Category Archives: Photos

Tree project

Week thirty seven

Well, there you have it. No more leaves on the fig tree. I was going to say that this was end of it but I have plans of doing a time lapse thing with the photos at some point.

Tree project

Week thirty six

Yet another very busy weekend, filled with lots of riding and general de-stressing from the week that had been. Nearly back to the point I started at. And I have to admit I’ll be glad when it’s done. One week of very wintery weather before it’s even officially winter and most of the the leaves fell off.

Tree project

Week thirty five

Didn’t forget, just busy. I’m amazed at how quickly the leaves have changed colour. One week of wet weather and now they’re yellow.

Tree project

Week thirty four

Tree project & my review of Thor

Week thirty three

And seeing it’s Free Comic Book day today – my review of Thor.

Based on the Marvel comics, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. I had expected it to be all raaaaaaaawr!! watch me hit people with my hammer!!! (*sniggers*) but what I didn’t expect it to charm me as much as it did. Thor (the character) was incredibly charming and courtly whilst at the same time being immature and hot-headed.

The film is essentially a coming-of-age story. When we first come across Thor, he’s arrogant and a wee bit irritating. He thinks only of the glory of war and being a warrior. He does something rather stupid and his dad, Odin, banishes his arse to Earth to grow up a bit. Odin also takes the opportunity to separate Thor from Mjolnir, his hammer and the source of his power. He places a spell on it that will stop the unworthy from wielding it (ie: Thor). You can work out where the story is headed from there.

Chris Helmsworth does a fine job as Thor. He does the arrogance of Thor just right but is just a good when banished to Earth and is in a sorry state. He also seems to have rather good comic timing. And the scene where he has his shirt off… my, he was buff!! *fans self* He had great on-screen chemistry with Natalie Portman who played scientist Jane Foster (originally a nurse in the comics) who has a habit of hitting him with her car. Their fledgling romance is quite believable.

I was quite surprised when Natalie Portman signed up for the film. It was reported she did so because Kenneth Branagh was directing. Not the most obvious choice for director but a good one as he brought a Shakespearean deftness to the film. There were quite a few scenes that could’ve turned out horrendously melodramatic but with Branagh’s guiding hand, the scenes played out quite beautifully – especially the confrontation scene between Loki and Odin and the one later on between Loki and Thor.

I quite enjoyed the scenes where Thor was trying to explain to Jane about Asgard and how magic and science are the same thing for him. I especially loved the inclusion of the World Tree. Neil Gaiman writes a lot about Norse mythology and the World Tree so I was really pleased with its inclusion as it’s a mythology I’m really interested in. (Highly recommend Gaiman’s American Gods and I must admit I found myself wishing Odin in the film was a little more like Gaiman’s Odin.)

This is my one of my favorite Marvel films, pipped at the post for favourite by Iron Man. It’s not too long, it has engaging characters and a simple but well-told story that doesn’t excessively reference its comic book origins.

Tree project

Week thirty two

Yup, still at it. There’s not a lot of fruit left so the nocturnal visits from possums and fruit bats aren’t coming around as much.

And in an apropos of nothing, I’m contemplating revising my “no dating” policy. It’s not something I did intentionally. I wasn’t in a good head space for a really long time and the idea of dating stressed me out quite a bit. When did attempt to do the dating thing recently, it didn’t end well. That experience only served to reinforce the whole no dating thing. And besides, I always seem to be out on my bike anyway or I’m too exhausted to go out because of some enormous ride I’ve done in the morning. Who has the time for something as silly as dating when there’s cycling to be done?

Uh… me apparently. Or at least I’ve got room in my head finally to contemplate it. Does that indicate I’m in a better place now? Hope so.

So, this thing called sleeping in…

I’ve heard it’s this idea where you don’t get up while it’s still dark and no birdies are chirping in the trees.

My sleep in during this Easter break was on Good Friday where I managed to make it until just before 9am. Surprisingly enough, no one put on a load of laundry at 8am – a normal occurrence on the weekend mornings when I’m actually home. My first though when I woke up was (after going eeeeuuugghhhh) hey, the sun is up.

No sleep in on Saturday as I tootled my way over to Ringwood North to join in on the Easter Bunnies Emerald Bakery Loop Ride. The group I ride with had been talking about tackling the well known Emerald Bakery Loop for awhile so why not do it when everyone was on holidays? Just over 75km of hills, hills and yet more hills. But of course that meant plenty of opportunities for descending 🙂

The Yarra Ranges actually make climbing kinda fun. The area is stunningly beautiful and this time none of us were busting a gut to get to the top of the 1:20. The funnest descent of the day was coming down The Wall. As I was unfamiliar with the descent, I was on the brakes a few times to make sure I didn’t crash by being overly enthusiastic.

The bakery at Emerald was worth the effort of getting there. Been a long time since I’ve seen so many yummy cakes and slices crammed into a glass display unit. I have to say that these stops during rides are one of my favourite parts. It’s great to just sit around and chat. I’ve never been great in social situations and this one of the few times I feel okay. Plus there’s usually nummy treats involved which is fine by me!

What I thought would be the hardest climb of the day came as we left Emerald and headed towards Kallista. It was about 3kms of slogging away up what around 7 – 9% gradient. There was water cascading over the road and I was glad we were climbing (!!!) and not descending but it still made for a hairy climb as the road was rather slippery.

