Watch out for those bunnies!

Well, hello there!

Forgive me for channeling my inner Ben Kenobi, but yeah, hello there! It’s been quite a while. A long while. I’ve been swamped with loads of Muggle stuff hence my absence from this pensieve. But all is well now. I’ve finally extricated myself from the sticky, very Muggley world of editing (the job was alright, sure, but handling prima donna writers is another thing, bleargh) and I have a bit of free time on my hands. So here I am!

School will be over in a few weeks, so that’s that. I’d be glad to see the backs of some of my students (the forgettable ones, definitely), but as always, I will definitely miss my Harry Potter class. It’s the only class I look forward to teaching, truth be told. But all good things must come to an end.

Anyway, what else? Oh, I celebrated my birthday a couple of months ago. Not much hoopla, but for me it was meaningful as I celebrated it on my own somewhere down south; where the water is calm and the sunset is glorious. Where the sand is white and powdery, and the sky is the calmest of blue. Looking forward to another getaway by the end of this year, this time with my two Powerpuff sisters, Bubbles and Buttercup. Let’s plan it na, girls!

Well, that’s about it, for now. Will post again once something earth-shattering happens (or once I find another free time along the way).

Happy Easter!

-F.

We’re right here!

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This is a spur-of-the-moment post inspired by a few things I’ve come across over the Internet in the past 24 hours.

Last night, I posted an article about geologist Maria Tharp, the woman who changed the geological community’s view and understanding of the ocean floors. Never heard of her? Neither have I and I’m a geologist! Just goes to show you that too many talented women don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve despite their groundbreaking contributions to their respect fields.

[Read her story here: How one woman’s discovery shook the foundations of geology.]

One paragraph in this article resonated with me: “At the University of Ohio, she discovered geology and found a mentor who encouraged her to take drafting. Because Tharp was a woman, he told her, fieldwork was out of the question, but drafting experience could help her get a job in an office like the one at Columbia.”

When I was taking up my undergraduate degree in geology, the ratio of male to female students was almost 1:1, and yet, I remember one teaching assistant tell me that I should (or would) never work in a mine because, as he said, “they’re all men and they probably won’t like having women around.” I’ve never been one to listen to such senseless comments anyway so I shrugged it off. Well, if he could only see me now. Not only have I worked in a mine site – several, in fact – I’ve worked in remote areas where sometimes, even if I am the only female, none of the men I’ve ever worked with treated me differently.
~~~

Earlier this month, Frankie tagged me in a post over on Facebook. It’s to do with our all-time favourite love story, The X-Files. Yes, you read that right. Let’s forget about the aliens and the conspiracies and all the other weird things that happened in that show. Let’s just focus on Mulder and Scully. They are the epitome of what a real partnership is. Theirs is a love built on the foundation of friendship, mutual respect, and admiration of the others’ intelligence. They are presented in the show as equals. Equals! Need I say more?

One of my favourite scenes from the show is where Scully says that the best relationships are the ones rooted in friendship. Hear, hear!

A photo posted by Giselle (@geewitch) on

From The Rain King (S6, Ep8)

[How The X-Files ruined all other TV romances. Heck, it’s even ruined real life romance for me.]
~~~

I’m not what you’d call a movie-goer*.  I watch movies sometimes and I know which ones I like and which ones I hate. If you were to guess which movies appealed to me the most, you might assume it’s the ones with the strong female characters, right? Sure. Except, are there really enough movies like that? I don’t know but I’d really like to know and so I’m going to help fund a Kickstarter project. Again, thanks to Frankie, I’m contributing to  MaryAnn Johanson’s “Where are the women? (A feminist protest in film criticism).

[See also: Bechdel Test]

Now I have never been one to call myself a feminist but that doesn’t mean I don’t identify as one. I am and have always been. I get that from my mother even if she herself would never call herself a feminist. I suppose I was brought up in an household where we didn’t need labels. We simply were feminists in everything we did.

