New Years Eve

Just a quick little note - it's almost nine and dinner and firwworks are around the corner!  I'll be taping it and posting it if it turns out ok... 

Ill post tomorrow about resolutions and all that stuff - Have a great New Year!


I’ve had this crazy deadline for myself lately – that before I wrote about anything else; and before Christmas happened… I would write a blog post about Thanksgiving that was just as large, delicious and fun as the actual day was. I started the entry – actually, I started it many many times. My latest go at it is saved in my draft folder. It’s rather disjointed as I have been adding a paragraph here and there over the last few days. On Christmas Eve I was running around the house, trying to pack and shut down the house and I kept stopping to write a few more sentences here and there. Trust me when I tell you that that is no way to write a blog post and absolutely no way to pack for a trip. Here I am on vacation with a stack of sweaters, a stack of tank tops and not much in between. Same with the blog post, I keep trying to conjure up for my readers how it feels to be so far away from your family on an emotional holiday; and the surprise you feel when the holiday goes so well that you file it in your top 10 of all times. It’s a hard emotional state to convey through writing and there is only so much you can write about a golden brown and delicious turkey. So, I am going to table that Thanksgiving post. I am going to set it aside and maybe write about it at some point in the future.

I know I haven’t been good about blogging lately; but I’ve had a lot of time to think about my motivations (and de-motivations in this case) and here’s what I’ve come up with. My blog is essentially a travelogue of our time here in Australia – except, we aren’t here on vacation… this is real life happening the way that real life happens. So, sometimes there just isn’t anything fun, exciting or touristy to write about – and that is just going to have to be ok with me; and be ok with those of you who faithfully check this space every day. Also, I need to get myself out of this strange idea that every event must be written about in order. I think I would write more often if I didn’t feel like it was a chore – rather something to be enjoyed… almost something completely selfish.

Just a Quick Recap

Well, I haven't posted in a while...

Here's what's been going on...

Thanksgiving happened, I started working full-time, We did lots of fun stuff with our friends, We went on vacation, Christmas happened, Joe climbed a mountain, We came home, New Years is about to happen.

So, we just got home last night - I actually wrote quite a bit on vacation so I am going to take today to upload and sort photos and then homefully start posting some entries...

Stay Tuned!

I Was Going to Blog Tonight but...

I guess I am still technically blogging by writing this; but I was planning on a much longer entry than this will end up being.  Friday was our company Christmas Party and I decided to spend the bulk of my evening beginning the processing of the 165 photos that I took to commemorate the event.  Hey, part of my job is publicity remember?

Since I was doing the downloading and sorting photos thing tonight, it made me think of all the photos that were living in limbo on my phone. I've decided to download all of them, sort them and then possibly post some here tonight.

First Up - The Jacaranda Tree..  These purple/blue flowering trees are apparently a harbinger of Spring here.  They are also incredibly beautiful, fragrant and difficult not to take a million pictures of.

The end of our street (or beginning ish)

Also on our street

I think this one was in Mosman

Close-up on our street

I was going to do a second topic - like hibiscus or something; but I think that will need to wait for another night - some fireworks just started going off over Fort Denison so I am going to go watch them and then head to bed.

Night all!

p.s. - Hey Megs, Thanks for the awesome Thanksgiving card! Made me laugh out loud!

Thanksgiving!! Oh wait....nevermind..... Something Else!!

Well, this is my third or fourth attempt at blogging in so many days....  I have a sea of abandoned drafts that I have left in my wake - badly written and very very plodding.  I'm hoping this entry won't end up in the graveyard with them tonight... I'm trying to tip the odds in my favour by writing this at our brand new dining room table instead of half-slumped over in bed.  Hopefully the austerity of wooden furniture will keep me focused better than a pillow-top mattress can!

But, back to the table.... Most of you will know that we have been slowly buying furniture for our apartment (and for those of you who didn't... welcome! we are slowly buying furniture for our apartment) and; up to this point, we had been using a patio table as our eating space. 

** Crap, I'm already so distracted... I was trying to download photos that weren't there and then I had to spend 15 minutes stalking a big black beetle around the apartment with bug spray until I finally cornered it.

Ok, so my whole story about the table was going to be a lead up to a nice little tale about our fabulous ex-pat Thanksgiving; but now it appears that my photos grew legs and wandered away.  I can't bear to write about the golden and delicious turkey without some sort of visual aid to help me along, so that part of the entry will have to wait for another time.

But, luckily for me, since I have been so completely negligent about blogging lately, I have a whole slew of other topics that I can cover.  Well, maybe not a whole slew; but at least one or two little things....

I mentioned several posts ago about a fun weekend excursion we had had. My excuse for not blogging about it directly after it happened was the fact that I took no photos of it; and was dependant on others photographic generosity. Well, I have to admit, I'm feeling a bit guilty... I whinged and whinged until I got the photos I needed; and then proceeded to put it off til now (and, to be perfectly honest, if I had my Thanksgiving pictures at hand, I would be putting it off further still!)

The event we attended was the Red Bull Flugtag that was held in the Botanical Gardens overlooking the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, let me explain:

Red Bull sponsors a competition in which people build contraptions, machines, etc... that they hope will fly when they run them off a giant ramp over the water.  To give you an indication of the types of things we were seeing, the teams and their aircraft (and I use this term lightly) are judged in the following three categories:

1. The distance of "flight"
2. The design of the "aircraft"
3. The costumes and the dancing.....

I'm sure you can see where this is going - not much flying per-se; but plenty of entertainment!  The week preceeding this event had been plagued by a constant rain so we didn't have our hopes up for too nice of a day.  We headed out early with a picnic lunch and a tarp to hide under our blanket blanket to sit on.  I tried to be "prepared" and so went wearing a tank top, a mid-length sleeve shirt and a light sweatshirt.  Joe and I both wore jeans as it was very cold in the morning when we were getting ready to go. We hadn't even gotten halfway to the event before we all started peeling off layers!  It was hot - really hot.  Poor Joe had only worn long sleeves so he had to go buy a $20.00 Red Bull Flugtag T-shirt from one of the vendors.  Of course, not one of us had thought to bring any hats or sunscreen.  We realised it was a seriously rookie mistake as we looked around at all the Aussies with their sun protection.  Well, that's actually only a half-truth... At first we (or at least me) thought the sun was great - it was warm and cozy and it was drying the ground. We (again, really only me) basked in the sun, working on our (my) first tan of the season.  In all fairness, I am coming out of two winters in a row and I don't deal well with being denied sun exposure as frequently as possible.

