Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I now turn on my

windshield wipers to signal a turn in two countries!

Movies, Violence, and Clean Socks

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Writing this morning from Greg's home. Kevin is at Mike's playing a war game. Zelda is frolicking with her new friend(s) at the Pines. I am waiting around hoping to see our suitcases on the front porch. Could be any moment now. That's been the thought for the last 36 hours....

It has not been the boring experience one hopes for in a trans-continental flight. Our flight was modestly delayed in Brisbane as the crew tried to repair the "on-flight entertainment system". Kevin was pleased to wait for THAT to be fixed. This was going to be his first flight on Qantas with their new "videos-on-demand". The system was stocked with all the academy award nominees as well as several good older films he hasn't seen and Australian films. (I was particularly keen on him watching "Kenny" and "Last Train to Freo"- both of which were well considered- in fact, many, many Australians wax lyrically on the outrageous humo(u)r of Kenny. I watched both films on the plane when I went home for the holidays. I watched both films for about 25 minutes- then I just had to stop. Was the problem me? I wanted to Kevin to let me know. So, as we outlined our movie experience, our flight crew interrupted to let us know that some of the seats would NOT be having the entire catalog. Just a few. They were in contact with Sydney and were going to try something else to restore the system. Restore it, they did! Soon, we all had 3 channels and could watch endlessly "Open Season", "A Good Year", or "Little Miss Sunshine". I continue to enjoy "Little Miss Sunshine"- though I wasn't overwhelmed by it this time. The soundtrack is magical- at once whimsical and melancholic. "Amelie"- also affects me like this...though it is also a visual feast. What colour! So, we watched "LMS"- in full or part at least 3 times. Kevin tried the cartoon. I quit on the Russel Crowe film...also, beautiful, but really, really stupid and poorly acted. Thank god for Rick James.

The customs and immigration officer in LA asked us to step behind his desk and wait. We waited. Kevin often has problems in airports as there is SOME Kevin O'Brien who is on a "no fly" list in the US. We're getting (sort of) used to this. Finally an agent came by- "Do you know a S.H.? She has a filed a protection order against you." No. Never been to Racine. Living in Australia. No, never met the woman. No. When the agent finally dismissed us, I swear she said something to the original passport stamping man something about the wanted Kevin O'Brien being 5 foot 6 inches. Good thing she hadn't noticed the leg transplant!

We found a very helpful agent at United, and thereby made our flight to Chicago. Our final leg- to Columbus- was canceled, however. Kevin was able to get us onto a flight to Cleveland that was scheduled to depart within the hour. Not enough time to reroute our bags.

As of last night (Sunday), they were still in Columbus. "You want them in Cleveland?" I guess the paper we filed wasn't clear on that. This morning's call suggests that they were supposed to be on a flight to Cleveland at 6:10 AM... but now (11:20 AM) they don't know where they are. We leave Cleveland tomorrow. I sure hope we have them before we relocate to Columbus!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


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Big changes are afoot.

To begin with- I think I've found a job. As with any new job, I'm a little trepidatious, but hopeful. I think I'm going to learn a lot and grow as a doctor. Eegads. Building character. Never without angst. Need to work out the details, but would be starting in April. We'll get to that soon enough.

Secondly, I passed my practical test from the radiation health safety people. Yay! I took a bang-up nice looking radiograph of a disembodied human hand. Let me know if you need one done for you.

After the exam I walked into the city to meet Kevin for lunch. As I suggested earlier, I wanted to check out what was new in my graffiti alley. On the way, however, I found a new one. This one is most likely tied to the gallery it is next to: e'merj. I'd seen their logo spray painted on buildings before but didn't know it meant something. Anyway, this alley is COVERED. Not really sure that it is appropriate to call it graffiti- more like murals gone wild.

On the other hand, most of the images I posted from "my" alley are gone. They've gone through and over painted the walls with more red paint. I'm suspecting that art will crawl back into that space if we are very, very quiet. See, it is already creeping out the door...

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Found a third spot near the Centrum Movie Theatre- but it was very busy with cars and people and I felt too self conscious to take photographs. I'll go back some weekend morning. Like a Sunday at 7 AM. I'll bet I have the place to myself.

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Finally, Kevin and I are leaving on Saturday to spend a few weeks in the US. It will be a whirlwind tour encompassing Columbus (OH), Cleveland (OH), Rogersville (TN), Athens (GA), possibly Savannah (GA) and Charleston (SC), and finally Dallas, TX. Kevin is very excited to be going "home" to play games with our friends in Cleveland- and 10 days and nights! gaming in Columbus at the "Gathering of Friends". Meanwhile, I need to complete my continuing ed requirements- hence the trip to The University of Georgia. I imagine my chances of hanging with the B-52's is slim- not enough hair. Because my Internet contact will be limited to public libraries, I suspect that not much will be happening here. I'll still be thinking and writing stories in my head and taking lots of photos. You'll just have to tune in psychically for a while.

