Sunday, December 28, 2014

sucky saturday

So, after a pleasant few days wallowing in excessive feast and general merriment, things got kinda sucky yesterday.

First,  I took a bit of a tumble in a car park and managed to hurt my knee and scrape myself up a bit so am at home with my leg elevated on the couch.

Second (and this is cause for greater concern), grandma wasn't feeling too well in the afternoon so my parents and youngest sis had to take her to hospital. It looks like grandma will have to stay there for the next few days.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas at home

It's nice to be in Melbourne for Christmas this year. My folks are visiting from Canberra and we are heading over to their serviced apartment for Christmas lunch (we are going to sneak the dog in as well). Judging by all the planning and shopping my parents have done since arriving in Melbourne, it will be quite a contrast from the boiled carrots and rice I had for Christmas last year in Nicaragua.

Merry Xmas everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2014

midnight intruders

The dog was restless last night, jumping in and out of bed and whinging. Nathan thought it was because Truffles was responding to drunks out on the street. I wasn't convinced.

Eventually, I noticed an animal noise that didn't sound like a seagull so I went out onto the balcony to explore.

In a nearby gum tree, fruitbats had gathered to feed on the blossoms and were making quite a commotion. I ended up switching on the radio to drown out the bat noises to calm the dog down – so that Nathan and I could sleep. I have no idea for how long the Eucalypts will be flowering but I hope the fruitbats move on after the flowers have faded and don't settle permanently in the trees.

Friday, December 5, 2014

the island

I'm currently on the Great Barrier Reef for an undergraduate marine biology field course. It's been another year of extensive jet setting for work. This, however, will be the last bit of travelling for the year and the last time I'll be on the field course (I will have to give this up when I become Deputy Head of Department next year). In the meantime, I'm just going to lap up the tropical surrounds.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


When I was in Canberra a couple of weeks ago, I bought my grandma a bunch of peonies. During the course of the weekend, the petals started to unfurl into the biggest flowers I have ever seen. And they smelt wonderful too.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I was in Hobart for three days. Just got back last night. I took my research group for a 'retreat' (13 of us in total).  Everyone had a great time. MONA was a definite highlight.

Many of the artworks were rather confronting, like this wall of vaginas.
My favourite artwork was Zizi, the affectionate couch. It makes noises and vibrates when you sit on it. I want one.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

yum cha

...I also rediscovered this photo of Nathan from last Saturday's yum cha. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet with a two hour time limit. Boy did we eat. We were done after 30 minutes.


I was looking through my iphone yesterday and discovered some photos Nathan had taken last Sunday when we took Truffs off to Port Melbourne for brunch (well, actually, we had the brunch...she had fun playing with the other dogs in the off leash area after we finished).


We went to a quaint little cafe in Yarralumla yesterday for scones. There was a nursery next door and they had these cockatoos for sale. I miss the cockatoos foraging on the side of the roads here in Canberra. I see mostly silver gulls and pigeons in Melbourne (though I seem to be attracting the occasional native bird with the plants I have flowering on the balcony).

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I'm up in Canberra this weekend visiting family. It's been a crazy few weeks at work (hence lack of blogging activity). We've had a staff retreat, several work functions, interviewing of candidates for a new position, and am now in the midst of exam marking. I had to take a break. Dad is currently in the process of making fresh fish and chive dumplings for lunch. Yummy.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

high tea at home

Today's afternoon tea (Nathan's grandmother's scones)..

pot obsessed

I have a new favourite shop. It's called Mr Kitly (I've told Nathan that he can go there to buy me presents – and not only when it's my birthday, Christmas etc). I discovered the shop only a few weeks ago and went there last weekend to buy a pot for my office bromeliad. I was like a kid in a candy store and had to go back again today to take another look. I ended up with these colourful little hand-made ceramic pieces. So cute. The pots are pictured with another new purchase, a Phalaenopsis javanica orchid.

lights out

I blacked out yesterday afternoon. I was having a lie down at home and got out of bed too quickly. It's never happened to me before. When I awoke, I found myself lying on the floor and the dog was staring at me from the bed. I had a bit of pain on the right side of my body (I think I must have hit the side of the bed on my way down) and I scraped my elbow. Nothing major...luckily I didn't hit my head. Hmmm....things certainly aren't the same as when I was younger.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

dinner drama

We caught up with some friends tonight for dinner at a restaurant in South bank. The restaurant is situated on the first floor with a lovely view of the Yarra. We took a table next to the balcony.

