The Can of Worms, Part I

That’s what the builder said, a couple of months into the Project.

You don’t open a can of worms, and not expect to find any worms in it…

In September we had signed the papers, negotiating a long settlement (January 15) in exchange for fifty grand off the price. That gave us lots of time to think about what we wanted to do.  Continue reading

Adventures in real estate

Today our Melbourne restoration project went up on a design blog!  Here’s the back story of how we ended up getting the house in the first place. The renovations? A whole other story for another day.

Marc and I are not real estate neophytes. We have bought and sold houses in three countries. I know the sellers’ tricks and the buyers’ tactics. Before moving to Melbourne we’d sold our Vancouver townhouse at a tidy profit. We were flush with cash and ready to embark upon yet another real estate adventure on a new continent, in a new city. Our stuff was sitting in a storage facility in the eastern suburbs, and we were living out of suitcases. We needed to settle down.

Continue reading

Race Report: Two Bays Trail Run

About a year ago in an attempt to make some connections in Melbourne, I joined the Crosbie Crew, a horde of enthusiastic runners led by a guy named Tim Crosbie. A bunch of them had just finished an epic trail run and for the first couple of weeks, that was all they talked about. The Two Bays. I felt like I had missed out on the run of the century. It also seemed kind of crazy, to do a long trail run like that in the middle of the hot Australian summer. Continue reading

Race report: Queenstown Marathon

As many of you know from past posts, I’m a runner. I am much slower than I was in my 20s, and I rarely enter races any more. I find them a bit demoralizing, not to mention expensive. I’m not going to set any PRs, so why bother?

But there was one event that I hadn’t yet ticked off the list, and that’s the marathon. I watched Marc train for and suffer through a few, and earned a healthy fear of the distance. We had hiked 27 miles one day on our Oregon hike, and I was completely trashed.

You have to seriously train for a marathon, Marc said, in a serious voice. Seriously.

I haven’t done anything serious for years! Plus, there’s all that research showing that ultra long distance running is terrible for your heart.

Maybe I should just eat cookies instead.

But this year, I decided the time had come. Enough is enough. I’m going to run a marathon! Continue reading

Phages, Part I: the life and history of Felix D’Herelle

Remember when I was obsessed with the microbiome? I still am. I still think it holds the key to understanding our immune system and, by extension, human health and disease. I still think we’re being crowdsourced by microbes. Long after our idiocy, greed and hubris have destroyed any possibility of human survival on our planet, they’ll be happily bubbling away in a toxic pool somewhere.

The picture I painted of the microbiome was incomplete, I’m sorry to say. I’d like to introduce you to a little-known but critical player in the drama, a beastie that I only recently met, thanks to an interview with Monash biologist Jeremy Barr. 

Continue reading

Eclipsed

August 21, 2017.

As I’m coming down from the bedroom at my uncle’s house, my attention is on my aunt in the kitchen below. My foot misses a step, and I tumble head over heels to the bottom of their wooden staircase. After a minute at the bottom, I make an assessment. Nothing’s broken – not my laptop, none of my bones. My ankle hurts, and I know I hit my head. I’m shaking, like I always do after a faceplant. Continue reading

Dispatch from Down Under

Facebook greeted me with this today:

Your friends haven’t heard from you in a while. Time to write a blog post.

Ouch. No arguing with that, is there? Welcome to the era of cyber-motivation.

My blogging apparatus is rusty in the extreme — hopefully my brain is still firing on all cylinders. I put the laptop on the glass-and-wicker table in the apartment we’re renting on the 16th floor of a downtown Melbourne high-rise, crack my knuckles and stretch out my arms. Continue reading

For the forests

Today an interesting thing came up in my Facebook feed: it’s the International Day of Forests. No kidding.

What a coincidence, I think to myself. Here I am, mulling over the idea of writing a blog post on something, anything, as long as it’s not depressing or political in nature, and my latest obsession comes and knocks at the door. Me! Write about Me! Continue reading

Life and loss

In my last post, I wrote about my despair at what is happening in the US. I thought that blogging every day might help me navigate it. I had good intentions.

That night I woke up in the wee hours (hello menopause) and looked at my phone. It was 4:30 and I had a text from my brother, who had gone to New Mexico just the day before, summoned by my father in a dream, to be at Mom’s bedside:

Mom … is resting in peace.  Continue reading

End times

Bleak.

That’s the only word I came up with today. Write something on your blog, Mary, I told myself. Maybe it will be therapeutic.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve become increasingly dependent on the Internet to soothe my restless mind. I lose myself in a labyrinth of interesting articles, the antics of friends from around the world, silly videos, TV series on Netflix. I quell my boredom and at the same time avoid doing anything of note, including blogging. Oh yes, I do emerge for yoga and some running, I do read actual books to the tune of one or two a week. But still. The rest of the time? Drugged. Continue reading