Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spot the bridge ?!

Kholo Bridge - 2 days later!

And this is pretty much the same view as in the previous photo, but 2 days later! The whole bridge is now 3m under water!!! The main Brisbane water supply - Lake Wivenhoe, is just a few kilometers upstream, and on Tuesday night they opened the floodgates as the dam was overfull! Apparently the gates won't be closed again till Friday night, so not much hope of seeing the bridge again (let alone being able to drive over it!) until sometime late next week I reckon! Luckily the back way out is open now - though instead of a 15 minutes drive into Ipswich, it's now 35 minutes! And the way over the river is now over a weir and I noticed the water was only about 1m below that today!

It's funny - a similar situation happened just 2-3 months ago while I was overseas. Both my neighbour and my housesitters emailed me photos a bit like this, and I remember thinking - thank god I'm not there! Karma!!

I have been enjoying doing yoga with David Swenson - I have his old Primary Series DVD. It really makes me think I must practice at a much slower pace when I'm doing it completely on my own, as I'm breaking out in much more of a sweat than normal! My normal class starts up again next week.

Apart from that life is quiet. The weather is now improving, and I'm sure it's much nicer at the festival now. If only the weather situation had been reversed - nice at the beginning and awful during the end ... Oh well! I managed to spring Jedda from the pet motel (they normally won't let any animals out at all between Christmas and New Year!!) and she is very happy to be home - hardly letting me out of her sight  :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rain Everywhere!

Kholo Bridge - under water!
I drove home over this bridge yesterday afternoon. The water was just under the bridge, but the actual road-base on my side had been lifted up badly already. I was only just able to get over it without damaging the car! And this is the view (from my side!) this morning!!

Has been a real drama-filled couple of days! It's funny - people think "Australian Christmas" = "barbecue on the beach in the blazing sun". Well, it hasn't been like that this year. (Not actually sure that I've ever had an Aussie Christmas like that!) It has been raining and raining for most of December. Having committed myself to volunteering at the Woodford music festival, which involves camping, I've been watching the weather with increasing dread! The last time I volunteered at Woodford - 3 years ago, it rained a lot and it was just awful! My tent leaked, mud was everywhere!! And I said I'd never go back ... :)

So on Boxing Day I flew back to Brisbane, collected my car (pre-packed for Woodford camping!) from near the airport and set off for Woodford. In the rain! Once I'd registered I set off to find where my friends had set up their campsite. The internal roads (tracks really!) were just dreadful - worse that I'd ever driven on. I had to drive through these huge pools/puddles of water that I'd never normally dream of driving through. A couple of times the car bottom was scraping along the bottom!!! I was soo freaked out!! Eventually I found it, and Helen helped me set up my tent - again in the rain!! I was wondering how I'd ever be able to drive out again (a week later when the festival finishes).

I then went to the actual Festival site and did the orientation for the Internet Cafe (where I was volunteering). Was reasonably encouraged to see that the road out appeared to be in much better condition than the road in! And then went back to the campsite, sat and drank red wine with Helen and Michelle. Then when I went to bed I discovered some of my bedding had got wet! There was a stream about 2 meters away, and I kept imagining it getting higher and higher with all the rain, and flooding the tents! So somewhere in that night I finally decided that unless I felt better I would to go home the next day! Pack up my tent and everything, get the car out of the campsite into the main carpark and then do my first shift at the Internet Cafe, before leaving. I could always drive back from home to do volunteer shifts. Then I fell asleep!!

Next morning I did all that - though of course there was a bit of reluctance to leave when I was wondering around the Festival site looking for something to have for lunch. There is something very seductive about it, even in the rain! (But that doesn't include camping in the rain at all!!)

And, thinking that the Kholo Bridge might be closed, I decided to come home the 'back way'. But I discovered there was a torrent of water over the road that even a big 4-wheel drive wasn't going to attempt, and I certainly wasn't in my little car!! So I decided to check out the Kholo Bridge before giving up and seeing if I could go and stay at my Aunt's place. And luckily it was 'open', although there were 'closed' signs up, but pulled a bit to one side. The water hadn't got over the bridge (like it is in the photo above). But the tarmac on one side was all broken up by the water that had come up there, and it was only because people had made a way through that I could get across it without damaging the car bottom! And now this morning the river has risen again, as evidenced by the photo, so no way anyone is getting over it for a few days now! So it's lucky I did a bit of shopping before I came home!! Marooned for a day or two probably, after which I'll try the back way again!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Terracotta Warriors

I quite forgot to mention yesterday ... When we went to Sydney on Wednesday we went to a quite wonderful exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, titled The First Emperor - China's Entombed Warriors. The exhibition contained various artefacts from the time the terracotta warriors were created (and buried!) plus 8 of the warriors (one of each of the 'types') and two terracotta horses.

Now of course I've heard of these amazing - don't really know what to call them! "Things" doesn't seem right - they felt so real! But anyway, I haven't been to China (yet!) so had never seen them, and had no idea of the impact they have. I think it also helps seeing them really close up. It was a really touching and mesmerizing exhibition - all those 8000 warriors buried since around 200BCE, protecting their emperor. Whose tomb they haven't got to excavate yet - so much other archeology to explore!
Exhibition link

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas in Bowral

Lazy days down at my Mum's ... As if! Life is not like that with her, although she'd deny that! But lots of fun nonetheless!

Arrived on Sunday afternoon, and within a very short period of time we were off to the local cinema to see a preview showing of The King's Speech. With Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth (plus the lovely Helena Bonham Carter playing the Queen Mum - in earlier days). Totally wonderful film - hope it gets Oscars for its stars!

The next day it was all hands on deck to prepare for a dinner party that Mum had organised for that night! A few dramas but it all worked out and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Since then we've been up to Sydney for the night to have a pre-Christmas dinner with John, Gina and Peter in Peter's new flat. Which has absolutely no furniture in it at the moment - we even had to bring the chairs to sit on! But it was a fun night.

I've managed to find space to do yoga a couple of times too. Did standing one day and today I've done the seated poses (well, most of them!) Now I have to get back to cooking dinner ...:)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Magic Carpet from Marrakech!

Moroccan carpet at home!

Here's my magical Moroccan carpet in its new home! Although I have to admit that sometimes it doesn't look as tidy as this - Miss Jedda Pussycat seems to think it's her plaything to take running jumps at (or from) and slide around the floor on it ... in fact that it's her very own Magic Carpet!!  ... :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

this and that

I'm a bad blogger ... haven't blogged for ages - can it be 2 weeks?! And I'm afraid it's not that my life has been so full of exciting things I haven't had time to blog! Just the more 'normal' day-to-day stuff, the lead-up to Christmas etc etc.

Just one more week at work and then I stop till the new year. I'm going down to Mum's in NSW on the Sunday (19th). She has lined up some 'entertaining' - giving a dinner party the day after I arrive, and a few other things, including going for an early Christmas dinner in Sydney with the rest of the family - only one nephew left in Sydney now, since Jo and Emma moved to London a month or two ago! But we're all going to be having it at Peter's new flat (or apartment!) which he has just bought, which should be good! His first adventure in the wild world of property-owning!!

Yoga has been good ... until this week! Since I've been back I've been able to practice a lot more during the week (lunchtimes) than before - due entirely to being able to use my boss's office at lunchtime when she goes to the gym, or out to lunch, and her doing this more frequently! But this week I was sick at home on the only day her room was available, and I only managed a few sun salutes. So the only yoga I've managed to do this week is one regular class on Wednesday evening, and then a vinyasa class at the Uni gym at lunchtime today. Does that count? I don't think it does really, but when all else fails, it's better than nothing!

At least there's my normal Saturday afternoon class to look forward to - but this is the last one for the year. I'm hoping that my boss will get to the gym more days next week!!

When I go to Woodford (folk/music festival running from 27th December to 1st January) I'll be taking a yoga mat. They have quite a few different yoga classes,though no Ashtanga ones sadly! They used to say it was because it was considered too hot for an outside camping festival, but I noticed in the programme there was mention of a couple of Bikram classes, so I guess they've changed their minds on that!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

life returns to 'normal'!

Well, after my first week back at work (which seemed to never end!), I am settling back into 'normal' life. But I do still feel that lift that several weeks of wonderful new experiences/catching up with old (and new!) friends and family/being out of the daily routine, brings.

