Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Renee!

Happy, Happy Day! To my favorite sister! To my favorite model! I'm very pleased to be able to celebrate with you this year. Let us have a marvelous day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What a great week!

And, it is only Wednesday and sure to get better!

Monday, you won't believe it, but I got to go home an hour early! Upon my arrival, as if anything could get better, I found that the Australian government has finally sent our medicare exemption forms AND there was a package from Christine! Oh wow! Christine sent lots of new spiders (seriously), a real letter, and a CD of photos. I had so much fun! Then, we watched the last episodes of season three (the final season) of "Arrested Development" and were once again impressed with what has to be the smartest comedy ever appearing on TV.

Tuesday we had an early celebration of Valentine's Day. (Tomorrow evening Kevin has an appointment at the dentist. And, I'll be in the throws of last minute packing.) We went to a Turkish restaurant that we've noticed on Sandgate Road. I had the prawn bowl? pot-o-prawn? something like that and Kevin had the mixed grill. We took our meal "to go"- not that anyone takes a meal "to go" in Australia. Here, we do "take away". The food was good and plentiful. And, we splurged on rice pudding. It was an assignment from Heather, really. She thinks I should eat rice pudding. Who am I to argue? It was very yummy- and too much.

Wednesday- my last day of work for two weeks! How sweet! And, my boss informed me of the bonus I earned for this quarter. I love the way this man does math. We earned 25% more in the last quarter than we did this time last year. He calculated my bonus on the basis of this...and then pretty much doubled it. Crazy. I said, "Thank you".

Tomorrow- finally going to get our taxes done, I hope. I have an appointment. I just hope I have all the information I need to complete the job. Afterward, lunch with Kevin and some last minute gift shopping in the city. Oh, and repacking. At least twice. Then, try to sleep. I expect to be very excited. It is better than Christmas. I'm going home!

Friday- my flight departs about noon. I'm lucky enough to get a direct flight to LA from Brissie. A not too excessive layover in LA is followed by a flight to Cincinnati. After an hour there, I'm headed for Dayton. Total travel time, discounting the drive to the airport and the wait in Brisbane AND the drive home to Chicken City...23 and 1/2 hours.

I know that I'm going home to winter. I know that but I just don't really understand it. Arctic fronts are hard to imagine when you are in lush, hot Brisbane. Snow? I've seen the photos. I know it is white. I'm anticipating culture shock.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gung hay fat choy!

Yes! It is the year of the RAT!! (That's rat, Zelda. Not dog.) Kevin and I started our celebration last night by ordering Chinese from our local, just-over-the-tracks restaurant. Today, I ditched him and went on my own to Chinatown to check out the festivities.

I didn't arrive until almost 3. I toured the shopping stalls in the Brunswick Street Mall and then thought I'd see what was happening on the next mall (the one with the pagodas that I don't know the name of). More shops- though these were decidedly Chinese and festive in nature. Down at the end was a Chinese band playing, I kid you not, "Play that Funky Music". Of course, I had to stop. Everyone was lining up around the perimeter of a rope that cordoned off the area in front of the band stand. I didn't know what was going to happen, but I had a second row position and I figured (reckoned) I should hold onto that.

Not long after that I spied the video screen positioned near the pagoda on which the band was playing. The upcoming action included the dragon and lion dances and firecrackers! So, I waited there for the next 30 minutes- somehow retaining my good position.

This was the official beginning of the New Year festival and so we had to welcome everyone and introduce umpteen dozen officials and dignitaries- who each made a speech- usually in English and then in Chinese. I did appreciate that occasionally they would throw a dance in in-between speeches.

Things to know:

It is necessary to repaint the eyes on the dragon and lion(s) before their performance in order to ensure prosperity/good luck for the year to come. I'm not sure why every person on the stage had to paint the eyes of each lion. Maybe the luck goes only to the paintee. In this case, I'm out of luck.

It looks like fun to be part of the dragon but less so to be part of a lion- especially the back part. And, it looks downright dangerous to be any part of a lion that is dancing above ground. These lions, however, get pretty awesome looking massages prior to their performance.

If you are ever being hunted by a dragon, throw a ball. They seem to follow "the bouncing ball"- especially a ball with streamers, if you've got one.

Being in the front row is very cool and probably important for appreciating the dragon dance, less necessary for the post hopping or pole climbing lion dances, and actually unpleasant for the firecrackers- that is unless getting hit in the face with shrapnel brings good luck in the year to come.

It is good to be small. You will receive a bag of rats.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Unsettled mind

Yesterday as I was lying on Heather's massage table feeling like a birthday cake I thought, "I should be relaxed. This treatment would be so much more successful, undoubtedly, if I would just relax. I've got to stop this obsessing." It went on like this.

And what, pray tell, was on my mind?

Two things. It is always two things. Just ask Kevin.

