Wednesday, August 3

The shortcut from hell...

Well hello y'all. I'm in New Zealand. This is very much not where I want to be right now. I left Texas and the grand plan was to try the new Qantas flight that goes from Dallas to Australia. I was reveling in the fact that this new flight path was going to shave hours off my trip home (compared with flying up to LA then out) but fate had a different plan.

Sabn Antonio to Dallas was fine, a bit bumpy from the heat but nothing major. Dallas airport is pretty nice and had a wine bar overlooking a candy store - double temptation. The awesome Qantas guy at the desk moved my seat assignment up from the back of economy to one of the premium seats (but with basic economy service)... And then two hours into the flight we had a medical emergency (and it probably isn't my place to go into the details but I think and hope the lady is ok) and had to turn around and head to LA. So, four hours or so flight time and we're in LA. An hour or so on the ground for refueling and paramedics and we were off again, but this time to NZ because the crew had clocked up way too many hours to go further (and the poor buggers were not only exhausted but had to deal with a whole plane full of grumpy, smelly people).

Now we're in Auckland eating free brek (thanks Qantas) and working out what happens next. It looks like I'm going to be stuck doing a tour of Australian airports... Bris next then Sydney then Melbourne then Hobart! Lucky I'm not terrified of flying right? Oh wait...

Anyhow, wish me luck.

Monday, July 25

Back in the US of A

Howdy y'all. Before I get onto this post I should let you know that my Aussie phone doesn't work while I'm here in the US so I'm missing any calls or texts. However, both our old US mobile numbers still work. Email me if you need them.

Ok, back to your regular programming...

A quick post with a few notes I threw together on re-entering America. I had a great trip over mostly because it wasn't a full flight and I got my upgrade.

Premium economy was awesome (Qantas). Not a whole lot more room but room in all the right places and it reduced the whole press of humanity feeling that you get in economy. Of course that was helped by the fact that I was in a row of two and had no one sitting next to me :) I ate dinner, drank more whisky than was good for me thanks to the awesome Jules (my new flight attendant friend) and watched Voyage of the Dawn Treader which was so-so but filled in the time. Then I popped a melatonin (around 9pm destination time) and snuffled round to find a comfy sleeping spot in the hope of at least dozing for a few hour. I surfaced a few times but figured I'd only been out an hour or so. The next thing I know there's a PA call asking for a doctor and I checked the flight path to see 2.5 hours remaining! I was positive it had to be wrong, I've never slept that well on a flight! There was just enough time left to eat breakfast, fill out my customs forms and watch an episode of Big Bang Theory before we were packing up for landing.

Some notes on re-entering the US:
  • Why is it that Immigration always makes me forget which is my right hand?? Also, apparently I have sucky hands for fingerprinting.
  • I should stop ticking the customs box for food when I only have candy but I just can't, it doesn't feel right...
  • LA smells faintly of poo. This is always my quickly forgotten impression on walking out those doors.
  • Iced tea is as good as I remember. Why can't we make good iced tea in Oz? And i remembered to ask for unsweet which makes me proud of myself even after forgetting which hand was which.
  • A 6 hour layover in LA is waaay overkill.
  • Sorry to harp on but iced tea really is something Australia should get the hang of. For me iced tea should be unsweet and black with a wedge of lemon, not that fruity sugary stuff. It is wonderful!
  • I like shrimp. I like coconut. I do not like coconut shrimp. 
  • I really shouldn't go to chain seafood 'restaurants' for breakfast, especially not in airports!
  • Toilet bowls full of water...seriously? Does the tide really need to be that high? And how come I never manage to remember that little quirk until I go and stick my bally hand in there?
Americans are generally really nice people. There is a noticeable difference between sitting around among my fellow humans in the crowded backend of LAX compared with, say, the crowded backend of Melbourne airport. Australians go to a lot of effort to ignore their fellow man whereas Americans will strike up a conversation, and usually it isn't is a creepy way, just friendly. There's a huge difference between the two behaviors and to me, Australians just seem so suspicious; which is odd when we pride ourselves on our 'g'day mate' attitude... but I think you only get that after you prove yourself to be a mate.

Border protection/customs/immigration don't count under the above but that's ok, they have an important job to do and as a nervous flyer anyway I totally appreciate what they do. Some of them even manage to smile. Never the ones I get mind you...

