Sunday, January 27, 2008

Updates for Kevin


Sunday- I went out to caress THE mango. Its a beautiful pink colo(u)r on one side though green on the tree side. I must have been persuasive in my touch, because she fell into my hand. I brought her inside- but she won't keep til you get home. There is a hole on the green side- so I expect I'll need to deworm her. Ugh.

And, I've brought the mail in. I was weeding this morning- so since I had gloves on, I pulled out the contents. I suppose that it was easier that way than using the kitchen tongs. But tongs were more fun. Flashback to playing "Operation!"

Remove wrenched ankle.

And, speaking of removing body parts. Remember that gecko in the bedroom that I tried to capture and release when we first moved in? The one I de-tailed? I can't be sure, of course, but look who's living behind the air conditioner above the bed.

Something has happened to our radio station. After the 25 years in 25 days...they've changed to today's pop. Like every other station. I'm hoping I'm wrong and that the station got "bumped". Please bring the car home so I can know for sure. The horror!

I finally googled Chinese New Year. Not the same as Buddhist New Year. Chinese New Year is a 15 day holiday beginning February 7th. We'll have to try to get down to Fortitude Valley before I leave on the 15th.

Despite my day of cleaning oath, I still need to vacuum. And, make the bed and put away the clothes.

Ah. But, I don't have to work tomorrow. All is good.

What is this all about?

If I let tomatoes set around on my counter for too long- they don't get rotten like they would at home (meaning a tomato that is home grown. I don't buy tomatoes in the US. The "field grown" tomatoes here are not too bad- not the dry, mealy, tasteless hard fruit you get from Kroger's at home. I'm serious about tomatoes. They lose their taste if you refrigerate them. I believe this.) Anyway. Look at that tomato. It has SPROUTED.


Oh, and last week we had a discussion with Peter while driving to Goulburn about the pronunciation of tomato. Recently he heard a discussion about the original pronunciation of tomato: it was TO MA TO like PO TA TO. The soft a sound that the Brits and Australians use was effected to distinguish the upper class who could afford this new fruit from those poor Irishmen who ate that dirty tuber. Still, he can't say TO MA TO. I told him we could form a support group for him.

I suppose he'll think that's a good idea when I join his and start saying things like toilet and petrol and lift. And, zed.

And, while we're on the topic of PO TA TOes- have I ever told you they sell two different forms of potato here? It is the same variety- but you can either buy them "brushed" or "washed". Brushed means "caked with dirt". I suppose they brush off any insects? Anyway, they are 10c cheaper per kilo. I figure (reckon- I'll put in an Aussie touch) the price evens out once you scrub off all that dirt and their weight drops significantly.

Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day! Zelda and I are celebrating in a big way. We are both clean. We are both fed. And, we are thinking about taking a nap. OK. Zelda is ALREADY taking a nap. She thinks I'm indecisive.

Australia Day is a funny holiday. It is sort of like an intersection of the 4th of July, Columbus Day, and Thanksgiving- but without turkey and pumpkin pie. We are celebrating the arrival of the "first fleet". These are not the discoverers of Australia- but it is like Columbus Day in that both native peoples see the holiday as a day of invasion. The first fleet is the first convoy of convicts that were shipped to Australia for their imprisonment- and Australia's settlement. So, sort of like the pilgrims- except I don't think those religious people would be too keen on being likened to English prisoners. Some may suffered religious persecution, I suppose. But, we are celebrating landing and, yes, sort of a giving of thanks for a new life and a new world. Australia Day is considered the national day of celebration- like Independence Day in the US. But, it isn't a celebration of independence but of making it to the new jail. Still, its a great holiday. It gives me a Monday off (yay) which I need desperately after the long week I've had! (Note- this makes two days off in a row!)

What HAS to get finished this weekend is Christmas shopping! I'm going home in less than a month... and I need to step off the plane with all of Christmas (Christmas 2007) in my bags. I'm pretty much there. I need to place a couple of on-line orders. Oh... and figure THAT out. Secrets. I love Christmas. Whenever it occurs.