We were having a great time when, all of a sudden, there was a commotion coming from the next table. We turned around in time to see a young man tumble from the balcony, bounce off the shade cloth, and disappear onto the footpath below...with a very loud thud. It was an action movie. People were screaming and gasping from inside our restaurant and the sidewalk below. The guy must have fallen at least 5 meters. Someone yelled out "call an ambulance" so I dialled 000. I was told that the paramedics were already on their way and that an off duty ambulance officer was already on the scene.  

The poor people at the next table saw it all unfurl and were interviewed by a police officer who had come up to our restaurant. I noticed an Asian lady on the sidewalk take a photo in the direction of where the man would have landed. After a while, the busker nearby returned to playing his music.

The diners sitting 'al fresco' at the restaurant would have got quite a fright seeing a body land next to them. Fortunately the guy was not in view from where I was sitting but I heard he was bleeding from the head. We heard he had gained consciousness so hopefully he is ok.

This is the second time I've seen someone fall off a building in Melbourne.

super saturday

We went to the South Melbourne markets on Saturday morning. It has become a bit of a routine. We take the dog so she can have an outing. We always go somewhere nice for brunch and then I do a bit of a shop.

I bought some unusual banksias for the dining table vase. I love the zig-zag shape of the leaves and their greyish underside.

I usually also end up buying some random ingredient for a weekend meal. This week, I couldn't resist these octopus tentacles. I'm thinking I'll attempt a Greek classic – oktapodi krasato – for Sunday lunch.

Later in the morning, we headed over to Fitzroy to check out the Vivian Maier exhibition at The Centre for Contemporary Photography.
I'm in the process of redecorating my office space. So...after we finished at Fitzroy, I took advantage of the flexicar to drop off a large piece of artwork and a nice plant at work. I bought a bromeliad that I'm hoping will do ok in my office (I have a large window but no direct sunlight). It has lovely 'speckled' leaves.
On our way back, we decided to go to Port Melbourne for dinner so we went home to retrieve the dog so she can have another outing – and a visit to the beach. This is Truffles moments before she launched herself towards a couple of other dogs on the beach. I love seeing her play with other dogs and run on the sand.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

a day off

I had Friday off. I needed a break (plus, I have way too much annual leave, which I need to take before the end of the day here and there doesn't really make much of a dent but it's better than nothing). 

I took Truffles for a walk to the supermarket in the morning. I was surprised to see so many people walking their dogs (Don't these people have to be at work?). I bumped into one of my neighbours who was out with her pugs, one of whom (the older one) is slightly belligerent and always growls at Truffles. Near the supermarket, Truffs made friends with two schnauzers and I had a nice chat with the very good looking owner. 

Later in the morning, I caught up with a gallerist friend of mine who recently retired. I hadn't seen her for most of the year. First, I was away, then we were both away. We are such busy international travellers nowadays. It has only been a month or so when we have both physically been in the same city. 

We met at Richmond Station and went to a couple of nearby art galleries in Richmond (I bought an owl sculpture) before making our way to Victoria Street for vietnamese. My friend is soon going to Vietnam and Cambodia for a holiday and has started getting ready for the trip by immersing herself in vietnamese cuisine. She told me she had pho twice this week already. 

We went to my favourite restaurant on Victoria Street. It is called Co Do. They specialise in the other vietnamese noodle soup, bun bo hue. I love the taste of the bun bo hue soup but less keen on the congealed pig's blood they normally throw in it. So... I usually end up mixing my phos and my buns (and order a special beef pho with bun bo hue stock). It is a total corruption of two dishes that are perfectly delicious in their own right – but the waiters always oblige. My friend had a stir fried fish and vegetable (she was pho–ed out).

