Saturday, December 29, 2007

City Lights

Obviously, this entry is very late in being posted. I'm sure you won't be surprised to see that taking photos of lights at night from a moving bus result in rather abstract Christmas images. Still, they amused me. So, I'm sharing. Oh, and I just posted the photos from the lights at the catholic church. You'll need to go back to the post from Christmas day. Go on. I'll wait.

Kevin and I took the Brisbane lights tour on Thursday night (20 Dec 20). Three hours winding through neighborhoods of South Brisbane checking out the biggest light displays. Our bus was about ½ full with half a dozen young girlfriends in the front (8- 10 years old) and the back seat filled with a similar number of rowdy teens. Our girls distributed song sheets so we could carol our way through- though it was the teens in the back that called the shots (or songs, as it were.) They preferred the up tempo carols- Rudolf and Jingle Bells and Jingle Bell Rock. Silent night never made it to the table and Away in a Manger died out in the first verse. It was easy to sing along. No one sang in the same key as her neighbor. There were a couple of unique Australian carols- but as to a tune, your guess is as good as mine. Jingle Bells was re-themed to Oz “Dashing through the bush in a rusty Holden Ute. Kicking up the dust. Esky in the boot. Singing Christmas songs. It’s summer time and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongs.”

The prevalence of outdoor lights was much less than what I’m used to in the US, but those who committed, did so with a zeal unsurpassed by any. Lights didn’t just outline a house, they smothered it. One star of Bethlehem was insufficient. Six, ten, twelve Santas. Nativities facing off with Snow White and the seven dwarves. Snowmen and toy soldiers, and penguins, and trees. All I could think was spiders...

Our yard is covered with spiders. They cover every bush and span every gap between. These Aussies seemed to have embodied the spider psyche and endeavored to cover absolutely every surface and span every gap with a web of lights. They created walls of lights and tent-like ceilings of light. That was not my first spider thought, however. My first thought was

Our yard is covered with spiders. What would they do with all those extra surfaces from which to spin their webs? How many webs would I walk through trying to put those lights up?? Arghhhhhh.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Andy Warholiday!

Happy Boxing Day!

Actually, no one ever wishes you a happy boxing day! They are too busy not going to work. We got busy with not working, too. We had big plans. Revisit the GOMA to check out the Andy Warhol exhibit that opened Dec 8th (you remember, Andy Warhol- who Kevin had seen everything already at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh- for free) and see a new movie.

We left for the museum around noon. It was a drizzly sort of day. Yesterday with the heavy cloud cover and 16 sprinkles was MUCH BETTER beach weather! The exhibit was very cool. I got to see everything I expected to see - Campbell Soup Cans, Brillo Boxes, Marilyn Monroe - and marvelous things I never knew about- Mao Zedong wallpaper, lips and shoes and giant guns! One of the things we most enjoyed were the comments/questions/information posted with displays that were written for children. "Do you think they (the stamped dollar bills) are all the same?" "Do you think there is a million dollar bill?" "Jackie Onasis (I'm paraphrasing here) was the beautiful wife of the American President John F. Kennedy. Her life was marked by great shock and sadness when her husband was shot to death. In these prints, does she look like she is feeling sad?"

Actually, we probably had the most fun in the children's wing. That is where they set up the "Silver Clouds" Exhibit. You can walk amongst and bounce about rectangular, silver, helium-filled pillows. One little girl was quite ruthless in her zeal for the balloons and would dash under Kevin and steal them as they fell his way. The other big joy was the photo booth. (They actually had 4 of them) where you could take your photo, choose your own Warholesque color variations, then email them home! No one was waiting- so we went crazy.

Our movie- "Enchanted". We were both enchanted by Amy Adams performance. The story was wholly predictable- but that comes as no surprise in a fairy tale. Still, it did disappoint Kevin. He didn't like it as much as I did- but the film was starting at a disadvantage on the Kevin meter, anyway. Family Film. Romantic comedy. Singing. I'm recommending it because I think everyone needs to see Amy. And, after,they need a grown-up film to continue their Amy Adams fest "Junebug".

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

On the twelfth day of Christmas

Also, traditionally, the First Day of Christmas. And, for today- a sing along!

Santa came. No overheating of the reindeer.

Breakfast of french toast and scrambled eggs. Then a shower and change into the Christmas clothes my sister had made for us last year. We are a very coordinated household. Only THEN did we open presents.

