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Round and round we go!

Life's a merry-go-round...

Last Potato Pic
cat play
Ralph Potato Olympian is getting a little bit squishy.

This means we are taking one last photo shoot of it, before it is unceremoniously turfed.

Here it is, sporting the bronze medal Ralph made it for achieving a third place score:

His name was "Pota". Perhaps Harry Pota?
I feel bad to see him go, but rotten potato juice is no fun.

Neil Gaiman Tee
Today I was really excited to receive the package of tees I ordered from Threadless.

In it was a couple of kids tees for Ralph (a dinosaur and a dog one), plus a robot tee, but the most exciting tee was the Neil Gaiman "The Day the Saucers Came: Issue 2, Vol. 6" tee (designed by Ben Templesmith). There are four tees in that series, but I think this one is the best.

The front and the back.
Please excuse my bulges. =D

As you can see I was seriously excited to get it, plus it goes so well with my red jeans.

Ralph's Birthday Party Preparations
This year I was a little more organised with the birthday party preparations. I am not really that great at organising parties and even if I plan a schedule, the party never seems to run on time.

This year Ralph asked for a robot theme for his birthday party and I ordered some decorations online, including a robot Happy Birthday banner, robot cupcake liners and robot party favours. I found some robot-patterned noodle boxes as well as loot bags, plates napkins and cups. We bought some plain, shiny party hats and added robot stickers to them to make them robot themed too.

I made some cupcake toppers using white icing and food dye (yellow is Ralph's favourite colour). They are pretty cute!

I like the one in the second row from the back, second from the right.
It looks so surprised! The one on its right looks very angry.
The one in the same row, second from left, looks like a baby that just did a poop.

Finally, Ralph asked for a pinata, but I couldn't find a robot one, so I bought a boy one, ripped off the facade and redecorated it with robot decorations I painted using water colour paints.

This is the result, which I am quite proud of actually:

Ralph really loves it!!

Ralph's morning:Collapse )

Zombie Dreaming
This morning’s dream: Zombie Apocalypse.
It was a dark, dark night. The office building in which I found myself was cold because the windows had been broken. The zombies were clamouring for a piece of me, so I decided to get out of the city and head to a less populated area.
I found myself running through a field of waist high wheat. Dew glistened on each blade, and each dew drop reflected the light of the moon. It felt that the zombies were hot on my tail, yet they were nowhere to be seen. I came upon a farmhouse and decided to enter. I thought that the loft might be a good place to lay low, but upon exploring it, I discovered that it was built against a hill, ensuring easy access to any zombie. I found an entry point to the main house and went upstairs. As I crept through the corridors, I passed a room in which two young boys were trying to get to sleep in bunk beds. They looked at me in curiosity, so I shushed them, and went to the next door, which was a bathroom.
Clearly, the zombies had not yet travelled to this part of the country, and I wondered if I should warn the occupants of the house, but I was too exhausted to think.
I barricaded myself inside the tiny bathroom and fell asleep against the bathtub.
I awoke to an apocalyptic scene. The farmhouse had been infiltrated and I was alone again. The zombies could not get past the bathroom door, and as I was on the second floor, entry from the window was difficult. I fought my way out, shooting at anything that moved and headed to the loft. I stood on a platform as a sheet of plastic was taken by the wind and looked out over the countryside. I climbed down and ran through some shorter grass, towards a road. There was a baseball diamond, surrounded by a high-wire fence and all the grounds lights were switched on. The zombies had lurched towards it and were surrounding the perimeter, clutching the fence and rattling it as the made urgent, mindless noises.
I realised that some of the townspeople had locked themselves inside. I thought that it might be a good idea, at least they were safe, but how long would they last exposed to the elements and with little supplies? I kept going towards the road, the long road out of town.
Note to self: Do not watch Dollhouse too close to bedtime.
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Malis in the City
To help celebrate the 150th anniversary of Melbourne Zoo, 50 life size fibreglass elephants, all decorated by different artists have been scattered around the city of Melbourne. They are modelled on Mali, the first baby elephant to be born in Melbourne Zoo. She was born in 2010, and has since welcomed a new baby half-brother into the herd (same father, different mother).

Ralph was really interested in finding all of the elephants, but as we had met up with my mum and brother, we didn't really have time to find all 50 (which would most likely take all day), but settled on finding all that we could on our way to meet my sister and her girls in Bourke Street.

Here are my two favourite Malis (both at Federation Square) out of the eight that we saw:

This one is called "Jimbo", and is by Janie Fearon.

