Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Big memorial day weekend!

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That's just what you might call it since it fell on the Memorial Day weekend in the US. Here, it was just the last weekend in May. Nothing wrong with that. Somebody's got to do it.

And, yet, it was a pretty big weekend. Zelda got a good walk. "We" had our first open house. Played games with John and Buhva at Andrew's in-law's home. Saw a movie in a group of 7! Then, toured the air traffic control center at Brisbane airport. Some of this could be talked about...

The walk. Kevin liked it. Zelda loved it. And, I was at work.

The open house. I understand there were several visitors. Kevin said one man lingered. Scoping out the games?

Gaming. I was totally creamed in Fiji- though it was fun competing to win shrunken heads; made a remarkable recovery to come in second in Trans America. I think I could have done better from the start if someone had explained to me that it wasn't about women pretending to be men pretending to be women. Had ONE good clue in Thingamajig- "What 27 is to 3". And, found my calling with... hmmmm you'd think I could remember that title. But, the gaming was just gaming. The cool bit was watching the possums in the backyard as we were eating supper. No one could tell me whether Australian possums "played possum". But then again, no one really believed me that American ones did either. You'd think you could count on your husband for something!
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Zodiac- I wanted to love this movie, but I didn't/can't. I identified more with the following comments from (positive) reviews from rottentomatoes.com. "Overlong and lacking dramatic focus"; a "sprawling story". I'm particularly sensitive to "sprawling". Movies exceding 90 minutes are at a distinct disadvantage. And, Jake Gyllenhaal- he's cleaned up his diction but he's still a gay cowboy. Don't point to the wife and kids. They didn't mean anything in "Brokeback Mountain", either. While I enjoyed Robert Downey Jr.'s character and performance, I thought the movie really became more coherent once he was out of the story. What I liked: one, it WAS a true story; and, two, the effect that this series of murders had on the detectives and reporters interested me.

Air traffic control- A big, big thank you to Phil who arranged for us to see where he's keeping the skies safe above Broom (-which has a great fish shop, cool dinosaur footprints, and a neat-o effect that the moon produces- something about steps). Kevin and Steve drooled over the BIG computer screens and we all enjoyed the birds eye view of Brisbane, the ocean, the bush, and, oh yeah, the airport. Little known untrue fact: Brisbane's air traffic control centre was the inspiration for the movie "Snakes on a Plane" (see below).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy Birthday to you!

Marjorie Anne (Hunt) Dapore!

Happy birthday to you! It's my mother's 75th birthday. I wish I could be there to help her celebrate! Here's sending you a little extra wind to blow out all those candles!

House for Sale

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Once again we are living in a house for sale. This time we don't own it. This makes the entire enterprise harder to get comfortable with. You'd think it would be easier since it isn't our place, but the proscriptions on how to behave are much more precise for that scenario. You know you want the house spotless and you want to be exceptionally accommodating. Now, we just don't want people to think we live like slobs. We don't really- but our decor is definitely "grad school 101". No, my furniture in grad school was actually much nicer.

Anyway, Tuesday a photographer came to shoot images for the on-line listing. She brought her step ladder and a very wide angle lens. The result is a view of our house that has never been seen before. I feel like we must be living in a "fun house" and expect that the mirrors are all wavy so you look either 50 kilos heavier or very, very thin. (See how I slipped in that Australian metric measurement. Smooth.) You'll see she REALLY focused on the dining room- and totally skipped the "lounge"-- lounge population 1. one small end table/bookcase combo jobby and 2. two cans of clams sitting on the floor covering possible spider entrances. It is a fine room. It has a red wall. I often spread out my yoga mat and stretch in there.

You'll see I made the bed. I didn't hide the front of the drawer to the dresser that has broken off. The photographer didn't either. She probably didn't notice until she got home and looked at the photo. I'd have tried to photoshop it out. She did, however, remove some of the piles of papers that sit forever atop the desk in the computer room. It looks positively neat. Neat- with the world's crappiest love seat.

Saturday is the first open house. I'll be at work so it will be Kevin's duty to be scarce with the dog. He hasn't had practice with this. Hope he isn't too stressed! Zelda should be able to show him the way it is done.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Going North up the Bruce Highway

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For my birthday I elected to travel north. Not too far. We didn't leave home until 11 AM and with the darkness setting in about 3:30 you don't get too far. It was enough time, however, to take in two stops: The Alma Park Zoo and one of the beaches on Bribie Island.