The other odd thing I've realised is that I have lost my ability to clearly distinguish American from Australian in almost all aspects (other than building and car construction which are both uniquely different). I used to be able to scan faces while we boarded the flight to LA and pick out who was an Aussie and who was from the US just by facial structures and gestures. Now both are so normal to me that I have totally lost that ability. The faces, the language, the brands... Everything from both worlds feels so normal to me now. I'm even having trouble picking accents, well at least I thought I was until I chatted to my beloved on skype and realized how broad her Aussie accent has become. Mine must have too because people here who used to understand me just fine are now cocking their heads and looking puzzled whenever I talk.

Anyhow, I'm in Texas now after a week in Portland. I can't post pics until I find some way to get them off the card. Tomorrow is my first day back at my old workplace AND my birthday so a good combo really.

It has just been pointed out to me that it is officially my birthday in Oz so happy birthday to me...

Saturday, July 16

"Happy Me Birthday!"

We did it, we survived hosting a birthday party for our two year old. TWO! Can you believe it?? It seems like almost no time has passed since we were driving to the hospital in San Antonio with a bag full of sugary snacks and tiny clothes and that moment when we finally met our purple eyed boy.


I'll keep this short and sweet but a huge thank you to everyone who sent cards, packages, messages and love, and to everyone who managed to swing by and join in the chaos today. Marty has had an awesome birthday!

Jo and I spent last night baking slab cakes and cup cakes and since baking has never been our forte I don't think we did too badly on the cake front! We had to make up the design... When we were working out what to make Marty for his 'two cake' and both of us quickly realised that is had to be a cockatoo. He has been obsessed with cockatoos every since a horde of 16 or more black cockatoos descended into out garden and completely stripped all the nuts off the hakea. Marty was entranced and kept wanting to rush out and help them by picking up the ones they dropped in case they missed some. He hasn't stopped talking about the even and since he calls them "tooos" we figured it was a good match for the cake. Black not such a good match so we went for the good old white cockatoo.


Not to bad for a design that came from an internet line drawing and my head. The beloved made a practice cake during the week because she could and I also think because she wasn't entirely convinced that I could cut the shape we needed out of a cake! Pffft... I has knife skills (although I do not want to see another banana lolly for a LONG time).


We also made slightly odd looking mini cockatoo cupcakes so the kids could have some cake without us having to hack into the main one which would a) either upset Roo or b) mean that those coming late would miss seeing it. We probably should have thought more about the construction of these rather than winging it 5 minutes before people arrived...


Of course we over-catered a little on party food but not too badly. The Roo had an awesome day even thought he started it at 5am (his choice) and managed to fall off a chair and smack his head on the table leg just before people arrived. Poor little mite. He was so exhausted by the afternoon that he went down for a nap in the middle of the chaos.


This was by far the most unusual gift he received, but given his well known love of cheese (a story for another time perhaps) it was totally appropriate and very well received.

He's been a bit train obsessed of late (thanks Papa) so I'm glad we somehow didn't managed to give him his Christmas present last year because today was really the perfect time for it. A Brio starter trainset with its own tunnel (tunnels are another obsession, as are train crashes).


One more day of crazy packing, hair cutting and leg waxing tomorrow then I'm off to the States at sparrowfart on Monday. I'm going to miss my family (not to mention all those new toys...)

Friday, July 8

In the bleak midwinter


Winter kind on snuck up on us this year, on account of it having started in early May instead of around now. Now, however... now we really know it is winter! The mountain is covered in snow, down to 200m for those of you who care about these things, and the temps for the weekend are staying in the single digits (Celsius that is). Those two things would be fine on their own, but when you combine them with 50km/h winds of pure icy nastiness it is just darned unpleasant! I have spent this week sitting at my work desk in thermals, my windbreaker AND my big wool coat just trying to thaw.

I won't spend any time dwelling on the many germs and ills that have been lurking amongst us because this blog is starting to read like some try-hard Grey's Anatomy script. Let's just say Jo's lungs are clean as a whistle, mine suck and are going to be internally redecorated by yet another foul poison and our friend giardia has finally departed from his unwelcome visit. Yay winter

I have lots of random bits of news and such so here's the skinny...
Not the best family photo but we're reading Mog and Me

Marty is awesome. I know you already know this but at the moment I find myself caught unaware by this fact over and over again every day now. His language is developing at lightning speed. He has taken to calling me Pogga (with a hard ah at the end) and it has well and truly stuck. He constructs the most beautiful and economic sentences like "Pogga open? Is hard for me" or "No sick in bucket. Sad" (a memory of the unwelcome visit from giardia...) Hard to believe he'll be two next week. Looking back over old posts it seems like both a short and looong time ago that we were packing our hospital bag!