I must admit that I didn’t enjoy the descent down to Montrose as much as I normally do. I was feeling pretty knackered by the time we got there and my body was starting to complain. However, I made it down the whole way without touching the brakes once which is the first time I’ve managed this. I think I descended a little more slowly than normal because it was taking a lot of effort to concentrate. I love to descend as fast as possible but I’m not willing to risk my safety when I know I’m tired. See, not totally stupid!

By the time I got to the bottom I was ready to call it a day but of course that meant getting back to the starting point. And that’s when it happened. For the first time ever, a climb defeated me. I had to get off and walk. Eastfield Rd in Ringwood East. We could see it from the other side of the traffic lights we were stopped at and it didn’t look good. I only got about a third of the way up before starting to struggle and at the halfway point I realised I was going to fall over so I stopped. I looked down at my garmin and it was telling me the gradient was 22%. I was sure this was wrong but this reading has been corroborated by other garmins. I felt so defeated. Everyone else did it but I walked it. I just felt so inadequate. But what can you do? Nothing but get over it and swing the leg back over the bike.

The funny thing is that there’s a bike path marked on the road. The running joke at the moment is that someone needs to go out with a can of spray paint to add a happy cyclist at the bottom and a dead cyclist at the top. It would be appropriate.

After 70kms of hills, I decided I needed a cruisy ride on a flat roads so I took my bike to my parents’ place. I did learn one important thing – if you’re not 100% sure about where you’ll be riding, check your route beforehand. I was out in the orchards, pedaling away and I realised I had no clue where I was going. I had a rough idea of where I was but no idea where the road I was looking for was. In the end, I took a punt and turned down a road I thought I recognised the name of. Turns out I wasn’t that far away from where I wanted to be and if I’d continued on I would’ve found the road I wanted. Typical! I had a laugh when I looked at the elevation after downloading my stats. I went from climbing 1,324 metres to a grand total of 37 metres.

Today’s spin was a MRR loop with some extras tacked on. I like the MRR loop and I’d do it during the week but the logistics are too difficult to overcome. I’d have to be up so early and there’s no guarantee I’d be able to get to work on time. I’ll be sticking with my laps of Yarra Boulevard.

And to finish off…

Tree project, week thirty one

Tree project

Week thirty

Tree project and in defence of “The Biggest Loser”

Week twenty nine

Never in a million years did I think I’d defend The Biggest Loser. There is so much wrong with the show. It makes the denigrating of overweight people acceptable, an activity which has been taken on by the media and the general public with a vengeance. It’s now acceptable to laugh at “the fatties” and judge people solely on their physical appearance. Well, as a culture we’ve always done that but it’s far more pronounced then it used to be.

I also disagree with facets of the show, mostly the temptation competitions. They put bad food in people with obvious eating issues and tell them they can gain another week in the show by acquiring “immunity” if they eat the food and consume the highest amount of calories. The concept is reprehensible for a show that’s meant to be about helping people lose weight.

However, it was makeover week this week. The seven contestants left were given hair cuts, the girls got make-up and everyone got to chose new clothes. Once done up, they were all taken to a mirror by their trainer with their eyes shut and when ready, could open their eyes. And at that moment, I realised the show does have at least one redeeming feature.

It’s given those people their lives back.

They looked in the mirror and saw themselves in a way that haven’t in years. Sarah, the biggest female contestant who’s ever been on the show, has gone from a size 28 to a size 16. She was so deeply ashamed of the way she looked. Her life was a misery because of the way she looked. You’d have to have a very hard heart to not feel something when she strutted her way down the catwalk with such confidence.

However, it’s not Sarah I identify with the most. It’s Lara. Lara was just over 100kgs at her first weigh in. I’ve been there or very close to it. Unlike Lara, it took me over two years to shift the weight and get down to where I am now which is around 70kgs. Lara has done it in three months (allegedly – there is some question about timelines) and I can’t imagine what that’s like. But I understand what she’s been through. I know what it’s like when you feel like you’re totally out of control when it comes to food. I know what it’s like to feel so ugly as she said she did. I used to spend so much time pretending I didn’t care about how I looked but underneath it all I hated myself so much. That leads quickly to a vicious cycle of feeling horrible and rewarding yourself with food to feel better so the weight just piles on. It’s such an easy trap to fall into.

Without The Biggest Loser, I don’t think Lara would’ve changed her life in the way she has. I think that eventually she would’ve done something but the change wouldn’t have been as amazing as it has been on the show.

But I suppose that’s also something I have quibbles with. It’s easy to lose weight when you’re locked in a house with your own personal trainer, nothing to do but exercise and a chef to prepare your food for you. It’s totally unrealistic and I imagine it gives people unreasonable expectations of what they can achieve. There’s so much wrong with show. It does so many things I disagree with. However, it’s undeniable for those lucky enough to stay on the show for an extended period that it helps them enormously. They do change their lives for the better. Whether or not they manage to stick with it when they’re back in the real world is another story.

So yes, that’s one reason to defend The Biggest Loser. (And apparently to out myself as someone who watches it – oops!) Unless you’ve been there, you can’t know what it’s like to be the contestants’ position. It’s so easy for people to say “put down the food and get exercising”. Personal experience has told me it’s not that simple. I hope the people on the show have been given the psychological help so many of them obviously need.

To look in the mirror and admit that you hate what you see is a hard and horrible thing to have to do. But saving yourself is so rewarding. I hope the contestants on the show have learnt that.

Tree project

Week twenty eight