I have finally unpacked everything (this was brought on because this coming Saturday people are coming to stay in the bed that was covered with half-unpacked things!). Jedda pussycat is very happy with the new Moroccan rug, which she is taking as a place for her to sharpen her claws on (?!!!) and as a sliding game that she can take running jumps at! Sigh!

Can't say I've got back into cooking much yet. But next Tuesday Angela is coming for dinner and I'm going to cook a yummy Pasta and Aubergine (and cream) dish that Judy made one night in London. It's a Nigel Slater recipe from his 'Real Cooking' cookbook. This was one of the books that I got in London and posted home - everything I posted has arrived now.

And yoga ... I've got to class every Wednesday and Saturday since I've been back. And I've managed to practice quite a lot during the week (at lunchtimes at work). So I'm pretty pleased with that. However, last Saturday my practice was pulled back by R, or his assistant (who I think he uses to 'do his dirty work', or say things that the student won't like!) I was reading a blog yesterday - I think it might have been in Mel's blog, where she said something about how you have to go with how the current teacher teaches, whether it's at home or in a workshop or wherever ... And I do understand this, but it's still hard sometimes!

I've been stopped doing Marichyasana B and D, and have to replace them with that 'threading the needle' pose. Huge sigh!! I'm not even clear why, but a Mysore class isn't really the place for extended questioning that could lead to arguments (and tears!) if I wasn't careful! If I think about it (as I have A LOT!!) I'd guess the main reason/benefit of that pose is to open my hips. Which can't be bad, I know! There's lots of work to do there. But, but, but still ... !

In the end I have made a compromise with myself. I will do as I'm instructed in class (as of course I know I must, otherwise why go to class!) but when I practice at home/work I'm still going to do Mari B. I think I'll leave Mari D for a while until I can bind Mari C on a regular basis (as opposed to intermittently/occasionally!), at least on one side. It's that twisting around that I also need to work on, and if I can't bind in Mari C, there's no hope in Mari D! But this way I won't lose Mari B again, as I did before after I stopped doing it a few years ago when I was ill.

I'm also back to doing a modified chatarunga (well, my chatarunga was pretty much non-existent!) in an attempt to build up the strength necessary to do it properly. I'm OK about this - well, of course I'd like not to need to, but the fact is I do if I want to do chatarunga properly in the future!

Despite what I said at the start of this post, this has made for a challenging few days until I came to an accommodation with myself over it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back home in Kholo!

Well, safely back in Kholo at last. After a somewhat long trip home - two long overnight flights (London to Bangkok, and Bangkok to Brisbane) with an 18 hours stopover in Bangkok in between! Of course I can't sleep on planes unless I have a few seats to stretch out on. On each flight I was assured I would have empty seats next to me, and each time people came to sit in them! After this happened on the second flight, I then decided to 'bags' a nearby centre row of seats, but just when I was feeling safe there, a man was ushered into one of the seats as there had been a problem with his original seat! I just wasn't going to win! I gave up at that point, and spread myself across two seats instead!! I was so tired by only one hour's sleep the previous night, followed by a day wandering around in Bangkok that I did manage get 2-3 hours sleep then ...

Bangkok was of course amazing! I ended up getting a 'tour' with a guide and driver for the morning, to go to some temples (and of course the inevitable shopping stops!) I was glad I had - the maps I had of Bangkok were very misleading as far as distances went! Things that looked very close were in fact a long distance apart!

The above photo is of the face of the amazing reclining Buddha statue, which is something like 70m long. From memory the head is way taller than me! Hordes of people there walking around it, taking photos etc. But even with all that, it was really beautiful.

After I managed to escape from the shops I'd been taken to(!), and said farewell to my guide and driver, I went to the Jim Thompson house. Jim Thompson was an American who ended up in Bangkok after the war (WW2) and fell in love with it. He moved 3 old Thai wooden houses (made of teak) into Bangkok to be his home, and was very involved in getting Thai silk woven and marketed again. After he disappeared in the late 60s on a trip, his descendents gave the house to the Thai government, and it's become a museum/tourist place. Really interesting place to walk around and see/hear about all the lovely things inside it.

Got home yesterday, to a less than rapturous welcome from young Jedda pussycat, who'd been kept inside all morning to be there when I arrived home! But she did snuggle up in bed last night ... :)

Today I drifted around desultorily doing a few things, then in the afternoon went off to yoga! It was nice not to stop at navasana any more (after over 6 weeks!) But my balance in UHP (which went completely the whole time I was practicing in London at AYL) is still very dodgy! Hopefully it will get better over the next couple of weeks!! Tomorrow Helen is coming round in the morning to do some yoga, and of course be bored by looking at photos and my famous new rug! She did ask, honest!!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mari D thoughts, etc

Today was my 2nd-last time at AYL - for 2-3 years anyway. Flying out on Wednesday ... So, I'd been thinking about Mari D and how to approach it on my own, as I know my teacher in Brisbane will not be pulling me into that - either at all, or at best, not on any kind of regular basis! I'd decided to ask Hamish for his advice on what to do. I kind of imagined he'd be giving me lots of specific technical advice on how to get my arm far enough forward to wrap around, etc etc ...

But all he said to me was - it's all in the breath. Get your breathing right - equal inhale and exhale, and get the ujiyi breathing sound right, and everything comes. I actually think Dena may have said something similar.

Of course this appears all far too simplistic for my mind, which would far rather have some complicated instructions to "work on"! But I'm going to give it a try and see where it leads! I have so enjoyed practicing at AYL with Hamish. It's really been one of the (many!) best things about this trip.

Today I met another friend, Maggie. We went for lunch to Diwani's - somewhere we all used to go to a lot back in the 80s. Kind of a trip down memory lane! After some yummy South Indian food, we went to the Gaugin exhibition at the Tate Modern. That was a really lovely exhibition - I even bought the poster from the show. Hopefully I will get it together to frame it when I get home!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The wonderful Jardin Majorelle

We went to this completely wonderful garden in Marrakech - the Jardin Majorelle. When I looked at a postcard of it before we went there, I thought it must be coloured - it just looked too unreal to be true. But, it really is like that!
Jardin Majorelle

Just incredibly beautiful! Most recently owned by Yves Saint Laurent, who set up a trust so it could be looked after in perpetuity. But originally created by a Jacques Majorelle in 1919.

Jardin Majorelle

Full of amazing colours everywhere, like these tiled steps:

Jardin Majorelle

Friday, November 05, 2010

Few photos from Marrakech

our hotel in Marrakech
Our (very cheap) hotel in Marrakech

Marrakech street scene
Looking into a house from a souk lane

Wendi with the chicken man in the square
Wendi with the chicken man (musician?!) in the square one evening!

In Portugal and Marrakech

I'm back in London after 8 days in Portugal and Marrakech, and I hardly know where to start recounting (some of) the adventures we've had! Expect a few posts on the subject! Staying with Wendi in the Algarve where she lives is always such a pleasure. One of my very bestest friends!

Funnily enough, from being someone who 'couldn't see the point of yoga!', she now does Iyengar yoga, and took me along to a class the day after I arrived! Lots of use of blocks, straps and chairs, but it was interesting to see a different take on many of the same poses I do in Ashtanga ... However, I certainly won't be rushing to another of those classes!

Then the next day we drove to Seville to catch the flight to Marrakech - just an hour's flight. What an amazingly wild place that is! The main square (Djemma el Fna) is pretty much as I remember it from many years ago, but with the addition of countless motorbikes driving just everywhere! Down the little lanes of the souks, through the thousands of people milling around on the square, and day and night! I never did get the knack of just ignoring them and believing they wouldn't drive into me!

We ate in the square, managing to avoid the sheep's heads at a nearby stall (!), as well as on rooftop terraces with a birds eye view of veiled women sorting through piles of knickers to buy in the street below! And such wonderful French croissants and pastries every breakfast!

We went to the most beautiful garden, about which there will be a separate post. We shopped and bargained (though not very well, probably!) And I came back to London with a beautiful carpet that I had bought! I am quite sure I am going to be overweight on the flight back home!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yoga and some socializing!

Better late than never! Had a great weekend about 10 days ago (pre-Cardiff and Dublin)! On Saturday I met an old work friend Rachel, and we did our customary walk down Portobello Road, which was great. Bought some more old side-plates, which I can't seem to get in Australia any more, without paying huge prices. These were around the 1-2 pound mark, and will be put through the dishwasher!

