Showing posts from 2011

Christmas Socks

My mom got a new pair of socks for Christmas.  They are red, the perfect color to celebrate the season in style.  She got them after surgery because she fell and broke her elbow.  Not such a Merry Christmas for her :(

An Aussie Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before christmas;there wasn't a sound. Not a possum was stirring; no-one was around. We'd left on the table some tucker and beer, Hoping that Santa Claus soon would be here; We children were snuggled up safe in our beds, While dreams of pavlova danced 'round in our heads; And Mum in her nightie, and Dad in his shorts, Had just settled down to watch TV sports. When outside the house a mad ruckus arose; Loud squeaking and banging woke us from our doze. We ran to the screen door, peeked cautiously out, snuck onto the deck,then let out a shout. Guess what had woken us up from our snooze, But a rusty old ute pulled by eight mighty 'roos. The cheerful man driving was giggling with glee, And we both knew at once who this plump bloke must be.
Now, I'm telling the truth it's all dinki-di, Those eight kangaroos fairly soared through the sky. Santa leaned out the window to pull at the reins, And encouraged the 'roos, by calling their names. 'Now, Kylie! Now,…

Dear Santa

Dear Santa, I have been very good this year (well, as good as I can possibly be considering it's still me). I have donated a lot of possessions to various friends and charities and a lot of money to the small electronics industry. I even let a friend borrow my car and another my cat. But now it is my turn to ask, I don't want much, but I'm hoping that you might have special privileges to sneak a few things in past the quarantine agents for me. For Christmas (aka Chrissy) can you please bring me: baby carrots a garbage disposal in the kitchen sink nice clothes that don't cost a fortune in sizes that actually fit peacock feathers some new friends brownie mix a swiffer a can of black California olives American bacon a bowl of clam chowder fish tacos from Rubio's a jar of celery seed a jar of that neon-looking nacho cheese sauce a money tree sunshine on a weekend and I supposed a bag full of cash is always nice

To Tree or not to Tree

This holiday season has been really odd so far. It started with the lack of Thanksgiving, and when normally we would have bought our Christmas Tree on Black Friday, instead it was just a normal thank-goodness-it's Friday. No great sales, no over-eating, no definitive start to the Christmas season. I kept looking around wondering at what point Christmas would start in Australia, but besides some mundane mall decorations it still hasn't. Finally on December 1st I heard on the radio that it was the first day of summer (yeah, no kidding) and that it was ok to buy a tree. It's tough being the first holiday away from the usual American holiday traditions. No potlucks, ornament exchanges, everything I'm used to that makes the holiday season something to look forward to. We searched the stores for days before we finally found some egg nog only to discover that it wasn't anywhere near as good as the egg nog I was looking forward to drinking. We used to buy potted Chri…

Give Thanks for Costco

As last week drew on, I would see everyone's facebook posts about Thanksgiving and think that they were all confused. Isn't it May? Thanksgiving is in November. It's definitely Spring, and Thanksgiving is definitely NOT in Spring. I would say it's in Fall, but around here if I use that F-word they give me funny looks - apparently it's called Autumn. Thursday morning I woke up and went to work as if it were a regular Thursday - because it was. We had tacos for dinner (minus the refried beans - they can't seem to get those right in Australia). Friday morning I noticed that Phil was watching football and I thought it was really odd - why was he watching football on a Friday morning? Then I realized it was Thanksgiving in the US, and with Thanksgiving comes football. Yesterday we had dinner with the Ex-Pat American Meetup group - on the menu was turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and pumpkin pie for dessert. It was nice to hang out with …

