Friday, February 26, 2010

Head on over to...

Hey, here's the link to the new blog, set in the wilds of Winnipeg
WiebeRoberts... back in the 'Peg

Monday, January 25, 2010

Australia Day

In commemoration... and one of my last posts before I send the address for the new one... It's Australia Day on Tuesday, their day of national pride, when everyone hits the barby and has a great time with their friends. We found many of these items to be true, especially the ubiquitous sausage sizzle.

Facts about Orstralia!

1. The bigger the hat, the smaller the farm.

2. The shorter the nickname, the more they like you.

3. Whether it's the opening of Parliament, or the launch of a new art gallery, there is no Australian event that cannot be improved by a sausage sizzle.

4. If the guy next to you is swearing like a wharfie he's probably a media billionaire. Or, on the other hand, he could be a wharfie.

5. There is no food that cannot be improved by the application of tomato sauce (theoretically speaking). (tomato sauce = ketchup)

6. On the beach, all Australians hide their keys and wallets by placing them inside their sandshoes. No thief has ever worked this out.

7. Industrial design knows of no article more useful than the chep pallet.

8. All our best heroes are losers.

9. The alpha male in any group is he who takes the barbecue tongs from the hands of the host and blithely begins turning the snags.

10. It's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to hold.

11. A thong is not a piece of scanty swimwear, as is the case in the U.S.A., but a fine example of Australian footwear. Therefore, a group of sheilas wearing black rubber thongs may not be as exciting as you had first hoped.

12. It is proper to refer to your best friend as "a total bastard". By contrast, your worst enemy is "a bit of a bastard".

13. Historians believe the widespread use of the word "mate" can be traced to the harsh conditions on the Australian frontier in the late 1800s, and the development of a code of mutual aid, or "mateship". Alternatively, Australians may just be really hopeless with names.

14. The wise man chooses a partner who is attractive not only to himself, but also to the mosquitoes.

15. If it can't be fixed with pantyhose and fencing wire, then it's not worth fixing.

16. The most popular and widely praised family in any street is the one that has the swimming pool.

17. It's considered better to be 'down on your luck' than 'up yourself'.

18. The phrase "we've got a great lifestyle" means everyone in the family drinks too much.

19. If invited to a party, you should take cheap red wine and then spend all night drinking the host's beer. (Don't worry, he will have catered for it).

20. If there's any sort of free event, or party, within a hundred kilometres, you'd be a mug not to go.

21. The phrase "a simple picnic" is not known. You should take everything you own. If you don't need to make three trips back to the car, then you're not trying. (Yes, again I agree highly! I miss those picnics, everywhere, any time. There's always a bbq with free gas, available to the people passing by.)

22. Unless of ethnic origin, you are not permitted to sit down in your front yard, or on your front verandah. Pottering about, gardening or leaning on the fence are acceptable. Just don't sit. That's what backyards are for.

23. The tarred road always ends just after the house of the local mayor.

24. On picnics, the esky is always too small, creating a food-versus-alcohol battle that can only ever be resolved by leaving the salad or bread rolls at home. (The esky is the cooler...)

25. When on a country holiday, the neon sign advertising the motel's pool will always be slightly larger than the pool itself.

26. The men are tough, but the women can be tougher.

27. The chief test of personal strength is one's ability to install a beach umbrella in high winds.

28. Australians love new technology. Years after their introduction, most conversations on mobile phones are principally about the fact that the call is "being made on my mobile". (And Cdn. friends, you can easily do pre-paid without signing your first born away.)

29. There comes a time in every Australian's life when he/she realises that the Aerogard is worse than the flies.

30. And, finally, don't let the tourist books fool you. No-one EVER says "cobber" to anyone ... EVER!

But they do say "Good day mate", and "How're you going?", and use the word "bugger" blithely in the school yard without repercussion. We wish to celebrate our Orstralian friends on their day! Thanks to Cecilia Littlewood of S.A. for this set of Aussie facts...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Prorogue from the Perogy Capital

I just got a link to Rick Mercer's rant of the day, and it's a good one, so I'm adding it to my blog for your erudite attention. The other night Peter Mansbridge (CBC's The National) interviewed the PM, the Honourable, etc., etc., Stephen Harper. Effectively, the PM spoke out of both sides of his mouth.

