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Tag Archives: Australian

  1. 5-Year Ausiversary

    As of last week, I have been in Brisbane for five years. FIVE. YEARS. I believe that this takes the record as the longest I’ve been in any one spot since high school.

    I’ve found it a bit funny as I’ve tried to reflect back to my feelings at the time. I was in love and excited about the adventurous possibilities. I couldn’t wait to explore and settle in and pick up the accent. I looked forward to warmth and tropical weather and ocean and kangaroos. I couldn’t wait to be with my future husband and his family and make friends who might find me to be as exotic as I found him in America.

    Wow, I could hardly have been more disillusioned, and culture shock is a real b*tch.

    [NOTE: That’s the extent of what I’ve had saved in draft for over a week now. I was going to try and elaborate a little more on how things have changed, but I don’t really know what to say. Things here are good. I am pretty much enjoying myself daily.]

    Me & Him
    (Us at the beach on the Sunshine Coast. There’s also a cute photo of me & Tash from the same day here.) 🙂

    Posted in Nothing in Particular, Photographing.

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  2. Money, Money, Money… Must Be Funny

    Last night we pulled out The Money Drawer. We throw all of our loose change into a drawer at the end of the day. We’ve been accumulating for years, only taking out the gold coins when we’re desperate. I’ve been worried about losing the bottom of the drawer, because it was so heavy it could hardly be pulled out anymore.

    Coin Drawer
    At our bank, they want you to count out the coins and put them into bags before you bring them in. So we watched Wipeout and sorted coins until we ran out of bags. What you see below is $1000 in $1, $2 or 50¢ coins. One THOUSAND dollars. In CHANGE. That was sitting in a drawer in our house.

    $1000 in Coins
    And that’s not even all of it. We have a ton more $1 coins. And then there’s all of the 20¢, 10¢, & 5¢ coins to go. I’d bet there’s at least another $500 at least. I feel a bit like someone with a mattress full of cash, but it’s a nice little stash to deposit right before we go on holidays!

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  3. Queens Park on Queen’s Birthday

    After reading about all the get-togethers of the Sydney American Expats, I thought I should mention that we’ve got a few in Brisbane, and we know how to have fun too! So today we had three Americans and a Kiwi celebrating the Queen’s Birthday at Queens Park.

    We joined Brisbane-newcomers Nat & Chrissi at the Nature Centre to have a stroll through the animal enclosures. I must say that the more times I visit, the more I’m starting to love those ugly emus.

    Emuuu
    We had afternoon tea at the cafe and saw the resident cockatoo Cocky. He can dance and say “scratch my head”, and he made a friend in Chrissi when she did just that. I believe I snapped this photo just before he attacked my camera and gave me a fright.

    Cocky
    It was a beautiful day and lots of fun hanging with some American peeps who share a lot in common with us. We leave Friday on a mission to partake in white cheese dip in remembrance of them.

    Posted in Exploring.

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  4. Through the Looking Glass

    This past weekend after launching a new CD on Thursday night, we took off for a little anniversary getaway. We headed up the coast on Friday and spent three nights at Glass on Glasshouse. I found that place when looking for accommodation over Easter break and thought it would make a good romantic destination. It really was perfect.

    The place is ultra-modern and two full walls are glass. (Do not worry, there are blinds.) Polished wood floors, leather lounge, huge spa bath, king-size bed, media system, and views to blow your mind.

    There was a covered porch with a dining table and electric grill. Below is the view coming down the path towards the “pod”.

    Outside

    Just inside is the living room. We watched both “Bridget Jones” movies and then the Lord of the Rings trilogy — director’s cuts. Eeeep! The couch had a fold out bed, which we pulled out a couple of the nights when it was getting hard to sit and keep watching.

    Living Room

    There was a small desk where Hanslset up for a while. He was doing music, and I was on the couch backing up all my photos. Aren’t we the geeky couple? But I don’t know how he got any work done with a view like that. (And yes, Manda, those are my Spongebob slippers in the bag.)

    Desk
    Next to the television was the ethanol fireplace which was double-sided and could also be seen through a glass panel from the spa.

    Fireplace
    The giant spa bath filled from the ceiling. It seemed like a really cool and romantic idea, but to prevent it from splashing all over the whole room, it couldn’t be on much more than a dribble until it was half-full.

