Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Views from my sewing machine

The spare room is slowly coming together. I finally have a table to set up my sewing machine and other crafty things, a few bookshelves have been put together and I've actually done a little sewing.

(These hydrangea bushes run all the way down our side of the building so we have a great view of them from every room)

Nothing finished yet but I'm making some progress on a few Christmas presents.

I haven't felt up to blogging lately because I've got a pretty busy work schedule at the moment. I'm working my regular 5 days a week and I volunteered to fill in two days a week (my days off) at Glen's work through the holidays. I started my epic run the last week of November and my first day off won't be until Christmas day (and then I only have the 25th off since boxing day is a big day in retail).

Temperature: +23C
Sunrise: 5:51am
Sunset: 8:32pm

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dragons, Pottery and Gold!

Glen and I finally had a weekend off together last week. It'll likely be our last days off together until Christmas day and even then, we won't have the day to ourselves.
We took advantage of the freedom and spent the day in Bendigo. The drive was quick and easy - basically we get on the freeway near the house and keep driving and it takes us straight there (no turns or anything!). One thing to keep in mind is that Bendigo basically closes on a Sunday. The streets were very quiet and a lot of shops were closed. Thankfully some of the touristy things were open.

Random shot of our rainy drive home.

We started off at the Chinese Museum and the Chinese Gardens (essentially a koi pond - not something I'd pay to see separately but admission was free when you buy a museum ticket).

We got to see the longest imperial dragon and the oldest imperial dragon.

The longest imperial dragon in the world - Sun Loong

Random other dragons (one is a guardian lion I think)

We walked through some gardens and saw a whole heap of bats (silver headed flying foxes).

We picked up a free tourist guide at the museum and we flipped through it to look for other things to do. The pottery place and the gold mine happened to be open so we decided to take a drive out to the pottery place first. The pottery place was AWESOME. I thought it might be some fancy-schmancy-arty pottery place but most of the pieces were utilitarian type things - sugar/flour/tea canisters, mugs, plates, bowls etc. We bought a few Christmas presents for family and picked up a sugar container for us. I'd love to go back and get their flour and tea bag container.
After that we drove over to the Central-Deborah Gold Mine and took a 75minute underground tour. That was awesome too. I thought I might be a little freaked out by taking the elevator and being 20 storeys underground but I was fine. Part of what made the mine tour great was our tour guide and there were only four people in our group (us and an older couple). They have an even longer tour available (you go further underground!) and I'd definitely consider doing that one as well (and it's definitely on our list of things to do when people come to visit).

We did a little bit of driving around Bendigo and happened upon this great sight:

Unfortunately it was closed so we'll have to take a trip up again.

We're in the process of planning an even more exciting trip for around March but I'm sure we'll get in a day trip or two before then! (more details when we have a few things confirmed!)

Temperature: +17C
Sunrise: 5:56am
Sunset: 8:16pm

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Soggy Spring

We have a had a cold and wet spring. Everyone has been complaining - especially about how cold it is. I just kind of shrugged because I remember when I first came last year I was SO cold in the house and it took me a while to adjust to the cooler temperatures coming from summer in Canada (and in Montreal no less).

Well, I may be converted to thinking that we actually are suffering with colder weather. I just went to look at some pictures from this time last year - and posts so I try to repeat myself as little as possible (since I was thinking about talking about the Melbourne Cup) and this time last year we were at Wilsons Prom soaking up the sun on the beach.

The plus side to all this cool wet weather is that our dams are at 50% which is a first in many years (I've read varying reports from first since 2006 to first in 30 years... Either way it's a big deal).

Anyway, the first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup day - the major race in a spring horse racing carnival. It's the race that "stops the nation" and everyone at 3:10pm stops to see who wins. We thankfully had the day off though we were surprised at the amount of stores that actually opened.
Glen and I put a small bet on a horse each and spent the day at his sister's house with the rest of the family. We all picked two horses out of a hat and put $1 in just as fun (convenient in a family of 12 to have 24 horses running).
If you don't go to the actual races, having a BBQ and having family over is a pretty typical way to celebrate.