From one side, we are no longer in an economic crisis situation -- good news! focus on that you great unwashed people! look at me, speaking calmly and looking right at the interviewer! the crisis appears to be over!

From the other side -- we are still quite concerned about the situation in Canada so we must not spend unnecessarily on an election right now. We need to watch the way we are spending our (your!) money. It's important to focus on that reality, instead of continuing democracy the way it's supposed to be. Feel the control creeping in .. I have decided that YOU don't need an election right now, so we will just shut things down for a bit and let you enjoy the upcoming Olympics.

Then it turns out Cabinet Ministers are not to waste their time on interviews with media (according to The Current, this morning). That's not what they are elected to do. They are to sit in the House and respond to Opposition questions. That's what democracy has created for us. The media are just distorting the facts.

OK, now parliament has just been cancelled for a while. Prorogue is just a fancy name for "cancelled". The elected representatives, including Ministers, are not there to respond to Opposition questions. I guess we'll have to rely on the unelected media to ask some probing questions. And we'll have to have a few perogies to celebrate our return to Winnipeg (it was hard to find perogies in Aus., other than making them ourselves, and somehow I never got around to it).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Baby, It's cold out here...

Well, as we anticipated, it's cold, damn cold. Really, how do you figure out how to "handle" the cold? It seems as if our bodies or brains, or our primal memory just deleted the experience. All moisture is sucked out of the air. The humidifier is going, and I must find a filter for the other one for upstairs. Windchill warnings. It's something, I must say.

We're starting to settle in, but I haven't felt like I've found my niche this week. We flew out of Melbourne a few hours before all the hooha started over the NW Airlines issue. Melbourne to Auckland we could still follow the flight via the flight tracker. I like that device -- it tells you how fast and far you've flown. The Auckland to Vancouver flight was 12.5 hours, and went very well, other than the fact that I couldn't follow our progress. There were long line-ups for additional security for all the flights heading to the U.S., but the Vancouver flight was exempt. Air NZ is exemplary with its service, friendliness, and a vast array of movies to watch to while away the hours. Tom saw District 9, plus more. I watched The Vintner's Luck and another Kiwi movie, the title of which escapes me. Nicole watched Secondhand Wedding, a Kiwi movie we clicked into when we arrived in NZ last year. Kai and Gabe watched a variety of Up, Monsters vs. Aliens, bringing them up to speed. We did find movie going in Aus very expensive, so are now looking forward to some catching up!

Joe, Allison and Jakob met up with us at the Vancouver Airport, after very little sleep on our parts. That's one thing I (and apparently my offspring) find difficult to do on planes -- sleep. Oh well. I managed to doze off for a few hours, Tom did get a bit of sleep, but the kids had very little.

We will continue to settle in. Tom starts back to Dakota Collegiate on Monday. The kids will check our their new schools (true to form Winnipeg School Division can't accommodate what we/they requested for the Jan to June school session), and I'm back on Tuesday. I'm sure that will be a bit of a shocker, all around. I want to keep writing, just haven't figured out a good seque to my next round... Something will spring up!

We know we're back in Canada -- Stephen Harper continues his dance with democracy by once again proroguing the current session of government. Something about making everything look good for the Olympics. Or something about control. The guy's a control freak, that's for sure. Makes me yearn for Tony Abbott's shenanigans, but I can't live in the past! Sleep is still coming and going, for me at least. Each kid has had a little blast with the "gastro", as they aptly call it in Aus. Tom's had one too. The drains to the street backed up -- the plumber was called in, and for a mere $95, suggested we call Winnipeg Sewer and Drain. That guy hauled out a garbage bag of tree roots, and now everything is flowing again. After all, we only lived in this house for 4 months, so now we are going to get to know it and the new neighbourhood. I do miss ABC's Radio National. The stuff I'm tuning into on CBC seems hollow, without substance. Will have to investigate some satellite radio or internet radio options and wireless set-up in our house. Moving ahead, I guess.

