I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Long Service Leave

Now that I am officially on long service leave, I have really stepped up the pace on my book. Yes, I know it's meant to be a holiday; and yes, there is something quite grand in that line coming up quite soon, but I am just happy to feel able to work all day, and quite productively, on the ms. I keep going over and over the various chapters, smoothing, co-ordinating, filling in gaps, and writing footnotes, even though I still have one entire chapter to write from scratch, and still a few little clumps of paragraphs to add in here and there. I have a couple of tough readers lined up, and I want to get a bunch of chapters ready for them to read. I am supposed to get all but the last chapter to the press by September. That's going to be a close call.

But it is my leave; and so I am doing some of the things I have been thinking about doing for a while. I have been cooking a little, and two Saturdays in a row, now, I have made a big rum baba in a wonderful heavy ring tin my mother gave me. The cake just fell out of the tin both times. The second time I tripled the amount of syrup, and it was sodden and succulent as it's supposed to be.

I have started learning Italian, and now when I'm in the car I listen to the Italian radio station (even if I can only pick up things like identifying the weather, the soccer reports and the ads for Piedimonte's, my local supermercato). I also bought Il Globo, the Australian Italian newspaper, and so I get to look at (I can hardly call it reading yet), national and local news in Italian. Seems odd to see the Queensland premier being called "la Bligh", but there you go.

I have also joined a gym. I swore for many years I would never darken the doors of such an establishment, preferring to get my exercise for free and on my own. But the idea came to me in Philadelphia [ed. and DC (see comments box)], when I realised how fit and lithe were some of the medievalists I admire most, and now I am utterly hooked. I have no idea what to do when I'm there, so I've booked in for a sequence of sessions with Miss Sophie, and we have a hilarious time, as she shows me how to use machines I had no idea were possible, and exercises I had no idea I could do. The time goes very quickly. Today I was lifting a few little weights, and she swapped the dumbbells for a big round plate, so I could feel "more manly", she said, as we fell about laughing. I come home and demonstrate to the others what I've been doing, and bounce around the house for a bit until the endorphins subside and my arms and legs start to ache. I now know why weightlifters get those trembling legs.

Anyway, it is deeply fun to do something completely different with the body and mind. I have also started playing the piano again, too, in anticipation of a Great Event and a Big Black New Arrival tomorrow.

I guess in a different world, you'd go and spend the entirety of your long service leave in Sardinia, or somewhere, and write a novel or read poetry. That's not the world I live in, though; and so I'm happy enough with this new balance of things. I'm especially happy that work is going so well. Perhaps I should have joined the gym years ago...


Pavlov's Cat said...

Yes it IS supposed to be a holiday, but I'm fearing you may no longer be able fit a trip to Adders in between now and bella Italia, especially not with the pressure on about the book and the lure of the Big Black New Arrival. Maybe later in the year ...?

Doing weights is very very good for bone density, as I trust your trainer has told you. I love those machines. I love them so much that you have inspired me to go back and start using them again.

Jeffrey J. Cohen said...

I wonder who those fit and lithe Philly medievalists were. They must put the flabby and ungraceful medievalists of DC to shame.

I quit the gym a little more than a year ago because I wanted to be outside more. I do miss it sometimes (I had belonged to one for a very long time), but for the most part it has been OK without one -- really it's made me more attentive to staying active outside of that one hour window that the gym used to get.

Stephanie Trigg said...

PC, yes I've been cherishing the illusion that being on leave like this has an elastic effect on time. Alas, it is not so. And so, yes, November is looking a little more likely as I have a visitor in October. Sorry about that. Any SA opera we could take in around that time?

Actually Sophie and I tend to talk more about her mother who is an English teacher and writer. But yes, the bone density thing. Plus, realising that all the walking and cycling I do is very good for the legs, but not much chop for the other limbs — or the bits in between ...

JJC, I have duly emended the post, because I remembered I was impressed by your account on the blog, one time, of getting up to go to the gym in the early morning. As well as the general litheness and fitness of the DC bunch, etc. And ... an hour? Dude, I'm seriously impressed.