Why do I want to fund this project? Because I want to know if females are represented fairly and adequately in movies. If it is said that art is a reflection of society, then what does that say about our society?

I feel like the fight for equality will always be an uphill battle but maybe, just maybe, projects like these will help make the world see that women do a lot of great things. (And that this reality needs to be reflected in movies too.)

We’re right here and we matter!

[See also: Bechdel Test]

*I know, I know. Even my friend and former flatmate, Gerald, laughed at my somewhat antiquated term. And he’s one who loves his movies.

Christmas Countdown 2014

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What up, y’all?! Seems so quiet around these parts, eh? Sorry about that. You know, things to do, lives to live, blah, blah. I just got back from a long hitch at work. By hitch I mean, fieldwork somewhere in outback Queensland where I don’t always have mobile reception or reliable Internet. Anyhoo, I’m back and it’s so good.

~*~*~*~*~

I watched a few concerts this year – go me! The most recent ones included Pentatonix, Sara Bareilles (love, love, love!), and Justin Timberlake. I was going to see Ingrid Michaelson (again) but sadly, she had to cancel her tour. Her mom passed away recently. On Thursday, I’m seeing Tori Amos (again). Woohoo! I saw here a few years back at the Opera House with Erin, Pia, and Oliver. This time I’m going with Cha and Liv. So excited! Then there was this one time I chaperoned two of Jogin and Ferdie’s kids to watch X-Factor Live. It was a week day and I was in town. It was good karma because that night, Ed Sheeran pre-recorded two songs for the show (to be aired a week later).

Still on the music front, I’ve had to take a leave of absence from the choir until the end of the year. I just can’t do it what with being away for extended periods of time and without reliable outside communication. It wouldn’t be fair to the group plus I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and exasperated. Next year will be a fresh start and hopefully, there will still be a place for me in the group.

~*~*~*~*~

I feel like I’ve been thrown off a fast moving vehicle and dumped by the side of the road. I look up and it’s nearly Christmas. Seriously, 2014, WTF?! There are gifts to buy and Christmas cards to mail and I’m slightly panicking.

As I end this blog, it’s approximately:

23 Things Only People Who Love Spending Time Alone Will Understand

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geewitch:

It’s like someone made a list of my life, my existence. Okay, except for #4. That’s just creepy.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

Sascha KohlmannSascha Kohlmann

1. A weekend in which you have no plans, no responsibilities, and nowhere at all to be, ranks as one of the best weekends you’ll ever have.

2. Sometimes friends will try to make plans with you and you have no reason to decline except for the fact that you just want to be alone that day. (Your plan is to have no plans, people need to understand that by now, right?)

3. A good album, book, or television show can keep your attention far longer than any party, club, or bar could.

4. Going away to a remote cabin in the middle of the woods to just exist for a period of time sounds like the best idea for a vacation that you can think of.

5. There is nothing more exciting than planning a long, solo road trip, because you know you’re going to be able…

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X Marks the Spot

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Or what I’ve learned about life from watching the X Files.

1. That it’s alright to believe in the unexplainable.

Come on. With David Duchovny giving so much life to his persona Agent Mulder, what’s not to believe? When he said aliens abducted his sister Samantha, I believed him. When he said little green (and as he so adroitly explained why it should be ‘gray’) men are out to do experiments on humans, I nodded my head. When he said the government is in cahoots with these extra terrestrials, I said, “YES!”

2. That it’s alright to be a skeptic.

I love Gillian Anderson/Agent Scully. She’s up there alongside Wonder Woman, and Ripley, and Buffy, and Sydney Bristow, and Nancy Drew as my idols. I didn’t want to be like her. I wanted to be HER. Her intelligence, her passion, her courage, and her unrelenting drive to find out the truth spoke volumes to me. She’s THE WOMAN.

3. That you cannot take things seriously all the time.

Hello, Small Potatoes. Hello, Rain King. Hello, Dreamland.

4. That knowing the future can be as helpful as stepping on a freshly baked pie.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose is one of my favorite episodes in the entire series. That is saying a lot since I have so many favorites. It’s right up there in my pantheon of ultimate favorites. Along with Ice. And Small Potatoes.