Herb Appeal

(and around here, that H is not silent!) I seem to have an issue with plants. I thought it would be nice to grow some herbs, tomatoes, etc, so I bought a little garden and carefully planted some seeds in neat little rows. I wasn't sure what would grow, so I planted about 6 full packages of seeds in two of the four spots. Then, the night we left for Fiji I asked Phil to plant the remaining seeds in the last two vacant spots so that they would have sprouted by the time we got back. Well, they did. And that was how we discovered that Phil had misunderstood me and planted seeds in all of the spots, including the ones I had already planted seeds in. Granted, he was probably right to do what he did, surely only crazy people plant everything so close together like I did. So now we have heaps of lettuce sprouts mixed in with the occasionalzucchini plant. We also have mystery herbs (because I completely forgot what seeds I planted of course) mixed in with carrots. We had a good lau…

Four queue

In general, Aussies are incredibly nice people. I think they call it the Aussie Spirit - they go out of their way to help out and it has been a refreshing change of pace from the people of Southern California. Lately I've discovered that Aussies have one major, very annoying flaw. They are queue-cutters. Several times in the last few weeks I have been patiently waiting in line for something when the cashier says "next" and someone who was standing behind me decides they are next. I wouldn't be so surprised if it were an impatient teenager, but it's usually the unassuming-looking middle aged woman. Perhaps they are not used to large amounts of people standing in line. Maybe they really are oblivious. Whatever the reason, it's definitely a habit I could do without. Fortunately I'm not afraid to be the rude American who reminds them just exactly who was next in the queue.

Bula from Nukubati Island, Fiji

We reluctantly stepped onto the small boat, sat down, and looked back at the island. Beautiful Fijian farewell songs were being sung in the background as the boat started up. It slowly pulled away, bringing us farther from paradise. We both had tears in our eyes as the staff waved goodbye and the island got smaller and smaller.

You know it was a good vacation when you are already planning your return the day you get back. We landed in Nadi early last Saturday morning and went into town to explore. That was when it first dawned on me that Fiji was a third world country. Before that when I thought Fiji I thought beautiful tropical islands, but never did I make the connection that the people were so poor. By the time we finished exploring the town we were very much ready to get out to the island and relax.

We flew over to Labasa on the world's smallest commercial plane and landed in the world's smallest commercial airport (I hope). As we stepped from the plane we loo…

Guest Book - Mom and Dad

Dear Suzannah and Phil - You found a lovely house in which to live out your Australian adventure. And, you are indeed having an adventure in Oz. Thanks for letting us share in some of it. The trip along the Great Ocean Road was amazing - lots of beautiful scenery and interesting people to see - I couldn't believe the people in shorts and flip flips in that weather. It's been fun to see you both and I hope we get to come again. We loved the Australian animals in the wild and were glad to not be doing the driving on the "wrong" side of the road. By the way, who is that cat who looks like George? It;s time to pack and get on to visit our friends here now. Have a wonderful time in Fiji. Love, Mom & Dad (Mary and David Weflen) p.s. I'll start collecting fabric for you again!

Great Ocean Road

My mom and dad are visiting for a few weeks and we decided to take them on a drive along the Great Ocean Road. We started by taking the ferry across the bay to Geelong. It was a rainy Saturday morning and we pretty much had the ferry to ourselves. Unfortunately the rain stayed with us most of way, but we braved the weather and were rewarded with some beautiful views. We explored the pretty beaches in the morning and stopped in Lorne for lunch. After lunch Phil took his bike and road (in the rain) for several hours. We picked him up past Apollo Bay after we explored the Otways. Then it was on to Port Campbell for the first night. By then the wind had really picked up, so we only braved the Twelve Apostles for a few minutes before heading to the shelter of our warm room. The next morning we went to see the apostles again, hoping it would be warmer and less windy. No dice. It was still pretty though. We continued along the road to see some arches and beautiful coves and then he…

A Day at the Races

As I was leaving the office last night I was asked if I could go to the races with some customers today. Apparently two tickets had become available last minute and someone needed to fill them. Sure, why not. I was told it was very 'smart' dress and that I would need to wear a fascinator. "A what?" I replied. A fascinator. Apparently a fascinator is the funny little sideways hat thing that people wear to fancy English weddings (and the horse races). They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and feather configurations. They are truly fascinating accessories. This is the first time we've been around Melbourne to experience the Melbourne Cup, the horse race that stops a nation. We even had Tuesday off work for the races. We rode the train in to the Flemington Race Track, pushing our way onto the already packed car and bouncing against everyone else packed like a can of sardines. When the train doors opened waves of men in suits and women in dress…

