Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Of the city and the rain

I’m currently at my husband’s workplace, a landscape architecture studio in the city.  Isn’t this just one of the best view to do work?  Large windows… the city skyline… gosh, I’m really going to miss this daily city life.  Back home, I don’t work in the middle of the city, but in a university campus environment surrounded by hills and city fringe suburbs (which is actually nice and peaceful).

I haven’t driven to work for more than 3 years now.  Previously, it was either me driving to the uni where I teach, which was only about 10 minutes away from home, or my husband would send/pick me up when he didn’t have meetings or site visits out of the city.  Here, most of the time, he’d only drive on weekends or occasionally on weekdays whenever we have to use the car.  On most days, it’s “Thank you, Mr/Ms Tram Driver!”.  Although lately, since last month after doing my final writing from home for a month, I have been ‘less interested’ in taking the tram to the city.  Since then, we’ve been driving to the city and going out from home earlier than usual to get the early bird parking rates (which still equates the total tram tickets for two persons).  But as with most driving, there’s always the traffic jam when going and coming back.  Let’s call it ‘a practice of getting used to traffic jam before we actually have to endure one on a daily basis when we go back home’.  I haven’t even gone back yet, but shall we decide to live not so close to my workplace, the thought of having to drive (or even sitting on the passenger seat) through a traffic jam already feels exhausting.  Is that even possible, to think and get exhausted?  I think it is, and I shall not dwell on it, which may make me drown in a mental snowball that I don’t need at this moment.

Nonetheless, I have definitely enjoyed our stay here in Melbourne.  Sounds like a farewell entry to Melbourne, doesn’t it… but not just yet.  I still have several months left to finish what I have to finish here, and enjoy our last months here.  I should really do a specific “wondergram” project as an ode to Melbourne before I go back… say, for instance, snapshots of my favourite places?  Or places/corners/streets that meant something to me?  What say you, any suggestions?  Well, til then, let’s embrace the present, shall we :)

Later today, it started to rain... oh dear rain.

 Photos | iPhone, Instagram

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Oh Flowers, Flowers! Where art thou?

When I was little, I used to think that flowers are only for moms and adults.  Flowers have always been around... in the yard, in the pots, on prints of clothing and bags, in drawing books, even on bed sheet and pillow cases.  But as a kid, I didn't know how to appreciate flowers, other than associating them with being a girl and wanting some flowery patterns on my pencil cases and stickers (alongside those hearts and stars, of course!)

My grandmother has always loved flowers, as long as I can remember.  Maybe because her name is 'Zahrah' which also means 'flower' in Arabic.  Whenever she's up for a visit to our house or going on a trip somewhere, she'd always remind us that she can't stay long because no one will attend to her garden of orchids.  I think I had once thought in my mind, 'aww come on tokwan, flowers over your grandchildren???'  My grandma must have loved her flowers that much! But I know she loves us all dearly too :)  I think my mother must have taken after my grandma, as she too loves her flowers and plants.

When I was in my teenage years, I thought flowers were a bit 'icky'... like a bouquet of flowers would always be associated with a very 'mushy' or 'lovey dovey' kind of thing (back then, the expression would be like, 'eiiuuewwww' right?).  I'm sure some of you know what this feeling was like.

But then, as I grew older, and becoming a woman and adult, I understand why my grandmother and my mother were fond of flowers.  Flowers are beautiful and delicate.  And if we look closely, there's perfection in each little flower, what ever kinds it may be.  I remember going to this landscape architecture and design conference, and there was a presenter who talked about 'fractal geometry' (you can google up some images of 'fractal geometry in nature' and you'll find amazing stuff).  The perfection, ratio and balance of how things of nature are created and formed are just beautiful and amazing, Subhanallah.  They are proofs that these are creations by God.  I think after that I never looked at flowers and vegetables the same way again... I mean just look at broccoli and cauliflower, or even leaves... beautifully composed bunches of florets, from big to small to super tiny ones.

And of course, when flowers are given by the ones you love (read: husband), there's nothing to squirm about, but to just be oh-so-delighted about it!  I consider lilies as "our" flowers, as they were the first bouquet that my then-friend-now-husband gave me on my graduation day.  They were the flowers that we had on our wedding day as well.  Lilies smell nice... and there's something soft yet strong about them :)

These are lilies that my husband gave me on my recent birthday in August.
I was thrilled to check them out everyday to see them bloom right in our living room.
(Taken with instagram)

 This is a bouquet of Freesias that our friends gave us earlier this month. 
I love the delicate petals and the rainbow wrapper!
(Taken with instagram)

I have grown to appreciate flowers and love looking at them.  Call me a late 'bloomer', but receiving flowers is indeed one of the loveliest feeling a woman can have.  Flowers don't have to be expensive, but the thoughts that come with those flowers are priceless.

Flowers are beautiful, and they symbolize beautiful things... and who does not love beautiful things?

So how about you?  Any flower stories to share? :)

p/s: Spring is here in Melbourne.  More reasons to fall in love with flowers.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Serenity by the Sea

We are lucky to live only like a 10 minutes-drive away from the beaches of Port Phillip Bay.   I have always loved going to the beach, not to swim or sunbathe, but just to enjoy looking at the waters and leisurely walking alongside to it.  It never fails to give me that sense of calmness, and the realization that there are bigger things in life... 

 The most famous beach here is of course none other than St Kilda Beach, but once you're in the mood of exploring new places, you're bound to find somewhere new...  And so we did.  We have had this set of Go Explore! Melbourne cards, and would turn to it each time we feel the urge of going somewhere, but just don't know where to go.  With this card, we headed to a place called Black Rock Beach at Half Moon Bay, further down from St Kilda Beach and Brighton Beach.

There is a small cafe that sells coffee and fish & chippery, so that was nice to have something hot to drink and munch while we were there.  This is a view from the jetty that looks over the boathouse, bath boxes and the small cafe.

Coffee is my life?  Only occasionally when I feel the need for a cuppa :)

When we were there, the weather was not very sunny.  It was for a short while, then the clouds came so it became a bit cloudy (and started to get cold).  I remembered reading a simple photography tip that when it gets cloudy and the colours of the scenery became a bit dull, a black and white photography might work best.   I seem to believe so too, as you can play around with the exposures and contrasts to make the photos livelier, or more dramatic, although in a monotone.  These were from the "grains" mode in my Olympus PEN, no post-editing needed (great, right?).

This is one of my favourite silhouette shot.

If you're in Victoria or thinking about visiting Half Moon Bay, you can get a little bit more info about its whereabouts here.

A Cafe by the Beach

A while back, we visited this cafe that was located along the beach in Middle Park, called Sandbar Beach Cafe.   We have driven and walked passed by it a couple of times before.  The white architecture with large clear windows that allow you to see through the cafe right to the beach looked really nice and appealing, that we just had to give this cafe a visit.

And once we were in, we were not disappointed at all.  The cafe was lit with lots of natural sunlight (a reason of why a photo at this angle turned dark), and the timber interior in white and natural earth were indeed a great match for the by-the-beach concept.  I would have no problem sitting at this cafe all day long, looking out to the waters, while sipping some drinks and just relax...

We didn't spend the whole day there obviously, but I did have my glass of iced coffee and a taste of their flourless orange cake.  The best of all, visiting this cafe with my husband felt like we were on brief holiday, which was truly nice :)  Must remember to visit a cafe like this again for that vacation-feel when it's not really vacation.

Have you got a place that gives you that being-on-a-holiday feel too?