In preparation for a 20 hour flight back to the US, I am staying up progressively later each night. Last night was midnight, tonight is 3am. The problem is that my room is so sunny, even with shades drawn that I wake up with the sun--which in Perth is the lovely time around 5am!
Perth is 16 hours ahead of LA, and 13 hours ahead of Virginia, which means I will arrive on the same day I depart, as I fly across the world. Typing this at nearly 8pm, it's only 4am in LA. Come Monday night (or rather, Tuesday morning), I will leave for the airport around 3am for my 5:20am Virgin Australia flight to Melbourne, where I will switch to my international flight of 14.5 hours. Depart at 5:20am, arriving at 9am on the same day to LAX! I'm not dreading the flight too much because I am not flying on any of the terrible U.S.-based airlines. Even the local budget airlines in Australia beat out American, United, and Delta. I'm not dreading it because the end result of Yogaville is so worth it!
There is still so much to do in Oz and NZ, so I will have to return! In the meantime, there are these awesome spiders that hang out on the lemon tree and prevent the flies from coming inside when I leave all the doors open. Another aspect of life in Oz I will miss: leaving the doors wide open and unlocked and not worrying about thieves or rapists coming in the house. It's so wonderful to live in a non-violent society!
I love the little surprises you find on hikes and walks. Last year, I collected a couple of kilos of various "meaningful" stones and small rocks during my hikes in Eastern Tibet. Then I shipped them to myself in Chengdu. I have a "special" piece of quartz I picked up when I visited Yogaville for the first time in 2008. It rests in a silk pouch next to a polished ball of flourite, a packet of holy puja ash, and my rhudraksha meditation mala The silk pouch accompanies me where ever I live or travel.
Perhaps the smarter choice in collector items is a feather. Much more lightweight and packs flat. It started in Ganzi, when the grassland mountain near the glacier gifted me with an amazing Golden Eagle feather, equal to the length of my arm from shoulder socket to fingertips. In Melbourne, I couldn't help but pick up one or two brightly colored feather, lost from a King Parrot. Now, in Perth, I've collected neon greens, cerulean blues, and shy pinks from Roseas and Kookaburras, Australian Magpies, and who knows what else! Aren't they incredible!
I joined a yoga hiking group for this hike around Lysterfield Lake. The 16km was a little daunting at first, but when I previewed the map location and spied "Kangarii Vew Area" in the park, I was determined to try! There was not much elevation gain, so it was a relatively easy hike, just a longer distance for my current level of conditioning. The path was well-marked and long, bordered by "gums" which is the appellation given by locals to Eucalyptus Trees. It was a lovely hike, and cool on the overcast day. I met some great new peeps, and shared much in common with several. I enjoyed hearing others' travel stories, too! The group, Spontaneous Adventures, hosts regular hikes, yoga retreats, and a pilgramage to Spain, for the trek along the Camino de Santiago!
At the beginning, there were jokes about the absolute necessity for me to spot Roos, being the overseas visitor. Not three steps onto the path, and everyone started hollering for me to "Look! Look!", as I had my eyes glued to my phone, as I started the tracking function on Strava for our hike. Up I gazed toward half a dozen (what was thought were Roos, but actually were Wallabies, the smaller version of Kangaroo). During the hike, I was to spot many more, a gaggle of Wallabies just about every half hour of our 16 km. trek! The bonus surprise was someone locating an Echidna rooting around some rocks! These have sweet little faces with long snouts for finding insects, but don't look cute enough to cuddle with their sharp porcupine-esque spines. They look like spiny hedgehogs, or mini-porcupines!
These two hikes within one week re-ignited my desire to be outdoors-- all the time! Can't wait for the next one! I've joined three local hiking groups: Ladybirds, YHA, and Spontaneous Adventures!
Early Christmas presents have arrived: Xmas dinner ingredients delivery!
Delivery and food prices here in Melbourne are definitely not as cheap as prices in China, but most of these items aren't available in China anyway!! Australian Christmas!
I have a spectacular 'Noel Internationale' Brunch planned for tomorrow, starting with classic French Coquille St. Jacques, a Vegetarian main I created myself: sweet potato and whipped goat cheese trifle topped with one ginormous flamed marshmallow and caramel balsamic glaze.
Dessert? Sicilian Gelo di Melone (watermelon pudding)!
Let's hope it all gets done, because there are Mimosas to start!
Brocoli Cauliflower Pie
Today, I learned the difference between pie, pastie, and roll. These are all small hand-sized meals, I guess an Aussie version of fast food, but baked. Bonus is they are come in vegetarian options.
Pies have gravy (and are pie-shaped), pasties don't have gravy (and they're shaped like a half moon), and a roll is exactly what it sounds like: crust and filling rolled into a cylinder.