Friday, January 25, 2008

S.O.S. to Tim Gunn

I've been watching "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style". Really, you only have to watch one episode- even if you, like me, are a die-hard Tim Gunn fan. But, I'm alone this week and I'm all caught up on "Project Runway".

I imagine everyone who watches a reality show pictures herself on that deserted island or in that locked house or living with Paris Hilton. And, I can CLEARLY see the first 25% of TGGTS- Tim Gunn is coming in 30 min. I don't change clothes. The photos of what I've worn each day last week- I'm swimming in a red camp shirt- everyday. That's because what I'm wearing now is not appropriate for (even) Bravo. And, what's the big event I have to dress for? Steve and Tanya's wedding. In the 5 minutes I have to "get ready" I put on my fish dress. (It is the least bad dress I have- I tried them all on yesterday.) It is fine- or not too bad- from the waist down. Like everything else, the top is too big. It is gaping across the back. Maybe the front, too. I was too horrified to truly study the situation.) A meaningful glance is passed between Tim and his "Iusedtobeasupermodel" sidekick, Veronica Webb. A tour of my closet- I might get to keep a pair of black dress pants. Mostly, they're making faces at my way too big, shapeless shirts and dresses. They also think too much is too juvenile. I know deep down that they're much more likely to applaud my underwear drawer than my shoe collection. Fortunately for me, they NEVER ask to see shoes.

After this commercial break everything becomes foggy in my imagination. I guess I'm willing to believe that in the high end lingerie store they take me to something fits. Its TV, after all. "Don't try this at home". But, then they take me to Myers. I was there yesterday trying to do better than my fish dress. The only time they are happy with a shirt or dress is when they are standing behind me and pinching yards of cloth from the back so it looks like it fits up front.

I thought shopping in the US was difficult. I was really challenged to find anything in a six- let alone something s-m-a-l-l-e-r- like something that FIT. The other thing that impressed me was that the prices - outrageously expensive. I did find a jacket that fit and that I liked. It had been marked down 3 times and now on the clearance rack it was $74. The dresses I breezed by cost more than I paid for my formal wedding gown.

I did stop by the alteration store- but there isn't enough time for me to get my dress to them and then pick it up before the wedding. Even if I bought a new dress and had taken it immediately, I couldn't get back to the mall until after the wedding. Well, I could get to the mall on Sunday- but the alteration place is closed.

Anyway, Tim. Don't you think a vacation in Brisbane sounds like a good idea? There is no time like the present. You probably don't want to witness the ordeal of me trying on bras- or shoes so it's OK to bring Veronica- or better yet, a female friend with a personality. I could put you up. If you're interested, I could already haul my wardrobe off to the goodwill bin at the train station. Save us a little time. We're going to need it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Late January Celebrations!

January 23 I've learned- thanks to the celebratory alarm clock that emails me such important information- is Buddhist New Year. I don't know what year it is. I'm not even sure what Buddhist New Year is. It may be Chinese New Year- but you'd think I'd have heard about that somewhere else. I'd ask Zelda about it, but she's refused to move on from the "year of the dog". Anyway, I ate leftover Chinese food, just in case. Very good- spicy prawns with vegetables. Sometimes a person has to say goodbye to Mongolian Beef.

January 24 Marianna's birthday. Happy birthday to my favorite Auntie! and Zelda's fairy godmother!

January 25 Nan's birthday. Happy birthday to a great vet, super boss, and even finer friend! I'm looking forward to spending time with you in Columbus- very, very soon.

January 26 Australia Day. Hip Hip Hooray!

January 31 Becky's birthday. Happy birthday to you! You are a very special friend. I'm still touched thinking about how you and Susette drove across country in December to visit me in Versailles last year. I hope this year brings you great joy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Its been a long time- here's a work tale

Today I did something like 16 million new puppy checks. OK. Not really. That's the week's total. But today I got to check a cute, fluffy border collie puppy who has been living in his new home since Monday- but he still hasn't got a name. Maybe it will be Milo. Or, maybe Snapper. That's a name that vets are SURE to love.

