Showing posts from 2012


Last weekend we made the 7-hr trek to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).  A 7-hr drive in Australia feels like it is twice as long as a 7-hr drive in California.  With the exception of the submarine sitting in a park in one of the small towns we went through, the scenery is very monotonous.  We left earlier enough that we reached the city in the afternoon with just enough time for Phil to check in for his half ironman and then make a quick stop in the National Gallery of Australia.

The next morning we were up way too early but were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise as the athletes got ready for the race.  Fortunately the rain from the day before had cleared and it turned out to be a beautiful morning.  The Capital served as a nice backdrop during each leg of the race.

Phil ran a good race and finished an hour sooner than his last race three weeks ago.  Then it was time for a quick recovery nap before we went to the War Memorial.  Dinner that night was at the Alto rev…

How the US Measures Up


Brumbys Run

A couple weekends ago our good friends from the running group held the second annual Brumbys Run, named after the Brumby horses that she loves. The Brumby horses are a feral breed that were introduced to Australia in the late 1700s.  There's a big movement to eradicate them because they are non-native, though I wonder how people who are here because of recent immigration can possibly suggest such a thing.

The Brumby Run was a half marathon starting and ending at their property in the foothills of the Dandenong Mountains.  Running that far is not my cup of tea, so we went for a bird walk in the area instead.  After the run, we all shared a relaxing brunch potluck under the gum trees.  Here are a few snaps from that beautiful day.


Two weeks ago we made the 3-hour drive North to Shepparton for another half Ironman triathlon.  We ended up staying in a little town called Echuca, one of those little tourist traps set up to feel like you've taken a journey back in time.  It lies along the Murray River bordering Victoria and New South Wales.  Our accommodation for the weekend was in a gypsy wagon, a funky little thing with walls slanting out diagonally set in a very strange little garden.  

We took the opportunity to explore the region a bit and enjoyed lunch at an olive grove and did some wine tasting on the New South Wales side.  The wine was not so good, but the olives were delicious.  The mighty Murray was pretty and Maybe enjoyed a walk through the gum trees nearby.
Phil's race the following day was long and tough, but he finished and in a race like this that's really all that matters.  1.9 km swim, 90 km bike ride, and 22.2 km run is surely to tire even the best athlete out.

Guest Book - Mom and Dad Round 2

We had a great time visiting the two of you and our other friends in Australia.  I finally learned how to say the name of the city (Melbin) and we got to see lots of things that were new to us.  Tassie was amazing.  It is like its own country just loosely tied to the mother country.  I got a great sense of the pride Australians have in their country and in all things Australian.

I got the sense that you guys are enjoying yourselves and your jobs here but you don't feel like you are completely one of "them."  I want you to know that we do not have accents, they do!

I'm sorry that I spoiled the last few days of our "holiday" by falling but I guess these things happen.  You both "stepped up to the plate" as the expression goes and gave me the time I needed to recover enough to fly home. 

Thanks also for letting me try your new quilting frame and machine.  What a great thing that is.

Australia is truly an interesting and different place and you are …

Rooting and Barracking

Phil sent this to me the other day, and whether you were rooting for Romney or barracking for Barack, I think both sides can see the humour in this.  The two things they forgot to mention though are the higher income tax and the carbon tax.  Not the panacea some think it is!

I guess the moral of the story is that there is no perfect system.  Every country has its own take on a political system, and while some are better than others they all have one fatal flaw - humans are involved.  
When I was back in the states last month people kept asking me what Australia thought of the election. The answer: not much.  There would be an article in the paper once in awhile showing so-and-so on the campaign trail, but Australia was as concerned with the US presidential election as the US is concerned with who is Prime Minister here.  There was a campaign, an election, and life goes one.  It was sometimes embarrassing though to see just how much bickering went on.  Wouldn't it be nice if politi…

Our Cup Runneth Over

Today is not just your ordinary Tuesday.  Well, to be honest, for most of you it's not actually Tuesday yet but trust me, you'll get there eventually.

So it's Tuesday, November 6th, the first Tuesday of November.  What does this mean?  Election Time?  Well yes, but like I just said, you're not there yet.  So what it means is that today is Melbourne Cup Day, a state-wide public holiday for a horse race.  Seems kind of silly to me, but a day off work is no laughing matter.

I guess the theory is that we're supposed to be at the races today, but we are just enjoying the day off, trying to convince our brains that it's really not Saturday.  I've been working on some sewing projects and watching the thunder storms roll in.  Perhaps the weather didn't realise it was Melbourne Cup Day - thunder storms and horse races can't be a good combination.

I get the impression that Melbourne Cup Day is a lot like Memorial Day in the states in that it serves as the un…

Trick or Trick

Tonight someone knocked on our front door, a rare enough occurrence that we looked at each other with puzzled faces upon hearing the sound.  Phil went to answer the door and was greeted with "Trick or Treat!"  Ahh yes, apparently it is Halloween.  We were a bit confused because we just landed back in Oz this morning, so having skipped October 30th we had forgotten it was now the 31st.  Phil quickly grabbed some Reese's Peanut Butter cups out of the pantry, and I yelled No!  Not the American candy!  You see, after having just stocked up on the good stuff over in the states, I was not about to hand it out to the local kids who won't appreciate it!  No way.  Fortunately we had 3 Freddo Frogs lying around so he grabbed those.  Then we realized the 3 kids were really 5 and grabbed the frogs and 2 peanut butter cups.  This would just have to do.  I think it was the first time kids have ever come to our door before, and the odd part is it happened in Australia.