After a very long lunch, my friend and I parted ways. I took the 109 back towards the city and went on a quest to find an oil burner in Collingwood. For the last two weeks, I have been going around Melbourne in search of an oil burner that, let's face it, I could probably have made myself by stealing stuff from my own laboratory (it would certainly be so much cheaper). This burner must have been featured recently on some design blog or tv show or something. It seems to be sold out everywhere. I was only 'partly' successful at Collingwood because I managed to buy only half the contraption and will have to wait a week for the most important component to arrive, the round bottom flask (i.e. the bit that you actually put the fragrant oils into...hmm, I might just pilfer a temporary flask from work in the meantime).

Turns out the shop where I bought my oil burner was right near The Peel, which I haven't been to since the time some twink thought it was acceptable to put his hand between a female friend's leg on the dance floor.

I decided to go up to Gertrude Street to catch the tram back to the Docklands. I got off the tram at the upper end of Southern Cross and was shocked to see that they have created a giant 'anti-terror' advert using the stair case. It reminded me of the 'be alert, but not afraid' adverts following the September 11 attacks. Such a sorry state, the world we now live in.

As I was walking home, I bumped into pug neighbour again. She was with her dogs. "I hope you haven't been walking your dogs all this time," I said. She laughed.

I made roast duck for dinner and was delighted to learn later that Malala was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

I had a great day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


When I was an impressionable young law student, one academic at the ANU Law School stood out heads and shoulders above the rest. It was my Constitutional law lecturer, George Williams. If ever I were inclined to worship the ground upon which a lawyer walks (and I am being purely hypothetical here), George would be the one.

George, with his encyclopaedic knowledge of The Constitution and his quirky facts and anecdotes about the various Justices of the High Court, actually made the study of Constitutional law fun and interesting (Imagine that…The Constitution is actually fun and interesting!).

Yesterday, I saw George being quoted in a Fairfax news article. And it made me smile. Now a Professor at UNSW, George brought me back to the law lecture theatre in 1998 and reminded me (and other readers) that there is a provision in the Constitution that expressly prevents the Commonwealth from making laws that prohibit “the free exercise of religion”. It is section 116 – and both Jacqui Lambie and Cory Bernardi ought to read it.  

a trip to spa and gold country

I took the day off yesterday. My youngest sister is visiting from Canberra so Nathan and I took her to Daylesford for the day. We had a nice lunch at the Lake House, which turned into an unexpected celebration after I received news that I got promoted to Associate Professor (So, I'll officially be an Ass Pro next year). After lunch, we walked around town and visited several of the shops, which seem to fall into three categories based on the stuff they sell: art, soap and handwash, and bric-a-brac.

After we got tired of all the art, soap and second hand junk that Daylesford had to offer, we decided to drive to Ballarat. I love Ballarat. It is such a beautiful town. We got there quite late and concerned about being stuck in peak hour on the way home, decided it was probably best to have dinner there so we headed to the Craig's Hotel, which is kinda fancy (except for the poker machines).  I had a scallop ceviche for starter and a delicious slow roasted pork belly that was almost too big a portion to finish (almost).

Monday, September 22, 2014


The dog has fleas. Truffles has been scratching herself so I decided to take a closer look this morning. I flipped her onto her back and inspected her tummy near where she had been licking herself and caught sight of a flea scuttling away. Faaark.

The infestation is, of course, entirely Nathan's fault since he was the one responsible for administering the dog's flea preventative treatments (and ensuring that they were up to date, which I suspected they weren't).

Naturally, I did the worst thing possible...I started looking up information on the internet. The information I read sent me into a mild panic because I was now concerned the entire house may be festooned with the little parasites (and the idea of flea bombing the apartment was not especially appealing). Anyhow, Nathan and I both needed to dash off to catch the train so we decided we'd discuss what to do later.

Once we boarded the train and took our seats, I began telling Nathan about the hassle we would need to go through to get rid of the infestation from the apartment. I could tell – as all attentive partner's can – that he thought I was being a drama queen.