This one is my absolute favourite (check out the long eyelashes).
It is called "Wooly (sic) Mali" and is by Mini Goss.

Cool art on the wall - not elephant related!Collapse )
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Alien Warrior Apocalypse!
This morning I had a confronting dream. I know that dreams are supposed to sort through events of the day or help sort through things, or are just plain regurgitations of the subconscious, but I would like to know how dreams can be assembled from things that have been seen/ experienced into scenes that are not reminiscent of anything ever seen before.
For instance, this morning, my brain decided to meld Neanderthals with Huns with perhaps additional dashes of Predators and Stargate Wraiths to form an entirely new form of aliens bent on conquering the human race.
There was an epic battle in a field, reminiscent of the battles in Lord of the Rings, and the shiny black warrior/ aliens were frightening, especially when battling against them!
I don't think any of these elements have come up in my life recently, so the origin and purpose of this dream is completely baffling.

Lunch in Carnegie
Ninja Dropping Time!
Today we went down to Carnegie to meet up with Kim's parents, uncles and aunt, at a cafe called Cafe Del Mar.

The cafe is a spectacularly tacky establishment, decked out in a tropical theme (even the toilet seat was one of those novelty ones with sand, shells and a fake dolphin scene inside it). The inside of the cafe was quite modern, but we sat in the back courtyard and had to make do with the fake Balinese thatched umbrellas and seashell art in disrepair.

The food was typical, breakfast for lunch, cafe style fare. Though we ordered our meal without the hollandaise sauce on it, when it arrived, the sauce had been poured over everything, and we were missing the extra egg and sides that we had ordered (Ralph and I were sharing a plate).

The pancakes we ordered were substandard (they tasted like packet pikelets) and the wait for food was slightly too long for the simple dishes we ordered.

Anyway, carrying on, Kim’s mum gave me a couple of belated birthday presents, including a LeSportsac pirate-themed tote (with matching pencil case – I have decided it will be my new uni bag!), and a funny pair of scissors by Blott, which has a holder that looks like a slug, so that when you place the scissors in the slot, it looks like the slug is wearing glasses. Tee hee.

Kim’s uncle, whose birthday it was and the reason for the gathering, turned up incredibly late. Everyone had finished their meals and he arrived when they were all drinking their coffees. Instead of lunch he ordered dessert (it’s nice when you can do whatever you want on your birthday).

After lunch we went to Kim’s aunt’s new place (she had to sell her old place when she became paralysed from the waist down after she contracted a serious illness. After spending a year or so in a rehab facility she is now mobile, with the help of a walker, but needed a one level house suitable for her condition). She collects cat figurines, of all different textures, sizes and style, which Ralph and I were interested in.

Two Dreams - A Scary Sleep
This is a dream, a spooky dream made spookier by the fact it was so perfectly blended with the mundane. As Freud said, the uncanny is the ordinary made frightening…
The extended family, along with Ralph, Kim and I, were visiting a pretty, olden-times town (similar to Sovereign hill in Ballarat (Victoria, Australia), however, it was larger, with many more houses and ornamental gardens included (I don’t remember seeing any items related to the gold rush either). The houses were the ones actually built and used by settlers in the area from the early 1800s and the contents of the houses were antiques (including the blankets and clothing), with items in the houses reproduced and available for purchase (the products available for purchase were tastefully on display in each house).
Everyone except for Ralph and I had walked on ahead, having already walked through a little English cottage. Ralph and I had stayed behind to check out the inside of the cottage a bit more closely, when all of a sudden the house became eerily sealed off from the outside world. The view became sepia toned and outside noises couldn’t be heard. Then Ralph fell onto a small bed in a death-like sleep. He felt clammy and no matter how hard I nudged him to wake him, he didn’t rouse, even a tiny bit.
I went to the front door and gripped the handle, but it wouldn’t budge. It was shut tight, tighter than a lock, as if someone had sealed it shut with super strong glue. I went back to Ralphy and looked around at the cottage. All of a sudden pots and pans flew off their hooks on the antique wooden sideboard. Plates and crockery were shattering everywhere!
Then it all stopped.
My sister, who had come back from the others wondering what was keeping us opened the door and entered the cottage. I ran to her and told her that the house was possessed and not to shut the door or we would be trapped. She looked at me as though I were mad. I realised that the house was as clean as when we entered, everything was in its right place and there wasn’t any signs of broken crockery.
My sister told me to stop mucking around and to catch up with everyone. She added that our mum asked if she could grab one of the quilts for sale while we were there (as the pieced floral design was nicer than the ones ahead).
I looked back at Ralph, but he was still asleep, though he looked peaceful, not tormented, so I picked him up and cradled him in my arms.
As we were about to leave, a mother and her daughter entered the cottage. I wondered if I should warn them, but I decided they too would think I was crazy and I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