    Waterfall
    Also modern and cool was the bathroom sink with water coming out of the mirror. It looked so zen, but as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it was a bit gross while brushing teeth. I don’t particularly enjoy watching my spittle traveling across the porcelain square into the moat at the front and floating around to the drain in back.

    Sink
    Comfortable bed and more great views. Several kangaroos would tend to hang out outside the windows on this side. The last night we slept with the blinds open and woke up to the glorious sunshine.

    Bedroom
    I drew a quick, not-exactly-do-scale floorplan one afternoon while we were there. You can click through to flickr to see the notes explaining what each area is.

    floorplan
    I took along my anniversary flower that I got on Wednesday, because I wanted to enjoy it while it was still in its prime. I had it setting on the edge of the spa so that I could see it from the sofa. One morning we had the blinds down while we watched movies, but the sunlight came through one crack and made the flower glow. I didn’t even notice the reflection until after I looked back at the photos.

    Gerbera
    Other highlights from the trip:
    ♥ Italian pasta lunch on Saturday at the fabulous discovery Cappriccio’s in Maleny. (We even tried to go back to try the pizza on Monday before we left the area, but unfortunately they were closed. We’ll be back!)

    ♥ Going for a Sunday bushwalk on the Glass House Mountain Lookout Track.

    ♥ Spending several hours strolling through Maleny on Monday before we came back home. My souvenir was a silk pillowcase from Maleny Additions. (Three days later my skin and hair are instant perfection… well, maybe not yet.)

    ** Check out cool ethanol fireplaces at Amazon.

    Posted in Exploring.

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  5. Lost in Translation

    woop woop (whup whup)
    n. the middle of nowhere
    “They’re going out to Woop Woop for a camping weekend.”

    I think this is my first Lost in Translation for the year, and it’s probably because the Australian slang is becoming so familiar to me. (One might say TOO familiar.) I used “woop woop” in conversation today, and my colleague didn’t blink an eye even though I felt quite proud of myself.

    He then asked what the American equivalent would be, and I can’t even think of one! Is there one? All I can think of is a rather rude acronym involving Egypt, but I feel like there IS a common one out there that I’d use in front of my mother. Help me, people!

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  6. Breakfast & Bushwalk

    We had talked about going out for a picnic today. I found the Anstead Bushland Reserve online but couldn’t find out too much about it exactly except that there was a picnic area and walking track. Good enough for me.

    We decided to make it a breakfast picnic to save ourselves from the heat of mid-day. And it turned out to be absolutely lovely. There are three covered picnic table areas. Once we had finished eating, we set out down the walking track. I didn’t have a watch to see how long it took us, but it was a good distance for us, not being exactly in top form these days.

    There isn’t much overhead cover though, so be sure to cover up if you go. We keep sunscreen in the car, but a hat would have been good.

    It was gorgeous with lantana thickets covering most of the area. It was neat to see the old quarry spot. The breezes were cool off the river from the lookout. (There’s also a drinking fountain there, thankfully!) Walking through the eucalypts was my favourite part though, because it just SMELLS Australian. We only saw one snake, and I don’t think he would have killed us.

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  7. Herbie!

    On a happier note, I am loving this French herb dryer. Le sigh. If I had that, I would definitely use Straight from the Farm’s advice on preserving fresh herbs.

    By the by, Australians say the “h” in “herbs”, and I think I say it now too. But anytime I consciously say the word, I have a hard time remembering which way to say it.

    ** Check out the Chia Gourmet Herb Garden at Amazon.

    Posted in Inspired.

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  8. Safe and Sound

    We are completely safe here in Brisbane. We can’t see or smell smoke. While we are saddened and shocked like the rest of the world, we’re not really affected by it more than most of you are.

    And just FYI, according to the map below with the comparison of Australia to America, we’re over there in that eastern part of North Carolina. The fires are down in the Gulf of Mexico there. And the massive floods that you may or may not have heard about are up there in Ontario somewhere.

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  9. February Photos

    I got partway through one of the days that we were in Albany last year with my aunt & uncle and parents.

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  10. Public Service: On Shore Partner Visa for Australia

    Firstly, I got a letter from immigration today to say that my permanent partner visa has been granted. WOO. HOO! It’s such a weight off the shoulders not having to think about that anymore.

    I get lots of hits from people searching for info on migrating to Australia, so I thought I’d post my time-line to help give an idea. Keep in mind that every situation is different, and this is just my personal experience. Dates are what was on the correspondence unless otherwise noted. I don’t know if I have all the dates either, but this will give the general idea.