Marty building himself a house :)

My brother's TV show starts next week, on Marty's birthday so that has to be auspicious timing! I'm really looking forward to seeing him play a main character over a whole season! Keep an eye out for Crownies starting on ABC (Australian ABC that is) on July 14 or watch it on iView. There's some great promo footage of his character at http://www.abc.net.au/tv/crownies/ (You're looking for Richard Stirling)

While I may be suffering through midwinter I am about to get a little ray of sunshine. On the 18th I'm heading to the States for two weeks - one in Portland and one in Texas! It is a guilty ray of sunshine though because I'm leaving the family behind :( Too short and too much work to do. In some kind of weird planets aligning kind of timing it so happens that I'll be spending my birthday with our Texas family, which is a pretty darn neat present AND it means I get a second birthday with my family here.. (er right?)

Writing a whole blog post on the ipad is much harder than it first appears. This deficit is made up for by the pure awesome that is Infinity Blade. For those who know these things I have finally finished grinding my way through BG10, back to NG and am about to start climbing NG+ in the hope of being able to get the black gear in my store AND get to shard. For the rest of you I now return you to your regular programming.

Oh and did I mention Marty?

Thursday, June 9

He's a well respected man about town

And he's oh so healthy in his body and his mind (to continue the Kinks theme...)

As it turns out we are very thankful that he is so healthy because the beloved and I are not! Somehow we both have pneumonia! (psst, she gave it to me...We have to tone down this whole sharing and caring thing) Actually it really sucks. We both feel absolutely shocking and we're barking like a seal colony. To top it off it looks like some kind of atypical pneumonia and we won't know what is the cause until next week because it is a public holiday Monday (and it took 4 tries to get any blood out of this little needlephobe). Thanks goodness for the Bears, especially Jeannie, for taking Roo off for adventures every day. Anyhow, so far Marty seems healthy so here's hoping he stays that way. The alternative is that the little bugger brought the bug home in the first place!

Yes folks, that is a seersucker suit with a matching peach tie.

But enough of that, onto these super cute photos of Mr Roo. I can't believe our little man will be two next month! He is awesome fun to be around at the moment, aside from the small moments of terrible-twodom that he drops into occasionally. These photos were taken on Easter Sunday when we went to a big Catholic church for baby Frankie's Christening.

The white sneakers do make him look like he was styled by Ellen...

The ironic thing is that we bought this suit in Texas for the previous Easter! (Suits for Easter Sunday are a big deal in San Antonio - probably America in general) We knew Marty wouldn't fit it that Easter but we were hoping he's be able to wear it to the wedding we were going to just after we arrived home. But of course the Roo turned out to be a skinny little elf so it was awesome that he ended up wearing it to an Easter service after all.

Waiting for the audience to go quiet before making his sales pitch...

He was, of course, entirely overdressed for an Australian Easter service but he seemed to make a lot of people happy just by looking so dashing so we didn't care :)

Tuesday, May 10

Spotty wot?

I am spotty. I am itchy. I am cranky. And I am tired. Because every-time I try and fall asleep the itching drives me mad and wakes me up again. I have some non-contagious viral rash that can take weeks to go away and only causes drive-you-mad type itching in some cases. Yay me. I can see why the first part of its name is pity...

Rashes aside we had a lovely Mothers' day and to celebrate such I thought I'd leave you with this awesome little comic Miss B sent us from the New Yorker.

Monday, March 7

Dusting off the blog

Eek, it sure has been a long time between posts. I'm here to blow the cobwebs off this here blog and hopefully get a few posts in before anyone realises I'm back.

I'm going to break all of those blog rules about posting in chronological order and all that and just get down to some good stuff for now. Many of my loyal blog followers have been writing to me and demanding Marty updates so let me get started on them since that is sure to be far more entertaining than any other news at this point (and if you want more then jolly well leave a comment below!)

Last time I posted about the Roo was early October and he was 14 months old and really getting the walking sorted. Now he's nearly 20 months and running, climbing and talking!