I had another dream after that. I was running as fast as I could, when I came to a steep embankment, lined with chunky rocks, like those beside a train track. I was lost, and I wanted to get to the top of the train tracks to see if I could recognise where I was, so I ran up the embankment as quick as I could (which was record-breakingly fast in the dream). When I got to the top, I fell over the edge of a ravine, and only just managed to grab on to a suspended train track. The ravine was of Grand Canyon depth, but was quite a narrow chasm in comparison. The river below was a lovely sky blue colour, contrasting with the copper red of the rocks and dust of the ravine, and the bottom seemed to rapidly switch between getting closer and farther away, like in a Wile E Coyote cartoon.
I managed to use my legs to grip the edge of the ravine and clamber back into an upright position. I saw two girls in the distance and headed towards them.
I asked the girls how I could cross the ravine – the crossing was only a little way ahead.
The crossing was adjacent to the train station, which was a pristine, bone-white, sterile building that stretched across the ravine.
I crossed the ravine, only to arrive . . . into the waking world. I think I couldn’t handle much more of the dream, it really freaked me out when I nearly went over the edge and I woke up pumped full of adrenalin.

Phillip Island Weekend - Sunday
We woke up this morning with plans for a full day ahead of us, so after dressing and packing our bags into the car, we headed down to the dining room for the continental breakfast provided for us. Having never stayed in any sort of hotel before, I was impressed by the wide variety of food available. It wasn't very fancy, but it also wasn't the slices of bread, tea and margarine supplied as "breakfast" when staying in a motel.
We had a huge breakfast, with raisin and plain toast, cereal tinned fruit salad, yoghurt, juices and hot drinks/ milk. Ralph had fun mixing up different flavours of cereal together, such as cocoa puffs and rice bubbles, and he ate more than he usually does, which was good to see! I enjoyed the fruit salad and raisin toast and the juice actually tasted really nice, not the concentrate that is usually served to such crowds.

After breakfast, we drove over the bridge to San Remo to see the Pelican colony (they are regularly fed by locals, which is not good practice). They were obviously waiting for breakfast, but they were very wary of people getting too close to them.

There were about thirty hungry pelicans on the jetty.

We met up with one of Kim's uni friends who was doing some behavioural research on plovers and happened to be in Phillip Island at the same time as us. He was noting the aggressiveness of the reactions of parent birds to threats to their chicks, and seeing the long term survival of their chicks in relation to these reactions. He was also banding and DNA sampling the chicks, so they can be easily distinguished later on. He invited us along to help with one of the sets of chicks he found, and Ralph became his assistant for half an hour, holding one of the chicks at a time as it was banded and sampled.

Ralph keeping one of the plover chicks warm after its banding.

More wildlife:Collapse )

Phillip Island Weekend - Saturday
We decided that we would love to go to Phillip Island this weekend, so with a little planning, and a bit of booking, we organised a great mini-getaway!
We bought a three parks pass, which allowed us to visit the Koala Conservation Centre, the Penguin Parade and Churchill Island, and we also booked a room at a hotel so we could spread our visit out over two days (it is a two and a half hour drive from our house).
When we arrived on the island this morning we were famished, but a lot of the places weren't open yet (it was about 11am), so we stopped at the first place that looked popular, Euphoria.
It wasn't exactly the nicest food around (nor great value for money), but at least it was edible. Ralph tried some nachos, I had a hot potato and Kim had a breakfast for lunch. Ralph's plate of nachos was so big he couldn't even eat a third of it.
After we ate we went to check-in at the Continental Hotel. Our room was clean and neat, with a queen bed and a pull-out sofa. Ralph thought that the sofa bed was fantastic and couldn't wait to try it out.
We left our bags at the hotel and made our way to our first destination, The Nobbies, on the furthest end of the island, which is supposedly home to Australia's largest Australian Fur Seal Colony. I say "supposedly" because we didn't see even on fur seal. I'm not sure if we were there at the wrong time of the day or year, but there weren't even any sea birds around either.
We walked along the boardwalk and checked out the blowhole (no spectacular water show at the time...), and saw a sea cave, and lots of penguin burrows.