Then on Sunday was the promised yoga meet-up! Because half the tube was out of action, it was easier for Kevin to get to Euston than Bethnal Green, so we went to AYL (my home away from home!) After practice we went to a nearby Pret for breakfast. Another yogi called Helen also came. It was lovely to sit and chat about yoga and Bali, etc etc. Hopefully I can do this again in the not so distant future!

After that I did have to go to Bethnal Green, to visit my friend (another Wendy! I have 3 Wendy friends!) This Wendy is totally into jewelry-making - she had made me a lovely silver necklace, and we spent the whole afternoon making earrings to match! What I mean is, she had me making them under her instructions! It was such fun ... Will meet her again for lunch before I go back, and am taking my Bali bangle along for her to cast a professional eye over!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Photos from Cardiff and Dublin

The beautiful new Cardiff Opera House (from the docks at the back)

Trinity College in Dublin, where the Book of Kells is displayed

Walking towards the famous Halfpenny Bridge over the equally famous Liffey River in the centre of Dublin
Walking towards the famous Sixpenny Bridge over the equally famous Liffey River in the centre of Dublin

Long liost sisters and cousins in Dublin
Long-lost sisters and cousins

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Travels to Cardiff and Dublin

Have been doing so much these past few days I haven't had time to write here at all! I've been in Dublin since Thursday (flying back to London on Sunday afternoon). I spent 2 days in Cardiff before that with Charles and Doris - very nice!

I'm going to write a separate post later about some of the earlier stuff (including Sunday yoga last week). But for now I'll just talk about Cardiff and Dublin. Had a lovely couple of days in Cardiff with Charles and Doris. Spent a lot of time going through Doris' quilting books! As well as admiring an incredibly beautiful quilt she'd made for the bed I was sleeping in (in her workroom) - of deep reds and oranges. I can't believe I didn't take a photo of it now! We also managed to fit in the obligatory visit to Charles' allotment (where we picked the last of the raspberries!), and then went on a drive to the Cardiff docks area which has seen a huge amount of redevelopment over the past few years. Saw the new Opera House, which is really lovely. (Photo will appear later!) Also the Norwegian church and a monument to the Scott Antarctic expedition. I hadn't realised that they had set off from Cardiff. Somehow I always think of Antarctic expeditions as starting from New Zealand, or Tasmania!!

Came back on Wednesday afternoon, and just had time to wash and dry some clothes and pack, before going out for dinner with Anthea, which was lovely too! And before I knew it I was on the bus to Stansted airport at 7.30 the next morning, on my way to Dublin for the grand sisters' get-together! I'd arranged to meet Carla (Irish sister) at Trinity College, as she had a lecture there. So that accomplished, we had lunch and then went in to see the Book of Kells exhibition. That was wonderful. Lots of information about it and the times beforehand, and then we went into a darkened room where we could see 2 openings of the Book of Kells (they have split it into 2), and also 2 other similar illustrated manuscript books. It was very peaceful and beautiful.

Yesterday Carla took me to this wonderful exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland. It was of 'prehistory' and included some amazing things, like an enormously long boat, probably the length of a redwood tree! And of course, some strangely moving exhibitions of bog people - bodies that had been found in bogs from many hundreds/thousands of years ago, amazingly well preserved. On some you can see the hands and fingers so clearly as if it was just yesterday. I really loved this exhibition. Not even mentioning the incredible section of gold torcs and other types of jewellery they used to wear way back when!!

After that we met up with some of the other sisters/cousins who had arrived for this big 'sisterly' get-together, and went off to the Art Gallery to a Metsu exhibition, also very lovely.

Today we have been to the Temple Bar Farmers Market, which I love, and then to yet another art exhibition, by Lavery. It was quite political - he was painting portraits of people involved in both sides of the Irish troubles at the beginning of the 20th Century. Very interesting, when I recognised the names!

We've also been doing a lot of great eating! Had a great family meal here at Carla's last night, cooked by her of course. Today we found ourselves in a great Mexican/Spanish tapas place for lunch, and in an hour or so will be going out for dinner somewhere else! I wonder if  I will even be able to do Marichyasana A (ed: let alone B, C or D!) on Monday when I finally get back to yoga! I have definitely been having withdrawal symptoms - have been staying in places with absolutely no room to put down a yoga mat, so I didn't even bring it! However, when I go to Portugal next week I will definitely make sure I bring my mat with me, and make a space somehow ... :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Plans are made to be broken!

Well, I had this great idea that I was going to go to yoga 3-4 mornings this week, particularly as I will only be able to go 1 or 2 days a week after this week. But life, in the form of a nasty cold/cough, intervened! I actually made it to Euston station on Wednesday morning before accepting that a) I didn't feel well enough, and b) I should not be going to that small hot space and spreading my germs to everyone there! So I turned around and went back home, where I stayed for the rest of the day.

Felt a lot better yesterday, but knew I still wasn't up to it, particularly as I had to go to Brighton to meet up with a couple of old theatre friends. So that's what I did. Met Fizz in St Pancras station and travelled down together. We had such a lovely time - eating, drinking and talking, talking, talking! Hopefully it won't be quite so long before we can do it all again!

And today I finally made it back to AYL ... Still feeling a bit out of it but determined to make the effort. Of course it was worth it and I was really glad I did. Once again Hamish got me into Mari D on one side, once again stunning me!

Off to the ballet in a few minutes with Judy and Charles!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

London Tourist!

St Pauls Cathedral skyline from the Millennium Bridge
This is where I was yesterday afternoon. Bit of an adventure actually. I got to St Pauls tube station and when I went to buy some water, discovered I didn't have my purse - only my Oyster card (London travel card) which I'd been keeping separately! Either I'd left it at home (possible as it had been in a different bag when I went to yoga), or it had been stolen!

At first I thought I'd just have to go back home - no money meant I couldn't get into the Gaugin exhibition at the Tate Modern, which was where I'd been heading. But then I thought this is stupid. I'm here now and there's bound to be lots of free stuff. So I carried on, and so it was! Picture below is of this amazing installation by a Chinese artist - millions upon millions of tiny ceramic pumpkin seeds! I was looking from above and all the people in there just looked amazing! (And my purse WAS at home, thank goodness!)
Pumpkin Seed Installation

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Marichyasana D!?!

I have always thought that Mari D was most likely a "not in this lifetime" type pose for me. It just seemed so ridiculously far away as a possibility. But today in Hamish's Shala, he got me into it on one side!!! I just couldn't believe it! (Mind you, he did say the right side was not possible yet without incurring a hospital visit!!!)

When I said something like this on my way out, he smiled and said 'nothing is impossible - it's all in the breathing!' I really do like practicing at Ashtanga Yoga London with Hamish. He is such a nice, humble person, but with an amazing capacity to see what people can do, and help them!

I'm going to practice there most mornings this week. After that, it will be just one or two mornings a week as I'll be away traveling quite a lot.

In London now!

Well, here I am in London now! Luckily it's not as cold as I feared (yet!), but I still went out and bought a thicker jumper/cardigan today (from H&M), and eyed up some wonderful things in Zara! Must tell Emma about that shop for when she and Jo arrive!

I arrived at about 7am yesterday (Sunday), and managed to stay up a all day till about 7.30, at which point I collapsed and slept for 12 hours! Feeling great so far today ... Yesterday Judy's two children, their respective partners and babies came over for tea. It was a nice English autumn afternoon, complete with home-made scones and Cornish clotted cream - yum!

Tomorrow morning I'm going to Hamish Hendry's Shala (pre-arranged by email with him!). I had intended to do a practice here today, but my room isn't big enough, and I just didn't get around to it. Hopefully I won't be too stiff!

More photos - from the gorgeous yoga space

Here are a few more Bali photos - mostly relating to yoga.

Going into the yoga space:
going into yoga space

Waiting for class to start:
before class starts

Me in the yoga space with rice paddies view behind me:
Susie in yoga space

And the view from where we had breakfast ...
view from where we have breakfast

And the view from where we had breakfast:

Friday, October 08, 2010

Last (morning) class

We had the last morning class today. There is a session this afternoon, but it'll be short - we're heading out to a last night dinner at 6pm.

The class was different. Dena and Jack both practiced with us just up to navasana, before finishing poses. The idea was for us all to be together. So if someone finished a pose early, they waited for everyone to come to stamistithi before moving on. As Dena said, we'd been following her breath all through the week (in pranayama, etc), so she wanted us all to be breathing and practicing together. With no attachments to what we thought we would like to be doing. It was lovely. We did a full vinyasa practice, which was something I'd not done before. Tiring, but rewarding!