    Wife: American in Australia
    Husband: New Zealand citizen, Australian resident
    Visa: Partner (Temporary Residence) Visa (Class UK) (Subclass 820) and Partner (Residence) (Class BS) (Subclass 801)

    06 JUL 06: Made appointments for full health check. (AU$296)

    14 JUL 06: Had blood test for health check.

    18 JUL 06: Had chest x-ray for health check.

    23 JUL 06: Had fingerprints done (FBI Form FD-258: PDF) at Roma Street Station to send with FBI Clearance form. (I was not charged by the super-nice policeman, but the website said it was AU$21.)

    24 JUL 06: Had medical exam done for front-loaded visa application.

    31 JUL 06: Mailed FBI check to America. (FBI Cover Letter PDF and instructions.) Saved copy of request to submit with front-loaded visa application. (Request: US $18 / Postage: AU$16.50)

    11 AUG 06: Hand-delivered front-loaded visa application to Brisbane Department of Immigration, which included the following:
    • Spouse Visa Application Document Checklist (PDF);
    • Big fat cheque for AU$1990;
    • Completed Form 47SP (PDF);
    • Completed Form 40SP (PDF);
    • Certified copies of our passports;
    • Copy of sponsor’s Australian tax assessments for two years;
    • Certified copy of my driver’s license;
    • Two passport photos for each of us (AU$24);
    • Certified copy of marriage certificate (AU$25);
    • Evidence of genuine relationship including phone records, instant message logs, emails, wedding cards, copy of wedding ceremony and announcement, photos;
    • Two statutory declarations Form 888 (PDF) from people who know us (we used a couple we used to live with and husband’s boss);
    • A statutory declaration from each of us describing the history of our relationship;
    • Results of my health check; and
    • Photocopy of my Character Clearance Check from the FBI.

    16 AUG 06: Received letter from DIMA noting that they were waiting on the requested FBI clearance. I was also advised that we needed full medicals (AU$296), Form 80 (PDF), Australian Federal Police clearance (Form 1101: PDF), and NZ Police Clearance (instructions) for my husband as the sponsor being a NZ citizen.

    13 SEP 06: Letter from Australian Federal Police clearing husband (AU$37).

    13 NOV 06: Email from immigration officer saying my Temporary Partner Visa has been granted. (Time passed: 3 months, 4 days)

    02 JUL 08: Letter from DIMA with checklist for Stage 2, Permanent Partner Visa.

    01 SEP 08: Hand-delivered Stage Two application, including:
    • Partner Visa Checklist;
    • Statement on Partner Relationship;
    • Two statutory declarations Form 888 (PDF) from people who know the ongoing nature of our relationship. (This time we used sister-in-law and our boss.);
    • Form 80 (PDF) for me;
    • Certified copies of our personal details pages in our passports;
    • Evidence of our relationship, such as mail in both names at same address, bills, text messages to each other, proof of name change to married name, boarding passes showing joint travel, evidence of events we attended together, photos, evidence of joint purchases and financial obligations; and
    • Photocopy of request for Federal Police clearance (Form 1101: PDF) (AU$43).

    03 SEP 08: Received Federal Police Clearance in the mail.

    05 SEP 08: Mailed police clearance to DIMA.

    08 SEP 08: Letter from Department of Immigration requesting Australian Federal Police Clearance (Form 1101: PDF) and Form 80 (PDF) for my husband as a sponsor who is a NZ Citizen.

    04 OCT 08: Sent off Police Clearance request for husband. (AU$43) (The reason for the delay in getting this done was due to my parents being here for two weeks, so I waited until after they had left to get back into all this.)

    06 OCT 08: Mailed Form 80 and copy of Police Clearance request to immigration officer.

    20 OCT 08: Letter dated from Australian Federal Police as clearance for husband.

    26 OCT 08: Sent AFP Clearance for husband to immigration officer.

    31 OCT 08: Permanent Partner Visa granted, unbeknownst to me until…

    04 NOV 08: Received letter from immigration officer informing me that my application had been approved! (Time passed: 2 months, 3 days)

    Yay!

    For anyone going through this process, if you have any questions, I’m happy to try answer them via the email address above. I can only speak from my experience and am no expert by any means.

