as a positive step.

I will return to Alice Springs in a couple of years, in what is quickly becoming an every other year trip.  I consider staying after every trip, and sometime in the future I might make a year of it and see how I survive.

Oh and Pounds “are deep valleys that are enclosed by cliffs. They form when the soft rocks in the valley floor erode more easily than the harder rocks which form the cliffs.”  Thanks Geoscience Australia.

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Movement in public

I have a million blog posts in my head to write, some of them even sketched out so I have my arguments all set out so things look organised for me… but I’ve been so busy and/or tired that I haven’t found the time to blog.  Or I’ve been distracted reading other people’s blogs or feeling guilty for not reading other people’s blogs.  It’s been a bit of a mess.  But I’m going to Alice Springs next week, so hopefully that will help.

Anyway, back to the title of this blog… movement in public…  I’ve been reading quite a lot of Wheel Chair Dancer’s blog which discusses movement and it got me thinking about how I move through the world.

Crowds fascinate me.  The way they move through and with and past each other.  Every morning as I arrive at Flinders Street, I get to play the “Do not collide with anyone” game, which can be tricky with groups of school children occupying open space – socialising before they continue onto school, people running for connecting trains/trams/buses and everyone else moving through the state.  I am acutely aware of where people are, performing head-checks before effectively changing lanes and doing my best to move smoothly through the crowd in the straightest line possible.

I generally find it easy to move through crowds of people, finding the spaces and slipping through them, skipping ahead of my companions and then waiting for them to catch up.  There are times, when I’m wrapped up in a conversation or my own little world and I don’t move through crowds well.  I’ll make grand gestures with my hands and they’ll collide with someone who is about to overtake me on the footpath (that’s when my companion laughs at me).  I’ll not pay attention to where I’m going and almost collide with people or objects.

When this happens I tend to snap to attention and start paying attention again, moving carefully through crowds and the world.  I like to move silently and not leave a wake through the people I move through.  I typically want my movement to be controlled, quiet and smooth.

It often surprises me that there are people who regularly fail to pay attention to their surroundings, that have near misses with people who have trouble changing course quickly (such as those with prams, trolleys, crutches, wheelchairs) to avoid a collision.  But I suppose that everyone else isn’t like me, although some people may be.

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I am still alive

Yes I’m still here, this month (despite not studying) has been stupidly hectic.  There have been relationship dramas (not mine thankfully, but they’ve impacted on me), there has been the finalisation of my house-repairs and arrival of new furniture to replace that which was damaged by the Great Flood of 2010.  I’ve destroyed and rebuilt this blog 3 or 4 times this month which has been incredibly stressful as I’ve had to learn a whole lot more about WordPress than I ever thought I’d need to, to put it back together.  I’ve received my results from last semester and have submitted an application for Recognition for Prior Learning in order to get credit for the remaining two subjects of my course so that I can finally finish my degree.

I hope, now that most of the drama llamas have been sorted out that I can continue posting all the blog posts that I have blocked out or are sitting in my head.  Some, which were topical to the news at the time, are no longer, but I may or may not comment on them anyway.  I have big plans, I just need the time.

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