5. That you can never have too much dog food.

Good boy, Queequeg!

6. That spending Christmas inside a haunted house with your partner can be loads of fun.

How the Ghosts Stole Christmas beats any Christmas TV movie hands down.

7. That it pays to have nerdy friends.

The Lone Gunmen (how oxymoronic, I know) should be in my speed dial, I swear.

8. That cerulean blue is the best shade of blue in town.

Oh Pusher. A Jedi, were you?

9. That you don’t merely say “lots of files” to refer to, well, lots of files. You say, “lots and *lots* of files”.

Paper Clip, I thank you for the stress on “lots”.

10. That getting stuck in the Bermuda Triangle can be fun . . . that is, if you find yourself traveling back in time. Back in WWII. Then again, maybe it’s not fun at all.

There’s that kiss in the shadows followed by a right hand punch by Scully. You go, girl!

11. That you always, *always* follow the regulations in your neighborhood.

Or else. Arcadia happens.

12. That crazy, aggressive worms is never a good sign.

One word: ICE.

13. That writers, especially the introverted ones, can be dangerous.

Beware Philip Padgett and the might of his pen. . .er, typewriter. (but he’s mysteriously cute, no? Maybe it’s just me).

14. That the pizza guy is out to get you.

Or bite you, as in the case of Bad Blood.

15. “That the best relationships – the ones that last – are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is… suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with.”

Who doesn’t love a little bit of rain? Or hail? Or cyclone? Thank you, Rain King.

Well, that’s what my mind can come up with given the little time that I have (I still have pending work to do, goshdarnit). What’s with the sudden throwback to the best TV show ever, you ask? Well, talking about television in class and showing my students a brief scene from the X-Files have brought back pleasant memories. So here I am, recalling the days of old, the age of innocence. Back when actors didn’t have to undress on primetime TV to get noticed. Back when it’s perfectly alright to not have a clear ending (what ending??!). Back when intelligence was a pre-requisite to truly enjoying a fabulous TV show.

I miss the X Files.

Father’s day

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This may very well be the last time you read me writing about my father.

Each year in June, the world (except for Australia)* celebrates Father’s Day. It’s an ambiguous celebration for me because, as you know, I didn’t grow up with a dad.

Earlier this year, I found out through my mom, who found out through common friends that my father passed away. It could be that he’s been dead for a few years now but we’ve yet to confirm that. I was talking to my mom casually over the phone when she said, something along the lines of, “Guess what?! I found out that your father passed away…” I didn’t really hear the rest of what she said because all of a sudden everything just went blank. Look, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad. But I’m not sad for the reasons most of you might be thinking. I wasn’t sad because I’d never get to meet the person who gave me half of my chromosomes. I wasn’t sad that I never got to tell him, “Umm, thanks for the genes.” I wasn’t sad because I needed to connect with him. I was sad because the decision not to meet him had been taken away from me. I guess, up until that point, I imagined that one day I’d change my mind and ask my mom to set up a meeting. I feel sad that that decision has been made for me before I could definitively say: Yeah, I’m good. Don’t need to meet him.

Having said that, in the off-chance that maybe the rumor was false and he was still alive, I still wouldn’t suddenly scramble at the chance to come face-to-face with him. Although, observing his mannerisms would have been cool too. From a purely scientific perspective, it would be fascinating to see if I inherited any traits from him purely through genetics, having no interaction with him at all. I guess now, I’d have to be content with a photo or two. I’d be curious to see if we had any resemblance at all.

There, I said it. Happy father’s day, dad, wherever you are.

*Australia celebrates Father’s Day in September.

Missing the Key of F.

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Yes, I am still alive.

While I haven’t been putting my thoughts on ether of late, I must admit I’ve been trying to deal with a deluge of Muggle concerns, to wit, teaching (yes, we’re already four weeks into the new term, hu. . . .rrah), writing, editing (well, mostly clerical work, really), teaching, attending meetings left, right, and center (and you, my friend, know how much I hate meetings), nanny duty-ing (I thought I had to rhyme my verbs, sorry), and oh, yeah, TEACHING.

