Sunday, July 19, 2009

We like Australia this week

G’day friends!

My how my tune has changed since last week. I kind of came to a realization lately that since we're here now and since it's a very cool thing to be living where we are, I'm going to try to be more positive about it all. Jenn's comment about Austrian bacon last week was helpful. Thanks!

Not too much action this week to speak of. It’s still cold and we’re still happy and healthy. We’re getting lots and lots of hiking in, which is so incredibly cool. The more we’re out the more I think that if you don’t come and visit us while we’re here, you’re missing out on so much! For one, Edie is just changing everyday and she’s such a funny child, and for two, nature here is just so very different than what we were used to at home. For instance, the other day I had Edie on my back on a hike in yet another koala sanctuary and was keeping my head up to see if I could spot any sleepy koalas when I heard a thump-thump-thump sound. I looked up to see a wallaby (very similar to a kangaroo, about my height) speeding towards us obviously unaware that we were in its path. It stopped short about 10m away and froze. The wallaby and I both stood frozen for probably 5 minutes and then I quietly kept on the trail. I can now tell my grandkids that I stared down a wallaby! Unfortunately Edie was asleep on my back at that point so she didn’t get to enjoy the action, so she can’t boast the same. She’s already enjoyed many a wallaby encounter though…We’re so glad that she has and I think that she’s quite happy too.

We were ambitious this week. It’s the middle of strawberry season here and they’re cheap, cheap, cheap, so we bought a huge box of them at the market in order to freeze some and also to make our own jam. I vaguely remember jam making at our home when I was a kid, and also at my grandmothers. My memories are far more pleasant than what we experienced. It wasn’t all bad, we have ended up with some lovely jam, the bad was more like the boiling pot of sticky sweetness splattering all over the kitchen, the multiple burns I incurred and the fear that it’ll all be spoiled if we did it incorrectly, oh, and the infant at our feet taking it all in. It was a whole lot of work! In the end, we’ve now got lots of yummy jam but aren’t quite sure that buying homemade jam at the market for 2.50 a bottle isn’t a better deal. I’m a big, big fan of making our own food from scratch, Edie and Tim accommodate this very well. I like knowing what went in to what we’re eating, I love to cook and bake, and I like to know that actual hands prepared the food we eat and not a machine, so the idea of making our own jam was promising…After our jam making episode though, I think that I can settle with trusting someone else to do the work for us for now. We’ve got 6 more jars to get through anyway, so it’ll be some time before we have to cross the jam buying bridge. Maybe it’s like labour, when mothers forget the agony and end up churning out more and more kids (where we would churn out more and more jam, if you follow)…We’ll see I guess*.

Tomorrow arvo (Aussie-speak for afternoon) we are going to take in the Street Soccer National Championships being held here in Brisbane. We’ve talked about this program before, when the world championships were being held in Melbourne last year. To refresh, the street soccer program is based on using sport to change people’s lives, the particular target group being the homeless and marginalized in Australia (the program is also run in scads of other countries). So, the street soccer program here is run by the Big Issue Australia, and they organize weekly training, camps, tournaments, national championships and the annual international championships. For a lot of the target group, street soccer has become a needed stability in otherwise very unstable lives. We’re pumped to check out the action tomorrow. We’ll tell you all about it next week.

So…It’s now Monday morning and I haven’t posted this blog yet. Works out well because now I can give you the lowdown on the street soccer which we saw yesterday. First off, our idea of what street soccer looked like was way off. We were imagining people from the streets playing soccer on a pitch like regular soccer is played on. This isn’t the case. Street soccer is to regular soccer what 3-on-3 basketball is to regular basketball, it’s a cut down, more intense version of the more standard game, probably made more cool by the fact that you can play it anywhere (hence, the street). If we’d really thought long and hard about it, if you were really playing soccer in the streets, you’d have a lot less room than if you were playing on an open field. Right.