Anyway, a boy and his dad brought the puppy in. They were concerned that he pants a lot- or, as my clients always tell me- breathes heavily. Maybe I should get more worried about panting- but I hardly ever do.

That's not the story.

I spoke primarily to the boy. He was probably 10. He was bright and articulate. And, he'd look at me and talk back. I like that in a client. During the exam the father gradually started moving closer to the table and paying more attention. I was undoubtedly taking too long with this exam because I was having fun playing with the boy. And, the puppy was cute.

Eventually the father says they got the puppy "so you could run around and lose some weight." (He was a boy with a "South Park" figure.)

The boy then adds, "And, it's for me to have a puppy to love."

I told him, "He is very lovable".

And, the boy looked up at me with a smile and a question.

"You both are."

A Bit of "On the Beach"

As Australia Day approaches so does the annual Australian gaming fiesta "On the Beach". This year the venue has been shifted from horse farm to sheep station- from the Blue Mountains to the outback outside Canberra (Goulburn, NSW). And, yours truly - now a person of employed status- cannot attend.

That didn't stop me from enjoying the "best" part of the 10 day experience- driving down from Brisbane. This year, however, we've got what we more honestly believe to be a reliable car AND we have air conditioning! The plan was to leave last Thursday as soon as I got home from work and drive about 4 hours. Then, get up about 6 AM and finish the day in Sydney attending a birthday party for Rob. As the hour neared 8 PM and we still weren't ready to leave we decided to alter the plan. Plan 2: Watch the most recent episode of "Nip/Tuck", go to bed after (9 PM) and get up about 3:30 AM to then drive straight through. Australia's own "" told us the drive would take 10.5 hours. But, we've stopped believing anything from them. Google maps said 12.5. That fit our experience last year much better.

You already have an idea how this starts out. Lets just say, not at 3:30 AM. The alarm DID ring and we DID get up- but after a shower and breakfast and packing the car it was more like 5 AM. Still, there is not much traffic at 5 AM.

The drive down, in fact, was a pleasure. Maybe I exaggerate. But we did not encounter the traffic tie-ups we had last year near the Qld border. Nor were we passing out from the heat, the sun burning through the windscreen and the oil pouring out of our engine. And, we made it. In about 12 and 1/2 hours!

The party was fine. Rob was very surprised to see us. The best part for me, however, was that Kevin left the lights on. We arrived at Rob's door and in our welcome/happy birthday/what a surprise chat Kevin turned back to show Rob our new car (we had sought his advise when we were shopping. He's like a god.) and found it was easy to point out in the darkening evening. It was the one with the lights on. I don't know what is going on with that car. There IS an alarm that beeps when you leave the car with the lights on- but it doesn't come on every time. (Why should it?) I suggested that MJ needs a disco ball and maybe that will satisfy his desire for some nightlights. I'm not sure if it should hang in the trunk with him or like a fuzzy die from the rear view mirror. (Have I mentioned this idea before? I'm getting older....sometimes I forget what I've said and what I've just thought about.)

Saturday we picked up another Brisbanite from the Sydney airport and made the 2 hour drive to Goulburn. Have I mentioned that throughout most of this drive it is raining? Alternating between a mist, a sprinkle, and a downpour. We were the first to arrive so we went to the grocery and bought supplies to fix a spaghetti dinner for 13. Then, we started playing games. And played until 1 AM. Wow. Me. I did that. Though, I must admit, that my effort at "Times Up!" which IS one of my very favourites (see- that "u" slipped in effortlessly) was nothing to brag about.

Sunday I didn't have long to play. I had a plane to catch in Canberra and I wanted to take a stroll around the sheep station and take in the experience. It was a cool day- very pleasant. The sky was fabulous with bright sun piercing dark looming storm clouds. Everything was magical- purple sky, yellow paddocks, and blue mountains on the horizon. There should be lots of pictures here. Really. Lots of them.