The Alma Park Zoo is very close to Brisbane. It is a small zoo with Australian animals plus an odd smattering of "exotics": European deer, Ostriches (I guess so you can compare them to the Emus), lots of marmosets, a few beleaguered looking monkeys, and baboons. The animal housing isn't spacious. It certainly isn't highly naturalized. It was amusing to watch the baboons ogling the rhesus moneys though holes they had ripped in the plastic sheeting hung between their enclosures. Well, amusing to us. The monkeys seemed p.o.ed about it.

The high points:
1. Carpet pythons- reaching up to 2 meters are found commonly in Brisbane and in some suburbs are living in up to 50% of the house attics/roofs!
2. Feeding the kangaroos- They aren't actually hungry- but it lets you get up close.
3. Everybody gets to touch a koala and for $15 you can hold one AND get your picture taken. (I took the free route.)
4. Throwing food INTO the open mouth of the donkey.
5. Finding Scooby Doo's girl genius, Velma. I didn't even know she was Australian!

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We went to Bribie Island by way of Deception Bay. What a name! We didn't see a lot to do there, but you know, we may have been...deceived. Anyway, Bribie Island. On the Coast of the Coral Sea. We'd talked about going up to the Sunshine Coast- but that was going to be a longer drive and it was getting late-ish: 2 PM. The beach was sparsely populated. Virtually every group was kicking a football around. Barefoot. It looked painful to us.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Taking stock and Setting new goals

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Seems like the thing to do on your birthday. Especially a momentous birthday like 46. My last birthday resolution, and this was a few years ago, was to start wearing only clothes that fit. And, I'm almost there! It really helped to move to Australia and downsize (so to speak) my wardrobe. Lately, even, I've found pants that don't fall off. Not many, but enough. And, shirts- well, I am less successful there. But today- everything is sized appropriately.

So, what does one resolve at 46? If you've got your clothing worked out, what next? I could find a new hair cut. Or, exercise regularly. Or, write. Or, take a class. I think maybe I'll work at being more cool. I've already got a start. Tim sent me an iPod for Christmas. That pretty much gets me to cool already.

And, iPods make excellent night lights for reading your watch when you're aren't asleep at 4 AM.

Wait. That probably isn't cool. Maybe I should stick with the haircut.

My Birthday

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I found these beautiful flowers outside my door when I got home from work. As I walked from the car I considered who may have sent them. I hadn't guessed Christine. Just goes to show you what superior people eat sushi!

What to do? I got home from work about an hour and a half later than I was expecting to (2:00 pm). That pretty much eliminated going to the Alma Park Zoo...or anything that had a limited "open" time...like the museum of art or the koala sanctuary. They all close by 5:00 and I hadn't eaten lunch. So, I took a short trip to the Hypermarket to buy a vase then spent time researching the movies showing today.

My choices:
"Infamous" - (another) movie about Truman Capote- rated 70% on rottentomatoes.com
"Death of a President" - what happens after W dies in office - 37% fresh (aka rotten)- no thanks
"My Best Friend" - a French film about a man who has 24 hours to find a best friend- Kevin wants to see that with me- plus it feels kind of pathetic to see by yourself on your birthday. Not rated.
"The Lives of Others"- Oscar winner for best foreign film- again something Kevin's particularly interested in
"Into Great Silence"- sounds like an interesting experience - but I'm already tired and it is TWO hours and 44 minutes long! and, mostly SILENT. Just won't work despite being 88% fresh!
"Half Nelson"- teacher/addict- student relationship. 94% fresh. A possibility.
"Paris Je T'aime"- 80% fresh- a collection of short love stories.

I went with the last film. I'm having a bit of a short story fling having just finished "Vincenzo's Garden". There were some great pieces. Mostly, stories of romantic love- but not exclusively. I enjoyed it more than "Coffee and Cigarettes" (2004). And, it ended with a very nice song- "All in the Dance"

I'm very pleased with myself. I found this theater, thanks to "whereis", on my own. I was a bit concerned because Kevin and I tried to go once before but got lost. (The problem is that the road "whereis" routes you on is CLOSED. This time I saw the detour signs. This time I was traveling in daylight.) So, should anyone want to visit and go to the Dendy Portside, I'm the woman for the job.

And, the theater is right beside a Japanese restaurant.

Excellent idea.

Friday, May 18, 2007


May is a month with lots of birthdays. That is true whether I'm in the US or Australia. The only real difference is that you're practically guaranteed that the birthday card I send you will be late and that if I send a gift, it will either be from Amazon.com OR it will be light-weight. OH, and it will be late, too. I mailed out two packages on Thursday. The price to ship them was almost as much as the gifts themselves.

