Sunday, November 30

Giving thanks

Thursday was Thanksgiving here and it has become an American holiday that we truly love. Christmas with friends sans the complexity of gift giving...Ok so it's all about the food and being happy!

This year we were cooking for 21 adults and 6 kids! Talk about huge, but we pulled it off just fine thanks in part to the helpful contributions of our guests. My job was a turkey, two chickens, three potato bakes, four boats of gravy (and a partridge...oh wait wrong holiday), bread stuffing, and making sure everything hit the table on time! We also had a second turkey, a baked ham, roast pumpkin/sweet potato/parsnip and such American classics as green bean casserole, whipped mashed potatoes and oyster stuffing, and this year we even had a Norwegian/Portuguese fish dish!

My turkey sure browned up well. Nothing too over the top this year, just butter, sage, pepper and some citrus in the middle. 

I cooked the two chickens (for those oddballs who don't like turkey) on the rotisserie of the BBQ so they were so tender and moist! Not that you can tell the difference but one is honey, soy and ginger and the other is spicy adobo. As usual I can never throw out a carcass so I have just now completed the epic stock making session of '08, totally worth it!

You can see some of the food here (we were still bringing it out at this point) but I'm sure you get the idea.

Then there was the dessert table! A lot of Aussie contributions here, 2 pavlovas, 2 lemon meringue pies, a heaving plate of lammingtons plus a pumpkin pie and a whole lot of fresh fruit.

As usual we had an eclectic but incredible group of people. Only 4 Americans this year, lots of Aussies, and representatives of Norway, Sweden, Canada and Ireland.

One of the long tables required to seat 21+ people...John and Jo are the masters of large scale entertaining now!

The other fabulously laid out table!

Thursday, November 27

Love not H8

While we were in Philadelphia we were lucky enough to have been able to join in with a National Protest for Equality (in response to the outcome of Prop 8). It was brilliant! So lively and a lot of fun. Amazing to see thousands of people get off their butts and march to city hall, and the Philly rally was just one of many across the country.

I put together a quick vid mostly so that you can see just how many smiling people were there, pushing love not hate. That's right, all the people way off in the background of the square were part of it too. The march nearly lapped the block!

And of course some pics :D

Our friend Claire commandeered someone's flag!

I have one other unedited video of us marching through the final part of the square to get to city hall. I'm so glad we happened to be in the right place at the right time! This one is a bit more energetic :D It's been a while since I was at a good protest! Gets the blood moving.

Finally, I just want to thank all our straight alies out there, from the bottom of my heart. You don' have to be gay to understand the injustices here or to speak up about it. Thanks to Mel for marching with us when she probably would have prefered to stay in the hotel with her glass of wine! And if there is anyone out there who thinks they care about us but also thinks that gay people should be denied the right to marry, for whatever reason, please please do me one favour and watch this video. Please. Six and a half minutes of your time and I promise it won't do you any harm.

Wednesday, November 19

The city of brotherly love

I'm finally home after spending a week in Philadelphia at the big annual American Society of Human Genetic meeting. Good meeting, my talk went well and lucky for me I escaped question time fairly well unscathed (I was really worried given the controversial nature of my subject!)

The hotel was decent, big rooms, and connected to the conference center by a covered walkway (bonus). Philly was cold but not as cold as I was expecting. The clouds barely shifted above the buildings for the first few days, but thankfully there was only minor drizzle. The scenes of city hall and the surrounding buildings at night were pretty speccy! Very Gotham City.

We were right in the heart of downtown with a big undercover food market just next door, stocked with Amish treats, a cheese shop and fried oysters! There was even a pickle stand! Wewt. We were also very close to Chinatown and some great food (including a surprising Chinese-French-Vietnamese fusion) which always makes me happy :)

I didn't get in a whole lot of sightseeing, mostly because the conference took up so much time and headspace, but what I did see I really liked. Philly is a historic city and the interp is well structured but also nice and simple. The architecture is just gorgeous, especially with the drizzly grey skies and rich fall colours in all the trees.

We wandered through quite a bit of the historic precinct, and did manage to see the Liberty Bell in amongst the throng of people desperate to take its picture.

Not being an American I'm still trying to get my head around the concept of libery as it is used here. That confusion aside, however, there was some really beautiful interp on the way to viewing the bell, about civil rights progression through the years. Nothing on gay rights in that set but I was relieved to see the following 'monument' outside. More about that in the next blog post!

