A Heidelberg wedding

Gum and kangaroo’s paw for a nod to Australia

The seed that started my 2017 tour of Europe was an invitation to a wedding in Heidelberg.  J is a friend I’ve had since 1999, when she was a boarding house supervisor and I was a student.  During the intervening years, we’ve both lived in Europe, and in different parts of Australia, but early on we formed a strong friendship via email when she was completing a part of her PhD in Bonn in Germany. When I lived in France in 2006, she was back in Brisbane, Australia, but in 2008 when I returned to France for a three week Women in Engineering conference/summer school, I spent a few days with her in Heidelberg. In late 2010, J visited me in Sydney for a weekend, and quite on a whim, I decided to go to Germany for a white Christmas.  It was a fabulously snowy winter, and I got to meet a number of J’s colleagues and friends.

The married couple

J met her partner T, at work, however returned to work for CSIRO in Melbourne Australia not long after they’d started dating (at least… that’s my recollection!). For a number of years they did a long distance relationship, but J found a job back in Heidelberg and they were reunited. In December last year (2016), T formally proposed, and they set a date of 20 May 2017.

A candid photo…! This was after a long (formal) photography session..

I’ve never attended a German wedding, and J is also quite naturalised as an Australian, so there was some variations on German wedding.  For example, at the reception, games and skit/performances are quite common in German weddings, and this wasn’t largely done.  That only happened to the smallest extent – there was a tub of sand they had to dig through for treasure….  And a projected address from a whole heap of famous Germans (Angela Merkel, a football star, Darth Vader etc) I assume wishing them all the best.

The bridesmaids had to help decide on which shoes; and where to pin the something old & blue
Bridesmaid selfi – me, Karen and Eva-Stina

The wedding ceremony was held in a lovely old church in a monastery.  I was so perplexed being told that the pew decorations were being double sided taped – I’m used to pews having a ‘head’ or something similar, with which one can loop around.  Nope – not these modern, minimalistic pews! And sure enough, at least two arrangements in their glass test tubes did become detached… 🙁 The test tubes were a gentle nod to J’s chemistry background, and I don’t know about T’s studies and work, but perhaps his too.  So much so, at the reception, the lolly table held things in beakers and test tubes in racks.

Lolly table!

It felt like every detail was attended to – in the sense that, it feels like all the lovely things were there, nothing was forgotten or struck off.  Here’s some of the lovely details

  • every pew had a floral decoration (not every second etc)
The quartet is playing 🙂
Pew decorations
Gorgeous sister of the groom’s kids
Final blessing
Page boy awaiting the blessing of the rings
  • plants and little vases to decorate the low stone wall
  • floral napkins to put out with cakes, croissants and quiches for after church
  • a coffee cart, which also poured and distributed champagne (or similar)
  • bikes to cycle between the ceremony and the reception, complete with helmets!
Handy panier for my bouquet and clutch
The bridal couple had left, and the entourage was leaving the monastery
  • lace bows for attaching to car antennas (which I made with my room mate); but the florist who’d decorated the bridal tandem bike, had left wired bows to decorate the bikes
Marriage is like riding through life on the same bike?
  • sushi snacks for cocktail hour at the reception
Cool or what?
  • tablescapes that included
    • placeholders were little glass jars with a chalk label and bowled lollies inside with T heart J and similar
    • coasters with ‘Advice for the bride and groom’
    • love hearts out of novel pages & wooden cursive ‘love’
  • a table set up for children – with colouring books and mini lego
  • bathrooms with make up wipes and sanitary items (and pew flowers (roses) which I’d rescued and mimed to the florist we could reuse)
  • a lolly station (despite there being about 6 dessert options in a pick and choose layout)
Yes three steaks – on from Germany, one from Ireland, one aged
A sorbet better the collection of starters and the mains. You could have sparkling wine or gin added – what a PUNCH!
Dessert – including pavlova

It was such a wonderful night (and day!).  The bike ride between the locations was a lovely part of J & T’s story, and it was SUCH a lovely day to do it.  Everyone waved and clapped and honked their horns.  And I didn’t fall off.  I may have been a little immodest riding in a dress, but it’s not that uncommon either.  The reception was lovely and leisurely, and we were seated with really interesting people, who spoke English and German, so were wonderful at summarising speeches and helping decipher the menu/blackboard, though some things just aren’t translatable: mashinis was mashed potato in a martini glass, and was to be served as a midnight snack 🙂  That being said, I think we left after 1am, and fresh from having desert, so the midnight snack was shelved.