The first present opened was Zelda's. A red children's ball. Wow. She was beside herself with joy. For the next hour she ran practically without pause chasing that ball through the house. We realized that we now knew what our big empty lounge should be- the ballroom! The ball became a wet sloppy mess of saliva and dog hair leaving skid marks on the walls. (Oh, great. I guess that vacuum isn't picking up very well.) She'd get it lodged between "her" chair and the kitchen door jam and then just lick it. Eventually, the licking and mouthing won. We heard a pop. Like virtually every one of Zelda's favorite gifts- this one didn't last the day. Actually, it lasted much longer than most have. The stuffed bear that Marianna sent- 5 minutes to disembowelment.

We were very very lucky to have gifts from my family and from my friend Carolyn's family. And, each other. Kevin was most impressed that he received several games from me. I loved the shirt and necklace that Carolyn sent....and the coolo digital photo frame from Kevin. We both rejoiced in new socks and underwear. (In my family- no one every has to buy their own underwear.)

Christmas lunch. Gazpacho and salmon salad. Kevin was INSTRUMENTAL in making the food processor work- note- line up the arrows on the front. He also did some excellent chopping of celery and onions.

So, it was about 3 when we left for the beach. We headed up to Caloundra- because Kevin wanted an Ocean beach- not just a beach on Moreton Bay. For the entire hour drive there were always 4 drops of rain on the windscreen. A very dark, dark cloud loomed to the right. Plenty of parking and room on the beach- though there WERE lots of kids toting their new boogie boards- including Kevin. I was concerned that I wouldn't be warm enough. It was only 25 (78) and my mother never let us go to the pool unless it was 80. And, it was chilly standing in the wind on the shore- laughing as Kevin tried to ride a wave. It looked like so much fun that we took my camera back to the car for safekeeping and I entered the water. Just standing in the waves- HUGE waves, by the way- I was carried 3, 4, 6 feet forward. But, let me try to mount the board and I'm buried. It was very, very fun.

Back home we showered again then drove off to photograph the lights at the Baptist and Catholic churches in our old neighborhood. Churches at home don't put up Christmas lights... These had to be shared. Unfortunately, the Baptists weren't lit. So, when that Christmas lights entry gets written, all you'll see are the ones from the Catholic church. Pious. I think that's the word you'll be looking for.

Christmas day movie- "The Proposition". An Australian film that takes place at Christmas. It is one of those films where you KNOW that nothing is going to turn out well. Christmas day movie fare- fresh cherries and lychees and out of date Camembert cheese (11/23/07). (Lychees- Lotte at the clinic asked me recently- "What is your favourite (I'm sure she used the u) Christmas fruit?" "huh?" Anyway, lychees and mangoes are hers.)

Note- photos to come later.

Monday, December 24, 2007

On the eleventh and a half day of Christmas

Yes, I know, it is Carol of the Bells, again. But, this one is for my friends and family in Ohio. This morning when I called home (that would be last night for you), my sister said it was blizzarding. I love George Winston and I think this poster created a beautiful collage of snow.

No snow here. But, it was overcast so not as hot.

Back to work. Hmmmm. I just realized I left before the champagne was served. Hmmmmm. We were pretty busy- but finished as hoped by 3 PM.

Christmas eve entertainment- "Badder Santa". We enjoyed the film- funny and sweet. Kevin gives it 3 stars (of 4). It was great to revisit the film but we can't recommend it over just plain "Bad Santa"...unless you thought during the original "That cursing should last longer".

Christmas eve dinner: Roast Salmon and Vegetables (from Real Simple Magazine)

2 large fennel bulbs
1 pt grape tomatoes
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 and 1/2 tsp salt (kosher- I used sea salt)
1/4 tsp of black pepper
6 springs of fresh thyme
4 6-ounce salmon fillets, remove skin

Preheat oven to 400 F
Cut each fennel bulb in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut each half into 6 wedges.
In roasting pan/baking dish combine everything except the salmon. Spread into a single layer.
Roast until fennel is tender- about 40 min.
Season salmon with some additional salt and pepper then place on the top of the vegetable mix.
Roast until fillets are the same color throughout and flake easily. (The recipe suggests 12 min- but it depends on the thickness of the fillets. Ours took about 20.)
Remove/discard the lemon before serving- or just tell Kevin not to eat it.