May is also the month with my birthday. That is true in both countries, as well, even though you can't say that for the Queen. Tomorrow. I'll be older.

To quote Laurie Anderson. "So, happy birthday" to Tim, Carolyn, Diana, Yof, Brenda, Margie, and me!

Laurie Anderson - Born, Never Asked

It was a large room.
Full of people.
All kinds.
And they had all arrived at the same buidling at more or less the same time.
And they were all free.
And they were all asking themselves the same question:
What is behind that curtain?
You were born.
And so you're free.
So happy birthday

Working: week 3

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I've worked everyday this week except Tuesday. All wearing "real" dress-up shoes, no less. I haven't worn shoes since I left NC! I mean, I haven't worn anything but athletic shoes since I left NC. My feet are very confused. They like living in a white, nylon house.

It has been a pretty good week, however. I'm not sure how many computer errors I've made. They've undoubtedly been numerous. But, I got to help pin a femur fracture on a cat and I think the tests I ordered on the akita puppy with chronic diarrh(o)ea (I think that is where the o goes!) will provide the answer! Tonight, though, I have a German coolie (never heard of them before) with an ugly hot spot in the hospital. Please, please, please let the steroids kick in so she doesn't do any more damage before her mom comes to get her tomorrow. I also have one very hot dog. Everybody please send a breath of cool air his way. I'm really worried. I haven't been successful at creating much of an improvement. Lab work is pending.

Overall, I'm having a good time working. I like the people I work with. I enjoy meeting with clients. I get to kiss new puppies.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Speaking of Sushi

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Not that you were. I wasn’t even. But, still, doesn’t it sound like a great idea? Tuesday I celebrated my new employed status by picking up the salmon nigiri off the sushi train at Sushi Train. My god it was marvellous. Eating sushi is a semi-erotic experience. The sweet ice. The pungent wasabi. The delicate, almost melting fish. They slice their salmon thin and while I know they are only doing this to save themselves money, I think I like it better that way. I like the balance. It is easier to bite through.

I am no stranger to Sushi Train. Every semi lunch time if I’m at Chermside I stop by to watch the parade of fish. I watch. I fantasize. I drool. I order a bowl of miso ($1.50) and they GIVE me a cup of green tea. How could I pass up this spot? In a country where you may be charged for a single packet of ketchup (tomato sauce), they GIVE you tea!
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So, I ate my two pieces of sushi and toasted my sushi buddies: Tim, Susette, and Christine. They’ve never even met- but we’re all tied together by the same yen. (ouch)

Tim introduced me to sushi. He and Carolyn and I and other people I don’t remember drove to Raleigh one evening to a Japanese restaurant. (I’m guessing there’s a sushi bar in Durham now. There are several in Fayetteville- and Durham is WAY cooler.) I ordered something I can’t remember now- and at the time I was not impressed. Tim gave me a piece of his sushi. All I remember was the pop of the roe. It was enough to hook me. Later, after he moved to LA, we went out to an all you can eat sushi night. That has to be what heaven is like.

It was with Susette that I ate the sushi that made me cry. We were seniors in vet school about midway through our rotations. Long days. Long nights. Feeling useless and stupid and lost. We took off the evening and went out to dinner. To a nice dinner. I ordered sushi. I can’t tell you now exactly why I cried. Everything was so hard and I was so tired and the meal was a complete luxury. A total escape. And like when I heard “Domino” (Cocteau Twins) for the first time, I was carried away by the beauty of the experience.

Finally, Christine. Christine is my Cleveland sushi partner. I passed the virus onto her not long after we met. She’s now more dedicated than I am and makes rolls at home. But, she doesn’t eat meat/fish- so sushi together is in part a parallel sushi experience. I like a cucumber roll or avocado roll- but I long to share my yellow tail or salmon or eel.

And, Kevin? He’ll eat sushi. He’ll eat just about anything that isn’t made with red beets (beet root). He just doesn’t swoon. It sort of takes the romance out of the experience- like it was just a small, raw, fishy burger. So, I’ll watch out for my next sushi buddy. It’s a big country- with lots of sushi trains.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Finding Friends

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Di at work suggested that I might join a club in order to meet people and make friends. You know, so I’d have something to do other than watch Kevin use the computer. So, when I saw a flier for the Zillmere Community Centre I picked it up. Chances are this is not where I’ll be hanging in the future.