Well, I'm sure you are seeing where this is going...  We all got burnt.  Badly. Technically, there were varying degrees of badness...  Fellow Blogger Val got burnt the worst - really, one of the worst sunburns I have ever seen! Joe came in second with a burn that was just about the worst I had ever seen on him.  I came in third with what I would consider a medium burn for me.  Not too bad; but gone in a couple days.  Fellow bloggers husband (incidentally the person kind enough to have taken all these photos and to let me use them in this entry) didn't actually burn at all and was the luckiest of us all.

We had some other issues with horribly rude people standing in front of us and obscuring our view of the first few crafts; but after Joe found us a new place to sit, we were able to enjoy the view un-impeded.  After a couple hours in that spot, we had to move under the shade of a tree - at that point though, the damage had been done!

When Joe and I got home, we threw open all the windows and took off as many clothes as possible (I know, I know... move along) as the burn really started to set in.  I think we were a bit sun-addled - Joe decided to take a nap in the spare room (why there? I have no clue?) and I figured I would lay next to him and read.  Well, we both ended up passing out from sun exposure falling asleep and woke up after dark with a freezing cold wind coming in all the open windows - if you have ever been burned you know that horrible feeling where you are really cold; but the burned parts of your body are on fire and having the both of them at once give you constant chills?  Oh yeah.... I had that for the rest of the evening.

But, I would have done it again in a heartbeat - the experience was incredible!  I'm going to leave you with a little video that I am stealing borrowing from You Tube so that you can all see how we spent the afternoon!

(and yes, that aircraft is a cupcake and yes they are wearing giant chef's toques!)

Thanksgiving Approacheth!

I wish I could use that as an excuse for my non-existence in this space lately; but I can't.  Honestly, the only thing keeping me from long, insightful, photo-filled blog posting is plain old tiredness.

I am exhausted and I can't quite figure out why....  Those that know me well can vouch for the fact that I can stay up until all hours of the night writing or just generally mucking about on my laptop.  This week has been quite the exception.  I have gone straight to bed every night for the past week with hardy a glance spared for my cold and lonely laptop.  Don't tell too many people (cause I don't want to diminish my street cred); but I have been asleep before 11 almost every night for the past 10 or so.  I think my husband thinks that aliens have taken his real wife and replaced her with a very very tired pod person...

I don't even have a whole lot that I can blame the tiredness on either.  I am busy, to be fair; but I used to work 40+ hours a week, take care of the house etc... in my old life while staying up till one in the morning most nights without breaking a sweat.

Maybe it's the clean Sydney air?  Maybe it's the lapping of the water outside my window at night? Maybe it's the glass of wine with dinner?  Maybe I'm just anemic?

At any rate, it's 20 till eleven and I'm about to turn into a pumpkin......

It's a dangerous season out there for pumpkins so I think I had better go to bed!

Hello There

Not much going on here, and I have not one single picture to post.  In keeping with my blog post from a couple of days ago I am trying to pry myself out of the bad habit of only posting when I have a ton to talk about and a ton of pictures to post.

We have a new person starting at work on Monday - he is from Washington Joe and I have been trying to help him out with the whole "being American and settling in Sydney" process.  Poor guy - we had him over for dinner tonight and I think I talked his ear off.  I need to tone down my mothering instincts in a serious way!

We went out on a fun excursion last weekend that I will blog about as soon as I have the photos ready (I was lazy and didn't take any so I am totally using someone elses) and this weekend we have almost nothing planned.  If the weather holds than we might go lay on the reserve for a while; but, if we do, Joe will have to take a bath in sunscreen first.  Anyone else interested? (in the reserve part - not the bath part...)

I almost forgot!!!  On Tuesday we had fly screens installed in the majority of the apartment!  I cannot tell you how exciting it is to be able to leave the windows open all night, to hear the water and the sailboats, without having giant mosquitoes and moths coming in to stalk us.  We only had screens installed into the sash (typical open up and down) windows; but our next goal is to have screens put in the office.  Of course, those ones will need to be hinged so they will be a bit more complicated; but I think it will be worth it in the end.

Anyway, that's all I have going on tonight - I just wanted to pop in before the craziness of the weekend sucked me in and spat me out on Monday with no blog posts to show for it...

Bad Habit

I wanted to blog a couple of days ago about something and I didn't...  I didn't because I told myself that I didn't have enough news or photos for a "real" blog post.  I have gotten myself into the mindset that a blog entry has to be very very long with at least 4 bajillion (yes, it's a real word - look it up) photos to match.

So, I need to get myself out of this habit.  I will begin by now posting the post that I wanted to post the other day- Ha!

So, Monday morning I had an absolutely incredible dream about my Dad.  I have dreams about my parents all the time; but, in those dreams, they are more like ideas or shadows.  Hard to grab on to and even harder to hold on to long enough to try to see their faces in the dreams.  Not this one....  I dreamed we were having some sort of family reunion.  My Uncle Ray was there rocking a fantastic pin striped suit.  My Dad showed up and the two of them started talking about clothes (in the dream, my Dad was claiming to have lost weight and wanted to buy new clothes - even though he looked the same to me) and where to buy them - especially the suit which my Dad was quite impressed with.  I remember being conscious enough to realise that I could see Dad's face and that it really felt like he was there.  At this point, I didn't feel like a player in the dream; but I was more than content to sit and watch - this was the most I had seen of my Dad's face in a dream for years!