Either way. The courts were set up on an open field in Southbank, which is the main sports and recreational area within the city of Brisbane. You’ll see them in the pictures, but in order to provide walls which you can play off of (like you would encounter if you were playing soccer in an enclosed urban area), they had air-castle like enclosures. It was a pretty interesting set-up. The teams played 3 people plus a goalie on each side and the games consisted of two 15 minute halves. Both men and women played together. I absolutely loved watching the games. First off, the Queensland team was fun to watch anyway, they were skilled AND they were nice. And it was so fun to listen to the banter from the sidelines…Lots of trash talking from the guy standing next to us who was rooting for Western Australia (WA). It was also fun to see people’s quirks come out in their playing (the same could probably be said for what it’s like to watch me play soccer). I loved that the goalie from WA wore a bike helmet.
All in all for me, it was an awesome event to encounter. I hid it well, but I got really emotional watching (I can’t really explain why, it just happens sometimes…). Much to my dismay, ever since I became a mother the tear ducts have become much more leaky. My mom cries when she hears marching bands or sees horses in a parade, I think I’ve come by my unexplained tears quite honestly.

Yesterday also became the first day that Edie resisted all sleep…That’s not entirely true, but jolly close enough…She had a 30 minute nap while eating at 5pm and that’s it. Not cool. It’s getting near impossible to get her to shut her eyes during the day. Rather scary for her parents who would like to shut their eyes more. She’s also got her top teeth coming through, poor darling. At the very least, she’s pleasant even though she’s had no sleep, let’s cross our fingers that this never changes. For the most part it’s a blast having her awake. Edie also made me chase her for the first time today. She loves picking up leaves off of the lawn and eating them, I usually can just pull them out of her mouth when I catch her and we move on. Today when I noticed that she had a leaf in her hand, she met my eye and then turned and bolted (as fast as a crawling infant can bolt). The cheeky little thing! I think we've crossed a big threshold today. Yikes!

It’s two weeks before Edie and I get home. I can hardly believe it. If you want to catch up with us let me know in advance and we’ll see what we can work out. As for now, the plan is to be in NB for most of the month with my family, with a week or so in NS. Sounds nice and simple. Problem is that I want to see EVERYBODY! A month is such a short time really…

Enjoy the catch-up on pictures. Love to all. Laura

*Please note, this is NOT an indication that there’s another baby for us in the near future. Don’t read into it too much, it was just an appropriate analogy. If it helps you to get a timeline in your head of our family progress, I’ll be making jam way before I’ll be popping out another wee one (hopefully I won’t be eating my words on this one).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bacon and beavers

Blog time again!

I hope this entry finds you all happy and healthy and soaking up the rays in the northern hemisphere. It’s jolly cold down here. As Joy can attest, it’s unbelievably cold for the weather that we generally associate with Australia. It beats the stifling humidity of summer here though, and so I won’t complain much more. Speaking of Joy, she was a great guest and we miss her lots! Edie picked up a particular fondness for Joy while she was here. She often gazes into the guest room longingly and also points at the empty space at the dinner table where Joy used to sit. I also miss Joys fondness for homemade soup…Tim’s getting tired of my soup offerings. I argue that it’s such a good time for soup, it’s the best warmer-upper there is! But alas, we move back to the more solid meals that the rest of our seasons are full of. And speaking of seasons and food, when we first arrived in Brisbane, Tim’s parents had an order of organic (and seasonal) produce shipped to our house from an online company here in Australia. We’ve finally got our act together and have been ordering our groceries from the same company for the past few months. Not to be a salesperson here, but the food just tastes so darn good! And delivered? I can’t tell you how much easier that makes our lives. So once again I’ll say “here here! Australia, you have lovely produce and that you deliver it to our door??? We will miss you greatly when we go back to our less tropical homeland”.

