Listful thinking

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The Lists

Every year on my birthday I write a list of things to do in the next year.  There are no rules, except that the list has to be as long as the number of years that I’m turning and I need to know when a list item can be crossed off. The list tends to be a mixture of personal and work-related items, low hanging fruit and things that are more of a challenge. I haven’t yet managed to complete a list and some items have moved from one year to the next without ever being crossed off.  I always try and put the list on my computer desktop, so that I see it everyday and am inspired (or guilted) into working on the items. Below are the lists to date.

27 Things

27 things

28 Things

28 things

29 Things

29 Things

30 Things

30 things

31 Things

31 things

32 Things

32 things

33 Things

33 things

34 Things

34 things

35 Things

35 things

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34 things in photos – October

It’s been a pretty crazy month, with lots happening on the work front, but I managed to cross a few things of the list. The big challenge for October was wearing a dress every day, which turned out to not actually be that difficult. In fact, I think I have now trained myself out of being scared of dresses! We’ll see how long that lasts!

October highlights include:

  • Successfully completing Frocktober (#29)
  • Finishing knitting my infinity scarf – just a shame it’s not really scarf weather any more (#19 & #33)
  • Getting three(!) papers accepted into journals (I wrote about one over on my research blog) (#7)
  • Started playing around with my new old bikes (#23 – there’s still a lot of work to do)
  • Getting the cutest children’s book about penguins from a friend
  • Spending 2.5 weeks in Perth with the lad
  • Going camping with the new “swent” – a fancy double swag that’s big enough to almost qualify as a tent (#34)
  • Checking out the historic Freemantle Prison
  • Experimenting with taking star photos
  • One Wildlife Wednesday post (#30)

Unfortunately, there were three days when I forgot to take photos for the 365 day photo challenge. I think being in a different place, and working stupidly long hours at the same time, meant that I just simply forgot (It wasn’t that I got locked in a closet like one of my friends suggested!). I may have slightly cheated for one of those days and created an image after the fact but I think it’s a fair representation of the what the day was like!

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34 things in photos – September

Wow – how did September get to be over already?!  Another month that has flown by in what seems to have been an incredibly busy year.  This month I’ve been to four different cities in Australia and spent a lot of time in airports.  But I’ve also cruised the Brisbane River, hung out with water dragons, eaten a lot of pizza, got some new slippers, met some friendly firemen, spent time in the garden, made friends with a butterfly, fed some ducks, bottled homegrown olives, had a few beers and been out on my bike.

I’ve also managed to remember to take a photo every day this month.  Here’s a pictorial summary of September 2013.

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33 things – a recap

So the year of 33 has been and gone.  It wasn’t the most successful year list-wise but it certainly has been a very busy year, with lots of changes.

1. Climb a route out of the Melbourne book

Before I moved to Melbourne, I’d been getting into rock climbing at the local gym.  We’d all trundle down once a week or so and muck about on the indoor walls, trying not to terrify ourselves on the slightly sloping bits. I’m definitely not much of a climber and I’m not really that keen on heights but it makes for a fun challenge.  So when a friend gave me a book of climbing routes in Melbourne, it seemed sensible that adding this to the list as a way of getting out and about.  But alas, it never happened.  I did sign up to an indoor climbing group but never actually made it.  I’ve spent a lot of time sitting at the bottom of crags in WA watching the lads climb, and I did get dragged up a short face in a quarry in Perth, but that’s been the extent of it.  Slackness!

2. Bike to Akaroa

I’ve always wanted to bike to the little town of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula.  It’s a great windy road with spectacular views and punishing hills with the promise of cute frenchness at the end.  Unfortunately I left Christchurch about a month after I wrote the list and didn’t get a chance to make the trip.  But I’ll keep it reserve for a future riding excursion.

3. Start a postdoc position

I finished my PhD in 2009 and was self-employed for a few years but it has always been my goal to stay in academia.  Well I think it is…I tend to have this love-hate relationship with science and research.  I love it when it’s going well but it can be extraordinarily stressful at times.  So my desire to stay in science has been known to waiver a lot.  But I’ve never really figured out what else to do, so I tend to stick around and then something really interesting turns up and the cycle starts again.  I applied for an interesting sounding job in Brisbane and, through a series of fortunate accidents, ended up getting a postdoc position with the Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at the University of Melbourne.  The move to Melbourne has been a lot of fun and definitely stretched my scientific skills a lot.  I started a science blog to document (rather loosely) what I’m working on.  I’m blaming this on my poor efforts over here!