I spent the day yesterday getting the spare room into better shape. We inherited a great old (large) shelf from Glen's grandpa so I wanted to start unpacking some boxes to get the room in working order and then I'll be able to suss out what other furniture I'll need for in there (looks like a few short bookcases like we have in the living room and a table as well as storage bins).
Here's a picture of the shelf with tonnes of stuff piled on it (it's a great shelf made of real wood - it's solid and heavy - a real quality piece of furniture - there's two doors on the bottom that open up to small shelves).

I managed to empty 7 boxes yesterday (or condense a few anyway). I think I have around 10 more to empty before we're completely box free.

Temperature: +21C
Sunrise: 6:07am
Sunset: 8:01pm

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkins Found!

Remember how I was lamenting over the lack of proper pumpkins over here? Turns out they DO exist and they're mainly marketed as carving only pumpkins not eating pumpkins (or at least on the ads I've seen they're talking about carving them). Which I guess is the case at home too but people do still make homemade pies with them. I have a feeling they're also a one week only/blink and you'll miss them type of thing especially when Halloween is NOT a popular event.

Anyway, I saw an ad on TV for big orange pumpkins and so when we went grocery shopping this week I picked one up. I can't remember how much they are at home - especially since a lot of my pumpkin buying was done in Inuvik where things like that are notoriously expensive. These pumpkins were $26/ea which is not too bad since I'm actually going to be cooking it not carving it/throwing it away (even though I wanted to carve it SO bad when I was cutting it! It felt weird to cut it in half instead of cutting the top bit off to scoop the insides out that way).

So my plan for today is to roast up this pumpkin (it's bigger than it looks in the picture - half of one cut in threes barely fits on our cookie sheet), blend it and freeze it in 1 or 2 cup portions to save for pies and other yummy things.

Another bonus in finally finding a pumpkin?

The seeds! yum! (I might have to go buy another pumpkin this week before they disappear again!)

Temperature: +12C
Sunrise: 6:24am
Sunset: 7:46pm

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New Phone! yay!

I managed to snag myself an iPhone this week after a bit of drama with the phone company (basically I couldn't sign up in my name so Glen did it in his and because of that, I couldn't keep my old phone number). Besides having a new phone I'm really excited about the camera portion of the iPhone and downloaded a few cool camera aps. I'm hoping to do something similar to project365 but with my phone - my camera is just too big to lug around everywhere every day and there are some seriously cool photography aps out there.

So because I've gotten a new phone I'm getting a case for it. I bought one for the time being because there's no way this phone is going to go without a case (I put a case AND screen protector on it before I did anything else) and I want to order a custom case for it. I found a site that will let you upload a photo or artwork and it turns it into phone case. I picked 16 of my favourite pictures and I can't decide which one to choose!
I thought I'd open it up for public opinion to get some help.

In no particular order:

Berries & Grevillea 1

Grevillea 2 & 3

Bird & Crocus

Rainbow Lorikeet & Koala 1

Koala 2 & Inuvik

Crocus 2 & Fireweed 2

Fireweed 3 & 4

Fireweed 5 & Rainbow Lorikeet 2

In other news we've been getting brief snippets of warmer weather. It was +29C yesterday and now it's back to rainy and cold. We had a bit of wild weather a week or so ago but there doesn't seem to be as much damage as when we had those storms last November.

Temperature: +13C
Sunrise: 6:25am
Sunset: 7:45pm

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back to work

So here I was getting into a semi-regular posting routine and then I got a full time job and that's pretty much sucked away all my spare time.
I can't complain about getting a job because well, I needed one and it's nice to have the cash. It just sucks that I don't have an endless expanse of free time in front of me (not like I really think I spent it wisely anyway).

On Friday we went to see Paul Dempsey who is the lead singer of the band Something for Kate. We went and saw Paul about a year ago when he played up in Castlemaine (he's put out a solo album and is playing acoustic shows). It was the first time I'd seen him live and was completely blown away. Not every musician sounds good live but Paul does and he is really great onstage/interacting with the audience.

So, after work on Friday Glen and I drove into the city to see him play again. Parking was a nightmare but we managed to cram the car into a spot a few blocks away.

As awesome as the venue is, after a day of standing at work, it sucks to stand for 4+ hours in a giant group of people (especially when a few are drunk and dancing in that giant group).