    Some people, like we did, might wonder, “Do I need an immigration attorney or migration agent?” The answer for us was a big, fat NO. We got all our forms off the internet. DIMA will send a request for anything you miss. All an attorney can do is hound you to get things done, because you’re still going to have to fill out all the forms yourself. Save the $2000 and do it yourself.

    And finally, my biggest piece of advice is to SAVE EVERYTHING. I was blessed with a certain packrat gene, but if you don’t have it, start getting into the habit of sticking anything do to with your relationship into a file. Anything with both of your names on it. Anything that shows you live together, travel together, socialize together. SAVE IT!

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  11. Australian Icon

    Our flight path to Perth went right past Uluru. It was pretty amazing to see, even from that distance. I am hoping that we get there someday.

    Uluru

    ** Check out Seeking the Centre: The Australian Desert in Literature, Art and Film at Amazon.

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  12. West Coast and Back

    With sunrises like this, can you see why I didn’t want to leave?

    Harbour Sunrise

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  13. Back from the Bunyas

    We’ve been busy.
    We’re tired.
    But we are having a great time.

    Australian flower

    Wallaby

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  14. Day One: Survived

    We got up before dawn and managed to get the parents from the airport. We had an easy day with hanging around the house and a light lunch. Then we took them to Queen’s Park in Ipswich. Their nature centre is really quite good. It’s not quite Australia Zoo, but it IS free. No koalas or crocs, but it has wombats, goannas, wallabies, emus, kangaroos, lizards and birds of all sorts.

    We also had a walk around the Nerima Japanese Garden. While you can tell it has been affected by the drought, it still is the greenest place I’ve seen in quite a while. It really is so peaceful and beautiful. I reckon we’ll be having a picnic there one day soon.

    Then tonight we cooked dinner for both sets of parents. No culinary catastrophes to speak of. No embarrassing childhood stories. No lack of conversation. It was quite impressive for a first-time meeting.

    Now we sleep.

    Posted in Exploring.

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  15. Roadtrip!

    In an effort to raise my comfort level behind the wheel, we decided to take a little roadtrip today to a few more miles (kilometers) under my belt. We headed West and ended up in Laidley. I’m too tired to write about our adventures at the moment, but after today, I have a renewed love for Australian scenery.

    Cunningham's Lookout

    Posted in Creative, Exploring, Photographing.

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  16. The Tax Man Cometh

    Probably the worst part about being in Australia, besides the obvious lack of Dr. Pepper, is their financial year ending June 30. And because I’m never good about doing these things in a timely manner, it seems like I am under the constant weight of having to hurry and get my taxes done for one country or the other.

    So this year, I’m making a vow that I am going to stay on top of this so that when it comes time for somebody to know what I’ve earned, I can just fill out the form and be done with it instead of having to dig through files and folders and making phonecalls. It will all be right there.

    I spent the afternoon modifying the PearBudget Spreadsheet to suit my needs of tracking deductibles and things like that. While I would really love for us to be a by-the-letter budget-keeping family, we’re not quite to THAT point. But baby steps, right?

    ** For financial peace, check out the Dave Ramsey store at Amazon.

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  17. It’s Going to be Amazing
    I first read about UrbanMAX over at Kris’s site. Being an Amazing Race fan myself, I was immediately obsessed with the event coming to Brisbane in October.

    The Urban Max is part adventure race, part scavenger hunt with a mix of the amazing race. It is a completely new format of racing that will take teams of two through the heart of the host city. Competitors will get to visit some of the cities [sic] most famous landmarks, as well as suburban areas, while completing a variety of activities along the way.

    This event is for all skill and fitness levels, with a number of the activities needing more brainpower than muscle. Speed alone will not get you over the line first!

    Hello! Awesome! Registration is open, and we are officially entered. It’s a bit pricey at $90/person, but I figure it’s a great way to see the city in a way I probably otherwise never would. We’re in the Mixed Couple / Social category. Not being in the competitive category will probably prevent our marriage from suffering. (See my previous declaration.)

    You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Til It’s Gone
    I was given a box of Junior Mints this morning. Junior Mints are not a native candy species. I have been told by people here that they watched Seinfeld and wondered what they were like.

    Tweet-a-l33t
    Twistori updates with any tweets from Twitter that include the words “I wish”, “I love”, “I hate”, “I believe”, “I feel”, or “I think”. It’s nice and pretty. Plus I just saw the funniest one ever. Someone said “I wish my lawn was emo… so it would cut itself.” Terrible, but hilarious.