And this brings me to something that’s been on my mind for quite some time. So, if one were to search back through our archives, they’d find that we’ve definitely had our ups and downs with this whole move across the planet. We’re happy, we sad, we’re grateful, we’re complaining…The whole spectrum has been covered I think. Way back in the early days of our arrival in Brisbane, we were invited to morning tea with our neighbor. Her daughter-in-law and granddaughter had spent a year in Fredericton on an exchange a year or two prior, and they wanted to reminisce with us about their memories of Canada. It was a fun meal. We, insanely enough, had friends in common, and it was nice to hear things from their perspective. But I distinctly remember feeling that the longer we talked with these two, the more negative their descriptions of Canada and Canadians became. In the end, I remember feeling a bit defensive about things that they were describing as ‘weird’ (the way we pronounced ‘house’ for example). It certainly didn’t turn into a brawl or anything, but I remember coming away from that gathering wondering if they really had enjoyed their time in Canada. I can distinctly remember the lady telling us that the one thing that Canada had up on Australia was our bacon (and it well should…Australian bacon is a sloppy mess compared to Canada’s crispy goodness). But ya. I just remember thinking to myself that their enjoyment in Canada was hampered by the fact that things were different than Australia, and that was sad…I’m always inclined to being rather harsh on people who see things differently than I do, and I’ll admit that I felt that they had a narrow outlook on things. A year and a half later, I’m finding myself in the same seemingly narrow boat as they were.

Tim describes it as bizarro world, a place where things are just different enough from what we’re used to that it’s extremely noticeable. I’ll give you one example. ‘Cream soda’ is called ‘creaming soda’ here. The fact that if I were speaking in the past tense I would say “I spelled the word incorrectly”, here, the proper thing to say would be “I spelt the word incorrectly”. You wouldn’t think that these things are anything to make a fuss about, but I tell you, when little things like that are in your face all of the time, agitation creeps up. Such small, dumb things have a tendency to grate on a person. Or maybe just people like me. So I now find myself comparing things like Canadian and Australian bacon and feeling like the fact that Canadian bacon is more crispy makes Canada a more livable place. And I wonder if this patriotism runs as deep in others as it does me. The general feeling I get is that it does. All of the ex-pats that we know here in Brisbane (and we know a lot) seem to have their little gripes as well, despite the fact that we all like living here and choose to do it! I’m reminded of a Stompin’ Tom song about patriotism which went something like “if you don’t believe your country should come before yourself, you can better serve your country by living somewhere else.” Such wise words from Stompin’ Tom. So, since we actively decided to leave our homeland, maybe we should just shut up about how different things are in this different land (the phrase no-duuuhhhh (popular in my teenage years) comes to mind). It all comes down to this for me, I’m quite sure that no matter where we lived on the planet, if it wasn’t our home (i.e. our Canadian home), we wouldn’t be ‘at home’ there. So yes, we should just shut our yaps about the things that are different that drive us crazy every now and then…Or move back home…where I’m sure that we’d find lots more to complain about.

Speaking of Stompin’ Tom, his Australian equivalent has been found. Slim Dusty is his name and he was a true-blue Aussie who traveled the land singing songs of the folks he met and the places he saw. His most popular song here is called “A pub with no beer” but he’s had many other hits such as “G’day G’day” and “Cunnamulla fella”..y’heard ‘em? He passed away recently and was given a state funeral. Quite a big deal. Tim brought home a greatest hits CD the other day and I must say, it evokes the same sentiment in me that Stompin’ Tom does…somewhere between ‘turn that off!’ and ‘oh! The good ol’ hockey game, is the best game you can name…’ Ya. Makes me feel warm inside. Just like warm homemade soup on a cold day.

Well, Edie and I are preparing to head back to Canada for the month of August. I’ll say that I’m looking forward to being home, but am not at all looking forward to the trip to get there and back. I’m so wishing that a supersonic jet or warp-speed travel were real options (that is, if they bore no ill side-effects). It’s going to be tough, but worth it. Miss Edie is a very well-traveled gal!

Miss Edie is also keeping us well entertained these days with her new favorite pastime of pulling everything out of where it should be. Drawers, laundry baskets, coffee table, toybox, wallets, etc. It’s a very fun time. Both Edie and I are over our respective colds, and things are a lot happier around here. She and I have been getting out quite a bit for hikes lately and we’re having a blast spotting lots of wildlife, including wallaby and our very first koala in the wild. It’s pretty awesome! Enjoy the new pictures, I’ve got lots more on the way.

Love to everyone,


PS. A big shout-out to Team Beaver! Our great friend Rach G. Parker got hitched this past week to a great baritone named Paul (Beaver, hence, Team Beaver). We're bummed that we missed that party, but we'll make it up somehow quite creatively. Congratulations! We love you lots!