We met a pair of Cape Barron geese, who were looking for food between the boardwalks.

The rest of the day, including penguins!Collapse )

Whale Watching - The Longest Car Trip Ever
Kim had this great idea that we would go whale watching today. He heard that last week there were whale sightings close to Warrnambool, so he thought that we could go for a drive out that way to see if we could spot any.

On the way we saw a koala hanging around in a gum tree that was leaning over the road:

Afterwards, we stopped at Camperdown for some food and found that the bakery, called the Loaf and Lounge, on the main street is fabulous (their strawberry lamingtons are absolutely scrumptious, and can be bought cheaply as a boxed dozen).

Camperdown has some beautiful architecture, including this clock tower:

We stopped by Port Fairy and were lucky enough to spot two Southern Right whales, a mother and her calf. They were a bit far out to take a great photo, but we did hear her calls which was cool.

A long, interesting day!Collapse )

Otway Fly Tree Top Walk
Having a weekend to ourselves is nice, and Kim had a hankering for adventure.
Okay, so Ralph and I wanted something fun to do too!

We saw an ad for the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk, which Kim had been on before even though he has a dislike for heights, and Ralph and I thought we would like to go, too.

The entry fee was a bit steep, considering that they are profiting from nature, and that the infrastructure hasn't been updated in a while, and we hardly saw any native wildlife at all. The dinosaurs along the prehistoric walk were in dire need of maintenance, their paintwork was damaged, they were covered in mud and moss, plus some were half buried or missing pieces.

The forest was lovely, and being high up was really nice. Climbing the tower was a little bit unnerving (Kim declined to join us), but the view of the forest was spectacular from the top. All in all, I don't think I would recommend it to people who are nature lovers and want to go for a nice walk (there are many free bush walks that are nicer and have more wildlife along them), but if you don't mind wasting money for novelty and poorly maintained "attractions," go for it.

Here are some of the best snaps of the day:

The dinosaur in the best condition: velociraptor.

The tower of doooooooom!

Three fungi and one twilight wallabyCollapse )

Eastern dreaming
I can find no logical explanation as to why I dreamed this particular dream. The premise and people are not familiar, nor are there any underlying insecurities or fears that I can pinpoint that explain the series of events or characters within the dream. I can only assume that the BFG was having one crazy, messed-up dream-dealing day when he blew this conundrum my way!

It started off with an armed hold-up of sorts. A trio of bandits, though they hadn’t covered up their faces to avoid recognition, rob a small bank branch. After obtaining some cash, they fled the building and got away in a car. The weirdness becomes apparent when it is revealed that the bandits are not actually three men of Asian appearance, but that they are actually shape-shifters.
I am fairly sure that they were a family, of Asian descent, with the ringleader being a woman in her late-thirties (who dresses in power suits), her brother (I think he was a couple years younger than her) and her father (in his late-fifties or early-sixties). The woman’s child was under state care so the family once again shape-shifted and broke into the facility where he was being looked after.
The woman changed into a grandmotherly guise, while her father and brother changed into two young boys under ten years old (perhaps posing as cousins). The woman gained an access visit as the child’s grandmother and after they were escorted to a family meeting room, some acrobatics ensued as they attempted to confuse the staff and escape with the child.

In retrospect, I believe the family were trying to raise funds in order to start a new life off the grid but it was altogether a weird and random dream!!

Creepy omen dream
Today’s dream was creeeeeeepy.
It was set in a primary school, though the building was familiar to me because it is the one I find myself in during almost every school dream, whether it’s high school, primary school, me in school, or Ralph in school.
This time, Ralph was one of the students and I was at the school because I was organising the library. I finished tidying up and headed outside to walk home. I crossed the school playground and passed the toilet block, where I saw a large bear. I was taken aback, and realised that it had blood around its muzzle. It headed into one of the toilets and I followed, worried. A blond, blue-eyed boy exited the toilet with the bear at his side. The bear was calm and made no attempt to attack anyone. The boy looked at me blankly and said “I am so happy now. Everyone is going to hell.” The bear seemed to nod and growl in agreement.
I entered the closest door and ran up the corridor to see what was going on in the school.
One of the teachers was bringing her class up the corridor up to the main office. They stopped along the glass-enclosed corridor near the office. I turned to look at them and they were all spattered with blood. They were perfectly fine, alive and happy, yet blood-soaked.
I spotted Ralph and he was laughing, so I was relieved that he was okay, but I decided I would get him and run – then I woke up.