We're getting a new neighbor!

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We've been watching the house being built next door for most of our time here in Aspley- and now I think I know what's going on. Yep. Zelda will be so pleased.

Monday, March 19, 2007

We've got an edge

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Yep. with God. See, somehow we scored a whole class of first grade catechism to pray for us. This has resulted in 1 orange and black rosary (the colors of the Versailles tigers) and a blessed cross medallion. Not to mention the boatload of halo points we must have.

My dear childhood neighbor and friend, Dixie, decided that we would be the family that her Monday class would pray for. All year. Each week. Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be. (I know because I went to class in December.) Not just Kevin and I. No. It is important to note that Zelda gets included in every offering.

I was touched. I was also amused. They send letters and ask questions about life in Australia. "How big are the snakes?" "Are koalas mean?" "What time do you eat dinner?" There is an obvious emphasis on spiders and snakes. I'm not sure if that reflects Dixie's worries, my anxieties, or just the kids liking creepy crawlers. I try to write regularly and send them pictures. I wonder what their parents think?

There's only one way to end this;


Is it because I grew up in Versailles?

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Poultry and egg hub of the midwest. Home of the annual "Poultry Days" celebration- www.versaillespoultrydays.com - including Miss Chick and ultimate frisbee and a peck of shriners. Anyway, does anyone else really consider which egg to crack? Do you use the eggs from the left side to the right? or go for a more balanced approach so the box isn't lopsided and risk it tipping out of your hand when the top is closed and you're half asleep? Maybe I have too much time on my hands. Good thing the floors need washing today.

Friday, March 16, 2007

And now for something completely different

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Seems I've been emphasizing the natural side of Australia- landscapes, wildlife, toilet ants... and haven't yet shared any of the art- at least not for a long time. I've been intending to collect a sample of the wonderful utility boxes that are painted by local artists in locally appropriate images. (You can see two - one from China town and one across from a big church/cathedral- I think- April 4, Signage). I could also explore the sculpture and architecture. But, today, it is graffiti.

Brisbane has MORE than its fair share of standard graffiti- you know the scrawled writing that you can't really make out and are pretty sure you aren't missing anything intereting. There's even some on our mailbox! The thing about this graffiti that amuses me to no end it that it is all created by folks who wear dorky uniforms to school. (But that- shcool uniforms- is a different blog ALL TOGETHER.) There is one alley in Fortitide Valley that I am particularly fond of. It is beside a travel agency, I believe. And, not sure what else. I'm certainly not aware of who is wielding the spray can or the glue bottle or even the silly string. There is more great street art in FV than just this particular alleyway; I'll include some of that later.

Photobucket will only let me put 10 images in a slide show.

I haven't been back to my alley this year yet. What new wonders have been added...? Maybe I can schedule a visit on Tuesday.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Marching to Victoria

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OK. It was February; we took a plane. But, the title is catchy. Something to hum along to whilst pondering a way to fit whilst into a sentence and appear more Australian.

The last weekend of February Kevin and I flew down to the "Spa Capital of Australia" about an hour north of Melbourne. (Hint: If you want to speak Australian, you don't pronounce the "r" in Melbourne- MEL-BEN.) Kevin won the "Champion of Champions" competition at New Horizon's last year and his prize was this weekend away.

We left home about 5 AM to catch our flight South. Picked up a rental car (wow!) and drove out to Daylesford arriving early in the afternoon. We had only a couple of things we really wanted to accomplish on this trip- going to Hanging Rock, enjoying a spa bath, and touring the lavender farm. (OK. That was just me. Well, I guess the last 2 were just me. Kevin wasn't expecting much from this trip- but he really enjoys Hanging Rock.)

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So, we started out with Hanging Rock. If the name sounds familiar but you just can't place it, think checkered table cloth, ants, missing school girls.... Early in the last century the novel, "Picnic at Hanging Rock", was written. It got a lot of buzz as people questioned whether it was a true story about how several school girls went missing on a St. Valentine's Day picnic in 1900- Boom. They were just gone. A few days later - wait- it was made into a movie directed by Peter Weir (who also directed "The Truman Show". This came up in last week's Big Quiz- the 40 question trivia quiz in every Sunday Mail. Kevin won that quiz. It was rather heavy in film questions and decidedly lacking in anatomy or disease.) OK. Here's a link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073540/ I won't tell you more of the story in case you want to see the show (or, god forbid, read the book). (We watched the film a few years ago. Actually, I quit on it. Kevin finished it and filled me in on the story and all the symbolism and nuance later. He found it more interesting to read about than to watch. But you- maybe you'll like it. Terry (who games and takes the quiz each Sunday) says we needed to see it when it came out. He thought (thinks?) it is quite spooky. I think wearing those long skirts and full sleeves in this heat is pretty spooky. But, I stray. We enjoyed climbing to the summit of hanging rock- which is a pile of rocks- big rocks- where we, of course, had a picnic.