Then because some people had to leave before this afternoon's final class, we did the sharing our experiences thing, which was veery touching.

Justw having a final coffee in the wonderful Tutmak cafe before going back to get ready for the final final class! Tomorrow it's off to London, for the next adventure! But I definitely want to come back to the next workshop Dena does here! We'll see how that goes!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Yoga and lazy day

Sitting in a cafe in a little street off Monkey Forest Road ... Having lunch and checking email, etc. I was tired this morning - possibly because I went out for dinner last night to a wonderful Japanese place, and drank beer! Not sure that's very conducive to getting up early to do a strong yoga practice!! Lucky I don't have any pressing shopping or anything to do! So I lay around reading the rest of the morning after breakfast, and just ventured out for lunch, very decadent!

I am stopping/stopped at navasana ... But there's so much in every pose of the practice as Dena says, so I am content. We are doing all of standing sequence led, which means at a cracking pace! In fact, because I normally take quite a while to set up in the UBH (standing balance?) I haven't got balanced by the time it's on to the next side/pose ! Oh well ... Today Jack (Dena's husband who assists), got me into the first side of Janu C. I don't know when that last happened - if ever! I can manage the second side, but never the first by myself.

In yesterday's afternoon session we went through the 2nd sun salute in minuscule detail. Also long discussions/try-outs of different styles of down-dog, and the reasons for each. I am learning a lot! Looking forward to whatever this afternoon's class brings ...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Photos at last

Just a few at the moment ... Views of the hotel

The outside bathroom wall ... (I don't have an outside bathroom any more!)
Bali bathroom wall

And statue (not sure of who, not Ganesh) at entrance to yoga room ...

More (many many more!) will follow later ...

Monday, October 04, 2010

First Bali yoga practices

,So, the yoga! The reason I am here in Bali ... ! Already it is very special. Dena is somehow not how I expected at all. (Why did I think she was tiny?!) In one way she's a normal Aussie girl (OK, woman!) But there's a real strength and control in there, and I know she is going to teach me so much, bring my yoga practice to a new level.

On the first afternoon we spent a lot of time with the breath (how nice!). Then we very slowly went through Surya Namaskar A, breath by breath, breaking each bit down. Ditto with Surya Namaskar B. Then just finished with a few gentle backbends. After that we sat in a circle (all 30 of us) and talked a little bit about ourselves, our practice, whatever. I guess the class is more Aussies than anything else, but there were Swedish people, Americans, Japanese, and a couple from Brazil!

Then this morning we went through the standing sequence led, before Dena 'let us go' to finish the rest on our own. Halfway through the sun salutes she stopped everyone to pull us up on the 'Upward facing dog' section. Reminding us all that this is the first backbend in the series, and that we should be aiming to bend the thoracic section of our back, not the neck or lower back (from whence comes back and neck pain!) It was really interesting - about how we had to first stretch our back by pulling from both ends, the toes and the head, so there is space to bend! I could go on about stuff she said, but I won't ... But I really tried to do this through the practice.

Bali workshop day 2

Best laid plans and all that ...wrote this yesterday and had planned to go to a fast Internet place in Ubud today so I could upload photos etc. But when I got down there, the electricity was off! However, I had discovered that there is limited wireless access here at the hotel, so have come back to pLay with that! Photos will probably have to wait another day ... This below is what I wrote yesterday to post.      

I'm going to write a separate post about the yoga so far (incredible), but wanted to write about today's 'trip to the countryside' with Sujana first. Such a sweet and unassuming man - I'm so unaccustomed to that! So, we set off on this drive up into the mountains. First stopping to see some amazing rice terraces - mind you, rice is grown everywhere here, including all through the grounds of this hotel - as photos will reveal soon!

Then on to a place that grows all sorts of spices and coffees. Coffee, cocoa, vanilla, ginger, ginseng, cloves, cinnamon - you name it! The owner (another sweet guy with an adoring little 2-year old daughter clinging to him!) reminded me that Indonesia used to be known as the Spice Islands. They served us up a variety of teas and coffees - including wonderful cocoa and incredible 'ginseng coffee'. That was the best! I had to buy some - I think it's just powdered ginseng mixed with coffee, but Yum!

Then we carried on driving up the mountain, through beautiful Balinese countryside, orange groves and up to the top wih a spectacular view of two live volcanoes! Nothing happening there I hasten to add, but evidence of the lava flow from an eruption about 70 years ago. Had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the view - vey nice! Came home after that to have a restful rest of the afternoon. I have arranged with Sujana to go to some Balinese dancing on Thursday evening. Maybe Maxine and/or someone else will want to come too.

I would never have done something like this - go off for a drive to the countryside by myself with a taxi-driver I hardly know - in somewhere like India! It is a completely different world here!  

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Friday in Bali

There is something to be said for writing with a pen. I wrote a whole note on the iPad to copy and paste into this blog when I got to a wifi cafe. Well, either you can't or I haven't mastered that yet! (Note: I appear to have somehow got the copied text in but mAybe a bit out of order. For info - that was written yesterday. The yoga workshop starts this afternoon. I'll get better at this soon!!)

Of course I am loving Bali. Who wouldn't?! The people are so nice and the countryside is so so pretty! Yesterday (Friday)Oi had a lovely day. Had intended to go down into Ubud to try a wifi cafe, and maybe go to the Monkey Forest. Then the taxi driver suggested a few other things and I thought - why not be different! So he took me for a drive through the lovely Balinese countryside, first to a silversmith place (where I ended up buying a nice silver bracelet, of course!) and then to this batik place, where they have demos of the batik process and ikat weaving. Plus a very large and wonderful shop! I emerged from that some time later with my travel money card somewhat lighter, having bought some very nice clothes, a sarong and a few presents for people.

After that he took me to the Bali Bird Park, where I saw some amazing birds, although a few not looking so happy, including a cassawary. But there were huge caged rainforest areas that you could walk through with the birds flying freely in there. Including birds of paradise. That was lovely.

Came home exhausted after that ... I really enjoyed driving through the pretty pretty Balinese countryside! Such a sight for sore eyes (if my eyes were sore, which they're not!) I think I'm going to go for another drive with him up into the mountains and more rice terraces on one of the days when there's only yoga in the morning ... Not the sort of thing I normally do, but it is so lovely, (and the people are really gentle and nice, and trustworthy!)

Now I'm back home, and in a little while I'm going to do some yoga. Managed a bit yesterday, but I didn't even get through the standing sequence. Hopefully better today. The workshop starts tomorrow afternoon and it'll be full-on from then! had been

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Notes from the Plane

Below are some notes I wrote on the plane to Bangkok. Happily in Ubud now but having a few problems using my iPad wireless in the internet cafe - so am reduced to using the awful PC and evenworse keyboard!! Hopefully I will get this sorted/find a better place soon!
Panic over the Virgin \airlines system meltdown meant I ended up getting another ticket on Qantas to fly to Sydney and connect with my flight to Bankok. I just couldn't risk missing the connection onto the Thai flight! It all worked out and now I'm sitting on the plane, tapping away on my iPad! Housesitters are firmly ensconced and no doubt glad to see me go!

Even though I've gone through Immigration (and had my toothpaste confiscated and thrown away?!), and I'm sitting on a Big Plane heading way north of Australia, it stil seems somewhat unreal. Maybe when I get out of the plane in Bangkok airport it'll seem more real. Certainly when I finally finish with airports and am out into the steamy Balinese head I believe I'll know I'm somewhere quite else!!

Amazing sunset arount the edge of the sky ... probably over Bali but we're flying to Bangkok. Sleeping there, then flying back down to Bali.

Watched the Ashtanga NY video on the iPad. Now as the plane flies through the dark getting closer to Bangkok I'm having a lovely time listening to devotional/inspirtional music. This is my Inspirational playlist:

Every Day of my Life - Aaron Neville
One Love/People get Ready - Bob Marley
Hallelujah Chorus - Handel's Messiah
Oasis   and
Downpour - both by One Foundation
Loving you Tonight - Squeeze (4 Weddings & a Funeral soundtrack)
Into the Mystic - Van Morrison
Love is all Around - Wet Wet Wet (another from 4 Weddings ... )
Can't Help falling in Love - Elvis Presley
As we Are - Cara Tower
Hare Krishna - Krishna Das with some throat singers (amazing sound!)
Om Jai Jagdish Hari - this is (or contains) a wonderful instrumental version of Arti

Got the last 2 off iTunes - happy to share further info to anyone who's interested!