    I’m also contemplating the purchase of these Twitter-inspired t-shirts. “That’s what she twittered.” Ha!

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  18. The Mountains Win Again

    Good Friday and “Easter Monday” are both public holidays here. So we took off for a little place I found on the internet with Dan & Lisa. The destination was a surprise for them, so I wanted to be creative with how to guide them up there. Because it looked like the place had an Eastern feel to it, I put each stage of the directions on a little slip of paper with a quote about relaxation on the back. And then I put each paper into a fortune cookie that I made myself. I made fortune cookies, people. It was pretty darn easy too; I highly recommend giving that recipe a try. They were tasty as well.

    The house we stayed in was just perfect. Lots of verandah space to look out over the view. We played cards and watched movies and cooked tons of food. I even took a swim in the saltwater pool yesterday… unheard of!

    On Saturday, we went up to Montville for lunch. We also had to look in all the cute shops, and we couldn’t go away without buying some fudge.

    Then we made a quick stopover at the Little Morgue Winery. It may not have met expectations from a decor standpoint, but the owner is such a delightful character. It was worth a visit just to meet him. We took home bottles of Eternal Flame, Rest in Peace, Supreme After Life, & Redomortis.

    Since we were in the area, I finally got to experience the legendary Big Pineapple. It seems everyone in Brisbane visited the Big Pineapple at some point in their youth. Sadly, it seems to be better left in hazy memory and faded photo albums, as today it is just a stinky (seriously smelled like urine), fiberglass pineapple with dusty displays of how the pineapple plantation works.

    We did get parfaits at the restaurant. (Even they didn’t stand up to Hans’s memory.) But I had a pineapple parfait, as I felt any other fruit just wouldn’t be appropriate. The pineapple was really nice, but I could have given or taken the rest.

    And now we’re home. The cat seems relieved. The chicken has doubled in size. The laundry is overflowing. And Erin is STILL with child. (Though one could argue that they’ll be “with child” for another 18ish years, but I meant that in the “overly pregnant” sort of way.) Now I’ve got some LOTRO to do.

    Posted in Exploring.

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  19. Food for Thought (& Food)

    I came back to my desk after lunch and found a present on my chair from my very sweet, very naughty husband. It is a sort of book/cookbook called Maggie’s Harvest by Maggie Beer. I had been admiring it a few weeks ago, because the book itself is just beautiful. The fabric cover, the teal and orange embroidery, the overall girth, the heirloom potential… it was so ME. (Make sure you look at this review with its gorgeous photos of the book.)

    One look at the price tag, however, and I had exactly one hundred and twenty-five reasons not to need it anymore. (The cover will just get dirty in a kitchen… who has room for a 736-page book these days… etc.)

    But now it’s mine, and I can’t wait to spend all day tomorrow out on the Adirondack thumbing through it with my baby chicken chirping at me. I’m excited, because she is an Australian cook, even though Australian food isn’t SO different from American food (despite the obvious kangaroo meat, general blandness, and bacon on everything). I’m interested on her take on food, because she writes about the ingredients and the recipes instead of just rattling off recipes.

    I don’t know. I’m into food these days. I even got an “ooo-la-la” in response to my white truffle popcorn we had for the Project Runway Finale Party.

    ** Look for Adirondack chairs and other outdoor furniture at Amazon.

    Posted in Cooking.

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  20. Cheep Cheep Cheep

    So my mother-in-law gave me a baby chicken. I’m not 100% sure I ever WANTED a baby chicken, but I now have one. (I think this is why the RSPCA doesn’t recommend giving animals as gifts… of course, you can’t eat a kitten if you decide you don’t want it after Christmas is over.)

    Her name is Pepper (or Pepertje), and she is an Australorp. And she is going to be big and black and is apparently going to be laying lots of eggs for me. (Again, I’m not sure I ever wanted to have an intimate knowledge of exactly where my eggs come from, but mother-in-law knows best.)

    I’ve never been much of a bird person for many of the same reasons that I’m not a moth or butterfly person. Not so much a fan of things flying at my face. But I have to admit I’ve fallen in love. I mean, how can you not love this face?


    Or this tookus?


    I’m now a faithful reader of backyardchickens.com, and I worry about her while I’m gone during the day. She’s my little chickie!