Then my Dad saw me.  His face lit up like someone turned a spotlight on behind it.  He rushed over to me and started talking a mile a minute.  At one point he grabbed my hands and held them.  I just remember everything slowing down - I couldn't even pay attention to what he was saying because I couldn't stop looking at his face.  He was laughing and making all those little facial expressions that you are afraid you will forget as time slips by. I remember reaching up and putting my hand on his face - I could smell his shaving soap and feel his stubble.  I was, in that moment, a little kid again; but somehow not.

And then I woke up - just like that....

It was weird - I woke up and Joe had already left for work.  He never leaves without waking me up to say goodbye and kiss me. I called him to make sure everything was ok and he told me that he hadn't woke me because I seemed to be having such a good sleep.  I'm so glad he decided to let me sleep that morning...

If my Dad were alive, it would be his 77th birthday tomorrow.  I would probably be buying him a nice pair of courderouy pants.  Except, I think what he really would have wanted was a pin striped suit...

Write Tonight?

I am in the midst of dealing with our first ever "shaped" internet usage!  "Shaped" is a nice Aussie term for "you have used to much internets and now you must be punished!"  So, we have a plan for 100MB a month (yes, I know this is an extreme amount; but we download a lot so don't judge) and it is at lightning fast (I'm not being sarcastic - it really is crazy fast) broad band speed.  Once we go over our 100MB we get throttled back to a "slightly faster then dial-up" speed.

What that means....  Well, for one thing, it means that I downloaded too many movies the other day.  Also, this means that there will be no video-Skyping tomorrow for our Skype date with Joe's parents.  That is a bummer.  The only positive here is that our usage resets in about 24 hours - so, we only have to live with a pre-historic internet connection for another day.

Jennifer - I am dying to watch your You-Tube videos... I can get to "this is the part of the classroom" and then it stops loading and I have to give up.  I swear I will watch them Sunday night.

Anyway...  last Sunday (well, really two Sundays ago) - the day after the crazy rain, was a momentous day because it was my grandfather's 91st birthday.  Well, technically, his birthday was Saturday in the States; but I got to call him on Sunday morning our time and talk to him after his birthday dinner.  I've blogged about him before in this post about his time in Perth/Freemantle so you can go there and read up on the back story if you would like.  I feel so connected to him here in Australia and I think about him all the time.  It's incredible to me that I lived my whole life up to this point thinking that no one in my family had ever been to Australia.  Now knowing that he was here before me gives me this feeling of calm - like he checked it out for me to make sure it was ok for me to come.  I was so lucky to get married in Florida on the beach two years ago and I was even more lucky to have him there to walk me down the aisle.  This is my favourite picture of us from the wedding - I think I look a little like my mom in it which makes it perfect. 

So, I just want to say - Happy Birthday Coach!  I'm so glad I got to share in your day a little even though I am so far away.  Also, thanks for sharing in this wonderful adventure we are having - I promise, I'll make it to Freemantle while we are here and take lots of pictures for you!

Sunday was also the wedding day of fellow blogger C. where she married her Partner-in-Crime in a lovely ceremony overlooking the harbour.  It was an unfortunately rainy morning; but they made the best of it and managed to make the whole umbrella thing work.  Also, I've seen the "sneak peak" photos and I can say that wedding pictures involving umbrellas are super-dreamy.  I can't wait to see the rest when they are done because I think that they are going to be gorgeous.  There was a nice BBQ after at the local sailing club - it was very intimate, the food was great and there was plenty of wine.  It was a wonderful morning and it was an absolute privilege to have been invited and to have gotten to share in such a great occasion.

The week that followed was uneventful. I literally can't remember a single thing that went on during the week. I'm sure I did a ton of laundry - I made some yummy dinners - I walked to the shops a few times.  Actually, scratch all that - I just opened my batch of photos from that week and I beginning to remember more as I look through them.  Ha, who needs a photographic memory when you can just take pictures of everything you do and store them on your computer?  I'm kidding - well, sort-of... 
I have several pictures of beautiful Aussie scenery - the clouds, the flowers etc.  I still just can't get over how amazingly beautiful everything is here.  I really had to rely on the scenery and the beauty here this past week as I really struggled to be a "stranger in a strange land".  People here really seem to speak their mind about America - they do it a lot and mostly they do it in "joke" form.  They joke about the tired old stereotypes that they get from the American tv and movies that are consumed en masse here.  Usually the joking doesn't bother me very much; but there just seemed to be a lot this particular week. The worst part about it is that you can't respond to the joking without looking like a spoil sport with no sense of humor. 
So, on the days when I was so mad that I just wanted to fly back to the States to be around Americans that aren't egotistical crazies who eat at McDonald's every night (let me just interject that I am not saying Aussies are this way - I am just saying that this seems to be how many of them perceive Americans) , I had to use the scenery to pull myself out of it.  Also, a couple glasses of wine in the evenings are never remiss when you are in a bad mood!

*editing to add that at midnight the internet completely died and so here I am the next morning, praising Blogger's auto save function (ha, that's totally going to get Googled) because without it, this might be a very different (and much more angry) post.

A good deal of the week was spent trying to get ready for Halloween - We decided to have a Halloween carnival at work complete with Bobbing for Apples and also Donut on a String (which I shamelessly stole from Arvin's Halloween festivities last year).  Much fun was had by all; but it was a lot of wok and a lot of stress.  By Friday afternoon when I was setting everything up, I was pretty much ready to be done with everything.  With Halloween, with the people, with being new and not knowing what to do/where to go/where to buy things etc...  After the carnival, Joe was nice enough to take me out to a nice dinner and then, after we had had sometime to decompress, we met up with the work colleagues at a hotel (which is a bar) and continued the night.

Saturday was a very very quiet day - Joe and I weren't feeling too well after being out too late the night before.  We mostly just putzed around the house, watched a movie or two and vegged. 

Sunday was a Halloween party that we were invited to by a coworker. It was "fancy dress", which mean costumes here; but not everyone ended up dressing up.  I am slightly amazed to say that I dressed up as Bride of Frankenstein, complete with fright wig, fake eyelashes, white skin, stitches on the face and the whole bit and I have not one single picture of this to show you. Not a single picture....

I also have to add here that it has been raining constantly (ok, that may be a slight exaggeration); but it has been reminding me of winter here more than spring.  I am really ready for some blindingly hot sunshine.  I think that may help improve everything around here.