Guest Book - Amy and Michel

Our stay at the Richardson Chateau was lovely. It definitely surpassed our expectations, and we will gladly return in the future. The proprietors, Maybe and George, are always close by to check on how things are going. The managers, Suzannah and Phil, were also great hosts; giving recommendations and tips on what to see and do in the area. We particularly enjoyed the extra excursions to the Kangaroo Track and the Penguin Parade. During the week, the chauffeur service to and from the train station was prompt and comfortable. On the weekend, the breakfast was lovely, as was the shuttle to the market. Make sure
to order the Honey Mustard personal pies from the restaurant! Also, we heard that an Alpaca will soon be added to the Chateau, so we are definitely looking forward to meeting it on our next trip. Fondly, Amy & Michel Goldstein Seattle, Washington,


We spent this last week on a whirlwind tour of Tasmania (picture the cartoon of the Tasmanian Devil - that was us!). Phil and I flew down to Hobart early last Saturday morning and drove up th East coast to explore the Freycinet National Park area. I really wanted to see Wineglass Bay, but unfortunately the main trail to view it from was closed and the other option was too much of a hike for the time we had. We did explore the rest of the area though and found some absolutely beautiful beaches, not to mention a beach named Richardsons Beach. Naturally we had to get our picture taken next to the sign. I am in love with Australian beaches. People think Hawaii has nice beaches, but they really don't compare to the ones here. The water is much more breathtaking here, more turquoise than blue and very clear. The red sand really contrasts with the turquoise water, and the nearby gum and paper trees complete the picture. I find them really peaceful and so much more intense than …

Lazy Sunday Sip

This morning I realized with horror that our 28-bottle wine fridge had three lonely bottles remaining. It quickly became clear that today's plans would have to be rearranged. It was time to go wine tasting in an effort to restock the supply. I informed Phil of the change in plans and we set out to explore the Mornington Peninsula. It was a crisp, clear spring day and everyone was still hung over from the Grand Final yesterday so the wineries were empty.
After visiting a winery we drove to Arthur's Seat, which is a hill with a nice view of the bay. The road to the top is steep and winding so Phil is hoping to use this as a training ride for the Ironman he's doing in March. We also drove to the bay so I could show Phil the beach huts. They are basically just brightly-colored sheds that people purchase for outrageous amounts of money. Last night was daylight savings and we changed the clocks forward an hour, so now when it's 8 am here it's 2 pm the previous …

Bad Religion

A coworker recently asked me what the primary religion is here. My answer: Sport. Australians worship sport here in all different forms, footy, rugby, cricket, tennis, netball, etc. They aren't a particularly religious bunch. In fact, so far in old church buildings I've seen a really bad Mexican restaurant, an Ugg boot shop, and a yoga studio.

Today was the footy Grand Final, which is basically like the Super Bowl except with way less commercials interrupting the game. Aussie rules football is interesting to watch. They score by kicking goals through the center posts for 6 points or the outer two posts for 1 point. The ball might be a similar shape to American football and they tackle people, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. In footy they don't take breaks or wear pads, they play long and hard and are really strong athletes.

I would typically watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, but with footy it's about the game (plus lets be honest, …


Phil and I have been exploring our new neighborhood with pleasant weekend bike rides. I started noticing something interesting on our travels - almost every house in our area has two large pots displayed in front. The more I looked, the more I found, the more I started liking this trend. The size, shape, and colors of the pots vary, the plants inside the pots vary, but they all have two pots, usually surrounding the door. So I figured we might as well try and blend in, and I started the search for the perfect pots.