    ** Check out The Joy of Keeping Chickens: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Poultry for Fun or Profit at Amazon.

    Posted in Creative, Nothing in Particular, Photographing.

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  21. Australia Day Today

    I asked around about the significance of Australia Day, but no one could give me an answer without googling. It’s the anniversary of the first European settlement here, and I only knew that because I’m re-reading Bill Bryson’s Down Under. (I am finding it infinitely more hilarious now than when I first read it six years ago when it was called In a Sunburned Country
    (American Version). Any expats here who haven’t read it, really should. The first chapter is online.)

    As far as traditions, it seems to be all about the Aussie concept of the barbecue and also listening to Triple J’s Hottest 100, though there apparently are fireworks for those interested.

    So we’re going into the valley in a couple hours. Hans and the guys have a show… at 4:00 of all times… and then we’ll probably just make our way home, unless someone really tries to convince us to go to the free Josh Pyke concert.

    ** Celebrate Australia Day by watching Australia, available at Amazon.

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  22. Ants in My Pants

    Being in the house all day long over Christmas break, I had to face what I feared most. The ants don’t only come out on the weekends, and in fact, spend all day every day trekking through my house in search of a moth carcass or a lost crumb. It was when they started coming in through the BEDROOM window, going down the wall, under the bed, and out into the hallway that I really lost my shizz.

    Let me point out that I KNOW ants, okay? It’s not like Iowa or Michigan or Indiana or Tennessee were somehow ant-free zones, and this is a totally new experience for me. (Not like when I moved to Michigan and faced cockroaches for the first time in my life… I mean, eww!) I realize that ants are everywhere, but it is the sheer number of ants that we have here that is absolutely mind-boggling. It’s not even one KIND of ant… I can at any given moment stand outside and point out at least four different varieties traipsing around.

    (I was trying to find a link for you to show all the different kinds, but it was giving me the heebie-jeebies. Google it for yourself.)

    What was worse was that people trying to console me were just feeding me lies.

    LIE #1 – They’re harmless.

    If the only reason I notice that there are ants on the floor in the living room is because I’m sitting on the couch and have just got bitten in the sensitive area between my toes, then I’m sorry, but they’re NOT harmless.

    LIE #2 – At least they’re not dirty.
    What? Seriously? They’re bugs. I don’t care if they just took a bath. If they are carving their way through MY FOOD, they are DIRTY.

    LIE #3 – This is Queensland. There’s not much you can do about ants.
    Wrong-o. That’s why they invented exterminators.

    So after some tears and wailing that I could never open my home to another guest ever, we made a booking with Elders. (Super easy to do, book right online.)

    The guy came on Tuesday, and I am feeling much better about life.

    The Spider That Nearly Ate Me
    Interestingly, the same morning that the pest-control guy came was the same morning that I saw my first huntsman inside the house in ages. I couldn’t have just spotted it from afar. No, this one was hiding in the little jar of kitchen utensils I have on my kitchen counter. So when I picked up the tongs to get my chicken out of the oven, it came RUNNING UP MY ARM before I shook it off in mild convulsions. It ran under the dishwasher and was later found gasping for breath after the Elders guy sprayed under there. Sorry, buddy. MY house. Don’t forget it.

    And More on the Ants
    So Wednesday we were walking home from the train, eagerly looking forward to spending some time in the ant-free zone. We were walking through a semi-wooded area, when I felt the bite of a meat ant through my stocking. We made the mistake of stopping to try and remove it, not realizing a nest nearby must have been recently disrupted. Soon there were twenty or more on me and twice as many on Hans — all madly trying to gnaw through the leather of our shoes or the flesh on our bodies. It was absolutely disgusting, and once we had kicked them all off, it took all my strength to make it the rest of the way home without vomiting. A mistake that will not be made again soon, to be sure.

    ** For the only GOOD ant in this world, check out the Adam Ant store at Amazon.

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  23. Christmas Tags

    I got tagged by Tommy. He tags me now and then, and while I always have the best of intentions, I seem to be pretty slack about following through on the actually posting. Be sure to read his answers — but wait until after you’ve read mine, because he’s funnier than I am.

    1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
    2) Share Christmas facts about yourself.
    3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
    4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

    1. Wrapping or gift bags? Wrapping. I love making pretty packages. (I just remembered one year the college group from church was having a Christmas party, and everyone was meant to bring a white elephant gift that was less than $5 or something like that. I took great care in wrapping mine — a mixture of a couple of different natural papers, raffia and hemp ribbons, the works. It looked good and was the first one picked and was fought over. The final present stealer opened it only to find a can of spam. Loved it!)