Oh, and I obviously miscounted when I started my countdown to Christmas... I guess that sort of thing doesn't happen if you START the 12 days of Christmas with Christmas day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On the eleventh day of Christmas

Christmas is really rushing up on us. I am starting to feel a bit harried. Thinking things like "Why didn't I start writing these Christmas cards in November when I bought them? Or, any time before right now?" "Why didn't I wrap gifts as I bought them?" We bought the food we'd need for Christmas dinner and boxing day: Salmon and Tuna steaks. We bought some final gifts. I put the decorations on our tree and trailed our strand of 240 lights around the house looking for a place to put them....without using either tape or nails. (It really can't be done, by the way.)

Just as Kevin was getting ready to leave to do some gaming, our electricity went out. We weren't sure if the problem was with our house or the entire neighborhood. We weren't sure WHERE the fuse box WAS! Kevin donned his "brave man" hat and exited the house through the door in the laundry. (That's the door that opens into a humongous spider web equipped with a gigantous spider. Think "It".) After deftly dismantling the web and climbing up onto the spider to crush it, he discovered the fuse box wasn't out there. It is out front. It looked ok to us- so we asked a neighbor who was outside on his cel phone. The power was out there, too. I'm not sure why, it must be the looming holiday stress, but our discussion was immediately about the power being out FOR DAYS. No air conditioning! Forty dollars of fresh fish in the frig! No LIGHTS!! The latter may seem funny to you- but here on the longest days of the year it is dark by 7 PM. What was I going to do with two candles and a flashlight? How was I going to finish those Christmas cards??

Stress stress stress stress worry worry worry

The power was back on within the hour.

And, the cards. Nah. They didn't really get finished. Sounds like a good project for boxing day.

(It is getting harder and harder to choose just one song for the entry.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

On the tenth day of Christmas

Today's music is setting the scene for the big 80's party at the Globe Theatre. The club (I guess that's what you'd call it) was PACKED with mostly 20 somethings and us. Packed and tiny. No real dance floor- how 80's is that?! The DJ, teetering on his platform shoes (wrong decade), was playing a lot of not-overly-danceable songs. Still, it was hot and fun. Eventually they opened up the "theater" and played music videos ("The Never Ending Story", "She Bop", "West End Girls"... most of which the DJ had JUST PLAYED- I think he got his playlist by looking at the video collection) while dancing occurred up near the stage. We did get the chance to dance to "Rock Lobster" not once, but twice....and "Whip it" (whip it good). The train ride home was blissfully quiet. I guess that is the advantage of leaving at 11:30 rather than later. Note- Kevin has pointed out that it sounds like I didn't have such a good time. Au contraire! I had a marvelous time. I got to DANCE.

Otherwise, the day was just one of those easy Saturdays with some exercise, some napping, and Kevin buying my Christmas present!

Friday, December 21, 2007

On the ninth day of Christmas

I wrote my cards.

Oh, and went shopping at 5 AM. Bought Zelda's Christmas present.

Then, took a nap.

We ended the evening with the "Extras" Christmas special...which was about 60 minutes too long. What a waste.

The holiday lights yesterday, by the way, were great. I've got to create a special City Lights Blog entry. Maybe tomorrow while Kevin is out.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On the eighth day of Christmas

This doesn't happen often- I'm writing my blog in somewhat the middle of the day. (Therefore, this entry is subject to later editing.) The big, big, big Christmas event has yet to happen- though we picked up the tickets. We board the bus at 6:45! Woo hoo!! I'm doubting I'll be able to take a photo worth looking at from the bus- but you don't need that. You have the house above! (Carol of the Bells is getting alot of play here. I like that carol- and, lets face it- I had to use this video.)

Otherwise, I DID start writing my Christmas card, sort of. I DID do some Christmas shopping and bought something for Kevin. Not the pretty green shirt, however. Nobody needs an $80 short sleeved oxford shirt- even if the color is very, very nice. I bought some decorations- but no lights. I was ASTOUNDED to find a box of 300 of the small lights (fairy lights they're called here) were priced at - are you sitting down? $79.00! Eegads! I also vacuumed the living room. That will be obvious to Kevin. The vacuum is still in the middle of the floor. (Ann's signature.)