If anyone is interested, I'd suggest you check out some of his music (and Something for Kate - SFK is a group that Glen introduced me to back in 2004 and instantly loved them). He's played a few shows in the US and is headed back there and is even playing one show in Canada next month.

I definitely wish I would've brought my big camera with me (we were so close!). I was too tired to lug it around and happened to have our point and shoot camera in my bag.

In other news, it's warming up a bit here and we've set the clocks forward an hour. I have all the windows in the apartment open and there's definitely a warm breeze blowing through. Nice!
It's also mango season! yay!

Temperature: +22C
Sunrise: 6:43am
Sunset: 7:32pm

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Second Time Around

There are a lot of fruit that I've had here for the first time and then there are the ones that I've had back home and didn't like because well, eating tropical fruit in a decidedly non-tropical location is a bit of a gamble.

I tried a real mango for the first time in 2007 after having one in 2000ish and thinking they were gross. One thing I will do is re-try foods and I'll try new foods especially at the urging of someone like Glen who knows my tastes so well. Guess what? Mangoes are actually my favourite fruit now! Funny how that happens!

Anyway, this post is actually about the mighty papaya or pawpaw as it's called here (after doing some research, papayas and pawpaws are actually different fruit all together. What makes things confusing -or fun- is that Australians actually call papayas pawpaw even though they aren't actually pawpaw. See what I mean?).

I've had papaya before back home and I've had dried papaya which I don't mind at all. Now that I think about it, I've also had papaya in canned tropical fruit mix. Yuck again. The "fresh" papaya I had back home was could probably be considered in the same category as my first mango tasting. Definitely inedible.

I went into this little experiment thinking it might be the case of the mango. You know what? Not so much. First off, papayas have a very distinct smell. I was trying to decide what it was and it almost smells... Sour? Like garbage? Baby vomit? Anyway, it has a gross smell to start with and it's actually one that is mixed with a nice smell so you think "Oh! That smells so nice... Wait! Ew! What's that other smell?!?!"

As for taste... It kind of has a plain taste with a hint of a taste that could be awesome. It's sort of firm yet soft like a banana with a little bit of juiciness thrown in... I almost thought while I was eating it that it was a lot like eating flavoured dessert tofu. The texture (and a bit of the taste) was quite similar once you chewed it a little. I did notice too that it started tasting better the more you ate.

I think the papaya might be one of those fruits that should be enjoyed with others - like in a fruit salad or maybe a smoothie... Maybe even used in a savory dish.

So now I'm wondering if I have the papaya's profile all wrong? Have I had the misfortune of always buying a terrible one or is it really just one of those "meh" fruits? Or maybe it's sort of like cilantro where certain people taste it differently and either love it or hate it?

(All this talk of trying new fruit - and actually getting around to photographing it as I'm trying it - reminds me a lot of Maggie Mason's Mighty List and trying 1,000 fruits)

Temperature: +10C
Sunrise: 6:01am
Sunset: 6:21pm

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hanging Rock

Glen and I took a trip to Hanging Rock yesterday. Like most people, I've heard about the movie and knew the basic premise of it so I wasn't really sure what to expect.

Picnics not included. Kind of ominous when the sign says "Experience the Mystery?, no?

It turns out that hanging rock (or "The Hanging Rock") is actually only one small part of the whole area. It turns out that the hanging rock is a large boulder that is suspended between two other boulders. It's kind of cool.

Hanging Rock (sorry for the bad picture of it)

There are all sorts of other interesting rock formations all around (all these rocks make up a small mountain - or well, a mountain by Australian standards). We climbed up to the summit, around through some of the formations and back down and then walked around the base of the whole thing.

Interesting rock formations

View from the summit

We had lunch at the cafe there (great food btw) and saw a bird we've never seen before - the Pied Currawong (unfortunately I wasn't quick enough with my camera to get a picture). The one we saw was likely a female as she had grey on her stomach (and she was pretty big & fluffy). There were tonnes of crimson rosellas around which was good to see since we don't get many of them in our area and we also saw a few kookaburras!

Immature Crimson Rosella

We had a great walk and even though the walk to the summit was a little intense at times, it wasn't too difficult (unlike the You-Yangs where we just gave up). The walk we took around the base of the mountain was great, it was mostly flat and we were the only ones on the trail.