Queenscliff Pier - Rainbow Ahoy!
cat play
I had a late day at uni today, so Kim had Ralph to himself in the afternoon.

He and a friend took Ralph fishing at Queenscliff pier, where Ralph spotted a rainbow. The story is that the rainbow kept disappearing, and reappearing, so by the end of the cycle Ralph was convinced he saw seven rainbows in a row.

Well, here is one, or all of them, depending on who you believe.

Wallace and Gromit at Scienceworks
you so crazy
Scienceworks has an exhibition on at the moment celebrating inventions - so who better to be the spokespersons for this than the favourite claymation duo, Wallace and Gromit, whose inventions are hilarious, but often also worthy of praise. The exhibition is also a tie-in to their latest TV show Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention.

Some of Aardman's Wallace and Gromit sets were on display, as well as a lot of wacky inventions which were supposedly invented, but not well-thought-out, including a chocolate teapot and glass hammer. The sets were so detialed and intricate, with a lot of miniature items that look so realistic, it would be hard to tell them apart from the real thing in a to-scale photograph.

The living room set used in A Matter of Loaf and Death.

4 more Wallace & Gromit sets + the rest of the dayCollapse )

Crazy Dress-Up Day + Lego Creationary
you so crazy
Ralph's school had a Wacky Dress-Up day at school, to raise money for a new playground (the school had recently fallen victim to arson, with a section of their wooden playground burnt).

Ralph was a bit unsure and a bit embarrassed, but he finally agreed to colour his hair to match one of his favourite shirts.

This was the resulting get-up:

The monster on his top is a fuzzy decal. It's so cool!
Plus, what is more wacky than googly-eyes glasses?

After school, Ralph and I played our first game of the Lego board-game Creationary, and we had a whole lot of fun. It is supposed to be for four players, two on each team, but we made it work for two players!

With limited brick-types and colours, we managed to make quite a few great models!

Queenscliff Brick Expo
you so crazy
Ralph loves Lego. (Understatement.)

Lego convention advertised in school newsletter. (Yep. You guessed it.)

Off we go to a Lego expo!

It was held at the Queenscliff Primary school, in their gym, with a lot of different displays by Lego enthusiasts. We always seem to miss the big Lego Brickfest held in Melbourne at the start of the year, so this was a good, if smaller, alternative.

Ralph had a superb time checking out other Lego fan designs, as well as some assembled Lego-design sets.

I can't imagine how much effort it took to design and build some of the displays. Some of them were built using tens of thousands of individuals bricks!

Buckingham Palace - the throng of spectators is overwhelming.
There is a streaker (naked man running) in there somewhere!

Eight more Lego Creations:Collapse )

Winter Dessert - Pear Cake with Butterscotch Sauce
As it is June it is Winter, and as we live close to the coast, and the Southern-most part of the continent, Winter here is cold, with a lot of bitter winds blowing off the ocean (though not as cold as Ballarat, which has had snow during previous Winters, due to its high altitude).

The good thing about cold weather, of course, is the ability to enjoy lovely warm desserts. Kim loves a sticky date pudding made with real dates, but as I didn't have any dates, I opted for a lovely pear cake, instead, with butterscotch sauce.

It was delicious!

Try it! Find the recipe I used here! I omitted the spices, and opted for a hint of cinnamon, instead.

I may be biased, but I think my cake looks fluffier. =D

The Pirates: Band of Misfits - Film
Today we took Ralph to see the $6 Kidz Flix, The Pirates: Band of Misfits.

Ralph and I both enjoy the Wallace and Gromit films, and claymation is a fantastic medium, sadly not frequently used very often any more (and I don’t think anyone does it better than Aardman, yes, even Tim Burton!!).

It was pretty good, though I kept getting distracted at the scenery, wondering how they made the sets look so spectacular using clay!

The outrageous depictions of Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin were a bit shocking at first (if you recognised that the actor voicing Charles Darwin was David Tennant without previously having seen the cast list, you get a million gold stars for great listening skills!), but the silliness was infectious and Ralph and I were giggling like crazy. As usual, Aardman's madcap sense of humour enhances the narrative, but it isn't for everyone (you must possess a wackiness and light-hearted, rather than black, sense of humour).

I appreciated the steampunk references, plus Queen Victoria’s allusions to the Pirates vs. Ninjas internet debate. Steam-engine undergarments – ahahahahaha!