Proof that I'm (almost) a proper person
4. Submit an Antarctic paper

I’ve now had three seasons working in Antarctica on penguins and I’ll soon be heading down for Season Four.  While the bulk of the work happens while we’re down on the ice, I’ve also been working on a scientific paper that relates how well penguin chicks are growing with the environmental conditions during the breeding season.  I should really have finished this a while ago but it has been hard to find the time to finish writing this paper in amongst the rest of this crazy busy year.  But hopefully we’ll get it done before I head south this year.


5. Learn to play the ukulele

Learning to play a string instrument has always seemed like a good idea.  I can play the clarinet (badly) but strings have always been a bit beyond me.  I bought a guitar once and it just gathered dust under the bed while I blamed my stumpy fingers for my inability to play it.  I like the sound of the ukelele and the idea of sitting round with friends and having a sing-a-long (despite my extreme dislike of singing).  So when I learnt that my housemate in Christchurch played in a ukelele group, I thought I join in.  But I never quite got around to it and then I moved and……yeah – didn’t happen.

6. Submit an oi paper

Part of my work at Landcare involved trying to figure out how many burrowing seabirds lived on two groups of islands in the far north region of New Zealand.  It’s hard to accurately count the number of burrows on hilly islands with dense forest and even harder to figure out how many of those burrows actually have birds in them.  So I built some mathematical models to try and work out how many birds were there.  We did submit this paper and it has bounced around a bit.  Which I guess is the nature of publishing in science.  I’m currently working on some revisions, so hopefully it will be out some time next year.

7. Go cycle touring

I’ve been wanting to go cycle touring for a while now.  This has been spurred on by the escapades of various members of my famiy who have ventured through Nepal, Sri Lanka, China & Europe by bike.  My mum has just got back from a four month trip from Greece to Denmark.  By bike.  So it’s about time that I got out there and did my bit.  I’ve dragged my three bikes to Australia and  managed to gain another one along the way.  I even bought a book about cycle touring in Victoria using the train network.  But I haven’t got out there.  Yet.

8. Complete a half marathon

This has been a revolving item on all lists from the beginning and it still hasn’t happened.  In fact, I think I’ve been for 2 runs since I moved to Melbourne.  And neither of them were even close to being a half-marathon.  I think I might have to give up on this one for the time being.

9. Move to Melbourne


10. Go to The Brewery

Given I used to live about 600m from The Brewery, it would have been a bit ridiculous if I hadn’t made it to this great little addition to the Christchurch drinking scene.  And I definitely made it there … a lot.  Good times.  I’m looking forward to another visit when I’m back in December.

11. Be my sister’s bridesmaid

My little sister got married in February and I was honoured to be one of her lovely bridesmaids.  It was a beautiful Te Anau day with a beautiful bride and a lovely ceremony.  And beautiful bridesmaids!


12. Submit the shrub paper

Another research project I’ve been working on over the past few years is trying to work out what happens when you remove livestock from high country grazing land in NZ.  Do you end up with a plant community with lots of weeds or does it revert to a shrubby community dominated by native plants?  Livestock removal is generally been done for conservation purposes, so it’s important that we understand what the management implications might be – can we leave the system to look after itself or will we need to do lots of weed control to ensure that we end up with a native system that is an asset in the conservation estate?  It turns out that where we were working you mostly end up with native vegetation which is great.  I’ve hopefully just done the last round of revisions on this paper, so it should be out soonish (fingers crossed).

13. Learn a new skill

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make cheese, so I dabbled in this a little bit this year.  I never got around to making anything fancy but I did manage to make a reasonably good basic farmers cheese.  It was kinda similar to haloumi (in that it would squeak if you bit into it after frying) and pretty tasty.  At some point, I’d like to try something a bit more adventurous but I’ll try and post the recipe for this at some point in the near future.

Homemade cheese

14. Finish the crochet vest

I think I’m on the third iteration of this vest-making exercise and I’m still not really statisfied with how it’s going.  Not helped by the fact that I started ad libbing the pattern and now I can’t really remember what I was trying to do.  It’s time for the annual unravelling of the vest, so I can turn it into something else.  I have a vague plan – we’ll see if it actually stays intact (assuming it gets finished).

15. Go on holiday with the boy

I think when I wrote this I had grand plans of going on some proper holiday away somewhere for weeks on end.  Given that we live on opposite sides of the continent and I used all my annual leave to go to the ice, we’ve been doing well to actually see each other for more than a few weeks at a time.  But we’ve had some fun weekend trips in WA.  And then there’s this summer’s excursion to Antarctica.  It’s more of a working holiday but it should be super fun!