Wednesday, November 12


Hello internets, sorry about the radio silence following our little moments of history making. I'm off to Philadelphia today for the big annual genetics conference and I'm a little peaky about it (I'm talking) and I've had a lot of work to get done before I go, not all of which is finished yet! Oh well. Should be a fun trip, although it is much colder there so I've packed my woollies!

When I get back I have some Halloween pics to post and maybe a few other treaties...but that's not until at least next Monday. Pax-

Thursday, November 6

It's a new dawn

It's a new day... It's a new life!

Well, mixed feeling here this post-election morning. Absolute elation and incomprehensible joy that today, Barack Obama is President Elect of the United States. I can't believe I get to say that let alone be here to experience it. He's an incredible man and if he can pull of even half of what he hopes it will be just amazing for America. The US has always been a wonderful place for us in terms of living here but now I'm starting to feel the most incredible bubbles of love and maybe a touch of patriotism for this nation. Don't get me wrong, I'm an Aussie to the core, it's my home and I love it with a fierce loyalty and some level of blind passion. All I'm saying is that for the last 2-3 years here I've felt like I am in the world of the US but not of it. Now I feel a little more connected and, to continue the song quote, I'm feeling good.

However, back the the mixed feelings part. Texas is a red state, there's no denying that, so there was no spontaneous partying here. It kinda sucked talking to my online friends last night in Denver and even Canada where people were celebrating in the streets. Here we're walking on eggshells trying not to come into conflict with our friends and loved ones who we know voted red. However, in defense of Texas, when you look at the voting by county San Antonio, Austin and surprisingly Dallas were all Obama majorities! The other big downer is that it looks like Prop 8 passed in California (narrowly) which once again removed the rights of same-sex couples to marry. That's twice in Cali now, the poor buggers :( That one will have shockwaves through the country but we can only hope and pray that these things are getting nastier because they are running out of legs to stand on. Change is coming people, roll with it!

All in all, we watched history being made last night, sweet sweet history. McCain's concession speech was wonderful (linked below) and I'm hopeful that he will help with the next big task, which is to build bridges and begin to reunite this country that has been the grounds of a fierce two-year battle. I'm sure most of the country can at least unite in saying Farewell to Bush. Bring on January.

For those of you who missed the speeches, here they are:

Wednesday, November 5


[UPDATE: John McCain just gave the most impressive concession speech, so gracious. He has gone up in my estimation (although I always thought he was a good man, just not the right man). As for "caribou barbie"...]


Ok so it's only predicted at this point but wow. There is a love in my heart for America at the moment. Virginia - gold (well blue), Florida, finger's crossed...but even if the all go pink I think the fat lady is still warming up with her tralalas.

Back to juggling the idiot box and the laptop and this yummy plateful of apple pie!

Election update

For thems of you at home keeping an eye on this the NPR (public radio) site has really good coverage HERE.

The count on our TV screen is currently 174 to 64 in Obama's favour, with 270 needed, but it's still early days and the west coast haven't closed polls yet. Looks like the Dems have a majority in the senate already though!

It's an interesting night and we're still totally newbs at this.

Election night

Tonight is the night. We're off to watch the tallying. Fingers crossed for a no on Prop 8 and a yes to Obama as President!

And yay for passing 10,000 hits on the blog!

I'll try to post an update when we get home tonight. I wonder if we'll know by then?

Tuesday, November 4

I don't think we're still in San Antonio Toto...

A few weekends ago we finally made it to the botanical gardens and I'm really glad we did! It was a refreshing change, but I'll let the pics speak for themselves (mostly because we're going out soon and I have to run).

This lake was full of fish and turtles!

See, turtle! Well, if you squint you can see it. He's about 30cm long (good for soup?)

There were even random springs. Lots of limestone here and plenty of springs pop up from the aquifers below the city. Almost felt like being in a Roman grotto again...almost.

This is one of the big conservatories, and you can just make out the city skyline in the background. I am always surprised by the number of trees in San Antonio!

The interior of the conservatories was pretty impressive even without the 12 meter palms that you could look down on.

These beauties and more were in the orchid house (der) but I think this one looks like it has a tiny monkey inside it :)

This is one of my favorite kinds of orchids so I was stoked to find such a good looking specimen.

Not sure what these were but they sure are pretty.

And the obligatory head shot :D