    2. Real or artificial tree? I don’t even think that real trees are an option here. I have never seen them advertised. I think some people might have an evergreen in a pot (but really, aren’t all trees here “ever green”?) that they might bring inside. I have my baby bunya that I haven’t killed yet, but it’s not strong enough to hold decorations, so I put a few baubles around the base.


    But yeah, we also have the artificial tree, as seen here as I can’t be bothered to repost.

    3. When do you put up the tree? Tradition dictates the day after Thanksgiving, but neither of those days were holidays here. I didn’t really have myself organized or in the mood to do it that weekend. Might have been a smidge depressed about being half a world away from my family. I think we finally got the tree up on the 1st.

    4. When do you take the tree down? Whenever we can get up the energy to do so, but definitely before the end of January.

    5. Do you like eggnog? I can’t remember the last time I had eggnog. I feel like I remember my dad making it when I was a child, but I have no real recollection of the taste nor consistency.

    6. Favorite gift received as a child? My doll Amy

    7. Do you have a nativity scene? We don’t have any spare surface area at the moment. My mom still puts out the one that my sister made in Bible school ages ago. I think that’s cute.

    8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? It must have been the Christmas that I turned four. My grandparents gave me a set of firetrucks. Firetrucks! Granted my grandfather and dad are both firemen, but the reasoning was because they thought we needed some boyish toys in the house. A month and a bit later my brother came along. I blame him.

    9. Mail or email Christmas cards? Ugh. I think I’m going to do a New-Year’s letter instead. And it will most likely be emailed unless I pare my list down quite a bit with postage being $1.30/per for a card that people are going to throw away in a week anyway.

    Though I must say, we have gotten probably six or seven Christmas letters/pictures from friends and family this year — all from America. It’s just not something they do here.

    10. Favorite Christmas movie? Probably A Christmas Story. I’m going to miss TBS’s marathon. Oh, and I’ve never seen It’s a Wonderful Life nor Miracle on 34th Street, so maybe I just don’t know what the cinematic world has to offer in terms of Christmas movies.

    11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I did really well this year. We got my parents’ presents in Sydney last month. Everything was in the mail to America by the 5th, I think. I was finished with Hubby by the 8th.

    12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My mom’s peanut brittle.

    13. Clear lights or colored? Clear. (Except I got a string of snowflake-shaped lights that turned out to have blue lights in them… what the?)

    14. Favorite Christmas song? “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

    15. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Stay here… *sniff*

    16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Were there nine? If so, yes.

    17. Angel or star on the top of your tree? I had a leftover silver bow that ended up getting chucked up there. I think my homemade fascinator from Melbourne Cup Day has also made it to the tree.

    18. Open your presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas Eve. Christmas morning we’re opening my birthday presents.

    19. Most annoying thing about this time of year? That there is no amazon.com.au.

    20. What do you leave for Santa? Nothing. My parents never tried to perpetuate that myth.

    21. Least favorite holiday song? “Santa Baby”… eww, eww, eww.

    22. Do you decorate your tree with any specific theme or color? At the moment it’s purple, lime green, & silver.

    23. Favorite ornament? All of them. Hubby bought the tree and the baubles as part of my getting-engaged scavenger hunt. I had just returned from New Zealand and found the tree upstairs waiting for me… and later I found him in the park waiting for me with a ring.

    Tags
    As for tagging others… nobody ever does it… so if you want to do it, please leave me a comment so I can go read your answers!

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  24. Happy Horse Races

    It’s Melbourne Cup day. (Once again for the Americans, that’s basically the equivalent to the Kentucky Derby except that everybody seems to care.)

    So far today we’ve walked up the street for coffees since our machine here is broken. One of the girls and I stopped at the wedding stationary shop to pick up some sparkley thing to make our own $5 fascinators.

    We’re doing a bit of work at the moment. Well sorta.

    And then we’re going out for lunch and watching the race this afternoon. Good times.

    ** Look for your race-day fascinators at Amazon.

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  25. Lost in Translation: Lollypop Lady

    lollypop lady (loll ee pop lay de)
    n. a crossing guard
    “Wait for the lollypop lady to stop traffic and blow her whistle before you cross the road.”

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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