But, I couldn't hack it. The flies! The Australian outback fly is a pest beyond belief. They MUST sit/crawl/hover/return on you. A mere wave of the hand will never deter them. After walking the equivalent of 1/2 a city block I let Kevin know that I would not be talking to him on this walk because I did not want any flies in my mouth. About 40 steps later I mumbled through clenched lips, "That's it! I'm done with this! One crawled up my nose!" I'm sorry now that I wasn't tougher. And, that I didn't leave for the airport with enough time to explore the "Big Merino" on the outskirts of Goulburn.

Oh, by the way, the Canberra airport must be seen to be believed. This is the Nation's capital... and the airport...well, there is a snack bar just past the Qantas check in desk. Don't expect to find anything - let me make that clear- ANYTHING to eat, drink, read, etc. upstairs at the gates. I guess it is about the size of the airport in Fayetteville, NC. But even Fayetteville has a snack counter in the gate area.

They know I'm alone here

How could I be so naive as to think that if Kevin was gone I'd have more energy to do more things when I get home from work? Where did that idea come from? I have kept the dishes washed and the kitchen tidy. I guess I am a superwoman.

But that isn't the title of this blog. It is about THEM. I've been alone 3 days and have had three close encounters of the eight legged variety. Monday morning I woke to find something very long legged crawling across my ARM!!!! I slapped it silly before I had the chance to count how many long legs. COULD have been a mosquito on stilts. Monday evening I was letting Zelda out when a brown spider the size of a 50 cent piece (which is really about the same in the US and Australia) came scampering and bouncing across the floor at my feet. I screamed. Loudly. No one came. Zelda wasn't concerned and Kevin didn't phone home. The intruder huddled by a chair leg while I contemplated my response. I have no Fall/Winter editions of the J.C. Penney catalog- and nothing smaller seemed worthy. So, I grabbed the vacuum. I chased that (insert favo(u)rite explicative here) spider across the floor- but I won! I then left the vacuum running for a full 5 minutes. He was not going to crawl back out. He was going to be tumbled to death! (Please.) Tues evening/Wed morning, however, was the worst. I came home and thought since I was the only one living here currently I should check the mail. Across the door inside the box was spun a web. This time I managed not to scream out loud. I think. But, I also decided to wait til morning (daylight) to get the mail. This morning I peaked in to see 2 letters (probably NOT love letters- but you never really know)and one spider sitting in the web. A sizable spider. NOT a garden spider (which are monstruous) - but in my mind I was convinced it would be a redback - the downunder version of a black widow- but nastier. Everything nasty thing is nastier in Australia.

Do you think I really need to bring in the mail? Kevin will be home in 10 days.

Actually, I may try to cart the vacuum out. I just need to find enough extension cords.

But, I'm not emptying the cannister.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The month is getting away from me

Here it is- the 14th already. We were slammed at work during the holiday season and the first week of January. Last week started feeling more like "normal"- though as always I had a reason to go in on Sunday. Somehow Rob seems to be able to dodge those bullets. I suspect if I lived on the other side of town I might be more creative at getting patients home, too. Anyway, I've been busy and tired. How dull.

Last week DID see our first ripe mango. I saw her reclining in the back yard and invited her to spend time inside with us. She was warm and sweet and soft...and that's not even talking about the worms I had to cut out. This worried Kevin. "What happens if we eat one?" "We'll get a little more protein in our diet." Still, who wants to eat a worm? Even a small one? I'm not sure where this mango was hanging on the tree. The one out front I've been studying is getting pinker- but it is still quite firm. Probably won't be ripe until Kevin leaves for NSW.

That's what is rising on the horizon. "On the Beach". "On the Beach" without Ann. I'm going to drive down with Kevin this weekend and play games for about 24 hours before flying home so I can go to work on Monday. Then, in two weeks I fly back down, attend a wedding in the Blue Mountains and drive back with Kevin. In between is the Australia Day weekend. So, more busy times but more fun.

