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Friday, June 26, 2009

Zippping along

Of COURSE we’re missing you all! This is a quick post before we head on out again to do more of THOSE ERRANDS (and liquidate ourselves of more $). I will post more photos soon, but for now (since the family is chomping at the bit with cabin fever) this will be necessarily brief! P1100486

You may wonder what this is. It was a touching farewell gift from a caring friend, who was concerned about the state of the (un)zipping mechanisms on my jeans! For those who are not in the know, not so long ago, I had trouble trying to extricate myself from my jeans in a moment of (great) need. A good friend who shall remain nameless, was a tower of emotional support as we scoured the restaurant (we were at) for suitable material in which to release me from my perilous situation…..forks, toothpicks, anything we could ferret away to the ladies’  washrooms was er, ferretted away. Unfortunately, there are very few things which can meet the need of a working zipper. Fortunately, the wire holding my camera SD card keyring fitted quite nicely…..thus extricating my release (in more ways than one). Since then, this story has been repeated with many embellishments, most of which are untrue (but provide good entertainment). And the keyring has remained on my favourite pair of jeans, for essential services. Till now. The Ozzie Adventure heralds a new day. And new mechanisms for coping!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First steps over The Ditch

So they let us in on The Other Side. Only just…


Arriving in Oz, some things which stand out in our minds so far, are:P1100620

- The ‘wintry’ conditions in the Sunshine State – blue skies, hot sun, early-mid 20degsC temps! OOoooh such hardship! It's tough, rough, bitter stuff - winters Down Under!!!
Sunblock in winter.....doesn't seem quite right!
By the way, we've noticed that the Spring Blossoms are already out....or maybe they never went away...?!

- Along the same lines – being dressed in T-shirt, shorts, and jandals, and seeing people all rugged up in their woolly scarves, and heavy overcoats! Crack up.P1100627

- Hot water tanks on the OUTSIDE of houses. Cf. Hot water cylinders inside houses (in NZ or Canada) so that the warmth of the hot water cylinder can be used in airing cupboards etc.P1100616

- Raucous crows! No gentle cockledoodledoos for us here! P1100666

- Strawberries, watermelon, and other delicious tropical fruit abundantly available in June (that surprising wintertime thing again!).P1100686

- Free left hand turns on the road (apparently, you can always tell who the kiwis are in Oz, cos they give way to those turning on their right! It’s all backwards to the Northern hemisphere of course...)P1100753

- Credit card facilities often with ‘sign only’ instead of a PIN. The 'cashless' society isn't as prevalent here as in NZ.P1100770

- “Gidday Mates!”- Lil L was obviously mulling over this greeting the other day. He asked his dad, “Dad, if you say ‘gidday mate’ for a guy, would you say ‘gidday WOmate’ for a girl?!!”P1100625

- Grocery trolleys/carts that have obviously been replaced since we lived here years ago, but which obviously have never had their steering problem addressed. These have to be the WORST shopping carts in the world. You can’t steer them in a straight line, and if you have a bit of a slope in the carpark, it makes for good upper bodybuilding and entertainment for everybody else.P1100765

- Lots of space everywhere – outside and in. Apartments are very generous in terns if size and space. P1100733

- Wonderful, wonderful parks everywhere. Lots of walkways, bikeways etc. The weather truly lends itself to a great outdoor lifestyle.P1100710

- Fluctuating petrol prices depending on petrol company and location - you gotta know the best places with the best prices!P1100590

- Great aircon in all the cars. A life essential.P1100707

- Big variety of ants – all of which BITE!P1100697

- A fascinating dichotomy of laidbackness vs bureaucratic rigidity.P1100597

- Amazing cellphone deals. P1100749

- Huge malls, great variety of shopping. Back to the familiar names of Myers, David Jones, Coles, Big W, Target....P1100593

- "The Sunshine State....beautiful one day, perfect the next"! No kidding!P1100768

There will be more, I’m sure! This is a good start though....

On a more personal front, we have been here just under a week, but it does feel longer than that. We have enjoyed walking K to and from work (5-10mins across the park) and are starting to revisit some familiar haunts. Still lots of admin to do – can’t sign up for lots of things till we get a more stable address, so that is somewhat of a priority.