Humming Puppy Yoga

So a very dear friend and blog reader gave me a great birthday gift – she named it an Advent calendar and the concept is to do different ‘bucket list experiences’ each month together.  We started with my birthday dinner at Momofuku, and then things slowed down!  Of course, I have things I want to see and do that didn’t feature on her 12 months of birthday fun Advent calendar, and I got busy in March doing all sorts of fun things.

The light ruins what is a lush waiting area

One thing she’d earmarked us doing was Humming Puppy Yoga – funny name right? It’s a yoga studio that has a resonant frequency going at all times, as well as being constantly at 27 C.  Warm, but just right.  This weekend, I went along to try it.

Sneaky snap – bit blurry sorry

I selected the class based on timing – 2.30pm would work well around church (as it was a long Palm Sunday service).  The class at that time was called Mellow Yoga which sounded like just what I’d feel like on a Sunday afternoon!

I almost need instagram for this!

This place is next level on chic, hipster, boutique exercise.  It’s like first class style.  The waiting area and bathrooms were stunning.  I’d settle just to ‘wait’ for someone and never do a class and die happy!  They are upstairs from a tea store, so there’s two teas to sip, or coconut water or filtered water.  Luxury right?

A photo of their flyer

The studio is the third or top level of the building. The room was wonderfully dark for the session with only muted lighting and a lit candle.  The session was an hour long, and it was blissfully relaxed and over before you knew it.  My friend S said it was an expensive place for a nap, but cheap for therapy – and it really is a hybrid of the two!!

Yellow is so happy

Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete visit without dropping in on the tea lounge.  Again, jaw droppingly gorgeous in style.  We had Ginger lattes and some fancy snacks (you know, all goey and power foods but nothing like conventional food!)

The counter top is also broken tile – wonder how cleaning goes?
I’m coming back til I’ve had every mocktail!
Every inch is stylish!

I’m not sure if I’ll do expensive yoga again, but I want more of those drinks!!

I’m still here

Yep, I’m still alive – as my few infrequent blog readers would know, as I pop in and comment on your blog.

I’ve had a few months without internet, so that’s explains the dip in posting.  And I’ve moved house.

Here’s hoping to more posts soon…

Checking in

Hi readers…!

First I have a new laptop on trial from a friend.  It has a touch screen, and folds in half to be like a tablet.  It’s pretty cool, and annoying as I work out its quirks and work out how to make it work how I like.

And, I’m back from three weeks in Europe, so I should post many many photos and share all my thoughts (I sent regular emails to my nearest, so I plan to repurpose those for you 🙂

So, I’m alive, and hopefully this weekend, I’ll draft a stack of posts for y’all!

Speak soon – when I work out how to upload photos to this new laptop…

Laptop loathing

So… My laptop is in disrepair.  It seems to have evidence that it was built in 2008.  It’s a ‘hand me down’ from my mother’s work.  She doesn’t work there anymore either.

This right hinge broke first
This right hinge broke first

I think I put up with it, and my greenie, eco warrior-ness means I don’t like to say or think that I want a new laptop.

I don't even know when or how this 'in the middle' piece' escaped
I don’t even know when or how this ‘in the middle’ piece’ escaped

But… this laptop is annoying me enough that I just avoid using it.  I just, sew wonky stuffed animals:

Hand crafted (mangled?) by myself
Hand crafted (mangled?) by myself

The honest truth is – I have NO idea what I want in a laptop.  I mean, I want it to have two hingers, OBVIOUSLY.  But I’ve melted and fried a few laptops, and I no longer ‘need’ a laptop, like when I was a university student writing assignments and thesis’

A dream laptop would be second hand, just work, have a decent battery life (more than 45 mins at least, that’s fair right?)  And a good screen.  Not big.  not super reflective shiny, just, good.

