Saturday, April 28, 2007

Playing with photoshop

This afternoon (or in Australian, This arvo) Kevin and 3 friends are playing Roads and Boats. I was supposed to be #4- build my own goose empire! but someone needed to step down and I volunteered. Its a gloomy day and so I've entertained myself with trying to make an image to capture our game group. Initially I wanted to create an image we could put on a t-shirt. I think these are too busy. Undoubtedly, I'll be embarrassed by them in the near future. Now, I'm stiff from sitting at an ergonomically improper chair/desk combination. Time to quit and think of supper!

Wiccans evolve

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Witches in Australia have adapted to the absence of Halloween. They're selling their hats, painted orange, to use as barricades. Yes, they've plopped down three "witches hats" at the end of our driveway to discourage driving across wet cement. Likely, there's a curse attached.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Winter approaches

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The first day of fall here was March 1st- so we are well on our way to the dark side. It is apparent. The natives are preparing for the long winter siege.

Some un-identified tree is dropping little brown sticky leaves that have evolved to adhere to the semi chewed texture of once yellow tennis balls. They litter the dining room rug, our one and only chair, and the bed.

A golden orb weaving spider has strung her web entirely across our driveway. She obviously has designs on Kevin. He'd be quite the feast throughout the winter months! Just in case, I hit the ground and crawl down the drive to get the mail. (Per my suggestion) Kevin knocked the web down last night using one of the multitude of palm fronds that have fallen everywhere. She had it in full repair this afternoon- waiting for Kevin's return at 6 this evening.

And, my Australian neighbours are buying their winter footwear.

Now, where did I put that shovel?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Reminder! It is Anzac Day in Australia on Wednesday April 25th

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No big plans for Anzac day. When we were traveling through Canberra in 2002, we went to the sunrise service... so we aren't total heathens.

If you need a little history, check out Mel Gibson (1981) in Peter Weir's (ala "Picnic at Hanging Rock"- it comes up again! What a small world is Australia) film "Gallipoli".

Monday, April 23, 2007


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I am so excited! I just got off the phone with my cousin, Elaine. She, my auntie, and my mother are coming to visit in August. This August. Just the other side of winter, August! I've known they were coming for months and even knew the month, but now they are telling me about the things they want to do while they are here. Whale watching. Holding koalas. Sitting on the couch with Zelda. (That's Marianna's and, no doubt, Zelda's, idea of a good trip to Australia.)

Elaine is in charge of being excited and identifying things to see and do. She tried to involve my mom and Marianna today in the planning, but they were content to do what she wants. So far her idea (after Brisbane) is to see Alice Springs, Uluru, Melbourne, and Phillip Island. The only thing they're interested in in Sydney is the Opera House. Perhaps I could talk Elaine into climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge (that was fun!), but the septagenerians would not be interested. I'm sure she'll try to climb Uluru if Kevin is there to egg her on. I'm not sure what she/they want from Melbourne. I'm not as familiar with it- though, obviously, I was there most recently. All these places take a good amount of walking. I hope Kevin and I can get free to go along so that Elaine can do the walking stuff without relying on her aunties stamina.

Oh. Oh. Oh. I am excited. I wonder if I can rent a bed. I could put it in the living room.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Keeping up

And now we’re home.

They took over while we were away. I knew it would happen. The spiders and the geckos. Running amok. Wild parties and not watering the Italian parsley.

They also broke our computer. Broke it dead. Lifeless. It is just flashing four little lights on the keyboard. We don’t know why. Some sort of SOS message.

And, you know what this means. No TV.

Add to this- I’m still sick. Of course. Why wouldn’t I be? I was sick yesterday. Still, I managed to stock up on groceries this afternoon. But, I couldn’t work up the energy to vacuum up the confetti and tiny beer bottles.

Zelda reluctantly came home with us. She was shacking up with two Shih Tzu bitches. She hid her tennis ball dumbbell toy thinking we wouldn’t make her go home without it. We have no heart.

Misery abounds.

The Second Instalment in which people are married and warm days return!