I'd forgotten how awful internet cafe computers/keyboards can be!! Hope I can sort the iPad connection out very soon so I don't have to do this again! Plus I want to upload photos ... :)  But - Bali is wonderful (of course!) More very soon ...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Final countdown!

This time next week I'll be in Bali ... hopefully on my way to Ubud. In one way it seems quite unreal, but as I'm counting down the things I have to do/get/sort out, it is definitely becoming more real! I decided I needed to call a halt on buying new things (shoes, daypack etc) as it was getting too expensive, and if I need new things I'd much rather get them in some exotic/new place! So I'm taking an extremely old pair of shoes with me (I do have one new pair, plus some sandals!). And I'm not buying any more yoga clothes (I did have to buy some, as those I had were all falling to pieces!), and I'll take the old daypack I used 5 years ago! I think I'll try and clean it up though!

But my list of things to do is actually shrinking, finally! I'm also trying not to rush around doing too much these last few days. I work a long day as it is, and have been feeling quite tired in the evenings. Don't want to spend half the time I'm in Bali collapsed in a heap!

This is the place in Ubud where I'm staying, and where the yoga workshop is being held - Ananda Cottages . Looks so pretty - out in the rice paddies ...

Last week a friend of mine texted me to see if I wanted to go to a preview screening of 'Eat Pray Love' with him. It felt quite amazing to text back that I'd actually be in Ubud (the 'Love' part) at the time of the screening!!

The housesitters are coming on Sunday after lunch. I'm hoping to meet some friends for a late breakfast in Ipswich on the Sunday morning. Then on Monday morning it's off to the hospital very early (7am) for a final infusion of gammaglobulin to boost my immune system for while I'm away. Packing in the afternoon, and being picked up to go to the airport at 7.30am on Tuesday morning!

Woohoo!!!  :)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sleepy pussycat

Sweet sleep

This is partly an experiment for uploading photos into blogposts on my iPad, and partly just coz I can't resist sharing this. Mind you, I won't know if it's worked till I try to upload this! Anyway, here goes ...

Yeah - it worked! Meet young Jedda pussycat relaxing after a hard day chasing lizards, and snoozing!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Getting very close ...

... to when I fly off to Bali. In fact, in 3 weeks from now I'll be sitting on the plane waiting to take off for Bangkok! I'm kind of starting to panic now, thinking of all the things I need to do and how I'm going to fit them all in! I guess it'll all happen, and anything that doesn't, won't matter, but I'm still a bit stressed. Lists are getting longer (when they should be getting shorter!) and weekends are certainly not restful relaxing times anymore!

Having said that, I did actually have a fairly relaxing weekend just past! A friend from Byron came to stay while the Brisbane Writers' Festival was on. He's written a book about Christopher Isherwood and his spirituality, and was talking about it on Sunday. I went to his session which was lovely, and we also went out for dinner one night, and to see a movie. It was really nice to catch up with him again ...

The previous weekend was a mad rush - going down to Sydney on the Friday to do my tax, then catching the train to Bowral to visit Mum. We had a good day and a bit together, but then I had to leave at 8am on Sunday morning to catch the train back to the airport to get home to Brisbane. Mum is progressing in leaps and bounds - she is now actually driving again! There's not much I can think of that can keep her down for long!!

I'm managing to get to yoga quite a bit - in fact quite a bit of each weekend till I go is taken up with it. Can't relax the effort now just before the workshop - even if I wanted to which I don't. Just have to fit other preparations around it.

I'm sure there's more I could/should be posting about but I'm busy at work (oddly enough!) ... If I don't post again before I leave, then I will most certainly be posting from Bali, hopefully with lots of photos too!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Update from the past few weeks

Well, where have I been?!! Mostly too busy to post! I spent a week down in NSW helping my Mum who'd broken her arm falling over a few weeks earlier. I was there to help out for her first week home from hospital. With a broken arm she can't drive, and there's so many simple things that we take for granted that are either impossible, or hard, or you have to find new ways of doing! Luckily she was able to get community services help of one hour a day during the week. She gets the house cleaned, gets taken shopping, help with hanging out the washing, etc etc. Luckily she has a big network of friends who are constantly dropping in with food or for a chat, to take her or the dog out for a walk, etc etc.

Only managed a couple of yoga practices in that week, but since I got back things have been going well. I can actually see the results of putting in extra time/effort, which is pretty pleasing! I'm still mostly looking at consolidating my practice before I go to Bali. I know that I am unlikely to be able to practice some of the poses that I do at the Brisbane shala, as they have a different view on skipping poses to what I imagine Dena Kingsberg has! But that's OK - I'm happy to learn and improve wherever. (Although I do plan to keep doing certain poses in Bali in the privacy of my room, just so I don't completely lose them!!)

And I've booked my ticket to Portugal (going to stay with my friend Wendi), and most excitingly, she has booked tickets for us to go to Marrakesh (Morocco) for 3 days! Flying from Seville ... Oh it's going to be so great! That's kind of at the end of my time in the UK, so I've now got a great 10 days in Bali at the beginning, a great 3 weeks (only 3 weeks?, help!!) in London and the UK visiting family and friends, and then 8 days in Portugal and Marrakesh towards the end!

Happy sighs ... :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

snakes and health!

Saw my doctor at the hospital today before I had the monthly immunoglobulin infusion (IV-IG). He said everything was fine (which is what I feel!) Don't know what my blood counts were - they hadn't come through by the time I left.

As I've said before, I feel really healthy and strong at the moment.  I'm feeling my strength is increasing, generally and particularly in yoga. I have to enjoy it while it lasts ... Not being negative, but mostly I think most people aren't aware how important good health is until you get ill for more than a few days. It just colours your entire day if you're feeling even a bit off every day. So it's just GREAT to be feeling healthy and strong!!

 I ended up coming home and not going to work after the hospital - everything got so delayed I would have only been going to work for an hour! I was just sitting having a cup of tea in the late afternoon as it was getting dark when I glanced out the window to admire the new verandah balcony that was put in last week (still unpainted).  I realised I was staring at an odd shape twined around the railing. It was this really BIG snake - python really! I've never seen one as big as that here. Here is a (not very good) photo!

It would have to have been nearly 2m long!! Pity it was too dark to take a really nice photo (my camera was set on auto, and kept using a flash! Couldn't remember how to turn it off!) Anyway, last seen disappearing down the railings and over the edge of the decking to the ground below (this verandah is one level up from the ground).

Having a real yoga weekend this weekend. As well as my normal yoga class on Saturday afternoon, my friend Helen and I are going to do yoga together on Sunday morning! We haven't decided whose place yet ... :) And after that I think I'm heading up to some other friends (who live up a very rough track up a mountain!) to show off the new iPad and give her a go at my Airport Express (Apple product for wireless). They have a satellite internet connection that doesn't use a modem but a special phone, so I'm just not clear if they have the right type of connection on the phone to plug the Airport Express into (a usb connection). We shall see ...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Twitter and Masterchef

There's this hugely popular reality cooking show called Masterchef on in Australia at the moment. It's on 6 nights a week, with people cooking off against each other and against celebrity chefs. I have been totally sucked in this season ... All part of my renewed interest in cooking! And now I've discovered another level to it - watching it and twittering about it at the same time! It's got a huge following here. 100+ tweets in 3-4 minutes! Mostly commenting on the dish being cooked, certain contestants that people like (or don't like), the hosts and celebrity chefs! It is pretty amusing as long as you don't get too caught up in the Twitter stream, and forget to watch the cooking!

Apart from that I do believe I'm finally getting rid of the current coughing episode ... Thank goodness! I'm certainly feeling so much better, and without any assistance from antibiotics! I've been noticing I'm feeling physically stronger too. Hopefully this will roll over into my yoga practice.

Went to Sydney last weekend for my brother-in-law's birthday celebrations. A very nice evening, although the Chatswood house was utterly freezing!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Travels to (and from) Sydney - and beyond!

Heading down to Sydney again this weekend - just for one night. My brother-in-law John is having a big birthday on Saturday night. It'll be a lovely evening I'm sure - being held at his mother's place which is the same place as where Jo and Emma got married.