The situation must be getting dire when tonight I was shutting down the work laptop and considered taking it home.  This same laptop has some internal loose wire, meaning it takes some firm slaps after a few attempts to start up, to start up with the hand drive.  So hardly a beacon of hope 100% of the time.  It’s fine without adventure.  But work comes with meetings, and I physically go to them.  And I note take cause gosh darn, other people just drop the ball or offer excuses. And you can’t nail a slimely salesman without written evidence.  That being said, nailing seems to be something a govt organisation seems to be remiss at…

See, I work now from 7am – 5.30pm.  It’s pretty standard.  I ‘can’ leave at 3.30pm, but given the noisy roudy workers leave then, I usually eagerly await that moment of chaos (moment = 1 hour) to pass, and then work on ‘inbox zero’ – filing emails, replying, adding things to the next days to do list.  5:30 has become a personally set deadline, as I like to listen to a radio program (Triple J Hack mentioned in the last post).  It starts at 5pm this week, to make it one hour long.  I seemed to assume it’d run later… So perhaps an incentive to leave work earlier just this pre election week?

The past two laptops I purchased (new) I outsourced to a friend.  I gave him cash and a ‘wants list’ (many USB ports one laptop, a floppy disc drive another time!) and he had to set it up.  He did.  I was content.

I don’t know what processing speed I need.  How much RAM I need…  And honestly, I don’t even want to start to research these things.  What’s ‘enough’?  What’s ‘so slow I wanna smack it’?

So Lucinda, you’re my most local reader – if you have a hand me down, I’ll pay for it… 😉


Brexit & war on young people

Unrelated thoughts that I want to ‘rant’ on.

I audibly gasped when my brother sent me a message, from the UK where he lives and works, that Brexit won. I know it’s reductionist, but I can’t thinking the xenophobic, immigration hating people.  And since it’s happened; I’ve seen other perspectives.  It may result in better trade for Australia with Britain with our cattle etc, as the EU has some strong agricultural limitations on trade.  Interesting ‘pro’ I’d not considered.  So far, though, the markets hate it.  And I think, like my workfroce undergoing restructure, people do NOT like uncertainty.  It could be 2-4 years until Britain fully disentangled from Europe.  The whole ‘Brexit’ camp have sold the idea that financially, they’ll be stronger – but no greater ‘how’ or plan…  So it shall be very interesting few years.

ABC, Australia’ public broadcasting network on radio and TV, ran a program called “War on Young People”.  I haven’t watched the TV program, but the preamble and the follow up on radio has got me very riled up.

First, young people, things don’t just come to you.  You have to work hard.  You both work hard at university, or not, but you also WORK HARD.  You will need to do work, hard work, to get ahead.  And… wanting something enough isn’t going to mean you “deserve” it.  I might actually ‘love’ to be an interior decorator.  But I work – I do something that is needed, that earns me money.  If I had chosen a different education path, I expect that it may not have had such profitable incomes, or as secure jobs with full time working weeks etc.  I don’t love my job, and not ‘work’ a day in my life.  I really enjoy my job BECAUSE I work hard, and that work brings rewards.  (to be clear, it also drives me bat shit insane at times too, but the majority of the time, it’s rewarding).

I don’t think Baby Boomers have ’caused’ the Gen Y to have less full time employment, a portfolio career. I think our economy and our race to reduce costs to increase profits, or the pursuit of growth, has resulted in a fractured workforce.  It has necessitated casual work, and non standard work hours.  It’s a slave to the ‘consumer’.  And in a tie back to topic one, I thought was unrelated, however, I do think the restrictions in the EU around Sunday trading, or round the clock big box stores, ARE for the better of the people, and perhaps, as has been the case in passing years, not for the economy.

I do think that property is expensive.  But I don’t think property should be something you can buy without ‘work’ – the work of savings.  I do think that owning a home, the cost to own a home should take a proportion of your salary.  I don’t think a mortgage + international holidays + all night booze ups + a new outfit every weekend and another hundred things aren’t anyone’s entitlements.  Buying a home was something I wanted to do, so I didn’t buy any clothes for a year.  And I’ve never had all night booze ups – and I’m happy to take the teasing – it’s resulted in me what I wanted (or one thing I wanted, which was to own property).  I do think negative gearing is a poor economic tool that’s being exploited by some.  I will also admit, the idea of negative gearing and capital gains tax is something I am and will likely benefit from.  So I have a bit of a tug of war on that Australian Federal election issue.