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We left early Friday morning. Early. Like before the sun went down the night before- during which, I might add, I won the game of Bang (with help from Georgia)! (We were the renegade!) Our flight to Dallas was uneventful. Our bags shuffled around so that none (mine) exceeded 50 pounds. My carry-on, however, must have topped 3 tons.

Our friends K and G were getting married. Kevin was the best man. That’s how Dallas came up on our itinerary. They are both gamers. Gamers like Kevin. Gamers who just spent the previous week and a half in Columbus at The Gathering. They married like they lived. Gaming. The invitation featured an image from The Game of Life- you know, an image associated with getting hitched. Their program included a word search. Their cake was done up in game bits and topped with the King and Queen (Chess and Hearts). They made sure to pack a game to take with them to the hotel on their wedding night.

Sunday and Monday Kevin gamed. I got to meet three of my cyber friends in person! And, ride for the first time in a convertible with the top down. I verified convertible/top down etiquette before we began and was advised not to expose myself. It was so much fun that the next time I do this- in 45 more years- I may just go ahead with the exposure thing….

Monday we managed to pull Kevin away from waiting for the UPS man long enough to visit the Kennedy museum. I wonder how many people leave there less convinced of a possible conspiracy? A pristine bullet? A 4th shot on tape that the second investigation (FBI) said occurred a minute after the first 3 and was, therefore, unrelated? Creepy and sad and well done. Thinking about a rewatch of "JFK" and "13 Days".

I learned something very surprising at the Dallas airport. It is possible to not know how to use a point and shoot camera. Even with instruction. Even when it looks like from the other side that you’re doing it right.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Ah, and then the ride home. We arrived a little less than 2 hours before our flight departure. Pretty darned good. We were behind maybe 12 other parties. And, in front of us- behind the counter- was one very slow attendant. Another person looking on might have counted 2 or even 3 employees. But the competent blond man was servicing first class and the competent Hispanic man was helping people who had been bumped from an earlier flight to SFO rebook onto our flight to LA. Even though he kept telling them to wait in our line, one by one they cut out and cornered him behind the self check terminal. We waited at least 75 minutes. Then, things got worse.

Our flight was delayed. Not by too much. At least, not until we boarded the plane. Then the door to the luggage compartment wouldn’t close. We arrived in LAX with 30 minutes to make our connection. We ran. We ran from terminal 7 to the international terminal- terminal 2.5. Dodging between people. Slipping past baggage and columns. Fortunately, I picked up an e-z cart on the way so we were not unduly slowed by our copious carry on bags. We made it with 10 minutes to spare. That is, we made it to the terminal. No waiting at the Qantas counter. No real reason to expect waiting as the flight was closed and the last flight for the night was in their final boarding. Fortunately, there were seats on that last flight. Seats to Melbourne.

LA to Melbourne is the longest flight that Qantas makes. There is only one flight longer anywhere. (Where? dunno) 15 + hours. Adding in our layover and the subsequent flight to Brisbane- total travel time was approximately 30 hours. And, that’s a very long time. Very long. Particularly when you’re coming down with a head cold AND a UTI. Simultaneously. No risk of DVT when you’re on your feet hourly to head to the looooo.

Overall, it was a great excursion to the US. Exhausting. Busy- and yet, as always, incomplete. Not enough time with each individual. No time to really relax. I didn’t get any photos of the beautiful wildflowers blooming along the roadsides in TX. I only ate sushi once.

The first instalment of Travels in America

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March 24 – 27: Cleveland, Ohio

Before I go any further, yes, our luggage arrived about noon on Monday! Clean socks for everyone!

It was in Cleveland that we had our good weather. It was so beautiful, in fact, that Kevin was inclined to miss living there. Actually, it wasn’t the weather (though the weather PERMITTED him to entertain these thoughts) so much as the great time we had with our friends in Cleveland. I gadded about with my BCAH alumni Nan and Christine while Kevin began the binge of gaming that characterizes every instalment of this missive.

March 28 – April 2 : Ann travels into Dixie with MAD.