And that is all....

Playing Catch Up

Just a warning - this will most likely be incredibly long, boring and rambling as I am determined to catch up and write about the last week and half all in one post...  Strap in, this may get bumpy....

In my last post, I left off with my adventures to Chinatown on the Tuesday before last.  I went off to work the next afternoon and when I was passing through Hyde Park, I realised that the Night Noodle Markets which are part of the Sydney International Food Festival were due to end in a few days.  I had been looking forward to this event ever since I saw the first tents being erected in Hyde Park so I made a date with Joe to have dinner there that night.  It's actually a bit strange as he was working from home that day and I was working in the office - it's usually the other way around!  We aren't really the "festival going" type of couple; but this really wasn't too bad.  We didn't get there until a bit after 6 when I thought it was quite busy - silly me, by 8 it was a complete and total madhouse!
We started off by buying a bottle of wine... as we were standing in line, the real estate agent that showed us our unit saw us and came over with some friends of hers to say hello and ask how we were settling in.  It was nice of her to come over to talk to us and it made me like her a bit better.  As you may remember from this post, she was a bit witchy when I tried to see the apartment for the first time so I am now revising my opinion of her!  Anyway, we got some pork and duck buns and then started looking for a decent patch of ground on which to sit (I think you would have to get there around 3 to actually get a table)... We found a perfect place and as soon as we sat down, a family sat down about 4 inches away from us complete with a screaming toddler in a pram that got parked facing us.  Yeah, we totally moved!  I'm glad we did though because; as we were settling our stuff around us in our new spot the woman next to us said something to us and I realised she was American. So, of course, me being the shy thing that I am (ha ha ha) struck up a conversation with her.  I've exchanged some emails with her and I'm hoping to meet up for a coffee soon.  Call it what you will... fate, kismet, providence etc... but I believe that we ended up on that little patch of grass for a reason.  The American woman, her British husband and adorable baby left soon after we sat down.  Joe and I stayed in the park to finish our wine and watch dusk and twilight come down on the market. 
I know you married folks will understand when I say that sometimes couples don't have much to say to each other over a quick weeknight meal.  Especially when you work in the same place and spend as much together as we do!  This was not one of those nights...  We couldn't stop talking - couldn't stop holding hands - couldn't stop smiling at each other.... You know what I mean!  We sat with our wine in the grass and really talked... about the big (and mostly fantastically wonderful) things in our lives right now.  When we finished the wine, we really wanted to eat a yummy desert to round out the night; but there wasn't anything at the Noodle Markets that looked good to us.  We walked down to Circular Quay and had some delicious coffee and some tirimisu at Rossini at the Quay. I think we missed about 2 ferries while we were sitting there holding hands - we just didn't want to leave and spoil the great conversation that we were having.  It's moments like those when I realise just a fraction of how lucky we are as a couple.  How lucky we are that we found each other in the middle of our crazy lives, and how glad I am that we both stuck it out through much of the crap that we had to deal with early on in our relationship.  Our marriage is worth every bit of stress that we ever had to face.
I can't ever have imagined moving halfway around the world - that just wasn't in my wheelhouse... I'm a homebody, I don't like change and I don't like my routine to be altered.  It still seems pretty crazy that we are here and that I'm actually happy with my new and different life here.  The only thing that I can figure is that being with Joe is like being home to me - as long as I have my hand in his than I can go anywhere without fear or worry.  I know this might sound a bit schmaltzy (ok, probably more than a bit); but big life events can either strengthen a relationship or they can reveal all the tiny cracks that will eventually lead to a full break.  Moving in general can be very stressful - let alone moving to a new country.  I was always worried in the back of my mind that our move might shake our marriage up and cause some fights etc... 
In the end though, I was completely unprepared for the effect that this move had on our relationship. I didn't think that this big stressful move could make us fall even more in love.  I didn't think it could strengthen our already rock solid foundation.  I guess that putting yourselves in a position where your spouse is the only one you can lean on for a while can deepen your patience and trust in each other in a way not many things can.
Anyway, I digress ((I mean, that was a seriously long, vomit-inducing digression) I hope you are still reading; but, if not, I would totally understand).  We hopped on the next ferry, still holding hands and then it was homeward bound.
I've been trying to discipline myself into taking pictures of anything and everything that I like or find beautiful - even if it makes me feel silly or even if the picture turns out looking like crap.  I was lying bed that night reading a book and Joe was sleeping - I glanced over and realized that my husband's back, as he sleeps in bed next to me, is one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen.  So I snapped a picture.

Thursday was a  free day for me; and I can't remember anything remarkable about it.  There was probably some laundry involved - Ah yes, I believe I finished the last season of The Tudors... yikes, they were really into the torturing and beheading there at the end.

Friday was work and then out for a few drinks with coworkers.  Joe got dinner at the pub; but I didn't eat.  So, when we all left the pub, Joe and I went around the corner to a little Italian place where I got a salad and a bowl full of mussels.  Oh, and I had the best cappuchino of my life...  Really, like the total best.  Also, I think there was a redback spider in the toilets....