1. Hepatitis Council of Qld. Monthly on a Wednesday Evening.
2. YACCA- Girls group and Boys group (12- 17 years)
3. ZCC “Boot Scooters”- Every Friday 9 to 10 am. (This one isn’t out of the question, but if I’m working on Friday…)
4. “Monday Group”- 9 to 11am- Meets every Monday. Activities include Art & Craft. Work conflict. Again.
5. North Star Orchid Circle Inc.- 3rd Tues of Month 9-11 am
6. Mature Social Art/Craft Group – Saturday 1-4 pm. Am I sufficiently mature?
7. Northside Lace Makers – Wed 9-12 noon.
8. North Moreton Orchid Council Inc.- Monday every 2nd month from 6 – 9 pm. (Wondering here about the rivalry between the orchid councils. Do they wear colo(u)rs? Is there knife play involved?) I could get there before they ended.
9. Pacific Education Training & Development- Monday & Thursday evenings. Huh?
10. Narcotic Anonymous-
11. Zillmere Place Steering- ??
12. Zillmere Older Women’s Network (ZOWN)- ZOWN, that sounds cool. Like grey-haired female “batmen". Hey, maybe I could wear my electro-shield outfit?

THE massage mouse

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Last week a package arrived for me from the US. My mother has sent me THE Massage Mouse. Little sticky pads attach to your skin and current is dispersed originating from a half-an-egg shaped devise that is EQUIPPED WITH EARS. This is too cool. I made the mistake of turning the current up initially and was so startled I practically screamed. This is no AA battery massage!

And now, I quote:
Massage Mouse
Hands-Free Massager
Passive Exerciser
And Document Holder.

What every home, every desk needs!

While you're wiling away your time on the Internet, check out what else is available from Hi-Dow! http://www.hi-dow.com/products.htm
I’m particularly keen on the slippers and the swifto electro-shield apparel! Who knows what kind of super-hero one could attract with the right polarity!

Watching me, watching you

I'm hearing Abba, here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Working: Week 2

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Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. And, I got my first pay check. It is really feeling official. Next week I'm peaking (I hope) and work every day except Tuesday. This isn't really what I had in mind when I went looking for a part time job. I don't know. It feels so, what's the word for it...? Full time. Definitely, not "casual". Fortunately, none of those days were crazy, busy days- but I did manage to see 3 really sick dogs, half a dozen new puppies or kittens, did lots of routine vaccinations, and spayed my first cat in two years. Funny thing about spays here- they're speys. How'd that happen?

Missing a few things, however, with working so much: keeping up with email and this blog, eating lunch, sleeping past 4 AM. My alarm doesn't ring til 5:30 or 6:00AM- it is just my internal alarm that has been going off in the middle of the night. It goes off and I'm AWAKE. I realize that the correspondence and the eating were predictable sacrifices to the paycheck god- I'm hoping that the early wake up is a transient problem.

By the way- I never got that button sewed on. Neither Kevin nor I could thread the needle! All I had was a set of tapestry needles (??) and a zip lock of embroidery floss. I was going to make it work. I'd started this cross-stitch YEARS ago- like in the last century. Why I thought I might finish it now and, therefore, brought it to this country I can't imagine. But I did and its here and I can no longer thread those needles! Fortunately, I'm working with a 20 year old- so I took it all in to work with me on Thursday. I told her it was OK if she couldn't do it. "It would only make me feel more competent". I don't think she was listening to the subtext. The needle is now threaded. A button will be sewn today.

Oh, and the photo. I just read the manual of the camera I've been using for 3 years and learned it had a macro setting. So, I shot a dozen photos.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Kevin's knee

Has a little less cartilage in the meniscus. He had surgery on Thursday and is doing great. He is saving his tylenol with codeine for a rainy day. And, I am getting plenty of exercise running downstairs to supply him with diet coke.

Does his colo(u)r look unhealthy to you?

Working: week 1

Gee... working can really eat into your day! This week I went to 2 interviews. "Hung out" in two different clinics on a trial basis. And, worked my first day. (Earned my first plastic-with-a-see-through-window money! I don't actually have any of that moola in my pocket, none the less I'm going to see how it spends later today.)

For some reason here they don't seem to carry generic drugs. This makes my job more of a challenge, because I have to learn a bunch of trade names. A few are the same: Rimadyl, Heartgard, Frontline, Antirobe. One is an easy enough change: Clavamox is now Amoxiclav. But there is no "cephalexin" or "amoxicillin" or even "prednisolone". The biggest source of this challenge comes from how my prescribing self is set up- in the room with the client and not in front of the shelves containing the desired medications. A cheat sheet in under construction.