16. Cross the Nullarbor Plains

The originial intention of this list item had been to cross the Nullarbor Plains on the ground – by road or rail – but there wasn’t really time in the year for that.  But I did cross them eight times by plane – surely that has to count for something other than my ballooning carbon footprint!

17. Sell at least five things on Trade Me

One of the nice things about moving is that it’s a great excuse to declutter and why not make some money at the same time.  So I managed to hock off a bunch of my stuff to happy strangers.  Unfortunately for my poor mother and her overstuffed garage I didn’t really get rid of that much stuff.

18. Wear a skirt every day for a month (skirtember)

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that I am definitely not a girly-girl.  I’m just not that interested in those sorts of things.  And I’m kind of a little intimidated by it all because I don’t really know what I’m doing.  So, to convince myself that skirts aren’t actually scary, I decided that I’d wear one every day in September.  The world didn’t end and it was actually a lot of fun.  We even went cross-country skiing in skirts.

Skiing in skirts

19. Join a club

One way of meeting people in a new place is to join a club or group of people who do something you’re interested in.  It took me a while to make that plunge in Melbourne, partly because I was away so much during the first five months that I was here.  But then I found out about Meetups and I signed up for about four almost immediately.  Basically, they are groups of like-minded people who do stuff that you can link up with on the internet.  I’ve only really been active with Melbourne Cycling, a group of road cyclists who have rides most weekends.  It’s been a great way to meet some new people and find out about good places to ride around the city.

20. Live below the line

Ever wondered what it’s like to live in extreme poverty?  There’s a charitable event called Live Below the Line that aims to raise awareness and money to try and aid some of the 1.2 billion people that live in poverty around the world.  The idea is that you try and feed yourself for five days with the equivalent monetary amount that someone living in extreme poverty would have.  In New Zealand, that works out to be about $2.25 a day.  That’s less than the price of a cup of coffee to pay for all your food for an entire day.  Not surprisingly, it’s not an easy thing to do and it took two of us a considerable amount of research, a complicated spreadsheet and some creative cooking to pull it off.  But we managed to get through without gnawing on the couch and even had enough money left at the end of the week to have a celebratory cup of tea (but only by sharing the teabag!).  It was an interesting experience and certainly made me appreciate just how privileged we are.

21. Run 10 km a week for a month

If you’ve been paying attention the whole way down (well done by the way!), then you’ll already know that this didn’t happen!

22. Go cross-country skiing

And you’ll also know that this one did.  The second annual girl’s cross skiing weekend was a great success and came complete with girl’s skiing in skirts, tasty cupcakes, glorious weather and crochet by candlelight.  It was a shame to not make it to the Hawaiian-themed third annual skiing weekend this year – hopefully next year!

Crochet by Candlelight
23. Compete in a road bike race


24. Make Aunt Maggie’s slippers

I was given a lovely pair of handmade slippers last year and I decided that I wanted to try and make a pair myself.  So I made a pair for my housemate for her birthday.  I finished knitting them by candlelight while cross country skiing, so they weren’t even close to being the same size but it’s the thought that counts, right?  I should really make some more as they were pretty quick and easy to knit.

25. Crochet the Baby Boobie Beanie

It seems to be baby season at the moment, so I knew it wouldn’t be long before I had a candidate for the Baby Boobie Beanie.  It’s basically a boob-shaped baby hat that is designed to be worn while breastfeeding.  Pretty funny and fun to make.  I’m sure that there will be more needed soon.

26. Organise a stuff swap

We’ve been having clothes swaps fairly regularly over the past few years when everyone cleans out their closets of unwanted clothes and brings them along for an evening of trading.  It’s always entertaining to see what people have stashed away in the back of their cupboard and it’s always a good excuse to get together and eat lots of cake.  So just before I moved, I extended the clothes swap into a stuff swap where everyone bought along the random crap that had been cluttering up their houses.  Most people managed to get rid of unwanted junk and find themselves some new treasures, while all the leftover things were donated to charity.  My biggest problem was resisting the urge to pack-rat stuff away.

27. Have an awesome leaving party

I had an A-themed party to celebrate/commiserate leaving Christchurch after having been there for 6.5 years.  There were ants, aeroplanes, an adelie penguin, Americans, angels… and it was awesome.  I certainly have fond memories of my time in Christchurch and I love that it’s not really that far away.

28. Ride a Melbourne mountain bike trail

I have been for one mountain bike ride since I moved to Melbourne, so haven’t really justified the effort of bringing my bike over.  But it was a nice ride and I really should do lots more.  My excuse is that I don’t have a car which makes getting to the trails much more difficult.  But really it’s a combination of busy-ness and laziness.