And by the way, pastie is not pronounced with a "long A", but a "short A", as in past tense, not glue paste-- which is why when I asked "What's a pay-stee?", the counter gal answered, "What? Oh, a paaahstie... "
FYI, Geelong, a Western suburb of Melbourne, is pronounced "ji' lung" not "gee' long".
Sigh... learning Australian is hard... LOL
Caramel Walnut Slice
At this point, I'm accustomed to a Solo Christmas. I've spent so many holidays away from family -- and sometimes friends -- that the holidays are just not that big of a deal to me anymore. However, the Holidaze are still contagious: I catch the spirit every year; so it follows, I watch Christmas films and enjoy feasts provided by overseas companions, restaurants, or myself! If I'm able, I buy a colorful, tabletop tree and a Santa Hat, and then proceed to cook myself a fancy Xmas Eve dinner, Xmas Day brunch -- or both. Rinse and repeat for New Year's Day. If I am with traveling companions or local friends, I definitely pull out the card and go all in for a posh dinner with champagne and luxurious foodstuffs. And I always buy myself a few presents to unwrap on the Day!
No deers were harmed during the making of this film. http://www.heydeermovie.com/
*Copyright info below...
This year, I am finally compiling a list of my Fav Xmastime Films: ones I try to watch every year and many that I haven't seen in decades or since childhood. This year, as I relax in Australia on my own for the Holidaze, I am not working, I don't know anyone, and I am simply working on my writing craft and taking it easy; I have decided to watch as many holiday-themed films as possible. And, knowing me, I will research some international flavours and see if I can find a few new faves along with additional esoteric auteur cinema focused on Christmas, including dysfunctional families, happy ridiculousness, mythic horror, holiday romance, and all the unrealistically saccharine scenes I can discover!
Films I Watch Every Xmas (and sometimes Turkey Day!)
**The Ref stands as my favorite holiday film: it never fails to cause laughter, it has a happy ending, it's a comedy yet darkly sardonic, Denis Leary is hilarious, and it exemplifies the effed-upness of family dysfunction. This film is my favorite holiday film because it reminds me of my own family and many insane holidays that were passed off as normal. I've been watching this one, no matter what, every year since its release in 1994! It captures my understanding of "holiday spirit" in this one line: "The spirit of Christmas is either you're good or you're punished and burn in hell". That basically sums up my upbringing! Merry Christmas and Happy 2020!
Click "Read more" for additional Holiday-themed films along with what NOT to watch on Christmas!
Wednesday October 30, 2019
This morning, I completed the Bikram yoga sequence at home, followed by Khapalabhati and Nadi Shodanham breath-work, and finished with a 5-minute guided Lovingkindness meditation.
Later, after some reading- and writing-related work, I took Thea for a short walk and then rode my bike to the market. It is a 6km round trip.
I've been trying to move beyond this Month of False Starts and No Starts, so I followed my own past instructions given to students and wrote down my intentions for the day, as well as those which "I will do my best at...".
Thursday October 31, 2019
Halloween! All hail the Witches!
I subscribed to The New Yorker online today so that I can read more of Malcolm Gladwell's work. Last night, I had begun some research into M.F.A. writing programs offered by Unis with strong reputations; that was information was overwhelming in the sense that it's near impossible to get in (based on applicant to acceptance ratios in top programs), but that many of the best offer full-scholarships and stipends to the students who matriculate! In other words, if you are accepted, you attend tuition-free, receive living allowance stipends, and normally come out with a book deal. The applicant numbers are in the hundreds and thousands, and those accepted number 5-10.
I am trying, trying, trying to discipline myself with a set daily schedule for writing, applying for freelance work as a remote copy editor/proofreader or tutor, and exercise. I've slowly been moving out of vacation sloth mode and into work mode, although I expected that transition to happen weeks ago and instantly. POOF! Gina writes/works 6-8 hours each day and is a Published Writer. Ha!
On the other hand, I'm trying not to be too hard on myself for sitting on my a** all day and watching movies while eating Nutella for the past 4 weeks, rather than following through with my daily intentions of attending Bikram classes, riding my bike, meditating, running, writing 4 hours each morning, working remotely a few hours each day, and otherwise being "productive". I'm getting there, I hope.
Now that I have finished publicly flogging myself, I can state that I started doing some calisthenics and strength exercises to add to my yoga training and cycling. It includes a series of sit-ups, push-ups, squates, jumping jacks, plank holds, leg lifts, and more. I set a timer so that I work for 50 minutes then take a movement break incorporating yoga or calisthenics/strength exercises.
Time to walk the doggie!
Image Credit: World Religions and Spirituality https://wrldrels.org/2016/10/08/bikram-yoga/ in an online article authored by David G. Bromley and Caitlin St. Clair.
Gallivanting Goddess is...
... finally exploring DownUnder!