Friday, January 22, 2010

Continuing to be Impressed!

There are a lot of things I love about living here. One of the (many) things is the plant life. I could do posts upon posts about the crazy and insane plants here or how on a hot day the air smells like eucalyptus. But because I don't have a lot of photos showing you all the various plants that have left me going "WOW!" I thought I'd post about the flower I'm currently loving. I have no idea what it's called but I've been staring at it all day since it's right outside the living room window and birds keep coming by (the New Holland Honeyeater specifically --- trying to get a picture but they're shy).

How can you not love something that looks like this?

I really need to spend more time with my 50mm attached to my camera and I need to spend a bit more time with it attached backwards on my camera.

I was just thinking a while ago about how in about 4 weeks my amount of time spent in Australia will have equaled the amount of time I spent in Germany. I've also been thinking about how not homesick I am (which is the complete opposite of how I was in Germany - picture me crying to my mum every week in the phone booth, begging for her to buy me a plane ticket so I could go home -- she didn't). This experience over here is SO different to what my time in Germany was like. I'm doing a lot less than I was in Germany so you'd think I'd be bored or lonely. Nope. I'm SO happy that this experience is turning out differently (at least as far as my sanity is concerned!).

Anyway, I'm still sick but I'm starting to feel a bit better. We had Glen's brother and his brother's fiancee over for dinner last night and had a lot of fun. I've been watching a ridiculous amount of tennis (coverage starts at 11am and goes until 5 then there's an hour break and then it goes until late depending on how the matches go) and that has pretty much been the week!

Temperature: +35C
Sunrise: 6:22am
Sunset: 8:41pm

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Australian Open

Yesterday Glen and I went went to Day 1 of the Australian Open. We bought tickets to Rod Laver Arena (centre court) ages ago. We had no idea who we'd be seeing since they don't release the schedule until a day or two before but we figured we'd take our chances. We got to see Maria Sharapova (vs Maria Kirilenko) , Kim Clijsters (vs Valerie Tetreault - a Canadian!) and Andy Murray (vs Kevin Anderson).

I've been watching the Australian Open on TV for quite a few years now so it was interesting to be there watching it live. Because of the crappy weather yesterday the roof was closed and it felt like we were watching a night match.

Players warming up.

First up was Maria Sharapova and Maria Kirilenko. It turned out to be a really good - LONG - match. Kirilenko ended up winning (7-6, 3-6, 6-4) which kind of surprised us. Sharapova didn't seem very comfortable the whole time.

Since that match went on for so long, there wasn't much of a break before the Clijsters match started. It was just a bonus that we managed to see a match with a Canadian (since like I said, when we booked the tickets we had no idea who we'd see). We have six females playing singles matches and I've only ever heard of two of them - Tetreault wasn't one of them. Despite that, I still took my Canadian flag and waved it (the only one there!). We were getting a bit discouraged when Tetreault lost the first set 6-0 but she came back in the second and managed a 4-6 loss. So if anyone happened to see that match and saw a Canadian flag, that was us! I didn't really get any good pictures from this match since I was too busy holding the flag lol (the first picture in this post is from Clijsters and Tetreault warming up when we first got there.

After that was Andy Murray and Kevin Anderson. That match played out pretty similarly to the Clijsters match. Unfortunately Anderson didn't really get into it. Murray took the match 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. The funny thing about this match was that since Murray is Scottish, there were all sorts of Scots and Brits there cheering him on - with coordinated songs and outfits. There were four guys wearing shirts (one had an "A" the next an "N" etc) and they'd get up at the changes of ends and sing/chant. Quite amusing.

By the time that was all said and done, it was after 5pm (we got there at 9:30ish). We did a quick walk to some of the other courts and then decided to head back home when it started sprinkling. By the time we got to the tram stop, it was full-on pouring. We got DRENCHED because there were tonnes of people waiting for the tram and we had to miss two before we managed to squeeze on (we were close to not getting on that one as well!). While we were waiting, we were standing next to a guy with a huge golf umbrella and a tram came by, knocked the side of the umbrella and a massive amount of water from the top of his umbrella poured onto me. It was pretty funny - Glen was laughing and two ladies scolded him haha

Glen was just getting over a cold and while we were walking from the train to the car (about 4 blocks) I told Glen that I was pretty sure I'd be sick today and sure enough... I woke up with a cold. Thankfully I have wireless internet (thanks to Glen who figured out the password for his sister's network --- so I'm posting from bed! haha) and the tennis is on. My day is planned!

(P.S. Sorry to any tennis nuts if I messed up the whole game/set/match terminology. I think I got it all straightened out but I might not have. I drive Glen insane by saying "the game" instead of "the match"!!)

Temperature: +17C
Sunrise: 6:19am
Sunset: 8:42pm

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nothing like a little excitement...