Thankfully we didn't see any snakes!

We were walking along quietly, listening to the birds when we came across this:

I think that's the largest kangaroo I've seen outside the zoo.

There were SO many of them. We counted 24 and there were likely more (there were quite a few with joeys in their pouch).

We had a really great time and were really pleased with the whole area. We bought the Picnic at Hanging Rock DVD in the gift shop and then watched it when we got home.

Lone rock wallaby in the bushes.

Temperature: +9C
Sunrise: 6:07am
Sunset: 6:18pm

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One Year

Today is the one year anniversary of me moving to Australia! I can't believe it's been a year already! There are all sorts of new and interesting things I've done and places I've been to and I've definitely done more entertainment related things in the last year than I did in the whole 6.5 years I lived in the Arctic.

I've enjoyed going to events that I've only seen on TV (The Australian Open), seeing birds I've only read about in books (yellow-tailed black cockatoo) and going to concerts for bands I've only listened to on the radio (ok or CD, but that doesn't sound as good - Pearl Jam).

We've done grown-up things like buying a car, a new bed and a new tv as well as apartment hunting and going on mini-vacations.

I'm enjoying my time here so much and can't wait to see what we get up to in the next year!

A collage of pictures from the last year: Christmas in the summer time, yellow-tailed black cockatoo, Great Ocean Road/Twelve Apostles, papaya, football, apricots from Glen's parent's tree, interesting flora, red rumped parrot, rainbow lorikeets, venus fly trap, emu and kangaroo sign, football, homemade apricot jam, Great Ocean Road/Twelve Apostles, emu in the wild, starfish, kookaburra, feeding a sulfur crested cockatoo in the backyard, Woofer the Bulldogs mascot, homemade pumpkin pie, football, Great Ocean Road/Twelve Apostles, our car, football, us at squeaky beach, koala and baby, quilt for Glen's nephew, the Australian Open, Cape Otway lighthouse, our livingroom, Great Ocean Road, koala.

Temperature: +10C
Sunrise: 6:10am
Sunset: 6:16pm

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Difference # 6

Saving Water & Water Restrictions

Australia has a long history of drought. Because of the lack of available fresh water and the dependency on catchments/reservoirs there are water restrictions and huge media campaigns focused on saving water.

Depending on where you live will depend on how strict the restrictions are. Right now, metropolitan Melbourne is on Stage 2. Around Easter we eased from 3A restrictions to 3 because of the amount of water in the catchments and then while I was away we went to stage 2. When we were here in 2007 there was talk of some towns going as far as checking on each home's usage and if it was over a certain amount, the water flow to the home would be turned down to a point where you wouldn't really be able to use any water in your home (I heard around 2L/min when the typical is 9L/min I think?).
Because of these restrictions, there's no such thing as water fights/slip 'n slides/running through the sprinkler. It's something that "older" Australians (Glen's age and older) talk about with sadness and whimsy to the younger generation (ie: Glen's niece and nephew's age - 5 and 12 - have never had a water fight or used a slip and slide).

People are doing all sorts of things to try to save water and a lot of people (or at least the people I know) keep a close eye on how much water they're using. There's an initiative called Target 155 which has people aim to keep their daily water usage to under 155L/day.
Glen's parents for example have containers in their sink and buckets in their shower and tub. When you wash your hands you let the water flow into the little tub and when that gets full it gets emptied into one of the larger buckets. Once the larger buckets are full, the water either gets used to water plants or (more often) it gets poured into the back of the toilet and the main water to the toilet gets shut off. Another thing a lot of people do is direct the hose for their washing machine out into the garden and water the plants with the washing machine water (it seems most washing machines empty into a laundry sink rather than being permanently hooked up to the main plumbing). A lot of the detergents (all of them?) are marked as being grey water safe

On the news, they have regular catchment updates (especially after any large amount of rain). In June the catchments were up to 35% vs the 26.8% it was in June last year. When we were here in 2007 the catchments were around 17% and there was a serious concern about whether or not we would run out of water (at 17% that was approx. 2 weeks of water).
It seems the water storages are at 45% now and some parts of the state are experiencing flooding. Some catchments in NSW are actually full and overflowing!