They don'…

Shopping List

Like any true American, I took advantage of my unplanned trip to the US this week to catch up on some shopping.  Here's my shopping list, complete with the price differences in the two countries.  I think at this rate I've nearly paid for the trip!  (well, if you do some really weird math...) -

Mag Lite flash light: $30  (OZ = $100)
Torque wrench: $10 (OZ = $90 ON SALE)
Running shoes: $50 (OZ = $150-200+)
Johnny Walker: $18 (OZ = $45)
Bathing Suit: $45 (OZ = $68)
Cute work shirts: $20-30 (OZ = $90+, and they are ugly and don't fit)
Work pants: $30 (OX = $80)
Peanut Butter M&Ms: $2.99 (OZ = $12.99)
Kong for the puppy: $6.99 (OZ = $14.99)
Books: $1 each (OZ = $5-25)
Rasberries: $1.50 (OZ = $7)
Batting for quilts: $3.75/yard (OZ = $24/meter)
Running socks: $11 (OZ = $35)
Running shorts: $15 (OZ = $40)
Mascara: $6 (OZ = $19.25)



While my parents were in town visiting we decided to show them our favorite place in Australia - Tasmania.  We flew down to Hobart early Saturday morning, and Phil immediately set out on a long bike ride up Mt. Wellington.  My parents and I took the scenic route, stopping in historic Richmond to see the oldest bridge in Australia and to visit one of my mom's painting friends.  By the time we eventually made it to the top of Mt. Wellington it was snowing and the famous view of Hobart looked a lot like mashed potatoes.

The next day we again left Phil to fend for himself on the bike and we drove out to Port Arthur, the historical site where Great Britain originally dumped its outcast prisoners.  We enjoyed the pleasant Tassie weather (meaning chilly but not raining) and strolled around the original prison buildings.  Once Phil caught up to us, exhausted because the "flat ride" turned out to be quite hilly, we explored the beautiful coastline surrounding…

Getting Plastered

"Help me!"

That's what I heard last weekend when I was walking into the local home improvement store with my parents.  I turn around in time to see my mother fall first onto her left knee, then her right shoulder.  And then there she sits, not able to move.  A man saw and ran over to help, along with a couple Bunnings staff members.  They managed to get her out of the way of traffic, but she couldn't seem to get up.  Not sure if it was just painful bruises or more, we eventually got her into a wheelchair and into the store to wait and see if she was able to walk.
After an hour and a few pain pills we decided it was time to go to the urgent care clinic.  Somehow we managed to get my mom into the car and then out again at the clinic, but her right leg didn't seem to want to work.  The clinic wasn't able to x-ray on weekends, so off we went again, this time to the ER.  This was about 6 pm.
The we did what anyone else would do in the same situation.  Wait.  And …

The Melbourne Swans

Footy season is over and the Sydney Swans were victorious.  I've spent more time lately watching the Melbourne Swans though, they are everywhere lately. 

A couple weeks ago on the first gorgeous day since winter began we went for a walk around Albert Park.  It is a beautiful pond right near the city, and the road around the park is the race track for the Formula 1 races.

The pond was full of pairs of giant black swans.  Maybe found this very exciting and desperately wanted to go swimming with them.  We were no fun and wouldn't let her.  The swans weren't very impressed with her and kept hissing at her.  I kept her on a short leash - those things looked like they were ready to eat her!  A couple swan pairs had these adorable little fuzzy grey baby swans - they are so much cuter than the adults.  I want one.  Or two.

Last weekend we went for a walk around the neighborhood pond and discovered that a black swan family has moved in, complete with 5 fuzzy baby swans.  We just s…

Crocs! (not just an ugly pair of shoes)

I took yet another trip to the Northern Territory last week, and the weather reminded me a lot of San Diego.  The Northern Territory has two seasons, wet season (November-March) and dry season (April-October).  The change from the dry season to the wet season is called the Buildup.  The temperatures and humidity both start rising until the thunder, lightening, and cyclones arrive.  Last week Darwin was 33 C during the days and in the low 20s at night.  It was so pleasant eating dinner outside on the bay with just a tank top (singlette), shorts, and flip flops (thongs) on.
What I learned on this trip though wasn't about weather patterns (or the art of negotiating with difficult customers), but crocodile management.  When the wet season arrives, so does the croc food and therefore the crocs.  There are several national parks with tempting swimming holes around Darwin and we were told that it was ok to swim in them.  Yeah right, I've seen the signs posted that say warning, crocodi…


Last week some friends/coworkers from San Diego (though currently living in Perth) were in town for a few days.  Having heard people rave about the Mexican food at a place called Mamasitas, we decided to take them there and try it out.  What better way to experience good Mexican food than with fellow San Diegans who would appreciate it (and are probably having similar withdrawals).