Apart from going back down to Sydney for tax purposes in August, I am now also having to fly out to Bali (via Thailand) from Sydney. The airline has changed its schedule since I booked, and if I wanted to fly out of Brisbane I'd have to leave a day later (which = one day less in Bali!) I seem to be doing a lot of backtracking in the first part of my trip!. I fly south to Sydney so I can fly north to Thailand, from where I will fly south again to Bali!! At least this time the flight leaves in the afternoon (as opposed to the middle of the night) and Thai Airways will put me up in a hotel in Bangkok before the flight to Bali. So that's probably a better deal, all in all!

And I'm interviewing the last (hopefully!) couple of potential housesitters in a few days' time, after which I hope to be able to make a firm decision, and tick it off on my list of things to do!

This evening I'm off to the (new normal) Wednesday yoga class, which is good. I haven't done much since last Saturday so I really need it!

Met some old workmates for coffee yesterday ... from the group that were 'restructured' last year (god it seems like much longer than that!) We had a good time being rude about the old place etc. We're all heading off overseas in the next few months. Beth is going to another 'old' co-worker's wedding in Canada next month. Emma is off on a 5 week trip round the States in August ... And then she comes back, and I go!!

And finally, back onto cooking ... on Sunday I made a spinach tart/quiche (again using the rich French pastry recipe taught to me by my Mum) and a tuna pie - both to eat during the week and/or go in the freezer. it's wonderful that you can freeze quiches. One day I'll get it together to take photos like Susan does on her Open Mouth Insert Fork blog. I do enjoy being able to cook on the weekends - there is very little time during the week for culinary exploits!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Posting from the iPad ...

I got an iPad ... My rationale was that it'll be easier (lighter) to carry overseas than my laptop. And if I don't like it I can always sell it afterwards. I'm still getting used to it. I haven't (yet) had an iPhone so I'm not used to this style of typing! Or apps etc. But a workmate who also got one ( sooner than me) assures me that you very quickly get used to typing on it. It must be easier than on an iPhone as the screen space is significantly bigger!

Yoga yesterday afternoon ... Am still trying hard to bind in marychiasana C. Richard has got me putting in 5 breaths in plank in vinyasas (not every one!) to help build up strength. I'd really like to be able to do urdva dhanurasana (wheel?) but have never had the strength to push myself up. Yet!!

Healthwise things aren't too bad! I'm coughing again now I'm off antibiotics but, fingers crossed I haven't been feeling sick or anything. See the coughing doctor in a week and will see what he thinks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Been a busy few days ... Had the big birthday long weekend for Mum down in Sydney and Bowral, which went very well. Lunch in a Sydney club, drinks with various different friends, then a big family lunch on Sunday at a very nice restaurant in Berrima. It was a very nice few days, and no one got too tired or anything!

I did give in and go back onto antibiotics on Thursday evening ... I don't like doing it, and I do know the danger of over-using them, but in the end I didn't feel I could get through the weekend without them! Thanks to them I am now of course feeling fine (just a little bit of a cough) and intend to make the most of the few days more I am on them before the downhill slide starts again! I did manage to make another appointment to see the chest physician in 3 weeks (not the 3 months I had to wait last time!) and I will stamp my foot and just demand that he find something to do! Even if it's another antibiotic that I can take for a long(er) time ...

And hooray - I'm going to yoga class this evening! Last Wednesday I was feeling too rotten to go, and of course I was away in NSW on the Saturday.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

health and yoga (what else!)

Well, I've been feeling a bit off since last Friday. Mostly it's to do with the coughing (bronchiectasis). It was so bad on Saturday that I didn't end up going to yoga - had to give myself permission not to beat myself up about that! But I have been feeling gradually better since then (though still not 100%), and so will go to yoga this evening. I did a few stretches/hip-openers at lunchtime today, as it's been a few days since I did any yoga (last Friday to be precise!)

To be honest, I've had to push myself a bit today to commit to going, but I have reminded myself that I do want to strengthen/move my yoga practice along in the months leading up to Bali. And one of the ways I am/was intending to do this was by trying to go to class twice a week. As I'm not singing in the choir for the next few months, I have Wednesday evenings free and that's good as it's really the only evening during the week that I can go timing-wise.

Apart from that I'm gradually ticking things off on the list of things to do before the big trip. I've organised to stay in Bali at the same place as the workshop for the 3 nights I'll be there before it starts. I had thought I'd go and stay somewhere else cheaper and then move in when the workshop starts. But really, I haven't been to Bali or Ubud before, so I don't know it at all. And it will probably be 5pm or later by the time I arrive there, so I've taken the easy (but more expensive!) option. And I've also put an ad for housesitters into a web-based housesitting place, and a couple are coming this Sunday to meet me (and hopefully Jedda!) and see if we all like each other. I've 'short-listed' another couple of applicants as well, and hopefully this can be firmed up soon.

I've also decided I'm going to post recipes etc. here sometimes. I made a really lovely cauliflower soup on the weekend (Jane Grigson recipe from someone else) and I will post that later on (I'm at work now).

And here's cute but somewhat disturbing cat photo from Flickr ... I cannot feel that this ended well for the wee mouse!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

much better now!

It took me till the middle of the week till I felt fully 'over' the previous few days, but now I'm feeling great again and have a much happier frame of mind!

Had a lovely practice at the shala yesterday. I was still a bit under-strength (having only managed 2.5 practices during the week <grin>) but it felt good. And I managed to bind in marichyasana B again (first time since I lost it after the whole lymphoma episode 3 years ago!) On one side only, but still great!

Today I've been doing things around the house/garden, including some cooking. Pretty pleased with myself as I made a good pastry case (for an onion tart). I never used to be able to make pastry - when I was living with Angela I always used to say - oh Angela is the pastry-maker. But that was a long time ago (10 years - can hardly believe it!) and I finally bestirred myself to learn from my Mum, who has always been the best pastry-maker I know!

I have lately become much more interested in cooking. Not that I wasn't interested before - I like food, so it follows! But for years I'd been in a real rut, just cooking the same few dishes. A year or two ago I started to get sick of it all, really wanted to cook/eat different types of food. Somehow it felt time to try different / new recipes - and by new, I don't just mean new to me. I mean recipes developed recently by new young chefs! (And no, I'm not talking Heston Blomenthal, or those mad chefs creating dishes in a test-tube!)

I did try buying a new cookery book or two, but somehow they didn't spark any great interest. Then in the past few months I've gotten sucked into a couple of cooking shows on TV - currently Master Chef. I remember when it was on last year for the first time, I never bothered. But because of rave reviews from people I respected, I started watching. And they have really caught my attention/inspired me!

Now of course, my Mum's onion tart is not a new recipe! It's one of the things she cooks that I have loved for many years!! But I've never even tried to make it before! And only started making pastry this year.  Now I've got quite a few cookery books on my wish list at the Book Depository (that wonderful place to order books online that doesn't charge any postage)! Just have to be careful what I'm spending money on, when I'll be going on a long overseas trip in just 5 months!!

And haven't even mentioned the Choir concert next weekend. Carmina Burana - I really love that music! I've sung it twice before, so I know it reasonably well. Just as well because I seem to have missed a lot of rehearsals this year. I think this will be the last QUMS (Queensland Uni Music Society) choir concert I'll be able to sing in this year. I'll be away (Bali and Europe - hooray!) for the 2nd Semester concert. I will try and see if I can sing in the Messiah concert at the end of November, but I'll have missed more than half the rehearsals, so it'll be up to the conductor to say yay or nay!

Here's a YouTube video (5 mins) of Carmina Burana 'highlights'! Have a listen - it's wonderful!!

Friday, May 07, 2010

health, not yoga

That's what this (long) post is about :)

I've had such a 'torrid' few days not sure if that's quite the correct word but it sort of sounds good! So, can't remember if I've posted about this here before, but after I'd had the chemo 3 years ago (for the lymphoma) they wanted to collect stem cells from me so in the (hopefully very unlikely) event that it came back, I could have them transplanted back into me. But I guess my bone marrow had been damaged too much and try as they did, they just weren't able to.

So, flash forward a couple of years and there's this new drug around in trials that is supposed to 'mobilise' stem cells (see, they are created/live in your bone marrow, and all your blood cells are created there and and then migrate into your bloodstream - amazing!) And this drug is supposed to be really good at bringing the stem cells out into the bloodstream so they can be 'collected', in association with the other drug they normally use (and which didn't work or work sufficiently for me). It got passed by the US FDA and also had to go through trials here in Australia. My doctor managed to get me into the trial as a 'poor mobiliser' (!) and get the drug before it too came off trial and was approved here.

