Friday 24 December 2021

Covid moments

I went to get a coffee the other week, and waited outside for it to be ready. While I was waiting and listening to music, I was probably doing a bit of a sidewalk dance. Suddenly, I noticed the barista waving me down. My coffee was ready. I walked up to the window and said, I'm sorry but I was miles away. He looked me in the eye and said, isn't it wonderful to be miles away. The funniest part was recounting this to a friend while we were hiking. He thought some random guy walking past was waving to me because he wanted to join in my dance. We nearly fell down with laughter on the hiking path. 

Friday 26 June 2015

Is there anyone out there?

Does anyone ever visit this old blog anymore, I wonder, ten years on.  I'm just a few weeks back from a 3 week solo holiday in Europe.  It's the second international holiday I've had in the past year, and I've visited 7 countries in total amongst the two trips; 6 of them were on the latter of course, the former being to the States, where I visited the magnificent Powell's in Portland.  One of the many countries I visited while in Europe or thereabouts was Iceland, and I highly recommend a hike to the hot springs in the Reykjadalur Valley.  That little platform in photo one is where you toss off your clothes and pop on your bathers, after an hour long hike through the hills.  If you're lucky, it won't rain on your all the way back, where I learned for the first time that wearing glasses in the rain stinks.  Almost 40, wearing specs, I'm going to become my own old favourite soon.  I recall when a 40+ year old man was an exotic novelty.  Now I'm married to one.  We both loved our separate trips this year.  The 25 year old I met in the hostel bar in Copenhagen (also from Chicago) thought we must be an 'awesome' couple.

Thursday 6 February 2014

Here for Life...I think

Today's post is a query: would you move to another country after this?  Sounds exhausting.  I've already lived in 5 countries, and it's hard enough to pack up and head out with a couple of suitcases and a few extra boxes of stuff.  I can't even imagine moving house, much less to another country.  Sure, it would be nice to experience a new place for more than a few weeks at a time, and if I had a chance to live and work somewhere for a few months, I might leave my husband to his own devices for a short while, but another proper move just wouldn't happen, unless there were very extraordinary circumstances.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Meanwhile, at the airport...

I used to put pictures of my travels up on the blog.  Now, they end up on Facebook instead.  Instead of a handful, there are hundreds, and it's where I go to look first for my holiday pics.  This past weekend, I headed to Canberra for a couple of days.  When I first asked people for recommendations of things to do there, I was told to 1) watch the traffic lights change 2) check out Costco and 3) see if the Rex Hotel is still around and whether they do break in those little flower pots still (Bill Bryson reference and on a sidenote, if you haven't read his book about Oz and live here, it's a must read). I'm glad I've paid attention over the years to the one or two people I know who went to Canberra and loved it.  It's definitely a museum nerd and wino's paradise.  There's even some spectacular food and beer, so I'm not sure what there is not to like.  Anyway, this is how we felt about Canberra.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

In Hindsight...

Today's post is meant to be a reflection; looking back at my 5th post ever on this blog, over 8 years ago, I can't believe how quickly the time has flown.  I can vividly remember all of the experiences I describe in that post, and how exciting all of the mundane elements of life were, my first week living in the UK.  The individual bits and pieces aren't as important as the overall experience, and the small things were key.  This is probably why my writing has slowed down.  All of the little new experiences have just morphed into the everyday. The expat experience isn't as exciting to write about anymore, as it's just normal life these days.

Monday 3 February 2014

An object that makes me feel at home

Mentally walking through all of the rooms of my house, and at the same time reminding myself that the word home doesn't necessarily mean the place of my origin, I settle on my bookshelf.  It's one item that contains many.  I spent years after moving abroad looking through second hand adverts online for a bookshelf with character; my antique barrister bookcase back in Chicago, which may or may not eventually make a trip to Australia, still contains many of my most beloved books.  I bring a few back with me every time I visit the US, and am amassing a collection on this end as well in the meantime.  They needed a home, preferably one with glass doors, and nothing too new.  It took me 4 years to find a bookcase I liked, and when I did, it took us two trips to collect it from an hour away (it didn't fit in the truck the first time around) and a lot of manpower to get it into the house. It's now a solid, sturdy home for many of my treasures, which include more than just my books.

Sunday 2 February 2014

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien

The theme for today reminds me of a quote I keep on my blog home page, by James Baldwin: "I met a lot of people on holiday. I even encountered myself."  In some ways, I feel like I've grown into my adult self since moving to Australia; becoming a wife, homeowner and permanently settling in my forever home has not only been confronting, but stabilising.  I always knew I wanted to live somewhere other than Chicago, even if just for a trial period.  As much as I wanted to experience living in another country, I also wanted to escape the bitter cold of the Midwest winters, which keep you inside for months at a time.  Add that to my love of travel, and it was a given that I'd end up somewhere else.  In the beginning, it's all an adventure.  Then one day, years down the road, you look up and realise...this is it.  The adventure is over, and it's just plain old life.  Same shite, different country, but you're all grown up.  The past 10 years have blown by, your greys are getting well and plenty, and people back 'home' say you talk different now.