On the way home from Hanging Rock we followed signs to one of the local mineral springs. (This is the claim to fame in the area. Lots of mineral springs. The spas are a product of the springs.) We filled our water bottle and took our booty back to the room...where our water became ever more cloudy and rusty looking. It took a certain courage to drink that water. We haven't died yet.

Otherwise, Saturday evening was filled with very slow service at a Chinese restaurant and my first opportunity to watch Australian TV. Wow. There's some bad stuff out there. I can't believe I tried to watch the show where Australian celebrities compete in training their dogs...

Sunday, we walked down to the Sunday Market (not the Tuesday market or the every-other-Saturday market) - a big flea market with plenty of fresh produce but no German games. Then, walked around town- past the convent that has been turned into an art gallery, restaurant and bar and through the botanical gardens. Here it was that I learned that regular qi gong practice does not prepare a person for climbing up and particularly down a narrow winding stairway. Ouch.

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The lavender farm was fun. I think I even saw Kevin smile. It was far too late in the season for much lavender to be in bloom- but there was a little. We wandered through gardens where I was reminded it was really fall- see pumpkin. We fed scones to the donkeys. We played boccie ball. (I lost.) Lunch was in Hepburn Spring at the Chowder Pot- a fun spot across the street from the general store. After, we made our way to Hepburn Spring where we'd already learned the public spa was closed for renovation- til sometime 2008. This was the end of my spa dream, by the way. The public spa costs $8. The next cheapest was $30.

Finally, we walked around the lake. Not a big lake but a pleasant enough walk and, I think, it must be THE PLACE for practicing "Downward facing Dog" (http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/491_1.cfm#). Evidence- see sign found along the path.

What else COULD it mean?

Hanging rock had been maybe a 45 min drive from Daylesford and much of the way was punctuated by signs suggesting a slower speed between dusk and dawn because of Wombats! Cool! Sunday evening we hustled out to the car and went cruising for wombat. We even turned down a dark road leading into a national park and crept along-Kevin saw something hop. Obviously not a wombat. I didn't even see that much. Very disappointing.

Monday we refilled our bottle from a cleaner looking spring and took off for Melbourne. We arrived in time for lunch. (The bottle filled more quickly than it sounds here...I've left off breakfast, bathing, and buying chocolates for Steve and, oh yeah, ME driving. Woohoo! Power steering!) We spent the afternoon in the Melbourne zoo. Zoo highlights: fabulous butterfly aviary and a pretty great bird one, too. Very, very cool decorations. That annoying pinging sound you hear everywhere is a bell bird. I think that's right. There were also 3 tiger cubs playing. It was a big zoo and we really didn't see it all before closing at 5 PM. From there we drove into town and strolled (hustled) through the botanic garden then drove back through town to the airport.

I had a great time. Kevin, less so. He found Saturday to be difficult because it was a bit chilly and he hadn't packed a jacket. He had laid his belt out with the clothes I was packing- which I thought was just him laying out his clothes- getting ready for the morning. But, I was SUPPOSED to think he wanted me to pack it. Anyway, he couldn't wear long pants, either. Good thing he likes me.

NOTE: The small photos are clickable, if you want to see a bigger image. The slide show... is problematic. HELP!! OMG it worked! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Every which way is Left

I've always had a somewhat tenuous relationship with the directions "left" and "right". And, that's funny since I remember being 7, 8 ,9 and figuring out in dance class that all I had to do was locate the HUMONGOUS small pox vaccine scar on my left arm to KNOW which direction was left. But, in real life, I just wear too many clothes. Still, you'd think after 45 years of living it would start to be second nature.

Two problems. First, I went to vet school. My left or the dog's left? Every xray involves pointing straight ahead with the right hand index finger and saying "you can see here on the left". It doesn't help that the owners have no real loyalty to left or right when describing a limp. I should be pleased that they usually have decided the problem is with the front or rear. Still, I was coping. I could still give and follow directions. (And, by now I'd figured out I write with my right hand and a little cursive air-doodle would quickly reset my compass.)

No more. Problem two. Driving in Australia. I was OK as a passenger, but now that I've graduated to REAL driver (beyond the hypermarket grocery run) I'm totally buggered. A turn that involves crossing oncoming traffic is (everyone, together) a LEFT TURN. I can (and have) raised my air-doodle pen in hand and asked myself "which way" and STILL I come up with "left". Not even a hint of disquiet there. A turn the other way or following the round-about clockwise is "to the LEFT". So, left is still left. Its just that now right is left, too.