The Ozzie adventure continues....P1100668

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Conversation

This was the site of a conversation I had just 20 minutes ago. The school dumpster (I'm sure that Down Under, you call it something else - a tip, maybe??).
I'm here on a Saturday, supposedly writing my report cards. Obviously, that's not happening at the moment... I heard some noise from outside my office window and spied a man lying face down on the dumpster, with his arm squeezed into the opening. He'd managed to root out a couple of juice boxes and some empty water bottles, and was searching for more. I watched for a little bit, feeling stricken. What does it take for a person to abandon his dignity and go searching through garbage, looking for bits that will bring him 5 or 10 cents? We have lots of homeless people in Vancouver, but I don't always see them in action right outside my window.
I went out to the door and asked if he'd had much luck. We chatted for a minute, and I gave him $5.00. I felt badly that he wasn't able to find much in our garbage. I'm so conflicted about what to do - to give money, or not? Guilt won over today.
He told me that he usually "pans" outside the 7Eleven (a convenience store chain). In his French Canadian accent, he said, "I normally ask the dudes for money, not the ladies. But I get more money that way from the ladies than I do from the dudes."
Good strategy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bye Bye Aotearoa



I apologise for the LONG, LONG silence. Would you forgive me, if I told you that life has been one long string of organised chaos for the past few weeks, with very little sleep? I really, really dislike having to move, and resist it unless it can’t be avoided. We have now left The Land of the Long White Cloud, and have just made the hop across the Tasman. Exhausted, but still kicking!


The last few weeks have been a blur. This post is dedicated to that blur. And to the people who kept us going – one foot in front of the other – ever onwards. I can’t thank enough our friends and family who walked the miles with us – farewells, connection times, kind deeds, generous words, a tonne of love and support.


Though this period of having to leave Kiwiland was incredibly heartwrenching, it was highlighted by the beautiful gifts of words, deeds, and things that we were blessed to receive. Here are just a few photos from our last few weeks in NZ, and the words of a wonderful farewell song written for us. THANK YOU for the special memories!


Once upon a time, there were the P’s –

Many years ago, there were just two,

With them we’ve always laughed away the hours

And dreamed of all the great things they would do...

Those were the days my friends,

We thought they’d never end –

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

They’d live the life we’d choose,

Our friends we’d never lose –

For we were young

And sure to have our way.


Then the busy years went rushing by us,

E and L joined the fray.

If by chance we’d see them in New Zealand,

We’d smile at one another and we’d say...

Those were the days my friends,

We thought they’d never end –

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

They’d live the life we’d choose,

Our friends we’d never lose –

For we were young

And sure to have our way.


Now tonight we gather with the P’s

Their future not the way it used to be.

We raise our glass and drink to their departure –

All the way across the Tasman sea...

Those were the days my friends,

We thought they’d never end –

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

They’d live the life we’d choose,

Our friends we’d never lose –

For we were young

And sure to have our way.


In this room, there is familiar laughter –

We see their faces, hear them call our name.

Oh, my friends we’re older, maybe wiser –

But in our hearts the dreams are just the same!

Those were the days my friends,

We thought they’d never end –

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

They’d live the life we’d choose,

Our friends we’d never lose –

For we were young

And sure to have our way.

Those were the days – oh yes, those were the days!


Photos from The Other Side of the Ditch tomorrow….or as soon as I can manage it!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bridging the Gap

It isn't every day that a new bridge opens.  Yesterday, there was a bridge party to celebrate the new crossing over the Fraser River.  Hooray!  Many, many people have waited a very long time for this event.  To mark the occasion, the bridge was opened on Sunday (yesterday) to anyone and everyone.  On foot!  
How many times have I wanted to call out, "Stop!" at the pinnacle of a bridge?  Just to get out and admire the view, or to look up, way up, and take a photo?  I can't count.  So I was excited to have this opportunity to stand in the middle and savour the moment.  Big Bear wasn't particularly excited, but he gamely went along and braved the crowds with me.

Oh, the crowds.  They streamed up the bridge from both sides, meeting in the middle.  The media reported on the event today, talking about the hordes of people, pushing, lost children, and even a woman in labour!  It really sounded like a miserable day.  But I know better.  It was so much fun!
Look who we ran into!  Actually, we saw a number of friends and acquaintances along the way.  These two were my favourites.
Yes, and Big Bear was there.

I like the details of the bridge, like the clean white cables (how long will they look this clean?), the flags, and the birds way up high.

And there was culture.  Lots of it!  At the top of the bridge, they'd set up a big stage with different bands playing throughout the day; this one was my favourite - the Asian guy in a kilt!  He played along with a multi-ethnic group, and they had very cool music.

I particularly enjoyed watching the people.  This is a familiar sight in many of the Fraser Valley communities - older Sikh men gathering to chew the fat.

I think that a blog is kind of like a bridge - we can come at it from both sides of the ocean and meet in the middle.  Hello from Canada!  