Overall, no, I don’t like that there is more casual work.  But I know why it exists.  And I do actually see the economic logic of not paying people for a holiday or a sick day.  I appreciate that I have these benefits, currently, in my full time job, but I remember moving from casual jobs to this one, and being aghast I could have no work, but I had to ‘act busy’ and I would still take home the same salary.  It just seemed disingenuous.  But I like that I can go to the grocery store at 9pm.  Or fill up on petrol after 5pm.  And casual work is part of how these unpalatable working conditions have been introduced.  What I find challenging is that staff, Gen Y, who have well paid, permanent full time jobs, who don’t work hard.  And then complain that they don’t have more overtime, or a pay increase.  That entitlement is galling.  Truth be told, of 45 staff, there’s probably as many Gen Y who are like this as other generations – I see it more as a personality trait, than a generational attribute!

I think I’ve run out of rant steam – but comment as you wish, and I might start back up!

PS I’ve partly had posting anxiety because I feel I must have graphic.  You all read novels. You can manage without pictures.  Sometimes.

Thai massage

I love massages.  I’ve spent upwards of $100 recently to work on the soreness in my shoulders 🙁  I have worked very hard to find a massage place that suits my preferences – relaxing, but effective.  A sense that they know what they are working on, and focus where it’s needed.

I have come to the conclusion that I don’t love all massages.  I particularly don’t like Thai massages.

When we travel to South East Asia, we regularly have Thai style massages.  On a trip to Vietnam, we have found out, retrospectively, that we were perhaps at a massage location that wasn’t *just* for massage!  It was dark when we got upstairs, which should have been a tell tale sign.  The masseurs of these full service massage parlours tend to either wear low cut tops or short dresses.  At this couples massage, the woman sucked lollies and unwrapped lollies during the massage.  Approaching the end, she also pulled the curtain between me and the BF.  Since this massage, I’ve been even more leery of massage parlours, and their true purpose.

A robe - it's the little (reusable, washable) things that make you feel special.  Slippers... were not taken home Lucinda ;)
A robe – it’s the little (reusable, washable) things that make you feel special. Slippers… were not taken home Lucinda 😉

Another component of my discomfort comes from the strong representation of certain ethnicities in massage parlours.  It makes me assume, rightly or wrongly, that there may be some level of exploitation.  I’m not above wondering if human trafficking may be at play.   I have the same worries with the nail salons, which I also frequent.  Aside: I asked my nail lady, Kate, if she liked her job a while back.  She gave me a look that said ‘you’ve gotta be kidding lady’ and since then we’ve been a little more frank!  Her English is great, and it goes a long way to forging better understanding.

The price of Thai massages also strengthens my suspicions about less than legal conduct with wages.  IF a Thai massage can be from $40-$60 per hour, but a comparable physiotherapist massage or a location that allows for a health insurance rebate is seldom less than $100.

On the weekend, I went with the BF to his preferred Thai massage parlour, which I’ve been to once before.  The BF goes there more often, but I’ve usually said I’d rather not.  Given I’ve had some wonderful recent massages (at a location where I feel more sure of the legal employment of the masseuses, and the style is remedial et al) I thought I should try a Thai massage one more time.  I even went for ‘non deep’ so I wasn’t put off by the pain component 😉

Alas, I didn’t enjoy it.  I knew I didn’t like the scent of their balm, so I skipped that.  I found the pressure OK.  What was the problem then? I didn’t like the focus on my arms.  I don’t understand all the foot and leg massaging.  And, in our couples massage room, once again, the BF’s masseuse was sucking on a lolly. Took me right back to Vietnam. Not a fond memory.

No thank you – no more Thai massages.

Random ramblings

A book I gotta read!
A book I gotta read!

Saw this book in a local bookstore – it’s about a woman who worked in fly in fly out (FIFO) mines in Australia – and was the only female, and only Muslim with her ‘tea cosy’ (scarf)

Skateboard decks make a chair
Skateboard decks make a chair

Creative!!  This is in the same street where I used to live.  It’s becoming hip and cool with every passing year

Something I think I want to live my life by
Something I think I want to live my life by

Wesley Misson

A good week!!
A good week!!