It's one interesting thing to think about and something you definitely take for granted in a place like Canada.

Picture from our window of a crazy rainstorm we had in March.

Temperature: +11C
Sunrise: 6:20am
Sunset: 6:11pm

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Finals Fever

September is footy finals month and if your team happens to be one of the lucky ones to make it, it's a pretty exciting time.
Like I've mentioned before, pretty much everyone has a team they barrack for (even if they aren't major fans of the sport).

Our team (The Bulldogs) made it into the finals again this year so we went to the September 5th game (first game of the finals) against Collingwood where we unfortunately lost. Luckily we finished in the top 4 this year, so we have two chances. If you lose the first week, you can come back in the second week to play another game (it's an elimination game from then on).

Western Bulldogs vs Collingwood Sept. 5th 2010
66,545 people in attendance

We also went to the September 11th semi-final game against Sydney where we won!!

Western Bulldogs vs Sydney Swans Sept. 11th, 2010 39,596 people in attendance

There's a very interesting dynamic between supporters and certain team's supporters have certain reputations (I won't go too much into this because it's of course all subjective but if you ask people, they'll have an opinion about which supporters are considered the worst/most intimidating). When you're at a game with 66,000 people and your team is losing (especially if you're playing Collingwood), it's a pretty lonely place. Even yesterday at the Sydney game, when they were winning they were LOUD and it didn't sound like there were a lot of Bulldogs supporters there at all\.

The atmosphere at these finals games is incredible. This is my first time going to finals games (we went to the pre-season NAB cup final earlier in the year which was awesome too but this is even crazier) and you can definitely tell that there's something different about these games. Every time we go to a big game I'm amazed at how many people are there, hearing the roar of the crowd from the other side of the grounds. Incredible. The fact that 66 thousand people all turn up to watch something (there's usually 25 thousand plus at regular season games -- and there's more than one game on per week!) amazes me.

The opening bounce
Western Bulldogs vs Sydney Swans Sept. 11th, 2010

Last night was a real nail-biter so if we play well next week, I'm sure there will be a lot of excitement!

Temperature: +13C
Sunrise: 6:26am
Sunset: 6:08pm

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sneaky Glen and the Awesome Surprises

Sorry this post is so late. I have no good excuse as to why I've been a bad blogger!

Glen and I have been looking at getting a new bed for a few months now. We've been into the stores and sat on our fair share of beds. We finally picked out the bed we liked and the only thing we had to do was order it. The closer it got to me leaving, it was obvious I wouldn't have a bed before I left on my trip so I hinted to Glen that it would be awesome if he ordered the bed and it was here when I got home. Glen didn't seem to be in a huge hurry to order the bed (he's very practical so he doesn't make decisions like this quickly) and told me more than once not to get my hopes up about a new bed being here and that there wasn't a new bed waiting for me. At one point on my trip he even took the webcam into the bedroom to prove to me that he wasn't fibbing and hiding the bed.

A few days before I flew home, he hinted that he had a surprise for me - not a bed. I couldn't figure out what it would be and asked him if it was a GPS (since he'd hinted at getting one) he cracked up and I assumed the big surprise would be along those lines. I thought that maybe our TV had arrived (our big TV came with a second, smaller TV) or that he'd gone ahead and switched our cell phones over. He had pretty much convinced me that there wasn't a bed here even though my SIL said that he'd better have the bed if he was smart haha.

So I get home, put my bags down and in the kitchen is the island I've been wanting for ages. He made the trip to ikea all by himself - incredible considering he hates going to Ikea. I was stoked because we have practically zero counter space and doing any sort of prep work is annoying. Glen said to me "sorry it's not a bed but it's a good substitute". I totally agreed and then walked towards the back of the apartment to the bathroom. As I walked passed the bedroom I looked in and saw... My brand new bed!!!!
He apparently ordered it the day after I left and it's been here since Monday. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I picked up some king sized pillows while I was away (you can't get them here) so sleeping in a brand new incredibly soft, comfy bed with new pillows is pretty much like heaven.
I've been trying to find a link online for the bed but I can't. It's a King Koil mattress (with box spring) with a pillow top. All I know is that it's soft and awesome.