But then, something miraculous happened. Right on cue, a tiny flea larva crawled across a paper bag I was bringing to work. I gently picked up the larva with my index finger to show Nathan. And just as I was holding the tiny little thing and positioning my finger so that Nathan could get a better look, it launched itself from the tip of my finger onto Nathan's jumper. The demonstration worked perfectly...Nathan spent the afternoon washing the dog and cleaning the house.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

the accusation

Nathan and I noticed a small, light coloured patch on Truffles' lip last week. Naturally, being hypochondriac dog owners, we took her to the vet.

Vet: It's definitely not a tumour...It looks more like a cigarette burn.
(Seriously, did the vet just accuse me of torturing our dog?)

Me (defensively): That's impossible. We don't smoke. And she lives inside the apartment.


I can't even begin to imagine  how the heavy weights at this toy company were persuaded it would be a great idea to manufacture dolls that 'magically poop charms' which kids then collect and wear as bracelets.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


I am back in Canberra for a few days visiting with family and friends.

The security guy who was checking my bag at Melbourne airport was making polite conversation and asked me where I was going. When I said Canberra, the guy asked "Why would you want to go there?" Poor Canberra.

I went to the Canberra Centre two days in a row. I noticed the same elderly lady sitting near the information desk eating chocolate ice cream on both days. My parents say she is always there, eating her ice cream. It must be her routine.

My routine in Canberra is to eat, eat, eat. It is unrelenting. My parents feed me from morning til night. I always gain weight.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

midwinta ball

Nathan and I attended the inaugural midwinta ball last night at the Grand Hyatt. Nathan had organised tickets a while ago but forgot to tell me about it until Wednesday.

The event was black tie. We had planned to hire tuxedos but because it was too 'last minute', Nathan ended up buying a tux (which wasn't that much more expensive than the cost of hire) and I decided to just wear my black suit with a bow tie to make it look a bit more formal. I was feeling a little nervous about being under-dressed but I needn't have turns out that anything goes at a gay gala ball. One guy even wore black leather and chains (I guess technically it was still 'black tie').

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Nathan and I are back in Melbourne.

The work part of my American trip (a conference in New York) went very well. One of my students even picked up a prize for his presentation. While I was attending the conference, Nathan continued his 'holiday' and squeezed in a visit to Washington DC.

We left the US on Wednesday local time. We flew with Delta from NY to LA because our original booking on Qantas was only from Melbourne to LA return – and it would have cost more than doubled the price to make changes to the ticket in order to fly out of New York with Qantas. This turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise for several reasons.

First, Delta was awesome. The flight attendants were the most friendly I have ever encountered on a US carrier (they were actually courteous). Both the food and inflight entertainment were also excellent and, to our surprise, included in the price of our ticket.

Second, not flying with Qantas from NY to LA on Wednesday meant we avoided this debacle. In fact, our flight from LA to Melbourne was half empty because we left without the New York passengers who were stranded in LA because of the delay out of New York.

Third, we had the most awesome flight attendants from LA to Melbourne. In fact, one of the flight attendants, Tarsh, was on our flight from Melbourne to LA a few weeks earlier. And because we struck up a great rapport with her the first time around, she actually remembered us and pampered us with pjs and toiletries from business class.

Now, I just need to get over the jet lag.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New York

After a couple of days relaxing in Boston and catching up with some old friends, Nathan and I took the bus to New York. We have since been doing touristy things. Highlights so far include...

1. Museum of Modern Art

2. Empire State Building

3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

4. The Lion King on Broadway

5. The American Museum of Natural History

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

the Cape

Nathan and I are now in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We are visiting a part of the world where I spent almost a year of my life. It has been an extremely nostalgic part of the trip so far and it has been great to share it with Nathan.
We have been staying with my former land lady, a wonderful woman who is now 80. It has been fantastic catching up with her and staying in the old house again.
Yesterday, we took the ferry to Martha's Vineyard which is a popular tourist haunt for the rich and famous and also the location where Jaws was filmed. I did my research beforehand and dragged Nathan to the nearest seafood take away where we proceeded to order (and devour) way too much.
In the evening we took my former land lady out to dinner at a fancy French restaurant in a nearby town.   I was too full from lunch so I ordered the 'starter'. I was told by the waiter it was small. American serving sizes are huge.
Today we head back to Boston for a couple of days.

