Wayfaring: a ranty rant about urban planning

So yesterday I decided to WALK to work. It’s about 6 kms away, but the sky was lovely and overcast, the weather a perfect 22 degrees centigrade, and I had new walking boots I intend to wear in NY. It would take me a little over an hour and I needed to increase my exercise regime from one paltry PT session per week.

I googled my walking path and noticed a thing. It’s an actual problem thing. Brisbane has nowhere nice for people to walk long distances. I live inner east. I’m not too far from the Brisbane river, but in between my house and the river are several main roads that are actual arteries to get into town. These roads are 6 lanes wide, that sort of thing. They are not pleasant to walk along. They are noisy, I am increasing my CO2 and toxic metal levels simply by being near them, and I really just want a nice walking path into town. Do you think I could find one? NO.

Here’s the screen shot of what Google thought would be several good ways to get into town:

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.37.22 AM

The blue path is a major arterial road. So is the second. The third way, I kid you not, involves a fucking ferry and 2 river crossings. I have, in my desire to get some exercise, stumbled on what I believe is a significant issue facing Brisbane. We’re fat fucks because there’s nowhere to WALK. The two shorter options are major arterial thoroughfares for CARS. They are not easy walking options. Also, Norman Creek (that wibbly wobbly green thing bifurcating my walk at the right of screen) has about 1 human-crossing bridge available along its length. So in effect I’m stuck walking along a stupid fucking main road OR I can tack across some fields in the vain hope that I’ll find a river crossing to get to the main river.

This is a tragedy. Also, the pretty walk along the river doesn’t start until Kangaroo Point cliff walk because there are no boardwalks between Hawthorn and Kangaroo Point, but do you think there’s a pedestrian crossing on Leopard Street from East Brisbane? NO. I have to risk life and limb trying to navigate across this really busy road when there’s also a SCHOOL nearby without access to a pedestrian crossing. I cannot tell you how pissed off I was trying to simply navigate through town on foot.

This is why Melbourne wins the best city in the world for liveability while Brisbane is shit. Cities like Melbourne, Paris, even London and NY, recognise the need for traversing spaces for pedestrians. There you can walk along the rivers to get into town and you don’t come across a fucking Maritime museum with barbed-wire fencing as you approach it from the south. I’m not holding Melbourne up to perfection but at least they have boulevards and beautiful walking paths nearly every direction you approach town from. You can walk along the river in either direction, you can walk along St Kilda Boulevard (cars are set in the centre lanes and there are TREES), you can approach from the north via Royal Parade (same deal). In Melbourne it’s pretty and lovely to walk in, and right now, with blisters on my heels from boots that were clearly not made for walking and a sense of impotent rage about this city with its heat and humidity and my incapacity to deal with either, I’m not in the best mood about Brisbane and its shit urban planning.

 

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Of chooks, waistlines and Things to Do.

So the chickens are going well. I love my chookies. They are terribly cute, cautious and  scare easily. Divine. Poppy my groodle wants to eat them. Not pretty, so we’re planning a fox-and-dog-free chook run so that Poppy can hang out in the back yard again. Not fair to confine her to the front yard when the chookies barely use the back.

We’ve had the first few eggs. They’ve quite a pale yolk: more butter-coloured than orange. So I’ll be supplementing their feed with some appropriate food to give their yolks a colour lift. I ate some for the first time today. Scrambled, they were remarkably creamy. Much more so than the free range eggs I normally buy. And even better, one of the eggs was a double yolk. Win!

After I took my folks to the airport on Tuesday I realised my capacity to lose weight was in direct proportion to my care-factor. It’s never going to happen unless I get all serious about it again. Which I can do, I promise. Just not now. The weather is STILL too hot and I’m not really prepared to get out of bed before 9.00am. So I took me shopping and finally succumbed grumpily to the needs of my expanding waistline: I bought 3 pairs of size 12 trousers, and half a dozen t-shirts and tops. In QLD clothes deteriorate really fast because they’re always being washed. I looked at my own clothes: they looked tiredly at me and promptly sagged into grottiness and worse still: torn in parts. Plus, I only had about 3 pairs of sad old pants I could wear (2 pairs of WHITE pants, y’all, and 1 pair of 2-years old totally grotty navy pants that I wear EVERY SINGLE DAY when I’m not wearing the white ones), and it was beginning to get desperate. I’m not paring back my wardrobe to bare bones: I WEAR IT ALL.

Every so often I buy a bunch of t-shirts but 6 months later they’re always pretty woeful. Doesn’t matter which brand, either. They can be super-dooper expensive or quite cheap. They just lose shape and look old. On the plus side, I rarely throw out my t-shirts because I repurpose them either as pj tops, painting tops, or cleaning cloths. So there you have it. Instead of removing the fat from my body I’ve taken the easy way out. At least now I’m comfortable in my clothes again, and mildly stylish.

Things to do for the end of March and all April: finish off some book editing (tomorrow’s job), finish my book chapter (tomorrow as well), create a chook run, and go to the gym. Perhaps write some job applications too. I’m learning how to keep busy, and I’m starting to enjoy slowing down a bit. Perhaps I’ll write some fiction, as I promised myself so many moons ago. And I’ll definitely read a book. I’ve not read a single novel since I joined Goodreads. Unlike me. And I’m starting to think about being artsy-fartsy again. Perhaps I’ll join an art collective and do some arty-crafty things.

Happy Easter everyone. See you on the other side.

Mum and dad go home and I get to go to the gym again

Oh my fricking god. Can’t do up my bloody pants. The weather seems so be cooling down slightly: so much so that the doona was dragged up from the base of the bed where we fling it each night because fricking hot weather. Imma gonna get me to the gym; imma gonna stop eating all the things; imma gonna stop drinking all the things. Imma gonna eat my homegrown free range eggs and get my sorry fat arse to the fricking gym, y’all. Jaysus. 

Folks are flying home today. It has been fun, I’ll miss them. We discovered Mount Tamborine. That was fun too. Right. Time to take folks to the airport. 

Friday Filibuster: From little things big things grow. Some Australian protest songs.

From Little Things Big Things Grow is a song by my favourite muso and serial adulterer, Paul Kelly and his mate Kev Carmody. It’s about how one man’s actions can galvanise a nation into shame for its appalling treatment of indigenous Australians, and begin a “reconciliation” (given that we never had a conciliation in the first instance I’m not sure how we can be reconciling, but whatevs), a recognition of wrongdoing, where a People’s country can be returned to them in a gentle, yet powerful ceremony that is both as profound and as prosaic as pouring earth into a person’s waiting hands.

 

Given the current parlous state of Australia’s ethical and moral stance against refugees and asylum seekers I’m hoping that some small Australians, those ordinary people who work in hospitals and banks and schools and police stations and offices, will rise up and say to our two major parties (Liberal National Party and The Labor Party) that enough is enough. Stop treating these people as criminals. Be humane. Be mindful of international law. Follow that law. Actually, they are doing this, but the right wing goons, who are a small but self-important bunch, are holding the parties hostage. Here’s a song by our beautiful Missy Higgins called Oh Canada that evocatively illustrates the plight of refugees and asylum seekers everywhere.

 

 

Another great artist, Tim Minchin (composer of Matilda the Musical), has written an angry song about our Cardinal George Pell, who seems to have become strangely too ill to travel to Australia to answer a Royal Commission into the Catholic Church’s years of wanton cover up over a string of appalling paedophilic priests who ran rampant around Australia. Heads have rolled over this one but more will roll as more is uncovered.

 

Anyway. This post wasn’t going to be about protest songs. It was going to be about weight loss. Hah. Got you! So it’s just that I’ve started going to the gym every day, swimming. I swim for 30 minutes, or 14 laps of a 50 metre pool (yes, I know that’s super slow. I don’t care). I swim breaststroke, and today it took me a little while but I finally got into a beautiful Zen state, where time disappeared for a while. As I say to DH, it’s my daily meditation, swimming.

I’m back to calorie counting, but not too much – I’m not cutting out carbs and I’m being more circumspect about how I count those calories – in other words I’m not sweating the small stuff like I used to. I’ve also cut out snacking and most sweet foods. It seems to have worked: I’m already down 500 grams in 5 days. A nice start. Tomorrow I’m going to a proper gym class at 8am (yuck), followed by a swim to cool off.

So, from little things big things grow. A daily gym routine to get me out of the house, more thought about WHAT I eat, and the results show that little things can have a big impact. Go little me.

muffintop

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were drinking coffee I’d be offering you a delicious ice coffee instead, with ice and milk and sugar. Because it’s frigging HOT here. Or better yet, how about a refreshing mint julep? Darn it, we’re out of soda.

In my pathetic middle-class desire to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the earth we’ve taken to using refillable soda bottles. Called Soda Stream, it has been available in Australia for what feels like forever. You have this contraption that looks like this:

sodastream

(copyright SodaStream)

a bunch of spare plastic bottles and a large soda gas canister that fits in the back.

In fact, this is the exact version we have. It’s fun and cheap to use and when the gas canister is empty you can swap-and-go replacement cylinders at your local supermarket. That’s the plan, anyway. I’ll let you know how we get on…*

*much much later…

Huzzah, we found and bought replacement bottles! Fizzy water, welcome back. Is this cheaper than buying 1.25 litres of mineral water for .70c at Aldi? Not sure. What I do know is, we drink one heck of a lot when we have it. We’re probably spending about .50c per bottle, even though it suggests one gas canister will supply up to 60 litres, therefore costing us an imaginary .30c per litre.

IN OTHER NEWS.

I WENT TO THE GYM TODAY AND SWAM A LITTLE. Yes, I really really did. I feel virtuous in all sorts of ways. I’m gearing up to get back into the swing of consistent exercise and slightly less food. When I weighed myself  – at the gym, because I don’t own a set of human scales – I was pleasingly NO heavier than I have been at any time in the last 6 months. I’m just…squidgier. And as we all know, muscle is heavier than fat, so I can actually be heavier than I am now but a lot trimmer looking. And I’m sick of my face looking fat.

The plan is to lose about 2 kilos and assess the difficulty in reaching THAT milestone, then work at losing another 5. I need to get to the gym at least 5 times a week, and curtail my lolly and carbohydrate and alcohol intake. It’s not like I don’t have the time.

In family news, my stepson turned 18 last week. All of a sudden he’s an adult, although we all laughed hysterically when he said he wanted his mummy to drive him to uni for the first day (he doesn’t have a job, a car, or money yet). We celebrated his brithday at a brilliant Pan-Asian restaurant called PawPaw, in Woolloongabba, Brisbane. Food was AMAZING. He drank alcohol in front of us, but he’s no drinker – he’s not interested in getting wasted, even as he jokes about being 18 and drinking. We bought him a wrist watch – a proper one that looks like it came from a Mad Men set. Gorgeous. We’re also buying him a Barista course and an RSA (responsible serving of alcohol) course, so that he can actually work. He’s even talking about moving out of home at the end of the year. Bahahahahahaha. Anyway. It’s good to see him stretching his wings a bit.

In other news, my oldest child is throwing an engagement party for he and his girl, sometime in April. We’re travelling south to share in the day, but every day there’s more bills to pay and more frustrations to be had. We just can’t stretch our funds far enough. Dammit, I need a job.

I think that’s it for the coffee share. Although this should REALLY come under the banner of Monday murmurings.

I hope your weekend was a joy. Ours was lovely.

 

newcoffee

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster.

 

 

Sheeeeit. Cain’t git in mah pants no more.

I was doing SO well.

That’s what happens when your long holiday lazy summer turns into permanent lay-a-bed-loucher-lady year.

Truth: haven’t been to the gym since September. Another truth: I’ve been laying about, watching A LOT of Netflix/ Stan. I’ve become very sedentary. More truth: I’ve been enjoying a few too many sticky buns, carbohydrates, sweet things and alcomohol. Still more truth: I actually don’t mind the way I feel physically – I’m not too tired, I’ve got enough energy (I think), and I can still walk the dog. I’m healthy. But dang it. My pants don’t fit anymore. And I’m NOT BUYING ANY MORE CLOTHES.

This is why I must get me back to the gym. Because it’s too expensive if I don’t go. Also, I discovered a double chin and my bras are getting tight. My boobs are my bellwether because they are the first thing to go when I lose weight and the very last thing to grow back when I’ve put weight on everywhere else. They are telling me it’s time. This is me below:

bellwether-sheep

Beached on the side of a mountain. Bellwether Boobs. That’s me.

I just want the weather to cool down: it’s so STEAMY here right now. I’m so sick of sweating even when I’m not moving. Truth be told I hate sweating even when I AM moving. Ugh.

I’m doing it. Come Saturday morning, I’m off to the gym. Just watch me. I can do this. (might need iron supplements and magnesium…and a big kick up the whatoosie.)

*Saturday edit: I never made it to the gym. Sad face.

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee I’d be inviting you to ignore the laptop and accoutrements I’ve set up on the kitchen table because it’s cooler in here than anywhere else in the house.

 

The air-conditioner is in this room too. When the day is hot and before the cooling breezes come through at about 4pm, the house is like an oven. So the dining room table is by far the best place to work. But it does mean my stuff is out, making a mess. It’s annoying for everyone!

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’m no longer grieving, depressed or angry. Last year was HARD. This year is a little better. I’ve pulled out my gym gear and am getting ready to hit the ground running. But not today. I WAS tempted by gym this morning because they have a fabulous outdoor pool that helps me get back into the swing of exercise, but the pool is closed for a swimming carnival, and I’m not tempted to go to the gym with a thousand screaming kidlets. Perhaps at 3pm when the kidlets go home.

Those who don’t know my previous posts won’t know of the crazy self-immolating time I had in 2012-2013 when I totally rocked an Australia size 8 (size 4 in US). I was a gym-and-diet junkie. I wasn’t uber-thin, but I was very, very strong, and my cuddle-layer was missing. I was super-healthy, super-fit, felt super-hot, could wear ANYTHING. It’s amazing when you are slim how clothes just work. I had a trainer, I worked out consistently and dieted my socks off. I looked great, felt about 25 again, looked 25 again for about a minute, and really enjoyed my svelte thighs and slim arms. I’m one of those people who put weight on their arms, so I get arm-chub, which is as close as I’m going to admit I have a body image problem.

This was not sustainable because I went off carbs and had to calorie count like a demon, but it showed me that I am capable of getting strong and fit and slim, through hard work and sustained healthy eating habits. I’m not the world’s worst eater by any stretch. I make my own muesli, I eat avocado and eggs on sourdough toast, and I don’t go overboard on takeaway food (last week notwithstanding, when for dinner I had Afghan takeaway Tuesday, Japanese Wednesday, Vietnamese Thursday, and several chicken wraps for lunch. This is an aberration while DH and I get used to my evening teaching again).

But it’s easy to be lazy and grab a pie from the freezer, because 25 minutes heating it is easier than spending 5 minutes preparing a fresh tuna salad. Go figure. And I love my red wine, so cutting down on my nightly alcoholic bevvie is almost impossible.

If we were having coffee, I’d be telling you that, once again, 2016 is the year of getting fit. I have the time, so no more excuses. My lovely community gym has a raft of excellent day classes starting at 9.30am, including HIIT, boxing fitness, TABATA, and if I go for a swim after it’s likely to give me that endorphin boost I love. My body loves being active but I have to work out quite hard to get results, and my muscles just ACHE. I hate this, even as I know exercise is good for me. But you know the REAL reason I’m having to get fit? I don’t fit into half my lovely lovely clothes anymore. I hate it when my waistband is too tight! And the other day my model-thin daughter (who can’t seem to put weight on no matter how hard she tries, where did THAT come from?) told me I looked OLD because I was wearing what I fancied was resort chic. I thought I looked like this:

resort wear1

When what I apparently looked like was this:

old lady fashion

(This woman actually rocks her outfit, but I’m not quite there age-wise).

If we were having coffee you’d notice my new pair of glasses. They’re bifocals. They’re giving me a headache. They’re Ralph Lauren Polo glasses, navy on the outside, striped navy/white on the inside. I like them because I can SEE but I hate when I get headaches from glasses. Always happens with multi-focals.

So, how to fill my days. That’s the challenge this year.

What’s YOUR exercise regime? And do you rock the resort look, or do you, like me, just look frumpy?

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Weekend Coffee Share is brought to you by Diana at Part-Time Monster. Add your voice to the conversation!

In which I explain my current propensity to be angry bored

I’m over the worst of my sads, I think, and am now quietly gearing up for the period of time I call “angry bored”. That is, I’m sick of mucking around on computer games and almost ready to hit the books again. When I say hit the books I mean in a figurative, not literal, sense. Although given “angry bored” you might be forgiven for thinking I do, literally, hit books. Tempted, for sure. 

I’m doing the usual job applications where possible. There’s a couple of Fellowships I missed out on applying for because angry-sad-procrastination-headspace so this current job crop is my last hope for the year I suspect. 

If I don’t hit the books then the house jobs will be next. I’m still waiting to hear from my builder about the little renovation but in the meantime there’s a second coat to put on the fence; I could paint the wooden valance with another undercoat then top-coat it; or I could prepare some spring gardening. Plenty to do, now that I’m getting angry bored. 

Knowing my rhythms as I do (not well, really, I’m still not all together present at the moment), I have to wait for my brain to take the brakes off and apply some acceleration. However I can feel the momentum building and the pressure mounting and I know I’m going to get shitty before long if I don’t start DOING something. 