29. Make ice cream from bananas

Okay, so I know this sounds kinda weird but it is totally awesome.  You basically freeze slices of banana and then blitz them in the blender with tasty things like berries or chocolate or peanut butter.  And you essentially get ice cream.  Only without the cream, so tasty and healthy.  I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.

30. Buy a fancy dress

Being a bridesmaid necessitates the buying of a fancy dress (& then fancy shoes to match).  Amazingly, it only took us a day to find a dress that we all liked.  There was some debate as purple and pink had been ruled out as colours from the beginning but we decided that it was officially plum, so that made it okay.  While the dress buying part was easy, there must have been at least 100 emails about jewellery!

Fancy shoes
31. Walk the Overland Track round Cradle Mountain

I never did make it to Tasmania, so didn’t get to walk around Cradle Mountain.  One day…..soon, hopefully.

32. Do something crafty at least once a month (SONDJFMAMJJA)

I think I managed to something most months, although I didn’t actually finish that many items.  There were some slippers, a couple of baby hats, a napkin for mopping up my lunch spills, a jewellery holder made out of an old photo frame, some work of the crochet vest, a started but unfinished crochet mat and an almost finished knitted infinity scarf.

it's true ... I do like penguins

33. Have an outdoor adventure at least monthly (SONDJFMAMJJA)

I haven’t done so well with outdoor adventures this year but I guess that’s part of living in the city.  Having said that, I seem to have got out most months and done something (although I do think my criteria for “adventure” is getting a bit less strict).  There have been numerous camping trips in Western Australia, five weeks in Antarctica wrangling penguins and the skiing in skirts excursion.  Good times.


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Mighty Midgets in Melbourne

We had a Mighty Midget reunion in Melbourne this weekend and it was marvellous. There were caterpillars in sleeping bags, and waffles, and markets, and stinky cheese sandwiches in the gardens, and museums (with lions), and mediocre coffee, and cocktails, and chinese, and more markets, and potatoes on a stick, and meat on a stick, and better coffee, and toast tongs, and even more markets, and gelato, and the beach, and pizza, and even better coffee, and curry, and more caterpillars. And lots of catching up!

Did I mention it was marvellous?!

Mighty Midgets in Melbourne

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This poor little bugger suffered a little frostbite in the garden but warmed up when i was taking pics in the sunshine. Unfortunately for him(?), i then put him in the freezer so that I could put him in the scanner. He’s still there (in the freezer, that is) but i’ll hopefully post some fun scanned pics when i get around to doing it.

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A royal west coast trip

We headed away for queen’s birthday for a monster west coast road trip which involved 1000kms of driving and surprisingly little rain. Left chch on a gorgeously sunny day with snow on the hills and headed over lewis pass to the coast. Spent quite a bit of time driving backwards and forwards in karamea trying to find a camp ground that wasn’t on a rugby field or in someone’s back paddock before heading up to kohaihai and the end of the road. This turned out to be the world’s best campsite (shhh…don’t tell anyone) – right on the beach with nikau palms and hardly anyone else around.

Kohaihai is at the start of the Heaphy Track (which looks ripper and is totally on my to do list), so spent a bit of time kicking around amongst the nikaus along the first bit of the track.

The Oparara Arches and the promise of blue ducks beckoned, so it was off on a fabulous drive along a windy, steep-arse gravel through some superb podacarp forest.

Unfortunately the ducks weren’t playing the game but the arch was pretty impressive and I spent lots of time salivating over interesting duck habitat. There were also some pretty impressive spiders hanging out in some of the caves in the area. Those things were massive!!

After an encounter with a couple of insistent weka, we headed down then coast to punakaiki with various stops along the way. Here ends the first installment of the royal west coast trip. I am supposed to be writing 2 papers today and so far I haven’t even opened a single relevant file. I’ll be back with more pics soon :o)

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Things have been busy and mostly unfun stuff, like getting 4 teeth pulled and the attachment of braces :o( Oh well…at least my teeth won’t fall out on their own accord. The pulling out of teeth was mostly uneventful apart from the last one which he broke and then had drill and then lever out in little bits. One bit of it got stuck to the ceiling! That’s how much levering was involved!! The grand lack of sufficient painkiller was not really so helpful and made the whole process somewhat less fun. The braces attachment process was fine apart from the three days of toothache in all of my teeth. They are relatively unobtrusive which is nice but i’ll be railroad track girl for the next 18 months or so – yay!

On a more exciting note, have been out and about in the hills quite a bit recently. Have posted a few panoramas from our avalanche peak trip in the weekend – stunning views and knee deep snow in places which was fabulous!! Will post more pics in the next few days when i get them organised :o)