Saturday morning (or maybe it was Thursday?  At this point I'm not completely sure of the days) we were quite shocked to hear the buzzer.  It was the postman!  OMG!  The postman actually rang our buzzer and then actually brought a package up to us instead of just leaving a card in the mailbox!  I guess my complaining finally paid off.  The package was a from my fabulous and wonderful sister Julie and it was full of incredible goodies.  Peanut butter M&Ms, Reese's Pieces, Bath and Body Works Lotions, Magic Erasers and some Skyline Chili seasoning packs.  Oh the rapture!  The lotion has to be my favourite item - she sent me one of their new line (I think - I am so out of the loop on all things involving American shopping) called Dark Kiss.  I'm just letting all of you know, up front and right now, that I would consider doing pretty much anything to get my hands (ha ha - literally... wow, that was a bad pun) on more of that specific scent.  I might even consider smuggling a koala out of the country for someone if they offered me enough of this lotion - just saying....
In the afternoon, we headed up to Pymble for a housewarming party for a coworker.  Their new apartment is huge and completely gorgeous!  The company was wonderful, the food was truly beautiful (especially the whole broiled fish with ginger) and we had a wonderful time.  About halfway through the party, the sky opened up and it rained absolute buckets... in the back of my mind I pictured all the open windows in our apartment and had a mini heart attack but what could we do?  It cleared up by the time we left which was good as we had to walk back to the train station to head home.  Well, you can probably see where this story is going...  we got home to complete destruction and devastation (ok, I'm exaggerating a little but it was pretty bad).  Lamps were blown over, there were puddles on the side tables and the couches were completely soaked. Joe's computer equipment was ominously wet; but all survived save his keyboard. Our bed was so wet from the rain blowing in that we actually had to sleep in the spare room that night.  We closed our bedroom door and turned the heater on in there full tilt to try to speed out the drying process.  Really though, we were very lucky that both Joe's desktop and my laptop which were both left right in front of open windows made it through unscathed.  Needless to say, we have been pretty militant about closing the windows every time we leave the apartment now - Lesson learned.

Ok, I am now admitting defeat.  I still have a weeks work of blogging to go and this post is so long that I doubt most of your will have even made it to the end without falling asleep.

Next up, a wedding, a week of being irritated and a Halloween Party. I'll try not to wait another week again so that I can keep these entries a bit shorter.

(Also, can I just say that I am having such a love affair with parenthesis in this post)

Insomnia - Or - Why I am Writing at One in the Morning...

I suppose I should be grateful for my insomnia tonight - it certainly lends itself to blogging far better than sleeping an a warm comfy bed would...

As I mentioned in my last post, this past weekend was very productive with the both of us getting a bunch of stuff done around the house.  We made a trip to Ikea for more furniture on Friday night and then spent the weekend getting it all set-up.  I also finally finished re-painting the armoire I had been working on for a seeming eternity...
It's pretty incredible having an actual living room full of furniture - we spent so long with nothing that I had almost forgotten what it was like to invite people over without asking them to bring their own chairs with them!  I was really in a rush to get all of this set-up this past weekend because Monday night I was hosting my ex-pat book club at my place.  I knew it would push me to get more done than I would have otherwise...  Quite honestly, if I hadn't been hosting the book club, I think the armoire would still be unpainted...

Monday morning I had plans to go see "Eat, Pray, Love" with my friend Kim.  I hadn't seen her in a few weeks and I was missing her like crazy...  She had just gotten back from a holiday in Western Australia so we had much to catch up on at our lunch after the movie.  I really wanted to sit around and talk to her all afternoon; but she had to pick her son up from school and I had a ton more to get done before book club.  It was a resounding success, although I hadn't read the book and those that had read it didn't really like it.

(I have to pause here to add that I had ordered the book weeks before but it hadn't arrived yet.  Also, I have to add that I got it several days after the book club meeting, started reading it yesterday, finished it today and I thought it was one of the worst books I have ever spent painful painful hours trying to slog through).

But, I digress...  Tuesday was a scheduled "day of adventure" with a fellow blogger.  We talked about doing some walking tours etc; but the day was rainy and overcast so we decided to head down to Chinatown and Paddy's Markets for some Yum Cha (Dim Sum) and some serious shopping.  We met around lunchtime so we decided to start with the food and then go from there.  Yum Cha was delish and wonderful - fellow blogger had never experienced it before so it was neat to get to explain how it all works.  We had a bit of a translation issue at one point and so ended up with a lovely dish of beef tripe (you do know that tripe is stomach lining right?) on our table.  As with most odd things that you can order in a Chinese restaurant, the flavour was great; but the texture was quite um... textured. 
I was quite impressed with the both of us though - we both tried it and we both actually ate more than one piece each.  Actually, when I wiki'ed tripe to make sure I talked about it correctly, I found out that most commercial breakfast sausage in the States uses pork and beef tripe as filler.  I guess I can't honestly say that this was my first experience with it!  The rest of the food was stellar, and so, buoyed up by a pot of Chinese tea, we headed out into the drizzle in search of bargains.  Paddy's Markets were closed much to our intense disappointment; but the upstairs shops were open so we headed up to see what they had on offer.  We were figuring that they would be regular places; but they seemed to all be stores that were geared for lower budgets which suited us just fine!  I was able to pick up 4 pairs of shoes for only $70 and it felt like I was back in America with such bargains. We had just completed a circuit of all the shops when we noticed one off in the corner called Typo.  Fellow blogger and I were helpless - like moths to a flame we went in slack jawed and drooling.  I would try to explain the coolness of this place; but I know I would fall very very short so I am just going to encourage you to follow the link and look at the catalogue.  While in the shop I fell in love with a rather large black canvas with Australian city names listed on it in an arty sort of way. 
I texted Joe some pictures, he liked it, it was a good price so I bought it.  Then I realized that I had to carry it home.  Yikes...  I hadn't really thought that one through.  Luckily it was longer than it was wide so I was able to sort of tuck it under my arm and grab the bottom of it with my hard.  I got lots of stares on the way home... We didn't end up wandering too much through the actual streets of Chinatown as I now had an enormous canvas tucked under one arm; but I am hoping that our next outing can be truly exploratory in that sense...  We did see a bit before we went into the markets and also on our way back to Central Station to catch our respective buses and trains which is when I snapped these couple of pictures.  I'd like to give it a go on a sunny day; with my actual camera and not just a cell phone.

I am going to give sleep another chance; but I will write again in the morning  - I still have to talk about Night Noodle Markets, meeting more ex-pats, being in love with my husband and our busy social weekend.

Obsessions, Eggplant and Voting

What a title right?  I mean, how could you not read this?


I can't stop taking pictures! I downloaded some photo apps for my phone and now I am snapping pictures of random park benches, wharfies or anything else that is in front of me...  I even did a self portrait of myself tonight. How Aussie am I with my messy "couldn't care less" hair?  I even had random unnecessary bobby pins stuck in it just to mess it up extra!