So, on Thursday of last week I had to start 5 days of self-injecting the original drug (Neupagen), then roll up to the hospital on the Monday night for the night so the trial drug could be injected into me, ready for the stem cell collection on Tuesday. If all went well, it would only take one day, but if they didn't collect enough stem cells that day I'd have to come back the next day for a second round.

What could go wrong? What didn't go wrong!!! Let's start with side effects. I think I'm a magnet for side effects! The Neupagen gave me nausea and exhaustion and back ache/bone pain. I didn't mind the bone pain - that was the stem cells forcing their way out of my hip bones, so I could forgive them that!

Of course, that weekend was the big choir camp weekend - rehearsals all day Saturday and Sunday. I managed to make it for the mornings but had to go home and collapse each afternoon. Then on the Monday night when I turned up at the hospital they couldn't find the trial drug! The nurses tried to contact my doctor but his phone was turned off! I knew where it would be - in his offices on the ground floor to which only he had the key! So, this drug had to be injected 12 hours before they start the collection (a 4 hour process). And I was spending the night in the hospital knowing that nothing could happen the next day (Tuesday). Eventually went to work on the Tuesday morning, and the side effects of 6 days of the Neupagen drug were such that I only managed to stay for a few hours before going home (the opposite direction to the hospital). There I fed the cat, collected another day's clothes, and went back to the hospital again to this time successfully have the injection.

So on Wednesday they did the first stem cell collection. It's very weird. Your blood is taken out of a vein in one arm, fed into this enormous machine with a centrifuge in it that separates the different components of your blood. And they attempt to collect only the stem cells. Then your blood is fed back into a vein in your other arm. Your whole blood supply is cycled through this machine about 3-4 times apparently. And, for this 4 hour process, you have to sit on a bed and absolutely cannot move the arm that is feeding the blood into the machine. Even leaning forward, bends the arm. I can tell you it is very difficult to sit still, only moving one arm, (and not drinking anything for obvious reasons!)

So, finally got to the end. The stem cells were couriered over to the big Brisbane hospital that stores them for people (for years), and they checked to see if enough stem cells had been collected. No, they'd got about half the amount needed! By the time I hear this it's about 4pm, and I'm told I'll have to sleep at the hospital again that night (and have a second trial drug injection). I freaked out! I'd somehow thought I could sleep at home and come back in the following morning, forgetting about the need for the injection 12 hours before. Had to drive home again, get more clothes and feed the poor bewildered little pussycat again, before driving back to hospital. (Did I say it is about an hour's drive from the hospital to my place?!)

Anyway, 2nd stem cell collection on Thursday. This was the last attempt - I think I'd only been allowed two vials (worth $8,000 each off trial, no charge on the trial!) I wasn't sure whether we'd get enough the second time. There were apparently less floating around in my blood. But still, we'd all done our best. If it didn't work, at least I'd done everything I could to get these elusive stem cells put away for a rainy day. (Or so I told myself!)

Got home yesterday evening not knowing the answer (it takes a few hours for the results to come through). But when I rang the hospital this morning it was SUCCESS!! Apparently they'd collected more the second time. And I was soo relieved! At least all the stress and illness of the past few days had been for something!!

I hadn't even mentioned the fact that I'd also had a perfect storm situation of an increasingly complicated conference website I was supposed to be doing at work, combined with a deadline told to me at the last minute of smack bang in the middle of stem cell collection! Luckily I was able to hand that over to someone else to finish off - but until I did that it did nothing for my stress levels!

And now I'm at home recovering. It's amazingly stressful being in hospital. I'm not doing anything - not going to yoga on Saturday. My platelets are very very low and I can't afford to do anything that might bruise me. But I will get some yoga (at a slower pace) in on Sunday morning when my friend Helen comes over ...

And a big Gold Star to anyone who gets to the end of this very long post !!! Looking forward to happier, more normal days and posts coming up!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bali heat and Swedish cool

It was incredibly hot at yoga on Saturday afternoon - even though it's now well into Autumn, it felt  like it was hotter than the heights of Summer! Richard was helping me into Marichyasana C (nearly got it back now after 3 years of that pose lost in the wilderness!) Anyway, I told him I was going to Dena's workshop in Bali in October and he grinned and said - well, this is the temperature it'll be there! I, of course smiled like I already knew that (not!) But it's good to know now, so I'm mentally prepared ... :)

Went and saw the (subtitled) Swedish film of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' - first book of Stieg Larsson's wonderful Millenium series. It was such a wonderful film - really brought the book even more to life. And it was really true to the book too ... Lovely to see that icy brooding Swedish landscape. And the 2 actors who played Lisbeth and Blomquist were just wonderful. They've merged with whatever pictures I had in my head (from the books) of those characters now. Can't wait to see the other two films - they've all been made ... Highly recommended!

I'm still struggling with the cough from hell! I was on antibiotics, came off them on Sunday or Monday, but by last Wednesday evening I had a temperature and it was back onto them.  I actually saw my 'coughing' doctor (!) on Wednesday afternoon (an appointment I'd made months ago which fell due at a fortuitous moment!) and he again said that the IV-IG infusions was the best/most effect/only(?!) treatment. Basically he repeated that if I get a bad cough or cold or similar, it is very likely to get to my chest and start a whole coughing cycle that can go on for 2-4 months (huge sigh!) This is what happened at the end of February ... I'm feeling pretty good again now, with another 5 days of antibiotics ahead of me. But - last time I only lasted about 3 days off antibiotics! Oh well - I know I had this a year ago and it did go away - just have to hang onto that thought!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Loong weekend ...

Enjoying the long Easter break ... Today I went to my friend Helen's place and we did yoga on the verandah of their lovely old Queenslander home. Actually I nearly didn't go - I felt pretty tired this morning (after a very strong yoga practice at the shala yesterday afternoon!) but I knew that I'd feel differently if I went, and so it was ... ! There was a really lovely climber flowering beside me - flowers a beautiful dusty pink. Apparently it's an allamanda called something like Gypsy Rose - I'm only familiar with the 'common' yellow one. Must look out for it - I'd really like it in my garden. I can just see the spot, by the front door.

One of the things I've been doing this weekend is looking at the mess I've let my garden get into, and making a start on clearing away some of the weeds etc! The weather is finally a bit more 'clement' - ie. temperature down to an acceptable level for working in the garden. I have some plans to make a few changes, get someone in to cut down some very rampant growth, etc etc. Autumn/winter is a nice time for playing in the garden!

I've also been cruising the internet getting ideas for places to stay in Bali. The week of the workshop I'm booked into the place where the workshop is, but I'm arriving in Bali 2-3 days before it starts, and don't want to pay those sorts of prices when I don't have to. I'm just gathering some ideas/names at the moment. My whole flight is actually booked (and paid for!) which seems pretty surreal! I'm not leaving till the end of September for goodness sake! This is all way earlier/more organised than I usually am ... :) Still puts a smile on my face though!

Also went out with a friend on Friday to see the 3D Alice in Wonderland - Johnny Depp! I love those Tim Burton movies.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Holiday anticipation :)

Well, even though I'm still fighting off an awful cough,  I've felt incredibly galvanised these past few days! The thought of a week-long ashtanga workshop has really got me thinking about what I need to do to improve my practice before October. Apart from anything else,  I'm definitely going to start doing a version of pigeon-pose (hip-opener) a lot!  (ed: had to change this - I had mistakenly written 'kapotasana' which is a pose from the intermediate Ashtanga series that I seriously doubt I'll ever encounter in this lifetime!!) My left hip has got quite stiff these past few weeks/months and I need to put some extra work in there. (Made a start on this in class today!) I also need to 'retrieve' Marichyasana B ... I haven't been able to do it for a couple of years, since I had that big break from practice when I was sick/in hospital. That's one reason I need to get my left hip sorted out!

And then there's my new year's resolution of jump-backs. I'd stopped working on that when I damaged my shoulder (probably attempting jump-backs) ... Need to get back into that too.

Today I went into a travel agent to find out about prices etc. Amazingly, the flights between Bali and Singapore are all booked up already for that date in October - so I'm going to go via Bangkok instead. And of course I've laid my hands on a Lonely Planet guide to Bali!

 And finally the weather is calming down here - I may even be able to get out into the garden and repair the damage done by neglect (!) Due, I hasten to add to a cocktail of incredibly hot weather, alternating with extremely heavy storms, combined with me being too unwell (cold/bronchitis) to face doing anything on the rare day when conditions permitted ... excuses, excuses, I know!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just booked Dena's workshop in Bali!

