Archive for January, 2013

Marsupial island

Posted in Journal, Travel at 19:31

Rottnest Island

On the 14th of December, I boarded a flight that went from Nice to Milan and on to Doha, where I changed planes and flew to Perth, Western Australia. I arrived a day and a half after I left, in the evening. The gracious friend who hosted me fed me a lovely dinner of spicy vegetarian stew, and the next morning, we took a ferry from Perth to Rottnest Island, so named by a Dutch captain who mistook the local marsupial population of quokka for rats. The Aboriginal, Noongar name for the island is Wadjemup, meaning “place across the water”.

Quokkas

Villas on Rottnest

There were indeed quite a few of the hoppity, tea-nibbling pouch-holders on the island! We humans stayed in “villas” (cabins). The island is managed by the Australian government. Villas are given on a lottery basis, to ensure as much equality as possible in the distribution. Indeed, one of the nicest things about being on Rottnest is that in spite of its undeniably gorgeous setting, the people who visit it are down-to-earth. Cars are forbidden except for those used by island management, so everyone gets around by foot or bicycle.

Rental bike, Rottnest

Making the most of my jet lag, I borrowed a friend’s bike on my second morning, at around 5am, and rode around a good two-thirds of Rottnest. I didn’t make it to the farthest end, instead cutting across at the narrow western part, since the hills and jet lag had started to fatigue me on the 7-speed rental bike.

Fairbridge Bluff, Rottnest

Peacock

Later that day, my friend and I returned to Little Salmon Bay, where I had the treat of my life, snorkeling amongst tropical fish. I had my waterproof camera with me, so not only was I able to take photographs, I was also able to shoot video! I’ll leave you with a couple of my favorite photos, and a video I took with several different types of fish. The crackling you hear in it is from the seabed; I heard it as well.

Synchronized swimming
These large, silver fish were everywhere, and swam in schools of a dozen to several dozens.

Seaweed
There were also seaweed and corals, stunning surroundings. Enjoy the fish as I saw them while swimming!

Belated New Year 2013

Posted in Biographical, Journal at 20:19

Seaweed

Belated due to traveling by air, land, and water (see above)! Here’s this year’s installment of the now-traditional meme I’ve done for three years: at the end of 2009, the end of 2010, and the end of 2011.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
– Visited countries in the Middle East and in the southern hemisphere, neither of which I’d set foot in before. (More to come on those visits soon :) )
– Wore a significant amount of clothes that I’d sewn myself – before it had been one or two items, but in 2012, probably 20% of what I wore was handmade.
– Wrote a book – more to come on this soon as well!
– Voted in two presidential elections (dual citizenship): France and the US

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Normally I don’t make resolutions, so there weren’t any to keep from last year. However, this year I do have a resolution:
– Act from a place of inner peace.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not of a child, no.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My UO School of Music Dean (from when I attended, 1994-1997), in horrific circumstances: Anne Dhu McLucas. No one who knew her would ever have imagined such an ending for her vibrant, warm personality.

5. What countries did you visit?
Australia and Qatar, with an absolutely wonderful time with a friend and other friends made once in Australia.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Last year I answered “I’m at a place where I genuinely don’t feel I’m lacking anything important.” At this beginning of 2013, that sentiment has actually increased, for which I’m immensely grateful. I would hope that 2013 continues to build on friendships and peace.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
– My Christmas-New Year holidays in Australia, without a doubt.
– Visiting Villa Kerylos and Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Personal growth

9. What was your biggest failure?
Again… I didn’t manage to get my bathroom water damage repaired. This is a priority for 2013, really honestly seriously, heh.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
2012 was not so great in the illness department. Lots of flus and colds, as well as a couple of nasty infections. No injuries, however. I hope 2013 will be healthier!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My media cabinet! It has been so nice to have a put-together living room, finally.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
In the two previous years, I answered that of my friends. This year, one friend in particular stood out: Sue in Perth, who so generously housed and fed me as well as showing me her part of the world. Thanks to her, I have warm and enjoyable memories for a lifetime.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
This goes together with the answer to 8, personal growth: this year I learned how (and most importantly, why) not to let others’ bad behavior get to me so much. So, no one in particular very much stands out in the negative, since I was able to move on from the consequences in good time.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, travel, food, sewing patterns and fabric.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Visiting Australia, naturally!

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Chemical Brothers music and the theme to Downton Abbey.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier, which I honestly didn’t believe possible.
b) thinner or thicker? Same.
c) richer or poorer? Richer, again, though that’s still not saying much :)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Playing my digital piano. I’ve been out of habit for so long that I still neglect it too much.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I’m thinking about this and can’t come up with anything, just as last year.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Hot. Very hot. 43°C/110°F hot. Meeting neat people and drinking stubbies (beer) in Toodyay, Western Australia. We had a great time!

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Stopped looking for it and enjoyed the friendships and love already surrounding me.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
“Downton Abbey” in spite of all its rose-colored upper-class faults.

23. What was the best book you read?
Do sewing patterns count? :) If so, definitely Vogue 8808 (this links to the dress I sewed from it).

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Nothing really stood out as memorable, although I did discover some new stuff, of course.

25. What did you want and get?
Meeting new friends and reconnecting with old.

26. What did you want and not get?
My stinking bathroom renovation ;)

27. What was your favorite film of this year?
The new Bond, “Skyfall”.

28. What did you do on your birthday?
Relaxed.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Wow, 2012 was wonderfully satisfying as it was.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Independent and soul-searching; self-made

31. What kept you sane?
As last year, friends and creativity, Kanoko and Susu (my cats).

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
Voting in not one, but two presidential elections: France’s and the USA’s

33. Who did you miss?
Faraway friends

34. Who was the best new person you met?
Last year I answered “Sue! We need to meet IRL too :)” and this year we actually did meet!

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
Taking the time to act with integrity towards my values and emotions is absolutely worth it.

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
This year is instrumental, no lyrics. Acid Brass: What Time Is Love?

Bonne anneé 2013 !

Posted in Travel at 17:51

Boat and Museum of Islamic Art

Can you guess where I was for the New Year? I arrived there at 4 in the morning local time and left just after midnight on the 2nd, giving me enough time to snap some photos. I’ll share more about my Christmas and New Year walkabouts in the days to come! In the meanwhile, I hope all of you had happy holidays, and here’s to wishing for a peaceful 2013!