Really though, in all seriousness, I didn't prep for this shot - I just took it in five seconds as a lark; but it somehow managed to capture a lot more than just what my face looks like. It's a bit hard to describe; but I know the ones of you readers that know me the best and longest will know exactly what I am talking about.

Anyway, this is really a microcosm of what I am really talking about....  Obsessions...  Well, not really; but the things that you are semi good at and have always wanted to learn/improve/take classes on etc...  Being here in my specific situation is giving me some opportunities that I never would have imagined.  Opportunities in the shape of seemingly endless free time, a new country/city/culture to explore and most importantly, a new perspective on who I can be, who I want to be and what my life could be like.

I've always loved photography; but I've always written myself off about it - "I have a crap camera", "I don't know anything about photography" etc...  I've had some lucky moments and gotten some good shots.  I took a bunch of pictures on one of our vacations to Hocking Hills and they turned out so well that Joe and I had the whole series framed to hang in the house.  So many people commented on them - Honestly, it was always nice to correct them when they assumed that Joe (the artistic one of the two of us) took them.  I started to think that maybe I really could take good photos if I tried hard enough etc... 

A couple weeks ago Joe and I did some of the Eastern Coastal walk and I was so blown away by the intense beauty of what was around me that I resolved then and there to start taking pictures of everything and anything that caught my eye or looked beautiful to me.  I bought photo editing software.  I started paying just a bit more attention to what I was photographing.  I would say it's going well so far.  Maybe some die-hard photographers will disagree with me and tell me that it takes more than a mobile phone and a vignette to make a good picture.  Maybe they will tell me it takes a $3000 dollar Nikon, many classes and years of experience to produce a good picture.  I say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What I'm coming to realise is that it doesn't have to be about "trying hard" or having a top of the line camera...  It is about seeing beauty in simple things, in shadows - about seeing a picture in your head and then capturing it with whatever you have available to you.  Thankfully, I have a wealth of material.  The train stations here are much like the train stations everywhere - nothing special; but coming from a life without trains, I notice them now.  I ride them, I wait for them and I love their yellow doors. 

I am writing and writing about this and I still don't feel as though I've really made my point...  I suppose if I had to sum it up - I would be saying this:

I have given myself permission to take photos of everything and anything I find beautiful or interesting.  I have stopped mentally telling myself that I don't know enough to take good pictures. I am resolved to take advantage of the newness with which I see my surroundings and try to document that. 


I do my grocery shopping on-line here and have it delivered.  It's much easier than dragging it home two miles from the store - even with my shame on wheels granny cart.  I mostly get all of my staples and heavy stuff (((mineral water, milk, canned goods, beer, wine) and yes, beer and wine are staples) don't judge) delivered and then do my meat and produce shopping throughout the week.  This past weekend, I was getting ready to host a book club, I had a full weekend planned and then rest of my week was already booked out....  I decided to order some produce on-line to get me though to when I could make it up to the shops.  Among other things, Eggplants were on special and I sprung for two of them. 

I was kind of expecting those skinny Asian eggplants when the groceries were delivered; but instead I got these impossibly fat, glossy specimens of what eggplants should always look like.

Maybe it's just me, maybe it's that I hadn't made anything Italian-ish in a while; but the first thing I thought of was Eggplant Parmesan.  I had also ordered a big hunk of mozzarella so I was set...  it was more a matter of timing than anything.  The weekend was out, Monday was the book club with nibbles for dinner; but tonight - Tuesday was the perfect time.  It was gloriously gray today - drizzly this morning; but clearing quickly into a blustery, too shy for Spring day.  It was Eggplant Parmesan weather!

I decided to forgo the salting and pressing that my mom always did with her eggplant - I never found it very helpful and I am of the opinion that, if an eggplant is full of bad bitter seeds, no amount of salt and squishing with a full gallon of milk ( my siblings should hopefully get this reference) will make it any more palatable.  All the produce I have gotten here has been completely beautiful so I forged ahead with the egging, breadcrumbing and frying.  I did the usual layering with sauce, eggplant pieces and mozzarella cheese.  I don't have a recipe; but I can tell you that the process of preparing this dish is best enhanced with a nice glass of champagne, the sound of your husband playing music in the office and four new pairs of shoes waiting to be introduced into your closet.  After I finished our dish, I had leftovers of everything - not enough for a whole other 8x10 casserole; but enough for a smaller cute, "one meal for two people with no leftovers" size casserole.  I figured I could freeze the smaller one and then inspiration struck!  Our neighbors across the hall are expecting a baby any day so I packaged it up and took it over for them to freeze and have after the baby comes.  After I got back from delivering it I had a moment of panic.... What if the eggplant was full of horrible bitter seeds?  What if it was inedible?  What had I delivered to them?

Sheesh - I really need to start trusting myself!  I took ours out of the oven when it was golden and bubbly on top.  I broke open a cleanskin bottle of Semillion Chardonnay and served it all up.  I am happy to say that there was not a single bitter seed to be found...  I am actually going to just be honest and say that it was by far the best Eggplant Parmesan I have ever had - better than Mom's and better than anything I have ever had in any restaurant...

It was so good that I actually had this crazy moment after a couple of bites where I blurted out to Joe, "Why don't I do this for a living?"  I've spent the evening thinking about that - about being good at something, about enjoying something, about the difference between a hobby, a passion, an obsession or just work.

Does working at something dull your passion?  Do you need to take classes to be good at something?  It's a lot to think about; but it's really good stuff to be thinking about right now....  Joe made it a point to show me a cooking school around the corner from work last week and I have been thinking about it ever since.  Why shouldn't I do what I love? 

This is just one of the many many reasons I am glad we moved here.  I am working so few hours that I finally have time to take classes if I want.  Plus, moving has gotten us out of our rut - it was a good rut; and I would have been happy in it for the rest of my life; but since I am out of it, I might as well look around and see if there isn't a rut that looks a bit better!

Oh Yes!


Go here and vote for me - even though they have my blog listed as Gone "to" a Lucky Country instead of "on"... Sort-of ruins the whole meaning; but oh well, it would still be cool to win.  I'm only up against 9 other blogs so I think I actually have a decent shot...

