Sunday, March 27, 2011

Earth Hour

Last night we turned out the lights and joined in with Earth Hour. Kids loved it and we all got an early night. There is something gorgeous about candle light flickering away.

I’m so glad we have energy at home. Not for the lights so much but more the telly and computer. Right now we are watching Tim Minchin versus the Sydney Symphony. He’s a legend and a Ginger. Take note I can call him that!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Orange cake, a made bed and erosion papers

Its one of those day where I need to sing out aloud
" I am woman here me roar"

or maybe I should just admit to being maniac

So assuming I'm not burning the whole orange poppy seed cake whilst I list what my day entails

1) Get up 6:30am to take the dog for a walk along the beach
2) Go shopping at the local markets for our fruit and veg
3) Feed the chooks
4) Make lunches for the boys and get them on the school bus
5) Go to the school canteen to help with training new volunteers
6) Help with the awesome mango/berry smoothie day at school
7) Race home and read over my paper thats due today. Fix a few lines then email it off (Ok so once again its half baked but at least I handed over something)
8) Check the cake is not burnt, actually I had to put it back, it was not cooked! Now it won't cool in time so I'll ice it at school after the assembly.  Fundraising for school. They are holding a cake stall for the election day.

9) Clean the kitchen (failed left it for the visitors and I came home to a sparkling kitchen- nice hey)
10) Attend the canteen meeting
11) Watch the kids school assembly
12) Make veg lasagne for the family (maybe I can offload this job too)
13) Greet my inlaws (yes I also made their beds)
14) Escape to Sydney with my hubby for a whole night with no kids

Its worth cramming a week into a day

BUT "DOWN TO EARTH" Readers wait there is MORE I made my bed this morning just like Rhonda recommend and yes its LOVELY 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Snakes and field work

Meet Mr Red Belly Black Snake. How this little mate made me jump in the field. Drinking tinnies during bushfires does not save lives. Actually evidence implies that this poor snake was drinking post-fire as he was not burnt but the tin is. His head got stuck and he never escaped. The second snake photo is much less scary.

I went to the same sites at Mount Bold, South Australia to measure erosion pins over two and a half years. The first year was fine as the vegetation was so burnt the snakes could easily be seen. By the last trip I was walking through vegetation up to my head just hoping no wriggling reptile felt like biting me. I carried a snake bandage just in case. It’s one of those tricky situations as a PhD student. Ideally you do field work in pairs so someone can call for help if you get bitten. This either requires a large budget to pay for field assistance or some dedicated friends. I actually didn’t want company as an additional person would only cause more erosion to my field sites. There were less than 5 snakes I saw during my fieldwork. It was still 5 too many.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Change is the only constant

I am the trailing spouse able to impersonate a chameleon by altering my situation to suit our family status. Sometimes my camouflage doesn’t work too well and the walls fall down around us. Before I had children change was easy as it was only my mind I had to contend with, but after having children there are three little people and my hubby all trying to adapt as well.

When I started the PhD it was prior to the birth of our third child. I had two children so I figured the change would be fine. Four weeks after beginning the PhD I was pregnant and content. Morning sickness made writing the proposal hard but we were settled in Adelaide with no intention to move until the PhD was finished. I had chosen an intensive field based project knowing we were living near my study sites.

My proposal was finished, I had scored a wildfire to study, grants had been obtained and my thesis was cruising until the move was announced. We were relocating to Wollongong (1365km away). I loved the beach, we were moving near my family and back to the land of bubblers but it was so hard to change.

The first whack of disappointment was the altering childcare options. We were going from a preschool where it cost AUS$50 for ten weeks to AUS$36 a day or the uni day-care option at $76 a day. Not to mention I couldn’t get into the preschool for 6 months. We rented for six months in a tiny hot house with no air-conditioning. I no longer had my network of parent friends and felt rather isolated. As a remote Adelaide university student I was meant to become part of the Wollongong uni community but as room was scarce I was better off at home.