For those who read this post.  I had a cousin’s wedding on the 15th April, so it was a great motivator

Food prep the un-glam photo
Food prep the un-glam photo

To achieving that weight loss, I batch cooked.  I made (prepped, not all cooked yet a week later!)

  • carrot fritters
  • cauliflower ‘bread’ for ham & cheese toasties
  • stuffed mushrooms (neither of us ‘like’ mushrooms, but with yummy fillings we ate them as a snack)
  • turkey patties with spinach and feta
  • baked ricotta – with Indian spices and lots of spinach
  • marinated pork neck
  • green salsa (apple, celery, cucumber)
  • ants in trees (not made at all, but all the ingredients for it… for tonight’s dinner)
Christmas Gift experience
Christmas Gift experience

The BF got me a voucher to one of the highest rated ‘Escape the Room’ in Sydney.  This one is in The Rocks.  We did a room based on our ‘senses’ which had three rooms, including one that was pitch black.  Only 20% of couples get out in the 60 minutes.  We got out in 63 minutes, so we’re pretty chuffed.  We got hints, but they were involuntary (we didn’t ask, they were offered).  The ‘hosts’ were pleased, cause when you fail to get out in time, they have to talk you through all the clues to escape.

I have no idea why AnExactingLife came to mind when I took this photo?
I have no idea why AnExactingLife came to mind when I took this photo?

Hilarious images

Blog 011
Another thing that I thought of my brothers who love Lego, but also AnExactingLife
Quirky cards
Quirky cards

I just need to recall where I took these photos when I’m in need of a cheeky card!

Jewelry organisation options
Jewelry organisation options

I’m big into having my jewelry in a way that will ensure I regularly wear everything.  Lately, bracelets have got the short straw, as they are tidily sorted like everything else (see posts here & here).  Whilst I like the glass option, I think my skin would crawl with the feeling of trying to ‘scoop’ things out, so might want to felt light it.  The top right two pictures would be IDEAL but the op (thrift) store wouldn’t sell them to me, as they like to use them to display their items for sales.  The bottom right two are both in a second hand store, and are solid wood (which I love!), but not sure it’s fit for purpose.

Cute things on a Friday night out
Cute things on a Friday night out

Yep, that puppy was out for dinner, and the panda bin was in my friend’s place!

Thoughts? Comments?

Super Tuesday & the US elections

I’ve never cared much for the US political system, though lately I have been reading The Economist more, and found myself in the US at a critical (probably one of many) time in the race to the presidency.  I bought an Economist magazine prior to leaving Australia which meant I was ‘up to date’ once I arrived, and slotted straight into CNN’s Republican debate Thursday week ago. (sorry, I tried to queue this up unsuccessfully)

One of the presidential candidates businesses....
One of the presidential candidates businesses….

As a mildly engaged person in this electorial race, here’s my thoughts

  • Trump is definitely charismatic – he speaks to the Everyman and that’s proving to be VERY powerful
  • Trump gets ‘attacked’ by Rubio and Cruz for being a supporter of left policies – socialist health care, pro choice etc.  I can see this being part of his appeal, as he puts himself as the fence sitting candidate, or the more moderate right voters.
  • I feel all the Republicans are woefully lacking in understanding the threat that North Korea is (maybe I am – but the place seems so poor that it’s ability to threaten the US seem unlikely)
  • I bemoan the families in politics. The Bush family.  The Clinton family.
  • I do appreciate the overall diversity of three of five of the strongest candidates – a woman, and two candidates with Latino names. And then there’s Dr Carson (an AFRICAN AMERICAN) in the Republicans! I commend that!
  • So much time and energy is spent on selecting a leader and all the rhetoric, but in reality everything will need to be approved by Congress or similar.  Compromise is what government is about – so no matter what pledges they make, it’ll be diluted over time.
  • I hate fear mongering: the dole bludgers, the illegal migrants ‘stealing’ jobs.  The whole argument is as bad the name calling.  So rarely is it based on facts, but instead on emotion.  And what annoys me about emotion?  That only ‘certain’ emotions are acceptable.
  • It seems that money drives how many candidates stay in the race. This just seems ridiculous to me – the endless fundraising!  And honestly, no matter the policies, I have every assumption that there’s ‘no such thing as a free lunch’.