Athens, GA: U of G Annual Veterinary Conference and Alumni Reunion. A significantly smaller meeting than I’ve attended in either NC or OH, but it was bolstered by the standing ovations that members of the audience gave speakers from their graduating class. 1987, in particular, is a very supportive group! Eyeballs and pee.

Savannah, GA: Does anyone know why every entrance and exit ramp onto highway ?? has a closable gate? Or, why no one has thought to open a restaurant ? We spent our first day enjoying the city via trolley- well, except for the seats. Monday we tried to visit a museum (not open til after noon!) and walking on the beach at Tybee Island.

Charleston, SC: Spent the night in the hotel made famous by the 2002 birthday invasion! Dinner with Steve- formerly known as birthday boy.

The drive home was no where as much fun as we had on the way down. Summer retreated into spring. Construction slowed us. Rain! slowed us. Listened to the end of "Every Little Bird that Sings", which managed to drag out the loss of Dismay (sorry to spoil that- but you’d have guessed it was about to happen) for an entire CD. I was exhausted with grief.

April 4 – April 6: Ann attends The Gathering of Friends.

This is where Kevin’s been, if you’ve been wondering, with more than 300 of his closest similarly gaming-obsessed friends. I think I’ve hit the highlights earlier- you know the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I had a good time and would have enjoyed another day. Maybe 2.

April 7- 9: Easter

Family time for Ann. Roast pork and turkey breast. Chicken and noodles, Mashed potatoes. Green beans.

April 10- 12: Back to Columbus.

And visiting friends. More gaming. A terrific outing to the North Market to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Ohio. Try the number 9. My OSU nostalgia was eviscerated by the reworking of High Street. It has become very commercial. If I hadn’t been miserable in the cold and rain, I would have been convinced I was inside a shopping mall. No more Mean Mr. Mustards. No more Crazy Mama's. Not sure where one goes to dance. Sigh.

Shout outs: Muchos gracias to Greg for putting us up in Cleveland. Steve and Georgia for housing Kevin (and, eventually, me) in Columbus. Andrew for the use of his fabulous car. It was so wonderful to be able to turn the steering wheel effortlessly. And, see out of the windscreen. And, listen to the radio. And, turn on the heat.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Catching up in the USA

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Writing today from Clintonville, Ohio. We have less than a week left in the US, but I feel we've squeezed most of a year into the past 19 days. Beautiful spring weather in Ohio- temperature in the mid 70s with daffodil, forsythia, blue skies and green, green grass. Watching the leaves unfurl and the blossoms changing from redbud to dogwood to wisteria while driving south to Georgia and (early) summer. Then, back to Ohio. Arriving at 11 pm; passing the bank clock where the temperature read almost 60 degrees. Waking up to 27 degrees. And, snow. We're approaching spring again. It is chilly and rainy. What a wonder is Ohio!

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Meanwhile, Kevin's spent much of the time holed up in the basement of the Midwest Convention Center playing games: board games and card games, primarily, though we (I was there for 2 days) did have a few killer games of "Gnip Gnop" and "Rapid Fire". For the most part, Kevin practiced his ingenious Australian Expo strategy for tournament play whereby he deprived early opponents of advancing only to, ahem, not win future rounds. Through fierce determination, however, he won the "hidden contest", earned his sheriff badge, and took home a pair of pink fuzzy handcuffs. I didn't actually witness ANY of this competition, so I only have his word on the origen of the handcuffs. Additionally, I helped clinch the last place position in the duplicate Tichu competition for team Kevin. The winning team scored something like +2000 points, while we rocketed to.....-1440. Woohoo. It is all part of the grand design to steal the prize next time.

I always feel odd in Columbus. No matter how long it has been and how many OTHER things have happened in this city, I am flooded with images and feelings from my days at OSU (or, since this is still my Australian journal- "uni".) When I see the "towers" from 315 and pass under the green sign identifying the upcoming Lane Avenue exit, I'm 18 and in the back seat and moving into Taylor Tower. The Continent is indelibly marked with my first excursion there to see a movie. And, the sidewalks and paths are peppered with my roommates and friends. I'm left feeling wistful and full of longing. I am once again in love. I miss all of you.

Probably, I just need to eat breakfast.