I'm Back!

Where did I go?  Well, nowhere really - I was here the whole time... I just wasn't in the mood to write anything.

So, I'll give you the highlights since I've been on hiatus....

We had a long weekend and our first Aussie holiday (it was their labour day) - we had friends over for a dinner/game night that Sunday as it was too rainy for a picnic.  Also, we had Australian Daylight Savings Time go into effect.  So, we used to be 14 hours ahead of the States and now we are only 13?  I think?  These uneven numbers are really screwing with my head.

Also, we went to Ikea and now we are the proud owners of, not one; but two couches!!  It is extremely exciting to sit in something that is not a bed or a bench from a patio set.  We have big plans for this coming Friday evening to go out to Ikea again and buy ourselves two armchairs and a bookcase! Who Hoo!!

This past weekend sucked a bit - our downstairs neighbors smoke and mostly we can't smell it; but Friday night it was really bad and it had Joe and I up all night with allergies etc.... (I do recognize the irony of an ex-smoker complaining about smoke) so Saturday was mostly a bust and rainy to boot.  I think there were like 3 naps that day?  Sunday was better though with blue skies and sunshine.  We decided to walk all the way around Neutral Bay - We made it to the High Street Ferry Wharf and then caught the ferry to Kirribilli.  Then we walked into Kirribilii proper for some brunch.

*Side note - Have I told you about the Orange Juice here?  I didn't think so.....  They don't serve you orange juice from cartons or concentrate here.  They go juice oranges into a glass for you.  Yeah....  The first time I ordered it I thought the place we were eating was extra snooty or something; but no - pretty much wherever you order juice, it will be freshly made.  Yum...

Anyway, after brunch (I swear every time I say brunch I think of "How I Met Your Mother") we walked across the Harbour Bridge into the Rocks/Circular Key.  We had just missed our ferry so we had about an hour to kill.  We got sorbet and sat in the sunshine to people watch - honestly, it was so much fun I didn't even want to go home.

Monday (2 days ago) was our second wedding anniversary.  We both worked (me only half a day though) so it wasn't any huge celebration.  I did make a nice dinner though - pork roast, apple/potato pancakes and green beans.  We got each other cards and little gifts - usually, I am the winner in this department.  I always write long sappy messages in my cards and pick out the perfect presents.  Yea, Joe totally beat me this year - his card (and what he wrote inside of it) was so perfect that I cried and he got me Ugg slippers.  I have needed new slippers for months and I just keep forgetting to buy myself some.  So, he beat me to it and got me like the most incredibly comfortable footwear ever.  I know it's bogan to wear them outside so I won't; but I will be wearing them at every second while I am in my home!

Last night Joe worked late - really really late....  I stayed home all day because I was waiting for the Post to deliver something (which they never did - don't get me started on how annoyed I am with these people) so it was a long hard lonely-ish day.  I did have three Skype dates that morning (thanks Ladies!) so it helped break up the day a bit.

Also - just a quick thanks to Jen for the Birthday care package... Everything made it through quarantine.  I literally walked out of the post office, found the nearest bench, ripped the package open and started laughing.  I LOVE MY HALLOWEEN COSTUME!!!!!!  Thanks also for the great card, candy, stickers, chili powder etc....  You will be happy to know that the M&Ms did not taste like chili powder!

Ok, I am off to get ready for work

Eastern Coastal Walk - Part 2

After we finished our al fresco lunch looking out at Bronte beach we climbed up and around the next curve in the cliff.  I was excited for this next part of the walk as I heard a great deal about it; and also glimpsed it from rather far away when we first started the walk.  I'm referring, of course, to Waverly Cemetery. 

Waverly cemetery was started in 1877 - amazingly enough, it is still operational today - and sits on the top of the cliff looking out over the Tasman Sea.  Apparently, the cemetery started off on a relatively small plot of land; but over the years has grown to over 140 acres of plots and monuments.  I know that some people don't really enjoy being around or in cemeteries; but not me...

I know this will sound a bit macabre or even slightly fanciful; but I don't care.  I just feel very peaceful by graves.  I also feel quite hushed and reverent thinking about all the lives that used to belong to all the remains - all the memories and experiences sort-of massing together into this huge cloud of slowly forgotten humanity that hangs over the dead. 

Wow, that sounded even worse than I thought it would. 
Ok - to explain - when I was little I was completely freaked by cemeteries, wakes, coffins, dead people etc...  The fear part of it faded as I got older; but the rest of it was still pretty firmly entrenched.  After my Dad died, I realised that dead people aren't gross or scary or anything like that - they are all someones dad, mom, brother, sister, husband, wife etc... I also came to realise that cemeteries weren't spooky at all - they were places where family members could come to feel close to those that they lost.  Plus, some years earlier, my bestest friend Meaghan took me to a cool old cemetery in her neighborhood in New York which sort-of started me down the road of viewing cemeteries as history.  Well, back to my original subject matter... there is plenty of history here at Waverly Cemetery...

There are lots of famous Australians who are interred here...  I didn't recognise the names so I doubt any of you would either.  One super interesting tidbit that I read was that there are at least eleven Civil War veterans buried there.  Also, in true Aussie form, there are memorials sprinkled all over the cemetery - to WWI veterans, to WWII veterans, to the soldiers of NSW, to those that were killed in a sea mine explosion, to the Irish Martyrs etc...

I was reading an old (ok, not really old - just outdated) account of the cemetery from the late nineties that was discussing the general disrepair of the place and the inefficacy of having a path for walkers doing to Eastern Coastal Walk leading right through the cemetery.  Apparently, there was some vandalism from the local youths and so-on.  There was a discussion of having a new and modern boardwalk put up along the cliff; but outside the fence of the cemetery.  I am pleased to report that the board walk was indeed erected and looks very nice and not garish.  Joe and I (well, mostly me) decided to use the old path so we could take a gazillion pictures of walk through the cemetery and be reflective.  We did rejoin the new and level boardwalk at the main gates and I must report, I think it was the most pleasant walking experiences of the whole trek.  In this case, I think modernization of the walking path was a resounding success.