What a sneaky guy! He was pretty disappointed that I clued in to my birthday present (video camera) so he was pretty proud of himself for being able to keep two surprises top secret.

Temperature: +11C
Sunrise: 6:28am
Sunset: 6:07pm

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Long Journey South

I'm back home after my fifth equator crossing (the third in a year). As long as the whole journey takes (flying plus travel to/from the airport and waiting for connections - approx. 24hours. Actual flying time between Vancouver and Sydney 13-16 hours) I actually don't mind it too much. You kind of have to get into a groove and have a system.

First of all you have to come to terms with the fact it's going to take as long as it takes and nothing you can do will make time go faster. The quicker you accept that you will be in a plane for at least 13 hours (more if you are flying from further east) the quicker you will be able to do things other than obsess about the minutes.

Research the entertainment options you will have on your plane. Most planes these days have individual seatback TVs - especially on the long flights. This is probably the best idea anyone has ever had. They load them with tonnes of movies, music and sometimes games. Go to the website of the airline you're flying with and check to see if they've posted what movies they'll have while you're flying. I like doing this because then I can reassure myself that I won't be bored stiff. I count all the movies I'd like to watch and make a mental list of the top ones I'd like to see.

Bring other things to do just in case there isn't anything you want to watch. Nintendo DS and games, a book or two, crossword puzzle, portable DVD player with your favourite watch again movie, knitting or other small portable craft project.

Sleep aides. My goal on these long haul flights is to sleep as much as I possibly can. I never travel without my eye mask, ear plugs and some sort of medicine to help me sleep. Some people are snickering at the thought of an eye mask and ear plugs but trust me, you will get a MUCH better sleep with just these two things alone - not having to hear the baby three rows up screaming for 10 hours? AWESOME. I've only taken an Rx sleeping pill on one of my long haul flights and it worked like a charm. Be aware of side effects though - sleep sex might not be so great if it happens in public! So besides that, I use Gravol most times. It lets you get a pretty decent chunk of sleep. I only took one Gravol this last flight and spent a good majority of it napping. A long haul flight isn't the best time to try a new medicine though so I'd suggest using something you're familiar with.

Travel pillow. Make sure you have one of these. My favourite by far is the contour twist pillow. The girl on the commercial doesn't make it look that comfortable but trust me, it's awesome. You can twist it to all sorts of shapes which makes it easy to get it into the perfect position. I usually have it folded up onto one side to lean my head onto - the inflatable ones don't seem to give enough support and can deflate and get sweaty/hot.

Slippers. I bring a pair of slippers or thick socks with me to put on basically as soon as I can. It can get pretty chilly on the plane and it's better than walking around barefoot or in your regular socks.

Snacks with no import restrictions. Pack a few granola bars or other sorts of portable snacks. Be aware of import restrictions in the country you're travelling to and either plan to eat it all or throw it away once you land. You generally won't need the snacks but it makes me feel better knowing that if I get snacky, I have something in my bag.

Order a special meal. On every flight I've been on, people with special meals get theirs first. If you don't like waiting or are worried your preference will be gone (especially if you're stuck at the back of the plane), save the stress and order a special meal. There's all sorts to choose from and generally they're all pretty good. The only downside to this is the dude in front of you may keep his chair reclined while you eat only to put his chair up as soon as he gets his meal (and you're done yours).

A few other things I pack but aren't 100% necessary: A facecloth in a ziploc bag (it's nice to get up and wash your face a few hours before you land and having it in a ziploc means you don't have to cart around a soggy cloth in your bag), toothbrush and toothpaste, brush and elastics (I usually re-do my hair before we land since it's usually a mess after 13+ hours), spare pair or two of undies (firstly, you just never know and secondly, just changing that one piece of clothing makes you feel not so grungy), small cosmetics bag (nail clippers, tweezers, small mirror, pain killers, lip balm, lotion, face wash).

This is how my typical long haul flight shapes up:
First three hours: Watch a movie and eat in-flight meal.
Middle 3 hours: Watch a movie and eat in-flight meal.
Last 3 hours: Watch a movie and eat in-flight meal.