First, I lost a patient. I saw this dog yesterday and I knew enough to tell the owner I thought she might not make it through the night- but I didn't know enough to save her. Arghhhh. It is one of those things- afterwards you have some great ideas- but at the time you are just plain stupid. I am so sorry. My bad. I've learned by now that the only way to get through these things is to figure out what might keep this very specific problem from happening in the future. I've figured out what that would be with this problem- but I just haven't let it go. Yet.

Then, there was my embarrassment about "May". May cuts my hair. I like him. He's very cute and very sweet and it only takes about 24 hours before I have the courage to look at my hair after he cuts it. (I've always thought May was a funny name for a man- but he's Japanese and, so, who knows.) Anyway, I called to make an appointment for a hair cut in anticipation for GOING HOME. May didn't have anything available early. "I can get you in with her at 4:30." That won't work. I have to be at Heather's at 5:30. The woman suggested I come in later- Thursday is late shopping day here. (Yes. One day each week- every week- the stores are open until 9 PM. Gasp.) I guess I could come in after seeing Heather. But, first I had to clarify that I wanted to see May the man. Oh. She's a woman.

So, I lay on the table truly, truly, truly embarrassed about calling her a man. I don't care if May is a man or a woman. I just didn't want to offend her. She holds sharp instruments next to my face. But, mostly, I like her. She is (still) cute and sweet.

Later, of course, I confessed all to Kevin. He laughed at me thinking that a man would be named "May". But, I had just restudied the situation and I must report that 9 out of 10 veterinarians would believe that May was a man.

And, I'll have you know I scored a perfect 10 out of 10 on the male/female quiz on Facebook.

I'm good.

I'm just not perfect.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Missing US Holidays

Can't quite figure out why there is no "Ground Hog's Day" here. Could it be because we are in the middle of summer? Could it be because there is no Bill Murray? Could it be because there are NO GROUNDHOGS? In a pinch I'd say a wombat would work. It is worth having someone to blame for the length of winter/summer.

And, today, is Mardi Gras.
Mar·di Gras (märd grä)
n. Shrove Tuesday, celebrated as a holiday in many places with carnivals, masquerade balls, and parades of costumed merrymakers.
from the french: mardi, Tuesday + gras, fat (from the feasting on Mardi Gras before Lenten fasting).]

Brisbane doesn't do any Mardi Gras. That isn't too big of a suprise or disappointment- Versailles doesn't either. Sydney, on the other hand has a big Mardi Gras party- and even a web page. It just isn't linked to Fat Tuesday. This year's dates: Feb 9 to Mar 2. I'm happy enough to have Mardi Gras being a big gay pride festival/parade- but why would you want to pick a random date?

I can be so rigid.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Congratulations Steve and Tanya!

Somehow I thought that a four day weekend would either result in me having lots of great stories or feeling very rested. Neither is the case. Alas.

Thursday morning I caught the 8 AM train from Carseldine, connected at Eagle Junction, and "landed" at the domestic airport. I flew Virgin (no breakfast) to Sydney where Kevin picked me up on the curb (kerb) and hastened me away to Kurrajong Hills in the Blue Mountains. We arrived with an hour to spare. Just enough time to change, enjoy our afternoon tea, and hustle over to the wedding venue, Loxley on Bellbird Hill. Oh, and conveniently, that hour was just enough time for the rain to come and go. So, the beautiful outdoor wedding went on as planned- with a few puddles but plenty of late afternoon light.

Everybody looked great. I even managed to keep my dress on (the straps, I mean) thanks to the ribbon tied bow that was attached to my place card. Good food. Good music. Good time.

Kevin was tired and made the mistake of brushing his teeth before remembering that our fancy-schmancy bed and breakfast included port and chocolate in the evening. I, therefore, was the only one to sample said port. Half a taste- that was all I could handle. Not my cup of tea.

Breakfast was elaborate - four courses. Then, load up the car and head back home. It was overcast with an occasional shower. Trip highlights: The WORLD'S largest sundial (Singleton, NSW).

Check out the time (below).

In addition, I did get to see "The Big Golden Guitar" in Tamworth, the country music capital of Australia.

And, we succeeded in not hitting either of two kangaroos that were lounging in the center of the road just after dusk.

Since our arrival back home (about 11:30 PM), I've been trying to recover. I just couldn't sleep once I finally got home- maybe it was the green tea I had with supper. Maybe it was the 12 hours of high quality music I had brought along for the ride. Anyway, I ended up getting about 4 hours of sleep...and have been dragging around and catching the odd nap since.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Zelda!

I can't believe you're 11 years old. I remember bringing you home from Charlotte. You entirely consumed the new chew bone I had bought for you. Immediately. That night I had to sleep with you on a leash because you were used to living with a shift worker and being up all night. Fortunately, you soon learned how to sleep during the night - and day. It has taken years for you to train me and I still mess up on occasion. Thanks to you, I keep a much neater house.

I love you, Zelda. You are my best girl. You are my cheeky girl.