This was the little ruffian last time you saw him...

And a few months later...

And a few months after that!

Here seen getting his own breakfast - not entirely successfully but amusing nonetheless!
video

I won't put too many updates in one post - This one is just a teaser, plus it is helping to get back on the blog horse. The biggest nightmare behind this has been trying to organise my photo library which is now spread across three computers and one back up drive. Not the smartest thing I ever did!

Sunday, January 23

Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, some Tassie wildlife (and me!!)

I know I have heaps to catch you all up on but for now bear with me. This past Wednesday was the BEST HUMP DAY EVER! Through a wondrous twist of fate and the good graces of my friends at the Bookend Trust I spent last Wednesday night with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer on a private night tour of the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary! Whoo. I'm still recovering.

Forget vegemite - this is my ultimate sandwich.

I know there are a few philistines among you who won't know who I'm talking about. Actually, I think I was included in the group because I have consumed the majority of the creative works each have produced. Neil is the awe-inspiring author of (amongst many other things) American Gods, the Graveyard Book, Stardust, Coraline and of course Sandman. If you haven't read any of his work you should first punish yourself and then get hold of one of his books. The libraries here have huge waiting lists for most of his work, which is wonderful, but you won't regret buying them. And if you tell me you don't need to read them because you've seen the films then I'm sorry but we can't be friends anymore.

Me and Neil Gaiman. This photograph will always make me smile.

Amanda Palmer is another kettle of fish entirely - goddess of punk cabaret, street performer, and allround queen of awesome. She's a big fan of Australia and her new album, a tribute to this land down-under, came out this week and you should buy it (download for a donation of 69 cents or more) at least for the Vegemite song. Not to mention "Map of Tasmania" which has been stuck in my head all week and which has a film-clip that everyone should watch at least twice because you will never find a more wondorous collection of merkins in one place. That being said it may not be safe for work for fear of being misconstrued if viewed from a distance. Thus I shall link it rather than embed it. Watch the video already!. And while you're there, pick up a copy of her acoustic, ukulele driven Radiohead covers which, though bizarre in concept are somehow even more beautiful and powerful than the originals.

Me doing my best not to explode with excitement all over Amanda Palmer. And failing.

Oh yeah, also, the two of them were recently married!

Anyhow, that should be enough back story to catch up the un(pop)cultured few. We went to Bonorong. It was the evening, the Sanctuary was closed and the animals (being Australian and nocturnal) were just waking up and getting ready to be fed. It was a gorgeous night - still and dry but not hot. There were only about 12 of us all up, between their party and the Bookend group, including Amanda's super cool tour manager who I bonded with over a mutual love of Portland, Oregon. Our guide from Bonorong for the night was Greg Irons, the devil-whisperer himself.

Gorgeous evening!

There was much petting of the super friendly forester kangaroos.

And if you catch them just right under the chin they roll back in kangaroo ecstasy. The poor little fellas can't reach that spot with their paws - a bit like the t-rex in Toy Story who needs someone else to cover his eyes when he gets scared.

Neil and Amanda were brave enough to feed Eric 1 and Eric 2 the sexually ambiguous but very friendly echidnas. I say brave not because of their spikes but because their food is a mix of condensed milk, minced meat and I was too grossed out to hear the rest, which they eat by lapping it from your gloved hand with their 15cm tongues!

After having followed both Neil and Amanda on twitter and their blogs (they are prolific sharers) their physical selves were pretty close to my imaginary versions of them (except that I'm actually able to hold a conversation with the imaginary ones without turning into a shy mute or blubbering fool). They were both wonderfully down to earth and exuded a kind of calm enthusiasm - Neil's tinged with unending patience and the sense that he was stockpiling every sensation for later examination and Amanda's with a restless energy and wonder. (For Sandman fans - Amanda is a wonderful mix of Death and Delight with a fierce intelligence thrown in the mix).

At the end of the night I finally plucked up the courage to ask Neil to sign the two books I'd spent the day lugging around; the beloved's copy of Odd and my copy of the collected Sandman vol 1. Josie had the right idea suggesting Odd which was at least 10 times lighter than Sandman!

Neil signing Sandman. Me holding my breath.

Not only did he sign my book, he freaking drew Morpheus! I have no words, only happy grins.

PS. Today Josie made me wash the t-shirt I was wearing that night...