And, for the record- it is looking like Jan 14 will be the day I post my Christmas cards! At least, most of them. Watch your mail boxes. They should reach the Northern Hemisphere before Easter. Maybe not before I get home in Februrary (mark you calendars- Feb 15- 25).

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Crime hits Hibiscus Circuit!

Today I was leaving to go buy a new spark plug for the lawn mower (no- it still isn't working and the grass and weeds are approaching thigh high... at least for Zelda who uses the backyard a lot more often than we do!) when I discovered that the car WOULD NOT START.

I did what Kevin would do. I blamed myself. After all, I was the last person to drive the car yesterday afternoon. Yesterday, in the hot, sunny afternoon. I thought initially I had left the axillary power turned on- but Kevin's examination revealed that it was NOT POSSIBLE to leave the axillary power on. He also discovered that the lights were turned on.

I did not drive with the lights on. Remember. Sunny. Hot. Bright.

No lights.

We concluded that the children who on New Year's Day were ringing our doorbell and disappearing had moved on to more elaborate pranks. Curses! We were very fortunate that we have friends who are willing to help.

Thank God they didn't steal Zelda's bag of dog food or her NEW YELLOW BALL out of the back seat! I just can't believe they would feel comfortable messing around with a car that is divinely protected by Michael Jackson. Surely, their parents don't know.

Of course, it was still my fault. I didn't lock the car.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I haven't told Kevin yet, but

I found the following announcement.

3 New Crush Messages
3 Aussies Want You Right Now Find Out Who Instantly

It's a curse.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Australian messages

Sometimes I'm really tickled by signs or cautions I read or see or hear in Australia. I'm guessing Australians don't find them humoro(u)s. I've watched some of their comedies.

Now for some examples:

On the Gateway Motorway (and likely other similar places)....

"Toll Evasion is an Offense".

I love this threat! It is so civil and yet it carries with it a tone of social sanction. I feel dirty and unlovable even contemplating cheating the toll.

This is my favorite, however. It is said in a very soft, very hurried voice following an advertisement for buying property in Brisbane. (Fortunately, they run the ad frequently on the radio. It took several listens to get it all.)

"The advice in this commercial has been prepared without considering your circumstances."

Wow. I haven't really figured out yet what this means about Australia and Australians. Naive? Excessively psychotic? Do throngs of Australians really believe that the radio is talking TO THEM? That advertisers want what is best for the buyer? That, this isn't JUST AN AD? Is the government outrageously cautious? Overly protective? (And, yet, if that is the case- why don't all doors exiting public buildings open outward? Why don't all lawn mowers require you to hold on to the handle to keep the blades spinning?- not that that is a problem (blades spinning) with our mower. Surely safe escape from burning buildings and keeping fingers from being sliced by folks wanting to reach under the mower would be more serious and much more common problems. I actually know a reasonably intelligent woman who lost part of a finger from this sort of (judgement) error.)

Lest you think I'm making this up, go ahead and google that phrase. The first page of 10 citations are all from Australian financial institutions. Maybe it is because this is Or, maybe other people (read Americans here- cause the citation would have to be in English for me to understand. Sure, we could look to the UK, too. Not sure what you'd find there.) don't think this way.

Finally, there is the sign that begins this post. Were you like me...did you initially read this as suggesting that people desiring suicide should choose to jump from bridges rather than walk in front of trains? Obviously, Queensland Rail would prefer if someone else had to clean up the mess.

The very last post of Christmas

Since it is now New Year's Day.... It had to end sometime. After all, the Baptists had completely dismantled their Christmas display by the evening of the 26th. They were so focused on ending Christmas, they did this in the rain.

Anyway, without a doubt, this was The Ugliest Christmas Tree in Brisbane. If you are having trouble making it out, the tree is black and yellow. If you have trouble accepting that, I cannot help you. Welcome to my world.

Welcome 2008.