Where in Merlin’s baggy Y fronts did the summer go? 

Oh I have way too many pending stories to blog about. I missed blogging about my birthday (waaaaaay missed it, Frankie), Giselle’s fabulously amazing, freakishly outstanding birthday gift (coming home to Pinas to surprise me on the exact day was just. . . .oh, wonderful!), our impulsive decision to travel to Boracay to celebrate our birthdays (hey, booking everything with only six days lead time was an unlocked achievement, I say), getting some tan within the first couple of hours (ouch!), meeting friends unexpectedly in the middle of all that sand (hello, Francis and RB!), and THE FOOD! And oh THE HOTEL (Discovery Shores is amaaaaaaazing!).  . . .

. . . and I missed blogging about my students, too.

And it must be said I miss them loads, especially my students in my literature elective. 

Did I ever tell you about my Hogwarts-DLSU class last term? Did I tell you about my students and their awesome projects? Did I ever tell you about our End of Term Feast, and the House Cup winners (yes, two Houses won, a record indeed), and all the stories they told me after the parting of the ways?

No? Oh, right. I didn’t blog about any of that. I have been remiss with my duties. Sorry about that. 

Suffice it to say that the past few months were fabulous. There’ve been a few work-related annoying circumstances, but like everything else, none of that matters now. We all just continue to forge ahead, like good foot soldiers. 

Well, that’s about it for tonight, I suppose. Just a quick holler. Not long by my standards but longer that what I’ve came up with the past few months. Just wanted to say I miss this pensieve. 

I miss my brain, too. And my diligence. I think the summer stole ’em from me and I’ve been trying to cope with the universe minus those two things. 

Scary? Nah.

Blissful. 

Absolutely Abbey

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It’s Abbey’s birthday today! Your sisters, Blossom and Buttercup, miss you terribly! We hope that you’re having a wonderful birthday celebration and our wish is that we three can be reunited soon.

I know we keep saying this but yes, we will come visit you in Canada. We love you, Abbey! :)

Abbey, the art admirer.

Abbey, the art admirer.

Abbey, the zen master.

Abbey, the zen master.

Abbey, the Egyptian?

Abbey, the Egyptian?

Abbey, our Aphrodite.

Abbey, our Aphrodite.

Uluru

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This is the final installment of the great Australian outback adventure, the highlight of our trip. Not to take anything away from all the other magnificent places and landscapes that we’ve explored on this trip – and my photos don’t do it justice – but seeing Uluru was high on my list of places to visit. I’ve been living in Australia for eight years before the dream became a reality.

On February 16, Kelly and I were picked up from the motel just before 5AM. We had a very long day ahead of us and we needed sustenance so our first stop was at Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse to grab some coffee and maybe a few snacks and drinks. It’s not like we needed to buy any extra food, really. Emu Run Tours makes sure to pack lots of snacks. As soon as we stepped onto the bus at 5AM, they handed us a small breakfast pack with muesli, juice, and other snacks. And all along the trip, they would hand out lollies, fruits, and lamingtons. They also brought large jugs of cold water so we could refill our water bottles. As our guide, Ryan, told us the other day, hungry tourists are angry tourists.

This would be something one would eat after a big night. It's a hangover cure.

This would be something one would eat after a big night. It’s a hangover cure.

One of the ladies working at the roadhouse found four abandoned bunnies near the fuel pump. She took them inside and she let us (the tourists) take photos and pet them. They were so adorable!

Bunnies at the Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse.

Bunnies at the Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse.

All throughout the trip, our tour guides/coach drivers told us interesting tidbits about the changing landscape, including the plants, we were driving through. Richard told history and geology stories while Tic told dream time stories and introduced us to the native plant life in the area. At one point along the drive, Richard had asked if there were any geologists on the bus. Kelly and I kept quiet. For one, we didn’t want him to be self-conscious about doing his spiel, and more importantly, we didn’t want to get asked to explain the geology ourselves! He did mention that a few days earlier, there were two geologists on the tour with them. (Trin and Beck! Haha!)