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Grad Night

Last night, we went to Little Joe's grad banquet.  It felt like we had just been there, but it's already been a year since Little Bear graduated!
The whole grad class was well turned-out.  It's fun to see these kids after having watched many of them since they were in kindergarten and grade one; amazing!

Little Joe invited his friend, Sweet Paris, to be his grad date.  Although she doesn't go to the same school, she is really outgoing and did very well.
Little Bear was appointed to get these two home on time (3am).  He hung out with some buddies from his own grad class, then went to the after-grad party to pick them up.  How nice it was to go to bed and NOT have to drive downtown in the middle of the night!
I'm pretty proud of this handsome young man!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fishy Bizness

I woke up this morning with my head in full throttle….vrrrroom vrrrooom….y’know how it is when there are 1001 things that need to be done RIGHT NOW. And all before the packers come to pack up our life here. I realised (slow of me, I know!) that there isn’t a lot of ‘breathing space’ between NOW and THEN. Don’t you find that these moments of profound discovery come at the most inconvenient times?! No more lingering sleep-in’s for me. Zip zip. With the husband drowning in paper at home, and E trying to cope with endless late night commitments and exams during the day, and L needing baking for the cake stall fundraiser, that steady stream of goodbyes and all that sort of STUFF….one of us needs to hang a little loose! The weekend seems so long ago now.


Our weekend away to Napier and Tauranga was lovely. Great to catch up with family and friends. Wonderful to connect, celebrate, commiserate, and create….all precious memories worth keeping. We were also thrilled that we were in warm houses, and not back at home in our freezing cold villa! This was the weekend ALL the temps in NZ dropped to sub-10 degs Celsius!! Not quite on par with the North American winter temperatures I realise, but nonetheless, quite a nasty shock for us native Down Underites! Winter has made its presence known very decisively and very early this year.

But before the storm set in, there was The Calm! And in that wonderful stillness, the boys went fishing with the cuzzies.


An unfortunate shark - notice the teeth marks on its side - evidence of a larger predator lurking beneath...

They had a huge haul of fish and the most pleasant of fishing experiences! The ocean was almost mirror calm, and the fish were biting….


E holding his Kahawai. Mossy found it amusing because E didn't like to touch the fish.

E had fun reeling in a Barracuda, and winning. It is no wonder that the Barracuda is often portrayed as The Bad Guy in cartoons and animations. They are ugly, vicious, and large. And their backward facing, razor sharp teeth, leave little room for escape if you are a victim. Not only that, but they aren’t great for eating once you catch them. You definitely wouldn’t want to have them as sashimi, since they are riddled with worms under their skin. Nasty, nasty, nasty.

La Barracuda. Note the fangs!

The boys were thrilled to see some snow on the road verges in the mountains. It may be their last snow for a long time, as there will certainly never be snow in the Sunshine State where we are heading!


And now this leaves me one last comment.

The Scurrilous Behaviour post engendered quite some email traffic. I am left with little doubt that we are in the dubious position of knowing some very mischievous / naughty / ill behaved / unrestrained ….. but lovely …… friends (of ill-spent youth!)!

I rest my case with the following part-quote received:

“….they merely stole your wallet? I was expecting it to be substituted with a Barbie pink plastic one, foil-wrapped embarrassments placed where they were bound to fall out at the till, or bank cards replaced with ontheBlink cards...”

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bits 'n' Pieces

Weekends are quite wonderful, especially when accompanied by warm weather, growing gardens, and quiet time.
Here are some tidbits from my weekend:

1.  I spent all day on Saturday in front of my computer, working on the school yearbook.  Even when we had company in the evening, I sat out on the deck and kept clicking away.  Anti-social?  Probably!

2.  Did you ever watch a flock of birds?  They all seem to know just where to go at the right moment.  So do teenagers!  We had a flock of them on our deck this afternoon.  After splashing in the pool for a while, they suddenly migrated to someone else's house (one with a trampoline).  And then, without any warning, they migrated back again.  You can see the stragglers coming down the street - one on a longboard and two having a swordfight with something long and boingy.  Flocks of birds usually have a few stragglers, too.
3.  Poppies are mostly finished and irises are in full bloom.  I like.

4.  Dinner tonight on the deck with company.  Cedar planked salmon, grilled zucchini and portobello mushrooms, and chilled white wine.  Wish you were here to share it.

5.  It's getting dark out and the weekend is over.  Where did it go to?  The warm weather is going to continue; it'll be roasting in my classroom oven!

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