Saturday 1 February 2014

The View from Where I Write

This month I'll be attempting to keep up with the Expat Blog Challenge.  28 days in a row seems a bit ambitious, given my lack of writing over the past few years, but a kick in the pants never hurts.  The theme for each day will be in the subject line of the post, and today's topic is the view from where I write.

Whether I write in my cosy office at the back of the house, or sitting on the sofa in our front room, when I look up, I see eucalypt (gum) trees soaring overhead.  They tower over the neighbourhood homes, constantly dropping nuts, leaves, and sometimes even branches as thick as a body builder's leg and longer than a pick-up truck.  The interesting thing about gumtrees is that no matter how big they get, whether they threaten to fall on your house or person, you cannot cut them down.  They're protected, and once they get to a certain size, as beautiful as they are to look at, they can become a real pan in the arse.  I could spend hours every week cleaning up after these monsters, clean the gutters three times a year, and have enough kindling to last all winter.  It's a love hate relationship, similar to expat life.  Something to enjoy the beauty of, you never quite get over the uniqueness, but the labour of it all can be exhausting at times. 

Saturday 13 April 2013

Getting Ready for Winter

Sat around the table on a Friday at 4:30pm surrounded by my co-workers, my Mom, who is visiting for 3 weeks, was surprised by how many people don't have proper climate control in their homes here.  I've been telling her about it for years, but I think hearing it from the locals, and so many of them, drove it home.  It is that time of year in Australia when, despite it still being 29C out, we turn our thoughts to the cold weather coming.  In addition to the actual weather conditions this year, I'll also be thinking about my health during the long, wet season, and not just my physical health.  Whilst seasonal depression is often thought of as a Northern hemisphere problem, it can just as easily creep up on you in the Antipodean region.  While the months between May and September creep by, the dark comes upon us early, and the rains keep coming, nights at home without heat (either because you don't have it or you can't be arsed to start a fire in your combustion heater) get long and exhausting, even if it is only 14C/60F in your house most evenings.  I generally crawl into my waterbed with my dinner, and watch TV from about 7pm onwards.  That doesn't help keep me motivated and active enough, so this year, I'm making a few changes, particularly as winter will show it's face soon after one of my international visitors leaves.  I plan to use my 3 month old gym membership at least twice a week, and I have a stack of books to read.  I've also joined a few interest groups and am actively trying to meet more people and get out of the house more.  That combined with a few practical heat savings tips around the house, sealing up gaps in the walls and completing a big ensuite reno with a nice new shower...and heat lamp, and this winter should be mint!  I'll let you know how it all goes.  If you see me blogging more, that's a first indication it's all working.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

The 5-year mark

I am a very firm believer that Facebook and other social media outlets are literally shortening our attention span.  Someday there'll be research on this.  The fact that I haven't blogged in over a year is evidence.  Why write a paragraph when I can just as easily shout out a line or two that gets more of a response and greater (instant) interaction.  Seeing my nieces and nephews with iPhones and other devices makes me cringe.  I want to buy them a plug in phone or a book...or a passport.  There's nothing like a good read or some overseas experiences to broaden your mind.

I started out just wanting to travel, then wanting to live abroad for at least a short period.  As we know, meeting a sexy foreign dude sometimes changes the path considerably.  In a little over a month, I will have lived in Australia for 5 years as a permanent resident.  I've gone from provisional permanent, to completely (independently) permanent, to a proper citizen.  Knowing from Day 1 of my (2nd) arrival in Australia that I was here for good hasn't always been a pleasant thought.  Thankfully, those days are over.  Although my other half still gives his workplace too many hours of his life, I've had time to develop my own interests, and I can say without a doubt that I'm happy here now.  Hmmm, maybe Kafka was right when he said there's no point to writing when you're happy.

Today, I got home from work, checked the mailbox, and saw an envelope from the Department of Transport.  Knowing full well my car rego wasn't due for a few months yet, the only other thing I could think of was a speeding ticket.  Before I even opened it up, I thought I might have to run to the JP at the local council to pass it along to the old man, as he's been driving my car quite a bit, and we all know who the creeper is in this little family.  But lo and behold, it was my driver's license renewal.  Who would have thought I'd been living here long enough to need to renew my license.  What a thing - times flies, when you'e enjoying your life.