Friday, July 18, 2014

eating crabs

Just had crabs for dinner in San Francisco. The travelling has started all over again. Nathan and I are here for a few days before flying over to Boston and eventually ending up in New York, where I will be attending a conference.

back to stubble

I had a shaving accident and have to start my beard from scratch. I was shaving my head the other night and forgot I had a beard so I accidentally sheared off the side burns on the right side of my face. Oops. There was no other option but to start again. This is how it was looking before the accident (I was quite enjoying the bearded look)...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

near disaster

Nathan bought a very stylish kettle when I was in Europe. Today, it nearly caused a fire.

The kettle has a very low, almost imperceptible whistle (not sure if it is suppose to be like that or whether our's is faulty). Since I've been back, it has boiled over a few times simply because we couldn't hear the whistle.

Anyhow, I was boiling some water to make tea and went upstairs to check email. Almost an hour later, I heard a weird buckling sound and the smell of noxious fumes ... and then I remembered the kettle. It was so hot that I decided to let it cool down naturally rather than attempt to douse it with cold water.

Phew. Close call.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

my bearded self

Just when colleagues published research suggesting that beards may be on the way out, I have been experimenting with facial hair. 

The recent field trip to Finland turned out to be a good opportunity to ditch the razor (ahem... I was just too lazy to shave). Given that I was (1) on the other side of the world, (2) in a remote field station in the woods, and (3) there was a shortage of mirrors, I figured I might as well give it a shot.

I had been scouring the web for Asian beard inspiration. I read online somewhere that a bearded Asian man is as rare as a unicorn but the few images I found online suggest that it isn't impossible. Here is the proof...

It has also been interesting stumbling across the beard forums where guys (mostly straight, I  think) offer each other support as they try to transition from clean shaven to bearded.

I am now 9 weeks and I have to admit the 'beard' isn't looking too bad (no pictures yet...still a bit too self-conscious). 

Sure, the coverage isn't as dense as, say, my Greek friend Pete (who has a perpetual 5 o'clock shadow) but it isn't too bad...and certainly the follicles on my face seem to be much more accommodating that those on top of my head.

So far the response from friends and family haven't been too bad either....probably because I was hidden from the world during the really ugly 'mangy' phase. 


Friday, June 27, 2014

dog walk

 I took Truffs out for a walk this arvo and got to check out some recently completed pieces of public architecture in my neighbourhood.

First up was the new Library at the Docks. It looks quite modern from the outside. I didn't get to check out the inside because of the time.

On our way back to the apartment, I noticed that the Jim Stynes Bridge has also opened.

back in Melbourne

I flew out of Helsinki on Tuesday afternoon (local time). I was suppose to fly British Airways to London (to connect with my Qantas flight back to Melbourne). However, because of flow on effects from industrial action in France, BA was experiencing flight delays across their European network. Luckily for me, the attentive check-in lady at the BA counter made alternative arrangements for me to get to London on an earlier flight with Finnair.

Qantas now flies London to Melbourne via Dubai. I had not been to Dubai before (or anywhere else in the Middle East, for that matter). The airport was like any other major modern international was full of duty free and luxury brand shops...I could have been anywhere in the world. And just to show how small a world we actually live in, I bumped into one of my work colleagues who had been holidaying in Europe and was on the same flight back to Melbourne.

I got back yesterday morning and slept most of the day. Still, I managed to go to bed last night without any problems and slept through until 5am this morning. Hopefully it means I will be able to enjoy my day off from work today and actually get out of the apartment.

Monday, June 23, 2014


I went to the city of Tampere for midsummer and stayed with my colleague's parents who smoked a beautiful brown trout for dinner.

A photo taken before the fish went into the smoker...
...and after...
Dessert was a delicious rhubarb pie served with crockery made in the U.S.S.R...