In other news- crime wave hits Hibiscus Circuit. SOMEBODY pulled out two of my baby plants from the bed. I found a zinnia and one of my rudbeckia lying flat on top of the soil with their little root balls exposed. They were pretty withered. I put them in a cup of water before I left home this afternoon and the zinnia, at least, perked up. Who would do such a thing? Oh, the inhumanity!

I'm sure the lights will be fun- so I'll go ahead and say it now.

Oh, and Santa WAS still at Chermside. I guess his leaving was a threat to increase the tendency for nice versus naughty behavior.

And, one more thing. This is ALL NIGHT SHOPPING at Chermside. I'm going at 4 AM- just to say I did it.

Better wake up Kevin. We need to get the best seat on the bus!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On the seventh day of Chirstmas

A work day. Somewhat busy. No crisis...that's festive, isn't it?

Mostly, it was a day of planning Christmasy things. Mostly, lights. Shay drew me a map to a neighborhood in North Brisbane that has really good lights AND I bought tickets for Kevin and me to take the Christmas light bus tour. We are going tomorrow evening- 3 hours!- leaving from downtown and touring the Southern suburbs. Our choices- North, West, South- big money prize for anyone who can guess why NOT East.... Kevin thought there might be more $$ in the Southern they might have more lights. We'll see. My thought was we could drive around up north and see lights on our own. One day. But, not today. Not tomorrow. Not Saturday.

Will she start her Christmas cards tonight? Good question.

And, the music...can you pick out Boy George in this one?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On the sixth day of Christmas

Only 1 more day of work this week! Hard to have much Christmas to add when you get home, eat, and it is 7:23. Off to play a game with Kevin.

Oh, today's music. Had to happen after I read someone's comment on youtube- asking who the ginger haired woman in the beginning was...

uhmmm....that would be Boy George.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

On the fourth day of Christmas

Sunday. Like many Sundays, our first expedition was to Chermside to the grocery. Even though we arrived late (at 10 AM), Kevin was able to use his superpowers to find a parking spot in our "regular" lot. I convinced him he should see Santa before shopping. Good thing, too. Little did I know that Santa is shipping out tomorrow. Guess it is because we don't have TV that I didn't know that Santa was so behind this year in his toy making/gift wrapping. Maybe the elf union is actually a subgroup of the television writers? Anyway, Kevin was surprised by how space age Santa's castle was. I guess you can't capture the 21st century, global-warming-has-erased-all-concept-of-snow feel with a photograph.

Next- tree shopping. Here is the selection at Coles. A very bedraggled group.

We ended up getting a small live tree (Norfolk Pine) which Kevin says does NOT look like a Christmas tree- to which I reply- it is green. Now, if we only had decorations. Maybe I'll do that Thursday.

Important soccer game with Zelda in the back yard. I'm not sure what position she plays. Something like goalie- but with more running, chasing, and barking.

Finally- off to the GOMA. We went to watch a pair of Andy Warhol films. Fine napping. We dashed through the collection which STILL includes the infinity room- but didn't see the traveling Warhol exhibit. (It wouldn't be a complete entry without repeating what Kevin tells me EVERY TIME I mention seeing the Warhol exhibit. He's been to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh- multiple times.) Neither, did we crash the museum members' Christmas party.... We might have tried if we had just dressed a little better.

As any good night should, it ended with Arrested Development.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On the third day of Christmas

Big Christmas day.

First, I immersed myself in over-the-top Christmas mall shopping complete with circling the parking lot 3 times. I didn't do much shopping, actually. I bought a couple of small things. It was "enough" to be part of the throng- shoulder to shoulder shuffling through the retail Christmas wonderland. And, to eat sushi. Actually, even with the metal trees and robot angel, it doesn't feel like Christmas at Chermside. Maybe I'm missing the mental and physical on-again, off-again oppression of carrying/wearing a winter coat. Maybe I'm just a sucker for green trees and poinsettias. I think the old Salem Mall did Christmas best- with a towering tree made of red poinsettias.

Later, Kevin and I went to his office holiday party at the Albion Raceway. All you can eat buffet dinner and sulky races. We won BIG. Each employee received four race tickets, so we had an invested interest in four of the races. Two of our horses came in dead last! The third horse came in forth. And, our forth horse WON!! At the end of the night we turned in our ticket and pocketed $5.30! We are so ahead! Parking was only $4!!