So basically, as soon as the first meal is done, I try to sleep until they hand out the next meal and then repeat. On the way back I actually only managed to stay up long enough to watch one full movie. I ended up falling asleep through all the others I started.

So there you go! It's not so bad when you break it down into it's individual components. If you are able to sleep on a plane then you've got your biggest problem solved. It also helps if you don't mind watching movies!

Next post: Sneaky Glen and the awesome surprises.

Temperature: +10C (feels like +7C)
Sunrise: 6:50am
Sunset: 5:54pm

Friday, August 20, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Just popping in to say hi. Things have been great here so far and I have just under a week left. My brother did some magic on his router and my wireless works great here (WAY better than at home actually!). We've been fairly busy most days, the first week I was here was spent helping my sister-in-law (!) sort out all the final details for the wedding. She had things mostly under control so we didn't really need to do much. We folded and filled favour boxes though.

We also took a few runs to the next town over to do some last minute shopping and after all the agonizing over finding a dress, they found me a really cute one. I had actually bought a dress before I left but mum wanted me to get a new one (?) so she bought me one. I wasn't sure about it at first but everyone loved it so I must have bad taste or something haha

(Me with my little (!) brother taken by my mum)

The wedding was beautiful. The ceremony was outside at SIL's grandma's and then the reception was at the local yacht club (Yacht Club sounds posh... It was like a nice community hall near the water with boats. "Yacht Club" makes it sounds like it was a big bucks kind of place. Their whole wedding was outrageously affordable and I'm really proud of them for doing it so cheaply. They actually refused to do things like hire a limo because they couldn't justify the cost for the hour or so they needed it. They were perfectly happy to borrow one of the shiny rental cars family had). It was great that a lot of our out-of-town family came and we got to spent time with a lot of them outside the wedding. We have another family wedding this coming weekend so we'll see even more family (this is a very convenient way to get all the visiting out of the way!).

I got to play photographer for part of the day and that was a lot of fun. The photographer that was hired didn't have an assistant so I offered to take the shots of the guys getting ready since the paid for photographer was out getting SIL getting ready shots (and we were over here where the boys were getting ready anyway).
I'm ridiculously proud of a few shots I got and I'd say they're quality enough to fit right in with the rest of the shots from the day (or at least I'm hoping the paid for photographer got some great shots!). I got an incredible shot of my brother's best man (this guy was his best friend growing up and practically like a brother - he calls our mum, mum - and he just happens to be SIL's cousin! SIL didn't know him growing up and it was only about 6-7 years ago they found each other online and have reconnected). Anyway, I might have to post that another day, but it's been getting a lot of attention of facebook.

I've also been trying to get my fill of Canadian things before I go home. I've been really shocked at how easy being back is. The whole driving on the right side of the road thing, going back to having pennies and quarters, French on all the packaging etc. I was expecting to have a bit of culture shock coming back but there hasn't been any. I'm not sure whether I should be happy or sad about this (does it mean I still haven't fully assimilated into Aussie life?). I've done a little bit of driving and besides having to ask if I'm on the proper side of the road and accidentally going for the turn signal on the wrong side of the steering wheel a few times, driving has been remarkably easy and stress-free. Not something I can say for driving down under.
I've had my fill of kraft dinner and a few pizza pops, I've been sampling some of the chocolate bars I left behind and I'm making a list of what I want to take back or more appropriately a list of things that people can send me if they're feeling generous enough to send a care package. My king sized pillows and wide-mouth thermos have been bought. I've been to Canadian tire a few times and I've set foot in the major big box store more than once.
I'm also enjoying being able to wander around this great little town that my brother and SIL call home. It may be full (and I mean FULL) of tourists in the summer but they have so many great little shops, I'm kind of jealous since they only have to walk up and down a few blocks to visit these great stores instead of having them spread across a massive city.

This has turned into a rather long "just popping in" post but I wanted to fill everyone in on how things are going. We're really having a great time and this is the first time it's felt like summer in a LONG time (y'know those lazy summer days during school holidays, the air had a specific smell and feel to it, didn't have any agenda and just did whatever was happening... My favourite time of year).

Temperature: +22C (feels like +29C)
Sunrise: 6:18am
Sunset: 8:08pm