I took the time to do a quiz on which candidate I would back.  It didn’t surprise me that I was 94% for Sanders – the Socialist candidate.  I was surprised to see myself making qualifications for some of my more generous or open minded ideas.  I’m not sure if that’s due to three years with the BF who is a strong business advocate, or my role in ‘management’.  I may not like the idea of the nepotism, but I can’t be sad to see a left learning candidate that is a female leading the US.  And if I was asked to vote to the right, my thoughts would probably go towards Kasich – from the tiny amount I’ve read about him!  He seems compassionate, experienced and reasonable.  But in the CNN debate, he hardly had a moment to shine – it’s was a Trump show, and when others were speaking, it was often to attack Trump.

Overall, I don’t feel like the USA is the strongest nation.  It can’t be strong when it has such an under paid and under supported working class in fast food restaurants, or cleaning hotels.  I worry about a country whose allowed companies far too much power, how can it be ok to list ‘artificial and natural flavours’ and leave it at that?  How can companies opt out of Workplace Health and Safety?  How can states NOT have income tax? I even rile up that the price of something isn’t what’s marked – tax is added later, and then if it’s service based, then there’s tipping – it feels like businesses opt out of structuring their business in a way that can pay their staff a wage.  I do agree it can improve service (but it’s still not always as good as it could be), but it’s like bumping the livelihood of someone onto the whim of peer pressure to tip!?

On the other hand of all my negative thoughts, I am heartened by start ups and new technologies.  We used uber and lyft countless times – it was simple, it didn’t feel any less safe, and I feel like it allows disruption the status quo.

Seeing more of my readers are not Americans, what are your thoughts out there, fellow Aussies, Canadians and other readers?

Mental health first aid

The past two days, I’ve been on the NSW Central Coast learning how to do first aid – for mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, pychosis and substance abuse, including touching on suicide. The trainer said we’re a pretty cutting edge to be training in this, so that always feels nice.

I learnt SO much, and it was an ‘opt in’ course, which meant everyone WANTED to be there, and often had much to share.  I was delighted to find three staff who came with less than 24 hours notice of the course.  I didn’t think to suggest it, as I didn’t think anyone would be interested – there’s no financial reward!  And as a manager, I’m not the ideal candidate (but due to my gender, and the generally few women in depots, it also makes sense – it’ll not be staff who report to me who’d likely come and see me, but I also like being educated about things that may still affect my staff).

If nothing else, this cartoon helps understand what sympathy is and how it differs from empathy.

There was lots of myth busting

  1. Talking about suicide – literally asking ‘have you had suicidal thoughts?’ and ‘do you have a plan?’ does not risk the chances of suicide.  Usually, the respondent feels a weight lifting that someone noticed and cared enough to ask.
  2. Substance abuse disorder is an actual mental health condition, but often in addition to, or masking/self medicating another mental health condition.
  3. Psychosis – don’t refute or agree with any hallucinations.  Like with many other symptoms, empathise how that might feel (scary!) but don’t try to ‘prove’ it’s all in the mind.
  4. Anxiety is more prevalent in women.
  5. Cannabis can ‘switch on’ paranoia and psychosis with one use if someone is genetically predisposed.
  6. Handing crying people tissues isn’t advised – it can be interpreted as showing your discomfort with tears.  Just have them easily accessible, but don’t offer them.
  7.  Almost all mental health conditions are recoverable, and certainly manageable to return to a suitable quality of life
  8. Many smokers use it as a way to treat a mental health conditions.
  9. People who have panic attacks often avoid exercise as it can mimic the symptoms.  And panic disorder can result in agoraphobia, because on the fear that there’ll be no one to help and care for them in a traumatic experience that they think will kill them.
  10. The main difference between heart attacks and panic attacks is… panic attacks have a fear of death.  Heart attacks find people focusing on the pain.

I hope I may have taught you something (and I hope I got things right from memory!)