Our next stop was at a look out point for Mount Conner, sometimes called Attila. It’s also been referred to as “Fool-eroo” because apparently, there were some hikers/campers/explorers who’d traveled from very far to see Uluru. They had been hiking for a very long time and so were so excited to behold a magnificent mound in the distance. They took photos then made their way back to Alice Springs – a few days’ worth of hiking. When they had the film developed, the photographic technician commented that they had taken beautiful photos of Mount Conner, not of Uluru!

Just before noon, we stopped by Kata-Tjuta (Olgas). From afar, we thought that the Olgas was comprised of fine sandstone but on closer inspection, it was actually conglomerates. Sorry, geology nerd. #sorrynotsorry

There are dream time stories associated with this place as well but blogging about it won’t really capture the essence of the stories. What I’m saying is, you have to go there yourselves and be immersed in the area to really appreciate the stories and to behold the breath-taking landscape all at the same time. Do it now, put this tour on your bucket lists!

We arrived at Uluru at high noon and stopped at the public access area to the Ayers Rock Resort. Here, we stretched our legs for a bit and went for a toilet break. We were also handed our packed sandwich lunches. There was a souvenir shop there but we didn’t bother entering.

Maybe next time I happen to visit Uluru, I'll stay here.

Maybe next time I happen to visit Uluru, I’ll stay here.

After the Olgas, we visited the Aboriginal Cultural Centre and did the 45-minute walk around the base of Uluru. The trail that we took was called the Mala Walk. Now, something happened at this time that I felt I could have handled better. While at the Cultural Centre, I wandered off somewhere (probably the toilet or something) and when I got back to the bus, I was one of the last ones to enter. I told Tic that I was looking for my friend, Kelly, and he said, she’s at the back of the bus. I didn’t check and I should have. We drove off and I wondered where she was. Maybe she needed a break from me and sat at the back of the bus. But it was when we got out of the bus at the foot of Uluru that I really started to worry. I couldn’t contact her and I told the guides that really, we left someone at the cultural centre! Tic drove back to look for Kelly and the rest of the tour group continued with the Mala Walk with Richard. (I don’t think they ever lost a tourist before and I could see the panic in Tic’s face when I said I wasn’t joking.) More than halfway through our walk, I spot our bus and I see Kelly walking towards our group. Thank God! Moral of the story, never believe the tour guide that “your friend’s at the back of the bus”.

Mario at the viewing platform.

Mario at the viewing platform.

The next series of photos were taken during the Mala Walk at the base of Uluru. Now, there are some areas that are considered more sacred than others so Richard would tell us when we needed to put our cameras away. There are some areas that we couldn’t take photos of.

The next quick guided walk we did led us to the Mutitjulu Waterhole. Here, we heard more Aboriginal stories as told by our very funny (in a smart ass kind of way) guide, Tic.

Just before sunset, we made our way to the viewing area. There were other tour buses but our spot was the closest to Uluru.

We get to see the sun go down in Uluru.

We get to see the sun go down in Uluru.

While Richard and Tic were busy preparing our sunset barbecue feast, we all had a chance to take photos and do short walks or check out the art works being peddled by the Aboriginal women at the car park.

Richard busy with the barbi.

Richard busy with the barbi.

We had a glass of bubbly with the nice salads, bread, and sausages. Even with a bus full of tourists, we were all able to go back for seconds! After we had our fill of food, we still had time to watch the sun completely set and relax for a bit before we started our 6-hour drive back to Uluru. Kelly and I were the last to be dropped off at our motel at 1AM.

This has got to be the longest day tour ever but it was so worth it. I highly recommend doing the Uluru tour with Emu Run Tours.

We had the best spot for the sunset viewing.

We had the best spot for the sunset viewing.

Ayers Rock.