I got up this morning, pulled back the curtains in the bedroom and saw this:

(zoomed and cropped)

Yikes!!!! Actually, whatever it was scurried? slithered? back into the hole and we had to wait for about 20 minutes for it to poke it's head back out. The sound of me opening the curtains and yelling "GLEN!!!!!!!!!!" scared it away haha

So, we sat there and waited and it poked it's head out for a while... We tried to work out how concerned we should be lizard = no concern, snake = MAJOR concern. We rang Glen's dad who is thankfully quite knowledgeable about local wildlife. From our description he told us to call the local council and talk to a snake catcher and that he'd be right over.
Glen rang the snake catcher and they thought we had a lizard on our hands but would be over as soon as he could just to confirm.

As soon as Glen's dad got here knew knew what it was right away... A Blue-tongued skink. *phew* Almost as soon as Glen's dad got here the creature came out of the hole a little more and we saw legs. That's obviously all it took for us to be 100% confident about what it was. (we called the snake catcher back and told him not to worry about coming over).

Nothing like a little excitement to start your day!!

Temperature: +20C
Sunrise: 6:13am
Sunset: 8:44pm

Monday, January 4, 2010

2000-2009 Review

A lot of blogs are doing their 2000-2009 review so I thought I'd do one of my own.

2000 - I was in grade 11. Went to England with school (band/choir trip).

2001 - Graduated from grade 12 and spent August - December in Victoria BC with my aunt and uncle.

2002 - In June I flew to Germany by myself and spent 40 days there with my stepdad while he did some teaching. Mum joined 10 days after I arrived and we flew home together. We also did a side trip to The Netherlands and got to swim in the North Sea.

Mum and I at a cafe in Germany.

In September I flew back to Germany to begin a study abroad program for the fall semester.

2003 - Arrived home from Germany in February and moved up to Inuvik in April. Lived on my own for the first time (not counting Germany - I had room mates then).

Down at the MacKenzie River it's approx. 11pm

2004 - Started talking to Glen online in March and by November we decided that we liked each other enough to want to meet.

2005 - Got braces.

2006 - Glen flew up to Inuvik in June. My brother and his girlfriend moved up to Inuvik in August.

2007 - Flew to Australia for the first time to be at Glen's sister's wedding. Gained 43lbs from medication (which I've yet to loose... This is the year!! Anyone that says that you'll loose the weight once you're off the meds is lying).

Glen and I at his sister's wedding.

2008 - Turned 25. Got my braces off. Lost my job then got it back again. We started compiling forms for my visa. Joined a sewing group and started playing hockey. Went dog sledding for the first time. Got diagnosed with Crohn's Disease.

2009 - Applied and was granted my Australian visa. Put my cat down. Packed and moved across the world.

It's exciting to be starting 2010 in a new country. When thinking back to this time last year, we weren't even sure if this was going to be possible. We seemed to have made it out the other side and things are looking good!
Let's hope 2010 is a great year!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

When Life Hands You Apricots...

Two days into the new year and I've already crossed off one thing on my "want to do" list. Actually I crossed it off before the new year so I guess I technically fit it in in 2009 but anyway...

I made jam! Real, honest to goodness, poured into hot jars and sealed, JAM!

Glen's parent's have an apricot tree in their driveway that I've been eying. They don't really do much with the apricots besides eat them straight from the tree (Glen's mum doesn't like to cook so adventurous things like jam are out of the question). I've been wanting to learn to can & make jam for a while now and was going to start in Inuvik. Needless to say the first 9-10 months of 2009 were insane and that never happened. When I left Inuvik I stayed with my mum's best friend and helped her make pickles. I mentioned to her how I wanted to learn to do that sort of thing and she gave me her spare copy of the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving book. (Carol is a great enabler! lol). So after my pickle experience I've been itching to do jam.
I had a bit of a struggle finding jars but managed to find some people that sold them -nearby even! Picked two grocery bags full of apricots, laboured over recipes and techniques (and in the end decided to stick with the Bernardin long-boil method) and then got to work!

The recipe called for 1/4 of the fruit to be slightly under ripe which was perfect. I picked out all the fruit that was edible minus a bit or two that needed to be cut off and went to work (I managed to have enough imperfect looking fruit to do the jam and saved all the nicer ones for people to eat plain).
I stuck to the recipe minus hot processing the jars. I just turned them upside down for 5 minutes then flipped them back the right way and waited for the ping of the jars sealing. (very satisfying!!)
In all, I got 14 jars out of two batches (did the second batch the next day). I've given two jars away so far and I'm in the process of trying to find out if I can send some jars home to family.

If anyone is tempted to make jam, I'd say go for it! It's not as scary as it seems (canning and jam making always held the same mystery and perceived difficulty as making bread). Definitely give yourself some time and room to move around the kitchen and if at all possible, don't do it while it's +36C in a house without air conditioning!

Temperature: +19C
Sunrise: 6:02am
Sunset: 8:46pm