Sunday, March 29, 2009

Exercising charities

Lauren and I have discovered fun runs - thanks to my sister, Linda. Earlier this month she invited us to join her for the International Women's day fun run in the city. It was 5km walk.

This morning I walked 6.8km. The official length was 6km but one fellow had a GPS strapped to his ankle and told Lauren it was 6.8. My feet tell me it was 6.8! It was a really good walk, through Griffith Uni's Nathan campus which is also Toohey Forest. Really pretty, lots of birds, although the people made too much noise to be able to fully appreciate them. Still, I did hear the kookaburras and butcher birds as they stayed around for a while, even with the crowd.

Next week we're all going on another fun run/walk up at Redcliffe. I haven't been to Redcliffe for years (nearly 30 years) so it'll be interesting to see how the area has changed.

What a great way to support a charity and get some exercise at the same time. Of course, going out for breakfast afterwards kind of defeats that purpose. This morning we all came back to my place and I made fresh squeezed juice, waffles, bacon, sausages and eggs - and because we're Australian and have to keep our sweet foods totally separate from our savoury foods, nearly all my china and cutlery was used and I spent the next hour cleaning the kitchen.

All I need to do now is get new shoes. Every time I walk I end up with bruised feet and hobble for the rest of the day. I think it's because my shoes have arch supports and my feet don't have arches.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I finally graduated. It's not finally, really. The course I did only took 3 years so it wasn't that bad, but I was really pleased to have finished.

I had a fun night. I met up with some of my fellow students - people I'd studied and worked with over the last three years and was pleased to see again. It was great to catch up and find out what everyone was doing and planning.

Mum, David and Lauren came to see me graduate. I saw them as soon as they entered the hall. They looked like the three bears - a little one (Mum), a middle sized one (Lauren) and a big one (David) - all in order moving along to their seats. It took them a little while to find me in the crowd of similarly dressed graduates but they did and all waved.

It was all a new experience for me. I didn't go to graduation for my undergrad degree so didn't really know what to expect. What did amaze me was the number of graduates who didn't know how to greet the Chancellor or accept their award without fumbling. Every one of them has graduated at least high school so they've had one experience of it for sure. Others have graduated a number of times or received other awards on stage. So everyone should have known to pause as they doffed their cap and to shake with their right hand while they accepted the award with their left, but no. People rushed out, didn't pause, almost tripped over their own feet and tried to shake hands and accept the award with the same hand at the same time. Maybe they just needed practice or time to think about it beforehand.

I was lucky enough to be about half way through the program so had time to watch the first group and decide what looked good and what didn't. I knew what I wanted to do once I got out onto the stage.

One fellow received a medal for excellence. His GPA (Grade point average) was 6.8 (out of a possible 7) and he received 7s throughout his last year. And he did a double degree. I really admire brains like that - and was even more impressed when they described the research he'd been doing for the honours component of his degree. What an achievement!

My sister asked me why I didn't get a medal or at least a scholarship and I had to remind her I studied part time and because of that I wasn't elligible. So my very respectable 6.5 GPA was pretty much useless in that regard.

I really enjoyed listening to the summaries of the PhD awards. Some of the research that goes on is incredible. Once they're published I'll have to find a copy of some of them and read them.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the degree. Of course I'd like to work in the field - library management - but I don't have any experience. I have mortgages so I have to keep working and have to have a certain level of income. Neither of those things work with my lack of experience in libraries unfortunately and although I know I'd be able to do the work easily (I'm bright and adaptable), proving it to strangers is a bit of a problem.

I'm still teaching part time. The idea behind that was so I could use my one day off a week to do some volunteer work in a library and get some experience. Unfortunately my one day each week has translated into bits and pieces; an hour here, an hour there which makes it pretty much useless.

Study-wise, my next step is two-fold. I've already applied to start a Graduate Certificate in Creative Industries (Creative Writing) starting in July. I'm looking forward to that and hope I can do the subjects I'm interested in. I've also made some preliminary lists of things to do to apply to begin my PhD in February next year. I know what I want to do but haven't narrowed the thesis topic enough to make it achievable. That's the task for this semester - I just have to find a weekend free so I can spend a day at the library doing research. After that I have to start talking to people and find someone to sponsor me. That won't be easy either as my undergrad and masters degrees are both in totally different fields so I'll have to convince strangers, people who know nothing of my abilities, that I'm capable of doing the work in the creative industries field to a suitable standard. That's part of the reason I've applied to do the grad cert.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm surprised I'm still alive!

When I went to pick Lauren up to go to the gym today, the first thing she said to me was:

"I'm surprised I'm still alive!"

Exactly the type of words every mother wants to hear. All sorts of emotions tumbled through me in the split second afterwards: shock, fear, terror, relief, joy.

I don't think it ever gets easier.

Anyway, the reason for the comment is that Lauren went hiking with a friend today, up near Toowoomba on the Darling Downs. There's a mountain in the valley that has a flat , treeless top (from a distance. Up close it's rocky) and is a favourite for local hikers - Tabletop Mountain. I've climbed it once. The road in is difficult to find and often more suitable for 4WDs than normal cars. Then finding the trail becomes the problem. Of course, that's nothing to keeping to the trail. It disappears after a while and you're left with a choice of scrambling over loose gravel at a 60 degree angle or climbing a rock face.

Guess which one Lauren and her friend chose? That's right - the rock face - without ropes or climbing equipment and only a very general indication to me of where she would be today.

I know I've had conversations with her about hiking safety but when I think about it, most of them were when she was a teenager - and what parent knows anything to a teenager? At least she did have enough sense to let me know where they were going and to take enough water and food to last overnight if needed. Of course her friend didn't have much water so they ended up sharing Lauren's, and Lauren forgot about the need to wear jeans as some protection against snakes or a fall, or take a jacket just in case they did end up stranded over night.

And Lauren has lots of stories about how she made her little Toyota Echo behave like a 4WD on the steep gravelly slopes! We giggled for ages, even though I knew some of those slipping experiences could have ended badly - the roads around there have very steep drops over the sides.

Luckily it all ended well. They got up the mountain and back down again with little more than a few scrapes and some sore muscles, and I have an idea for a birthday present for Lauren - a book about easy hikes around South-east Queensland!

(Image from: