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Name: Mary Gardiner
Member since: 2000-07-13 00:35:54
Last Login: 2009-11-11 03:52:56

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Homepage: http://mary.gardiner.id.au/

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Wednesday 15 April 2015

So many things about travel are only things I remember when I travel. Which is a shame, because some of those things I forget when not traveling are bad things about travel and I wouldn’t spend so much of the rest of my time puttering around being all “why am I so mysteriously averse to traveling? how strange!” Sure, I never forget the things about airports and aircraft being hostile to all things normal and human, I remember my three continuous days of insomnia after getting home from Romania in 2007, things like that. But that’s physical discomfort. I forget the emotions. I don’t remember the defensiveness of wanting to spend multiple consecutive days in dark hotel rooms (probably culture shock), I don’t remember the constant loneliness that nicely counterbalances that so that I’m unhappy even in the hotel rooms and I don’t remember the homesickness on top of it all.

I don’t remember the punch in the gut of “almost everything I love best in the world is somewhere else entirely”.

These memories obviously brought to you by being in San Francisco rather than Sydney right now. How else would I be accessing them? And you shouldn’t think of this as an unusual trip for me, this is pretty much every damn time. Not non-stop of course, or I probably would remember better why I have mixed feelings about travel. No. It’s an acute problem and I’m right in the target zone for it: more than halfway done with the travel, mostly done with the reason for the travel, why can’t I go home now?

As I’ve been telling people, last Thursday night was my first night away from A, ever. That Friday night through to this coming Monday night were/will be the second through twelfth nights, respectively. So that’s not helping either. Apparently she’s been pretty fine with it, which is in character. She doesn’t mind when we get babysitters, she doesn’t mind being dropped at daycare, it turns out she doesn’t noticeably mind that I vanished a week ago and that a couple of days later, V vanished too. (He’s gone to visit my parents.) C’est la vie?

On the bright side, I’ve finally been to Montreal! Which is actually part of this whole sad pattern too: I get this way worse when I travel as far as the US East Coast, or Europe, than I do otherwise. But still, I’ve finally been to Montreal! I didn’t really understand their seasons until I was flying in and I noticed that the waterways were still iced up, which I have never actually seen before anywhere, let alone anywhere in the middle of spring. I didn’t leave the city, but I did go and specifically look right at the river at Vieux Port. The ice was pretty slushy but it was extensive. I went to Notre Dame, which I wouldn’t have chosen for myself but am happy about; I wasn’t aware of the French Catholic history of Montreal and the cathedral is beautiful.

I was very Australian about the temperature, which is to say, it was above freezing, so why wear a coat? I run very hot in any case, even other Australians regularly look at my outfits and say “but aren’t you cold?” However by Monday, it was 22°C anyway (up from about -5 the week before) so I didn’t have to shock everyone for long. There was definitely much less ice visible on the way out.

Australian or not, I will admit that walking in the rain on Friday when it was about 3° and I had left my raincoat, conscientiously lugged all the way from Australia, in Outremont was a bit of a challenge.

I was there for PyCon and AdaCamp. The former confirmed that if I want to go to PyCon, some day I just need to go to PyCon and stop thinking that I can go on a work trip and actually attend the conference too. A number of people I know were very surprised to hear I was there given that they didn’t see me at all, and probably some more will be surprised when they read this. I have a more reasonable approach to AdaCamp: I can attend some of it and I do, and it is much as I picture.

I’m in San Francisco now. I think five hours or so is the worst length of flight. Long enough that I spend about four hours thinking “OK, surely we’re nearly there” and checking out the flight map to find out that nope, we are in no way nearly there, short enough that there’s no institutionalisation to the plane environment. Just non-stop outrage the whole way. Plus no one feels sorry for you afterwards, unlike my Sydney to Vancouver to Montreal itinerary which caused some appreciative intake of breath from Montrealers.

Four more nights.

Syndicated 2015-04-16 06:55:30 from puzzling.org

Mary in San Francisco: come meet me at Double Union on the evening of April 18!

I’m in San Francisco from tomorrow (Wednesday) until Sunday! Most of the trip is a work trip, but I have figured out that I can make use of my Double Union membership when I’m in town and have fun, chill events in the space.

Double Union event: Button-making & crafts with Mary Gardiner

Mary Gardiner, our Australian member and a co-founder of the Ada Initiative, will be visiting San Francisco and wants to use our button-maker! Come make buttons and do assorted crafts (vinyl-cutter, 3D printer, sewing, etc.) and hang out with Mary and Valerie!

When: Sat Apr 18, 2015 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Where: Double Union on Valencia Street between 14th Street and 15th Street. See the visitor information.

This is open to Double Union members. It’s also open to non-Double Union members who are my friends!

For my friends

If you are not a Double Union member, and we’re friends, please email me at my personal address to let me know you’re coming. People of all genders welcome.

Please read the Double Union visitor information and the anti-harassment policy if you are coming along.

Syndicated 2015-04-14 18:43:04 from puzzling.org

Thursday 12 March 2015

A few scenes from the end of our week off work:

After dropping off a load of computer games we were donating on Thursday (OK, it isn’t only Diablo, Civ IV was a huge part of our lives in the late 2000s, so much so that it seemed like we had purchased more copies than strictly necessary), we went to the cafe at Bathers Pavilion, Balmoral. In the process we remembered why it is we never ever go to Balmoral despite it being so ridiculously beautiful, viz, the traffic on Military Road and the parking at Balmoral itself. But we were given the last table in the cafe and had pizza with cheerful napkins in bold beach colours and that made it all worth it.

Friday was our official day off together, and we started by going for an ocean swim at Coogee. This is a sneaky activity, evidently: years ago Alice went for an ocean swim and ended up spending a few years doing Can Too training and life-saving, because it turns out you just can’t say no to ocean swimming. As a SCUBA diver, I was sceptical; how can ocean swimming be anything like as appealing? But we went swimming with Martin once over the summer, and suddenly, here we are, choosing ocean swimming to open our morning off.

On the way there, I made a remark while changing lanes — “bad choice of lane, Mary, no lane biscuit for you” — and Andrew responded that Lane Biscuit sounded like a romance novel hero. We developed the idea fairly rapidly: an entire series of parallel universe romance novels, in which Lane Biscuit can be the hero in every single one. If you’re a literary agent, call me.

The swim was not quite as sublime as the one with Martin in Janaury. The shorebreak was pretty looking (tall thin waves) and dangerous, so it took us a while to pick our moment to get past it and then we swam back and forth between the flags and again needed to pick our moment to come back out of the surf. Plus, I really need new goggles as my current ones flood all the time. But nevertheless walking around afterwards was a happy time.

We went to The Boathouse for lunch afterwards and had our usual experience with Sydney dining, namely that one of the entrees was the best part of the meal and so the mains are great, but not quite as great, and the second half of the meal is thus a puzzle. But that was some lovely sashimi indeed, and where else does “a selection” of oysters?

Overall, I think it’s time to escape from our suburb a little more.

Syndicated 2015-03-14 08:19:55 from puzzling.org

The Sydney Project: Wild Ground

Last year was my son’s last year before he began full time schooling in 2015. I have spent the last year reviewing child-focussed activities in Sydney as “The Sydney Project”. Because V has begun school, the Sydney Project is concluding here with an activity he went to with Andrew in January. You can view previous entries throughout 2014 and early 2015.

Wild Ground

In mid-January, Andrew took V to a Wild Ground experience morning. Wild Ground is a new Blue Mountains business that conducts “creative nature-play” activities, and V had a morning adventure courtesy of us supporting their crowdfunding campaign to launch the business (see disclosure at the end). The event was at Minnehaha Falls Reserve; they began in the park with some singing and music before walking down the trail to a creek. Wild Ground’s Rick Webb laid out some “treasure” (coloured sticks) on the trail to encourage the kids to look around; they collected both the coloured treasure and anything else of interest.

Wild Ground art

The group walked further down the trail to a small watering-hole and then back up the creek itself; Andrew was taken with the lesson here about micro-geography (I guess you’d say), I’m not sure if that was deliberate. After returning to the top the kids snacked on fruit and had a chance to try slacklining and did some crafts with natural paints. Andrew says that V initially mistook the slackline for a finish line and thus had to enact a spontaneous running race, but that he was also the child who was most into the slacklining proper, which otherwise got a bit of a mixed reception from the children.

V fell asleep in the car on the way home, Andrew summarises as “Outdoor activity that wears kids out. Tick!” He didn’t think that V was enchanted with or overwhelmed by the experience, but that it was a fun day outside for them both.

Cost: an equivalent experience doesn’t seem to be available now that the crowdfunding is over. Wild Ground’s Creative Bush Adventures for older children are $60, and term-long Bush School programs start at $115.

Recommended: a bit hard to say, since I don’t think this precise program is an ongoing part of their activities. But it suggests their programs would generally be a happy and interesting day for children.

More information: Wild Ground website.

Disclosure: Andrew and I have known Danielle Carey, one of the Wild Ground founders, since university. I supported the Wild Ground crowdfunding at the Little Adventurer level, and V’s Wild Ground experience was part of the Little Adventurer reward. No review was requested in return for the experience.

Syndicated 2015-03-09 22:20:22 from puzzling.org

Thursday 5 March 2015

Andrew and I took some time off work this week to declutter our house in a very serious way: we emptied piles of boxes remaining from our last house move (3 years ago), we donated about ⅔ of our books and nearly all our computer games to the Lifeline book fairs, we assembled the Ikea wardrobe that’s been in flat packs for over a year since I impulse purchased it.

It’s an exercise in saying goodbye to some of the dreams and beliefs of the Mary of 15 or so years ago. Or not. For example, I’ve well and truly accepted that I won’t ever play judo again (my right shoulder would need a reconstruction first) and so giving away the gi was fine. I was sort of surprised we still had it. But apparently I am not willing to accept that just because it’s been 15 years since I took a recorder lesson that I will never seriously play again, and couldn’t bear to throw out the instruments or the sheet music. Perhaps next time. Giving away our games was somewhere in the middle: I’ve wanted to be the kind of person who finishes Dragon’s Age (or Baldur’s Gate back in the day) for most of my life, and I just never quite do. I can finish games in the Diablo franchise and that’s it. That said, it’s hard to know long term; the big problem with hobbies is, why would I have them and squeeze the very little time I feel I have with my family even harder? Once the children have hobbies of their own, it may be different.

Right now we’re in a bit of a maelstrom of change as it is. Still getting used to V being in school, which is further away than his daycare was and so the commute is longer. Still getting used to packing lunches, finding uniforms, managing his schedule for after school care, drama lessons, sports day (Tuesday), news day (Thursday). Work is churning a bit, I’ve spent my holiday flipping in and out of work tasks surrounded by seas of books and broken baby equipment on their way out of our house.

I think I may have started on a nostalgia kick going to see The Grand Budapest Hotel with Andrew at the Moonlight Cinema. Not because of the movie, but the venue. It’s an open air cinema in Centennial Park; I first went there in 2001 to see Lantana with Sandra. Andrew and I saw Secretary there, Yo Mama Tambien, Casablanca, Gosford Park, Priscilla Queen of the Desert… But all many years ago, mostly lugging one of my ludicrously over-catered picnics there from a Bondi Junction supermarket. (It’s not a picnic unless there’s cheese and dips and a few varieties of fruit and some cold meats and at least two breads, am I right?) It was always a good reunion for the university crowd who weren’t as naturally in touch over summer.

But when we moved to Hornsby we were about two hours on public transport away from it, and by the time we moved closer again, we had kids. Our kids are not the out-after-dark type: A in particular sleeps extremely well, but if and only if she’s in her own bed. And the last thing I want to do with my supposed free time is spending it interviewing babysitters and negotiating their availability with them so we haven’t gone out at night much at all in the last five years. But, I was under the gun over summer with V’s daycare shutting down for a break, and finally connected with a babysitter agency, and so now, as a side-effect, we can go out at night and the agency worries about finding a sitter.

And so, back to the Moonlight Cinema. It was a bit spooky, not least because the park has now been altered to suit the cinema rather than the other way round. I’m pretty sure they’ve removed an awkwardly placed tree, and very sure they’ve flattened the ground and laid new turf so that it’s not a game of claim-your-own-dusty-rut before the movie begins. It was already true the last time I was there that there was catering and so there was no burden of cheese-and-dips-and-fruit-and-all to lug in and to feel around for awkwardly in the dark. But it was still odd.

I’m still a young enough adult to be continually surprised how long ago some of my adulthood was.

Tomorrow we are having a post-clutter day, and going to the beach together in the morning followed by lunch at The Boathuse. Andrew and I have almost never gone to the beach alone together. Less nostalgia and more creation.

Syndicated 2015-03-05 12:19:00 from puzzling.org

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