I'm so excited - and a little bit scared! I've just booked to do Dena's Ashtanga workshop in Bali at the beginning of October ... wowwww!! It's for a week starting the 2nd October, in Ubud.

Ooh, it's all starting to feel real - the big 2010 overseas trip! After Bali I'm flying to London where I'll base myself with my sister who lives there. As well as spending time with Judy, I have lots of friends and family around the UK and Ireland to visit. And I'll also be spending 7-10 days with my friend Wendi in southern Portugal (though we may go to Morocco too!) I'll be away around 6 weeks ... (hooray for long service leave I say!) I had originally planned to go to London first (in September) and then do the Bali workshop on my way home. But I discovered that my plans didn't coincide with Judy's plans - she and her husband will be away on holiday for most of September! So I just swapped the times around - learning to be flexible ‹grin›

And ... a bit scared? Well, I guess it's just who knows what will happen between now and then ... :) I  remember the last time I booked a big yoga workshop in advance, I came back from India (to go to it in Sydney) with giardia and there was no way I could go! And having been sick, I know nothing is for sure! But still - I feel like I'm investing in the future!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February news (sort of!)

Seems like a long time since I wrote anything here. I came back from the wedding, and straight into a real firestorm at work. The normal pre-first semester start hecticness, added to the extra intensity of a big software upgrade, followed by difficult to solve database problems ... All of this got us very behind in the work that needs doing before the start of Semester 1. Ended up having to work overtime today (Saturday) to try and catch up. At least it was 'official', so we are getting paid overtime.

I've also managed to damage some muscle deep behind my shoulders (cannot remember its name  my osteopath told me!) a few days ago. And how did I do this? By practicing/trying to do jump-backs! (One of my new year's resolutions!) Sadly I've been forbidden to do any yoga (or go to the gym) until after I've seen the osteopath again next Wednesday. She did give me some exercises to do to try and strengthen those muscles, which I am obediently doing!

And for my upcoming overseas trip (in around September/October), I'm just waiting/hoping for an ashtanga workshop to appear in Bali or Thailand that I can go to on my way back from Europe, before going ahead and firming up dates and booking flights.  Although, knowing my past experience of trying to organise everything, I should probably not hold my breath waiting for everything to line up!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Wedding (part 2)

Where has the week gone I wonder?! I've been incredibly busy at work and I guess I've just been coming home and collapsing, with no thought of blogging or anything!!

So, I promised myself (and any readers who might be interested, though I know it's not really that exciting reading about a wedding of two people you don't know!) that I'd write about the wedding, just to keep the memories in my head, or on paper/somewhere! Just to get everyone straight with who's who: Jo and Emma were the ones getting married. Jo is my nephew - one of two children my sister Vivien had, before she died of cancer back in the late 80s, when the boys were around 6 and 4. John is their father. He re-married several years later to Gina who had two sons herself, slightly older than my 2 nephews. And her mother is a 3rd grandmother to them! So it's all a nice extended family - normal these days!

Jo and Emma's wedding - 02
The ceremony was actually held in the beautiful house of Jo's other grandmother (John's mother) in the late afternoon. This picture shows John in the room before most people started arriving. Emma walked down the aisle to a Scottish piper playing Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes (just outside on the verandah)!! It was quite thrilling actually (this is my Scottish roots coming out!) although amusing because Emma's parents are Latvian - no Scottish there! It's all coming from the other side of the family! My mother is/was Scottish, and my sister Vivien was born in Scotland.
Jo and Emma's wedding - 03
- John adjusting Bim's bowtie (one of his stepsons)

Jo and Emma's wedding - 11
- The bride and groom

Peter reading his speechAfter the ceremony we all mingled on the verandah and in the garden, drinking delicious French champagne ... Then Peter, my other nephew/Jo's brother, gave the best man's speech. I found it highly amusing that he had his notes for his speech on his iPhone and was reading them from there!!

After many many wedding photos we all moved off to Catalina, a restaurant on the harbour at Rose Bay. The whole restaurant had been taken over for the reception. This photo (below) is a bit misty but I think it's really lovely - Jo and Emma entering the restaurant through a shower of rose petals!
Jo and Emma's wedding - 28
We ate a delicious meal (I had a wonderful fish dish followed by creme brulee - my absolute favourite dessert!) and ate wedding cake, had more speeches and danced to a great jazz band. It was a really lovely evening - beautiful day in total. And Vivien was remembered and talked about by her children, John and us all, and we all knew how proud she would have been of her boys!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Wedding (part 1)!

Can't remember if I mentioned the big family wedding that was happening in early January. My nephew Jo and Emma's wedding happened in Sydney on Friday before last - I went down for a long weekend for it and it was a really beautiful wedding on a lovely summer Sydney day. But I've been so busy at work last week I haven't had time to blog. Although I did find time to upload photos to Facebook and Flickr in the evenings. And then I've spent most of today making this iPhoto slideshow of photos from the wedding (mine and a couple of other people's) - and then uploading it to YouTube! First time I've done that ... Mostly as a present for Jo and Emma, although no doubt a lot of friends and family will be interested to see it too.

Now it's late and I have to go to bed ... but I will blog more about the wedding (before I forget things!) in the next few days ... :)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Looking forward and looking back

It's a new year ...  a time for new beginnings, new focus, starting afresh ...

I don't really know if it's because of getting older (oh, surely not?!!) or because of having had a potentially life-threatening illness (non-Hodgkins Lymphoma), going through chemo and the recovery from that, the knowledge that remission isn't a 'cure' per se, and that I may well have to go through some sort of treatment again sometime in the future ... But whatever the reason, I do seem to engage more with the 'new beginnings' feel of each new year. I think about setting goals (new years resolutions) for the year, and look back on the previous year and what happened, how it went.

I had a look back through my January 2009 blogs to see what I'd aimed for. Before I go there, I should 'reprise' some of the things that were affecting me, health and otherwise last year.

Last January I was only a year and a bit out of chemo/recovery. I was also suffering from lots of bronchial infections/coughing fits and had only just started having the monthly IV-IG infusions the previous month. It took till May before the infusions had me turning the corner and feeling well again without the help of antibiotics.

The other big thing that happened to me last year was the whole 'restructure' thing we went through at work - starting from around September 2008 and culiminating in March 2009. It was incredibly stressful for all of us - fighting for our jobs as we were. Ultimately we knew it was a losing battle, but we really didn't want to roll over and let them 'do the dirty' on us without a fight. So we fought them every step of the way, with very few wins. But we stood up for ourselves. In the end I took another job at the University in a different department (the IT dept) on the main St Lucia campus. And I have to say it was a wonderful decision, and the outcome has been really good for me. I've been lifted out of my comfort zone (a very deep rut!) and stretched in many ways.

The only downside has been more travelling and a longer day. And less opportunities for lunchtime yoga.

So, what I was wanting to do with 2009 was see Maharaji (and I did, at Amaroo!) and try and put more into my yoga practice. I think I have been reasonably successful with the yoga aspiration too, considering all the health and travel constrictions 2009 had put on me - although it has been hard to find the time during the week.

And what about 2010? What aspirations and hopes do I have for this brand new year ... Good health of course, I always aspire and hope for that these days!

I do really hope (and intend to do what I can) to see Maharaji again this year too. Once a year isn't much but living in Australia it's usually the best one can hope for.

And in yoga - well, I've kind of been inspired by this YouTube video on jumpbacks and jump-throughs. I have never been able to jump back at all, but looking at that video, I think maybe I might be able to if I keep practising! So, this is what I am aiming for! To be able to jump back (and make a start on the jump-throughs!) And I really want to do this by September when I'm planning to go on a big overseas trip! So, we shall see what transpires.

(following para added a couple of days later as I forgot it when I was writing originally!)
The other thing I really want to do this year is make more of an effort to  socialise, to invite people over for Sunday lunches! I need to be pushed/push myself to do this because I'm a bit shy / lazy !! But I was a bit too reclusive last year - or didn't make much of an effort! I mostly just went out to the movies with a friend, and saw friends at Book Club. I need to do better this year - for my own sake!!

I wish for good health and happiness for everyone, especially family and friends. And a friend on Facebook who I've known since the 70s posted this today and I'm going to copy it here - it really took me back to those sweet and heady days! I wish it for everyone ... :)

May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you
And the pure light within you, guide your way on ...
(Incredible String Band - 'A Very Cellular Song')
(I do of course sing it to myself rather than 'read' it!!)


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