When Phil first stood in line at 5:45 he was told an hour.  No big deal, after all the great reviews we'd heard we could wait an hour for a decent meal.  We were content with grabbing drinks down the street and waiting for the call.  Soon an hour became 90 minutes, and we went back to check.  "We were just about to call you, it will be twenty more minutes."  Ok, we've waited this long, it seems silly to give up now.  So we wait outside and watch more people jump in line.

Finally two hours later we are seated at bar seats in this little tiny room.  The bar menu looks decent, though the $10 …

Closing Ceremony

It was an interesting experience watching the Olympics from another country's perspective. 

Firstly, we learned that there are other countries besides the US competing in the Olympics.  I know this may seem surprising to those of us used to watching the red, white, and blue conquer sport after sport.  When you're watching several hours of coverage in a country that doesn't win everything, you start to realize just how many countries are competing. 

The next thing we learned was how many heats are involved before the final events.  Because of the weird time difference (and lame tv licensing agreements), the events we were able to watch at night were all of the preliminary heats that nobody cares about before all of the excitement of the finals. 

And finally, we learned just how small the mass market is in Australia.  We were already very aware that Australian tv is not so great, but seeing the five total commercials played over and over were very tiring reminders of this.…

Wrapped Around Your Finger

or wraped around your finger, as was engraved on Phil's wedding ring when I first picked it up, or wrapped arund your finger on the second try.  But third time was a charm, and soon after his wedding ring was wrapped around his finger forever.

Until he decided to become an ironman, and then he started loosing weight.  Soon this forever ring was flying off his finger, so we came to the conclusion that it was time to get a new one (can't resize titanium).

Well we took a trip to our classy local mall in Cranbourne (those of you who have been there can stop laughing now).  The first trip was highly unsuccessful as the power went out just as we entered the first store.  The second trip at least the power was on, and we found a ring we both liked.  It was carbon fiber, which Phil has an addiction to, and it has a good price, which I love.  We went to order it and the lady measured his finger.  O, she said.  O what?  I said.  O.  He's a size O.  What?  Are ring sizes different her…

My Prom Date

Yesterday the high was 15 degrees, and when I stood in the sun just so, I could almost convince myself that spring is near.  So Phil and I decided to try our luck today and drove out Wilson's Promontory (the Prom), the southern-most point of mainland Australia. 

Of course, the sun was hiding behind thick fog that turned into rain and made for a soggy drive.  But we persisted and it finally burned off, leaving us with a beautiful day to explore some gorgeous scenery.  Several beaches, a nice long hike, and a stop at a winery for a drop and some cheese made for a great day - here are a few snaps of our day-

Tidal River Squeaky Beach View from the vineyard The happy explorers Emu tracks on the beach!

Speech Therapy

Lately my coworkers have taken it upon themselves to laugh at me every time I use the American pronunciations for words. Phil and I think they pronounce things funny, but we'll let you be the judge.  Here are a few of these words and the aussie pronunciations:

fillet (fill-it)
garage (gay-raj)
solder (sole-der)
Mazda (Maaz-da)
Addidas (Add-i-dass)
Melbourne (Mel-bin)
Cairns (Cans)
Canberra (Can-bra)
Nissan (nyss-n)
Bernard (Burr-nerd)
Sonia (Sawn-ya)
Nike (Nyk)

Making a Mountain Out of a Termite HIll

Last week it was back to Katherine once again, this time via Sydney, Darwin, and the 3-hour drive to Katherine.  After returning through Adelaide I realized something funny - in the span of three days I had traveled through half of Australia's "big" cities.  It still amazes me that in a country the size of the continental US you can count the number of cities here using your fingers.

It was around 6 degrees when I left Melbourne that morning, and each leg of my journey found me wearing fewer layers.  Landing in Sydney, off came my winter coat.  It was a beautiful morning in Sydney and I had a chance to see some nice views from the plane, first of the harbour with the bride and opera house on display, and then of the Olympic Village.

Landing in Darwin, there went my sweater.  It was really strange wearing a tank top with a winter coat draped over my arm.  Then it was in the car for the trip to Katherine.  The trip was uneventful, and we met some customers for dinner at the…

Walking a Kilometer in Our Shoes

Last weekend I had some coworkers in town and so we took them to our favorite place around, Phillip Island.  It's one of those places where they'd probably never go on their own when visiting for work, so it's a joy to see how much everyone ends up loving the area.  We did the usual - stop at Koo Wee Rup for hot jam donuts, see the koalas, grab a meat pie, check out the beautiful beaches, watch the amazing penguins.  As many times as we've been down there you'd think we'd get tired of it, but it is great sharing our litle part of the world with others.  It's fun when they experience some of the things that make our every day life different down here, like when they order a meal expecting one thing and get something completely different, or when they realize just how different their version of English is from the English they speak here.  I think it's also a bit validating - perhaps we aren't the crazy ones after all!
Though we may have been there a d…