Field work was a nightmare. I had to fly interstate each time leaving my family behind. At one stage my hubby was overseas, Mum had breast cancer and my Dad came to help. I flew out at 4am in the morning, spent a day in the field, slept on my work colleagues floor then flew back early the next morning. All in the name of “science”. Needless to say the data from that day of work was lost in the land of computer crashes. I flew back many times and the tears often rolled as I saw my old life and compared it to my new home.

It’s now been nearly four years and the change has been great. I love the Gong and our lifestyle is wonderful. Mum has beaten breast cancer for the second time. The PhD is still not finished but the hurdles caused by the change are an acceptable excuse for the delay. Trouble is if I keep using change as an excuse I’ll never finish this PhD! Change is a constant that will throw hurdles and provide wonderful opportunities. I guess the trick is to take the ride, smile and have fun.     

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Productive procrastination

I've been working on the productive procrastination today. Made a location map for my Ch 4 Case study on Mount Bold. Of course the computer crashed wthout me saving the final touches. Scary blue screen announcing I need to seek help. Reboot and away went that screen. Luckily the learning had been done on my map so fixing it didn't take too long. I'm backing up my stuff  now the computer is alive again . It was last year when I backed up at home. OK so the production has not been so great this year buts there's still plenty of work to loose. Gosh knows how long ago I backed up away from this house. If it burns down I'm in strife. Mental note to fix that tomorrow.

ps This is not my house. It was a training exercise at Verdun. Check out
South Australian Country Fire Service Promotions Unit for amazing photos.
We live far enough away from the bush for no direct flame contact from a bushfire however the sparks and embers could get us. Most likely reason for the house to burn down will be when I forget to turn the iron off or I leave the stove on. No worries about the ironing, I generally successfully avoid that wasted past-time. Actually the flickering electrical lights might cause it. Another mental note. Must get the electrician over to fix the house.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ambulance and the community

My poor neighbour spent the night on the floor. Its cruel getting old. He's fine. He fell over and couldn't get up. The ambulance was called to help him up this morning. As a nosey (caring) neighbour I popped in to check they were alright. I've been so busy in my own world I have not been over since Christmas. Whats happening to our community. Am I too focussed on my life including the family and PhD that I don't have time for nearby humans. The vege patch we tend to at their house is full of long grass. Its time to garden and care the for neighbours again. Its also time to stick the head back into the books.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Those questions

So many questions and comments from friends and family that mean well, but really it just digs at this stage of both studying and parenting. Guess I'm grumpy or would it be sensitive.


When do you finish? (ages away)

When did you start? (ages ago)

Are you still studying? (yep)

What are you going to do when you finish? (so so so much)

Who would employ you? (do you doubt I'm employable?)

My friend finished in three years (good for them, I'm green with envy)

Treat it like a job (I did but 6 years on, three kids, hubby, dog, chooks, parents etc I'll burn out)

Do you get paid to study? (yes but its peanuts)

Do you only get 4 weeks holiday a year (yes its a job but with little pay)

When X finished her PhD she had to work as a traffic conductor as she couldn't get a job (hmm that make me feel special)

Are you still studying the same subject you studied for honours? (of course I loved honours and it generated so many more questions)


Have you tried bribing the child to stop a medical problem? (as if we haven't tried everything)

You won't know yourself when they start school (so I have no idea who I am and I'm going to change overnight?)

What are you going to do when they start school

ps if you want to buy the cup above check out the cafepress web site,9873152

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Healthy School Canteen

We opened today with the new menu at school. What a buzz. We even served wholemeal bread. Gone is most of  the heat and serve crap. We had fresh sandwiches, toasties, woasties, frozen fruit, frozen yogurt and of course the staple meat pie and  sausage roll. We gave away free Smoozes as a promotion. Created a huge line of smiling kids.

It was a success. I confess much of the essential PhD time has gone towards setting up this canteen but it is worth it. So nice to volunteer and do something worthwhile. I can now be a canteen Mum without refusing to eat the food we serve the kids. Today I actually ate the food. Chicken, spinach, mayo woastie. Yummo. 

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