What I soon found out though was finding the pots wasn't the problem, it was finding the perfect plant. We discovered that we had no clue what the plants were at the local stores. For the most part they were native plants that we have not really seen before. We randomly chose some short bushy things, found our pots, and transplanted away.

The more we got to know the area, the more we started to realize what a horrible mistakewe had made. We started realizing that t…

Thirty Shmirty

I didn't mind turning 30. I figured moving to Australia before I hit that milestone meant I wasn't doing too bad. So far though I'm not so impressed with this being 30 business.

It started on my birthday. I had to schedule a customer meeting on that day and ended up working late. So much for dinner plans! Throw in the pouring rain and a very cold day and it wasn't much to remember. Phil told me that turning 30 meant I had to be an adult, but at the time I thought (or hoped) he was joking.

I had to be an adult again today when I realized that I would not be able to make it to Grandpa Dick's funeral. I had a ticket booked but then found out that the funeral was scheduled for a week later than originally planned. Between prior plans and outrageous fares those days I finally realized that I just wasn't going to be able to go. Fortunately I was able to cancel my flight, but it was a rather frustrating realization. Being an adult is no fun. Sure we can affor…

RIP Grandpa Dick

Just got word from my dad that his step-father Grandpa Dick just passed away. Yesterday he checked himself into hospice, and in a way I am very glad that he didn't last much longer. He was the sort of man who never wanted to be a burdon on anyone and once he made the decision to enter hospice he just wanted to be done. He was a very good man and took good care of my grandmother. He never wanted anything in return, and always seemed surprised when we treated him just like we would a full-fledged grandfather. When I was younger he used to act in local productions and got great joy from the stage. He had a gift for plants and their backyard was always beautiful. The hard part about living so far away is I'm not sure what to do in a situation like this. It's the time where it's nice to be close to family, but who knows how many thousands of dollars a trip back would be a week out, plus that's two full days worth of travel. I suppose I knew when I made the decisi…


I remember 10 years ago waking up in my room in my parents' house at 6 am to my mom telling me to turn on the tv. From that little 13" box I watched the story of 9-11 unfold, and now from the other side of the world I am watching the 10th anniversary in much the same way. It is interesting seeing the effects of that day on another country. In many ways Australia was affected in the same way the US was, Australian soldiers are fighting and dieing right along side of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. People are much more sensitive to the possibility of terrorism amidst everyday life. But in other ways things are very different here. You don't need to show picture ID to get on an airplane. You can wear your shoes when you walk through the security gates. People can wait right outside the gate for their loved ones to arrive. Being so used to certain security measures, it's a little unnerving getting on an airplane here now. Regardless of the similaritie…

Strange Customs

When I was at the airport in Port Moresby, I saw a wooden statue that I thought was really neat and worth the trisk trying to take it through Australian customs. I declared it and went up to the customs officer to have it inspected. He asked me if I made the trip often, and then proceeded to show me what to look for with wooden items. Apparently holes the size of the end of a ball point pen are sure signs of bug infestation. The guy told me that once the bugs get inside someone's house, they spread and quickly eat everything made of wood. He also told me that if I make the trip back again and purchase any jewelry made from shells, to watch out for small grey round ones because those are seeds that they are required to destroy. It was a very strange customs inspection indeed.

Papua New Guinea

I have to admit I was a little freaked out that I'd be travelling to Papua New Guinea for work. Between the Hep A shot, the Typhoid shot, the Malaria pills, and the unknown of staying at a worker camp in the middle of nowhere, there was a lot to worry about. Fortunately it wasn't that bad and certainly turned out to be a worthwhile experience. When we landed in Port Moresby, we were instantly blanketed with sufficating humidity and the smell of people who don't shower. We had to walk to the domestic terminal where we went through several primitive security check points before we could check in. There, I realized that the "airline" we were flying on was solely for the purpose of flying people in to work on the site we were going to visit. We had a brief hour-long flight on a small plane from Port Moresby to the Moro airstrip, which consisted of a dirt landing strip set in a valley in the middle of the rain forrest. We got off the plane and were ushered into…