I'm also learning to use a computerized client record system, work with only an owner to restrain their pet, and to pronouce Rottweiler with a long "e" sound - Wheeeeeler.

I've agreed to work part time in two different clinics: the Bald Hills clinic (hitherto to be known as MPV) in Bald Hills and the Caboolture clinic in Morrayfield (which I guess I'll call CMF). I think it means I'll be working 6 days a week someplace and at least a few days a month working both places at the same time.

Both clinics want me to wear a uniform shirt- though neither one has one remotely in my size. (My fault- I'm freakishly small.) I tried on a long sleeved top at MPV and it looked like I was wearing one of Kevin's! I don't think that is the look they have in mind. The short sleeved shirts they had were a bit smaller- a size 8 and a size 10. "You can wear the 10 today. The 8 will fit better but you need to take it home and IRON it." What have I gotten myself into???? I spent the last 4 years working in scrubs. No muss- no fuss. Not only do I need to IRON this weekend- I have to put a button on. Obviously, they think they've hired someone with a wife.

My first day of work was with MPV. They are tied into a number of pet stores so most of their patients are young pets- primarily dogs. Lots of routine vaccination appointments. The exceptions on Wednesday were an anal gland abscess (and rupture) in a greyhound and a very painful old Staffordshire Terrier. So, I was pleased to get a little pus and frustrated to find I couldn't provide the Staffie with much relief. (Kevin, by the way, thinks its gross that I would include an abscess in my blog...but, this is my life. It gets gross and smelly.)

CMF, on the other hand, according to my visit day was more like what I'm used to- though we were a bit heavy on the euthanasias. It has been a long time since I had to travel down that road and I was the one in the room crying on Friday. The day was brightened by a woman bringing in a laundry basket piled high with blankets and towels and heating pads...and buried deep inside a soft fleece bag- a baby kangaroo. (A joey- just to practice my technical language). I hadn't thought about kangaroo development for forever- so I was surprised to see this footlong pink, blind, naked and long-footed baby. Those marsupials just pulled fetal development out of the uterus and stuck it in a pouch. Anyway, this joey is experiencing severe diarrhea (which I think I need to put an "o" in somewhere) and so to combat dehydration was in the clinic to get some subcutaneous (SubQ- though here they are sub-cut) fluids. I tried to remain professional and not jump up and down so to get a better view.

Monday is a holiday. Labour day. And, given I am now "labour", I shall be taking it easy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday morning's dream

I had a strange dream last night.

I dreamed I was living someplace else. All I know about it was I in a very big room with very high ceilings and from the ceilings against the walls hung beautiful purple tapestry curtains. They had gold trim or tassels – some sort of ornamentation along the edges. And, in this place a man with red hair named John asked me to marry him. I didn’t feel I knew John well, but I said yes.

And, as he left the room the tapestries began to come down and I knew that it was because I got to keep them if I married John. Other people came in the room. Young people like I was young and I told them about saying yes and about the tapestries.

Then time passed and I was looking upon a rural scene. There was a bright green pasture with horses and a field in which were planted a long row of apple trees. It was very early in the spring. The trees were dark and leafless, but the grass was yellow green. I turned to my mother and said I didn’t know where I was, but I hoped this was mine.

I turned the image and saw the house. It was a large, old farmhouse. The off-white paint was pealing from the walls. Maybe this wasn’t such a dream house…but then I looked at the front.

Like a dollhouse the front of the house was removed inside people were scurrying to replace the furniture and decorations. A grand staircase descended down the middle of the house- the stairs and baluster’s dark wood shining with wax. Chairs were set up both upstairs and downstairs looking out and I was placed, now wearing a long gown, on the stage in front of the house. I had a high backless stool that I could sit or lean against if I liked. And, in front of the stage were more folding chairs with more guests.

I knew this was my wedding to John. I looked through the crowd and couldn’t see his face and I told myself I thought I would recognize him…but I wasn’t certain. Then the music began.

Making his way down from the upper floor and through the crowds to come sit or lie propped on an elbow before me came a man wearing a plastic mask and singing. “One love to be living for. This nearly was mine.” I wondered if it could be John- but I didn’t think so. (http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/southpacific/thisnearlywasmine.htm)

And, while he was singing, three older women arrived. Two made their way up onto the stage and found seats on the first floor of the house and the third sat on a chair on the ground immediately in front of my stool. She had brought a gift, but she didn’t seem to really know who I was.

I woke up before the music ended. I woke up before I knew for sure that John wasn’t coming or before I knew if I cared whether he came or not. I woke up feeling bittersweet.