                                                                    Some final shots:

The rest of the walk went downhill from there (no, not literally) with the entrance to Clovelly beach which was mostly all paved, filled with children and looked and smelled rather oily. 
There were a couple more fetching little coves - one with fishing boats and dogs and sunbathers on the rocks. Then, back up to the next cliff on which was perched a forlorn looking park on one side and apartment buildings on the other.  The walk weaved into some residential areas, taking us away from the sea view and I was not impressed.  Luckily, down the next hill was Coogee beach, the end of our trek and some delicious iced coffees as reward.  The bus ride back was, thankfully, much less crowded and I used the time to doze on Joe's shoulder.  We were both pleasantly wearied and decided on an evening in with tv and an early bed.

My final verdict on the walk is this: 

I would do it every weekend if I could - it is absolutely not to be missed!  I can't wait to do the beginning and final leg of it...  Plans are in the making!

Eastern Coastal Walk - Part 1

It was a beautiful day last Sunday and I had been bugging Joe for a while to do the "Bondi to Coogee" walk. This particular trek is one part of a beautiful walk along the beaches and cliffs that stretch from the mouth of the Sydney Harbour down to a beach called Maroubra.  The walk in it's entirety is called the Eastern Coastal Walk so I suppose the title of this post is slightly wrong - however, I do hope to complete the entire walk eventually and so have parts 2 and 3. 

The portion of the walk that we did was 6 kilometers long (just shy of 4 miles) - it didn't seem all that long; but there was a lot of stairs and climbing involved so it did take us a couple of hours to complete.  In this first picture you can see the approximate route that we took.  It's not a great indicator of scale, so, in this second photo, I backed the map out so you can get a better idea of the length of the walk. 

It was an absolutely perfect day with bright blue skies - I took about 70 pictures in total and then whittled that number down to 30 once I got home and started editing.  Just a warning:  I'm not sure how I am going to pick only a few photos to add to this entry.  There may be multiple entries with lots of photos on each one so be prepared!
We started by taking a bus to Bondi - I have to admit - not a great way to spend a morning.  It was crowded on the bus (the Bondi buses are always crowded); however, we were lucky to have boarded the bus at the first stop so we did have seats for the entire trip.  The last time we took a bus to Bondi it only took about a half hour.  There was so crazy traffic on Sunday though, so we were in route to Bondi for almost an hour.  Once we got there we sunscreened up and we were off.  The beach was already starting to be really crowded (even though it's just early Spring here) and we weren't in the mood for crowds after our bus ride. 
It was very crowded to begin with - there seemed to be a lot of people just strolling up the first hill to get a better view of Bondi beach in it's entirety or maybe going up to the famous Bondi Icebergs Club (so named because their members swim year-round... yes, even during the dead winter) to see the salt water swimming pool.  Either way, Joe and I were ready to take off at a good pace so that we could get away from the worst of the crowds (again, we were pretty sick of people at this point).  Well, to be completely truthful, Joe was ready and I kept lingering behind to take pictures.  I couldn't help it really!  I have been stricken with shutter-bug-itis!
The surf was crashing up over the corner of the Icebergs swimming pool and everywhere I looked there was blue water, blue sky, white rock and green foliage.  It was very very hard not to take many more than 70 photos.  Heck, I would even venture to say that only taking 70 photos showed great restraint on my part!

Once we rounded the first cliff thingy ( I don't know what to call them - maybe a curve?  Yea, that sounds good). So, once we rounded the first curve in the cliff walk we could see down the coastline for miles. 

It was incredible to see people on the cliffs so far away looking for all the world like tiny ants and to think that we would be standing there too in about an hour. 

The beginning of the walk by Bondi was very challenging.  There were dirt paths and lots of precarious steps that had been hewn in the rock.  Sometimes the steps were more like divots so it would be tough keeping your balance.  There was also a great disparity in the size of the steps - there would be a couple that were about 6 inches, than one that was 10 then two that were 3 then.... well, you get the idea.  Murder on the calves I tell you. 

The rocks along the walk were particularly beautiful - they had that distinctive "erosion" look to them... that softness of line that can only come from years and years of the harsh elements facing the Tasman Sea. Some of the rocks were a golden colour that was really beautiful up against the blue sky; but my favourite were the white and grey rocks.  They were just so stark and dramatic against all that blue.  It made the coastline pop out at you.  This one was an accidental dead end that we got to - I think it was meant to be a lookout of some sort... or maybe just a resting place.  We only had to retrace our steps for about 10 meters to get back to the main path. 

I'm certainly glad for the wrong turn though as this was one of my favourite photos that I took the whole day.

Well, the next beach on the walk was called Tamarama Beach.  I had a little information card talking about the walk and it proclaimed this tiny little beach to be where "all the most buff, tan bodies" were in Sydney.  Yikes!  Once we got down there though, we realized that it wasn't anything special...  I think once you start actively advertising a specific beach as a place where all the hot people go to get half naked, than all of the not-hot people start showing up to gawk.  Once that happens than it is just a regular beach....  After the walk, when I was doing some googling research on it, I read that Tamarama was actually considered to be a gay beach.  I have to admit, it just looked like a regular beach to me... 

After Tamarama, we walked on to Bronte Beach which was about the half way point in our stretch of the walk.  I liked Bronte the best - it seemed very family friendly without being overrun by unruly children.  Plus the sand looked completely gorgeous.  I made a mental note to keep it on our list of beaches to frequent this summer.

I did read later that it can have some pretty dangerous undertows/rip tides etc... so maybe it will be a beach where we lay on the sand and wade in the water - not a "swimming" beach.  Not that either of us are major swimmers but.... I digress..

We stopped at a little picnic shelter in the park overlooking Bronte to eat our packed lunch of sandwiches.  We had bought them at a stand in Circular Quay earlier that morning so my hopes were not high.  Rightly so, they were just ok; but we were pretty hungry by that point so we really didn't care.

I am going to go ahead and cut this walk into two posts. It's already one in the morning here and I have to work in the morning.  I love you all; but not that much.  I will add the rest of my photos down below; but you will have to make up your own stories to go with them!