Ayers Rock.

Uluru and a magnificent sunset sky.

Uluru and a magnificent sunset sky.

This experience is indeed one for the books. I have to thank Kelly for making this dream a reality. It was magical!

Achievement unlocked!

Achievement unlocked!

– Giselle

P.S. Darwin is the epilogue to this adventure. Wait for it!

West Macdonnell Ranges

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On our third day in Alice Springs, Kelly, Trin, and I took a day tour of the West Macdonnell Ranges via Emu Run Tours. The day was a combination of nature walks, listening to local folklore, and looking at rocks – a geologist’s delight!

Our first stop was the grave site of John Flynn, considered the father of the Royal Flying Doctors Service. From there we visited Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, the Ochre Pits, and Ormiston Gorge. In the afternoon, we went to Glen Helen and lastly, to Ellery Creek Bighole. It was a relief to find out that there are no crocodiles in this part of Australia. Whew.

John Flynn's grave site.

John Flynn’s grave site.

Walking towards Simpsons Gap. This is a dry river bed. There hasn't been enough rain in the past decade for water to flow through it.

Walking towards Simpsons Gap. This is a dry river bed. There hasn’t been enough rain in the past decade for water to flow through it.

Spot the rock wallaby.

Spot the rock wallaby.

Simpsons Gap.

Simpsons Gap.

Girls at the Gap.

Girls at the Gap.

The next set of photos were taken at Standley Chasm. The chasm was named after Ida Standley, the first government-appointed teacher in Central Australia. She taught the white children as well as the Aboriginal children in the area.

All food was included in our package tour and we had our morning tea at Standley Chasm. We got to know a little bit about our fellow tour members and our guide as well. There was a German girl and a French girl in our group. There was also an Italian guy. There were two other Australians in the tour as well. One of them, I had a chance to chat with when we were at the Ochre Pits. He was pleased to know I was of Filipino ethnicity and had talked to me in whatever Tagalog he could remember. He had visited the Philippines a few times either on outreach missions or to visit some Filipino friends.

Some geology for you.

Some geology for you.

Inside the Ochre Pits.

Inside the Ochre Pits.

It was almost noon when we left the pits and we headed next to Ormiston Gorge. That’s where we stopped for lunch and rested a bit. The French girl and the Italian guy went for a quick swim while the rest of us were happy to just sit around and take photos.

All these places that we went to form a part of what is called the Larapinta Trail. Hardcore hikers and campers can walk the entire trail and camp out along the way. I think it takes about 15 days to complete the entire trail. The Finke River flows along this area. The Aboriginal term for parts of this river is called “larapinta”. We learned from our guide, Ryan, that “larapinta” means bitter water. (Locals do attest to the water in the are as having a bitter taste).

Legend has it that a goddess was cradling her baby and as she looked down from the heavens, she dropped the baby to the earth. She came down to get back her baby but it was too late. The child didn’t survive the fall. Heartbroken, she laid down on the ground and cried. Her tears formed what is known as the Larapinta (Finke River). Bitter water.

The goddess that shed the tears which made the Larapinta River. Can you see her?

The goddess that shed the tears which made the Larapinta. Can you see her?

Our second to the last stop for the day was at Glen Helen Gorge. It was a chance to do our own little walks or maybe have a cold drink at the shop. It was nearly 3 in the afternoon and still pretty hot so we didn’t really walk very far from where our minibus was parked.

The last stop for the day – and last chance for a swim – was at Ellery Creek Gorge. When we got there, it was kinda crowded and the water didn’t look that appealing. But since it was very hot, we still went in the water. It did cool us down but I wasn’t game for submerging my head in it. No way. We got back to our motel (Alice Motor Inn) at around 6pm. No night out for us. We were tired! Plus, Kelly and I had to wake up early the following day for our Uluru day tour. At least Trin got to sleep in the next day.

Ellery Creek Gorge.

Final stop: Ellery Creek Gorge.

Next installment: Uluru/Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock/Olgas) Day Tour

– Giselle

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