Finally, on the way home we took a detour to check out the Christmas lights at Kevin's co-worker's Karen's home. (Wondering now what is the greatest number of words one can string together with possessive 's es.) Good job, Karen.

Oh, and I know this isn't a carol- but it is Michelle Shocked singing on Christmas Day.

Friday, December 14, 2007

On the Second Day of Christmas

"Charlie Brown's Christmas" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

I don't remember these being broadcast so late- I had trouble keeping my eyes open.

These holiday classics followed taking Kevin out to celebrate my raise. We went to the Full Moon Hotel in Sandgate. Couldn't get a table while the sun shone- so the view of the water was unimportant. The live music, however.... At least we figured they were paying these two guys for live music. Both dressed in white- not so much like Mr. Clean as like painters leaving for work - you know, before they get splattered. One man stood and "played" his mixing board. Pulling up tunes from the late 70's and 80's: Wham, The Weather Girls, and, can you believe it... The King of Pop, himself, with "Don't stop til you get enough". (THANK GOD we parked WAYYYY down the street!) His mate played the bongos. Yep. On top of the recorded music. And, no one was dancing.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

On the first day of Christmas

Dinner out with Terry and Sherri, Tom, Brianna, and Fletcher at Da Sette Soldi- an Italian Restaurant on Sandgate Road.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


December 12. 12 December. It doesn't matter what country I'm in...12/12...I can't go wrong!

I don't really have a focus this evening. (If I did, my desk would be cleaned off and I'd have ordered those Christmas gifts that are on my to do list. Or, maybe, I would have finished reading the book I've borrowed from the library- and is due.) So, this is just a collection of random thoughts.

Having trouble sleeping through the night. I'm blaming this on the raucous partying of the flying foxes in our backyard. "I saw the way you looked at her" "You come over here and say that" "PARTYYYY" and all the while they are decimating our mango crop. At least, they're getting the blame. Could be something else. Like the outrageous number of SPIDERS in our yard. Maybe they have some sort of eight-legged, web-hopping bucket brigade going. They are getting pretty cheeky too. Stringing their damned webs across all points of egress AT FACE HEIGHT. Kevin's pointed out that they are pretty much encasing the perimeter with a we are already caught and they're just waiting to suck out all our juicy bits.

Oh, and you missed the mouse. But, I didn't.

My petunias are dying. One by two. Today they are lush and blooming and tomorrow they are shriveling. I think something is chewing through their stems just at or below ground level. Or, they are getting stepped on and snapping or... I need to ask someone at a garden center. And, I need to make them little collars to protect them. Soon. Before there are none to protect.

Instead, today I bought more plants. I haven't told Kevin yet, wait, I think I'm doing it now... I haven't told Kevin that I bought more than I really have places to plant them. I could make a clean sweep of the petunias and stick in my new guys... but I think I'll try to save the petunias that are left. I know you're curious. I bought more zinnias because the two I had planted were doing so well. I bought more cosmos because the two I had planted were doing so poorly. And, I love cosmos- especially sensation- though I'd like to try sea shells, sometime. I bought more gazania in two different colour varieties because the ones I had were thriving. And, because I've never grown them but I think they are fun flowers- gerbera daisies. So, along with getting ready for Christmas, I need to either weed the bed beside the driveway more completely- or dig a new bed in the backyard. Hmmmmmm... Whatever I do, you can bet I'll be doing it about 6 AM when one can almost fool oneself into thinking it is "cool" outside.

Oh, and is it any wonder that I have trouble determining LEFT while driving?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I had a client Monday

tell me that her daughter works in the customer service center at Chermside Mall. Over the weekend her daughter received a complaint from one of the mall customers that the holiday decorations were UNATTRACTIVE and she would not be shopping there in the future.

How could you not just laugh?

Speaking of laughing and Christmas and holiday shopping, everyone is invited to re-listen to one of the all-time-best Christmas stories ever: David Sedaris reading his "Santaland Diaries" on "This American Life" in 1996. You'll need to click on Full Episode- Then listen through or fast forward about 4 and 1/2 minutes to Act 2. (It IS edited, by the way - the uncut version is found in "Holidays on Ice". Pick it up. You need it.)

I must admit, however, that Chermside's Christmas is very space age. I think that is a robot angel parked by the three trees. I think these decorations could only be created by people who have only seen snow on TV.