My gym work is going well, back in a good rhythm, although this weekend was bad for food and sober September faded sadly into regret. I can feel my body and brain gearing up for working. Like a Jack-in-the-box, I’m pretty sure I’m going to charge out of my current funk into something much more dynamic. 

I’ve always been like this. Which is why I’m not worried about my behaviour of late. It WILL get better. 

In which I explain how I am on my way from A to B (A=misery, B=happiness)

Well, I will walk 500 miles and I will walk 500 more. Sorry. Ear worm. But it’s kind of true.

I am determined not to feel shitful this week. Because crap weekend and all. Exercise makes me feel better. So today is my over-sharing post about exercise, food and that little demon called indulgence.

Now that I have all this free time I’m getting to the gym 3 times per week. I feel fantastic afterwards and not sore anymore. I hate going but my personal trainer (not too expensive, it’s only 30 mins a week) also takes hour-long group HIIT classes, and I like the way she trains. So I’m weighing myself once a week on a Saturday morning (ugh, hideous), and I am slowly beginning to lose the weight again. I’m dropping between 500gms (1 lb) and 900gms (2 lbs) per week which is normal for me. It’s slow, it’s boring, but I’m starting to feel strong again and wanting to push myself a bit more.

As the weather heats up I will add a couple of swim sessions to my week – they seem to help me drop weight quite fast and I never feel sweaty afterwards although I do feel deliciously tired, and the pool is essentially empty between 8.30 – 9.30am. And if I can make it to even one yoga session I will gain flexibility. So I am hoping my week will start to look like this:

Monday: cardio and weights, then swim.

Tuesday: Personal training session, then cardio

Wednesday: cardio and weights, then swim

Thursday: HIIT session

Friday: swim then Yoga?

Saturday: HIIT session

Sunday: are you kidding me?

At the moment cut out Monday and Wednesday and you have a clearer picture of my ACTUAL week. I know I’m wanting to exercise more because on Monday morning my body is telling me to get moving. I have to exercise in the morning because I hate the evening heat. Better get me moving early before I overthink it.

However, despite all my good exercise intentions, my diet is a little horrible. I’ve been trying to reduce my food intake from about 2000 cal to 1500 cal – which is a perfectly reasonable amount of food for someone who is weight training and also trying to reduce a dress size or two. This is not so easy. I’m getting very hangry (angry hungry) while my body adjusts to the new portion sizes and I’m not always able to contain my eaty moments. So last night, for example, I ate a cup of home-made macaroni cheese as well as 2 lamb chops and a salad. Plus 2 glasses of white wine (I know, what was I thinking?) and some licorice bullets. Now, one of the above has to go. I’m thinking I need to reduce my wine intake again. And maybe my licorice bullets. And perhaps the lovely delicious carbs. According to my diet diary I was 222 cals over for the day.

Most days I manage to keep it at 1500-1700 cals, but I might be cheating a bit on portion sizes. ANYWAY. Last week was woeful. I’m struggling to be as disciplined as I was the first time I lost all the weight. I think it’s because my last diet was very restrictive in terms of carbs and sugars. I can do it, but actually my diet needs to be sustainable in the long term. As I’ve mentioned before, I nearly always eat freshly prepared unprocessed food. My worst diet enemy is my DH, who has a sweet tooth and who can eat crap all day long. I need to be able to have dessert from time to time, or eat pasta, or have a glass (or 2) of red wine. But it’s SO hard to LOSE weight without restrictions. Easy enough to MAINTAIN as long as the exercise stays consistent.

So here is my plan to get from A to B, in the form of diet and exercise.

  • Let’s start with Sober September. Well, not quite because why? but I’m saying it here: I’m cutting down to 1 glass of wine a night! MAYBE I’ll even have a night off drinking altogether. I know! Amazing!
  • I’m reducing my carb intake to 1 meal a day. So if I have my delicious sourdough soy-lin bread in the am, no high GI carbs for the rest of the day. Including (sniffle) pasta.
  • I’m reducing my pasta and rice intake again (but I LOVE my pasta)!
  • I’m cutting out evil ice-cream dessert. Including chocolate bullets. Even when DH just brings them out and flings the packet all over the couch along with the Rocky Road and the chocolate bars. (EVERY FREAKING NIGHT).
  • What shall I add instead? Well, I’ll go back on the nuts and seeds for snack food, and there’s always oranges and apples and bananas and strawberries to enjoy if I need a sweet something.
  • I’m gonna do the exercise plan above and not shirk on the Monday and Wednesday.

I’m on my way from A to B. I’m determined.