Happy New Year to you all. We plan to celebrate a Canadian Christmas on Ukrainian Christmas, so we'll get our turkey! I've still got pics to upload, and will let you know how I will continue.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Gabriel and Kai

The dudes (now known as blokes) are 11. We celebrated their special day in Apollo Bay, on the south coast of the state of Victoria. The plan was to have an evening picnic on the beach, but the flies were so wicked we couldn't take it, and had our meal and celebration on the top deck of the Apollo Bay YHA. We had a bd party here in FC earlier in December, with friends from school. Introduced the Aussie friends to mud cake, complete with worms (snakes) and this year's innovation, chocolate chips to be crunchy like gravel. Some kids enjoyed it, some were a bit taken aback. (Kai with wombat; Gabe with kookaburra.)

Their birthday falls on "the darkest day of the year" in the northern hemisphere... here it's the summer solstice, and the sun came out in her full glory on the 21st. We walked along the Barwon River to the falls, opened gifts at a picnic spot along the road, and returned to the beach for some boogey boarding and swimming in the 18C water. That was a bit of a gasp, but we did it!

The challenges and accomplishments of this last year are numerous. Both are accomplished packers and stowers-away of a variety of objects. Kai holds a special record for actually trying to bring a pair of scissors through airport security (they found them right at the Winnipeg airport) -- I mean, you never know when you need a pair of scissors? -- and then his jack knife in his backpack on our trip to Brisbane. They didn't see it at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport, but they did catch it in Brisbane, but let us mail it back to Ferny Creek! Gabe's special gift was for disconcerting the Sex Ed instructor at FCPS, after her pronouncements that people should be treated for who they are regardless of hair, skin, facial features, piercings, etc. "Yes, little girl?" "I'm a boy"... Infamy for both guys.

There were challenges as well and both boys learned to meet new people with aplomb. Each guy tackled the speech requirements of the first term of school in their own way. It's a gift to be able to present information in front of an audience, and the sooner people start, the easier it will be. Kai won for delivering the best speech for his year at the presentation evening. Gabe has become adept at creating short videos and animation.

They leapt onto surfboards and have learned some great physical skills with cross-country running, using flying foxes, ice blocking (sliding down a grassy slope on a block of ice), Billy Cart racing, biking up and down some steep (45 degree angles) slopes, walked around Uluru, touched the Opera House, flew in an ultra light plane, have learned to identify a variety of Australian wildlife (Gabe was stalked by a hungry kangaroo). They keep us amused with their burgeoning humour skills, and how they have embraced the challenges of living away from their home turfs for one year.

They brought light into the lives of the people they met and we wish them strength and agility, both physical and emotional, as we return to Winnipeg.

Friday, December 11, 2009

On the Departure Pathway

Just to let you know we are now in our final two weeks in Australia. There's still a lot to do -- the car is still being repaired (the panel beaters will be finished on Monday), there's cleaning and sorting to do, the kids still have another week of school (mostly partying at this point!), I've still got a few blog items to post (although I think I'm going to keep it up when we get back -- I'm loving the experience), and we want to visit Apollo Bay for a few days of RxR before we fly out on the morning of the 27th (given the trickery of the International Date Line, we "gain" a day as we come back). We have the boys' birthday to celebrate on the 21st, and the kids have a few more visits with friends. If you are sending cards or letters, perhaps send them to Winnipeg, as it takes up to 2 weeks to get here from Canada. For anyone in Vancouver, we'll be at the airport for about 5 hrs on the afternoon of Dec. 27 -- I'm sure you will see us at our best, but if you want to drop by, we'd love to see you! Let me know and I'll watch for you. Our flight from Auckland is scheduled to arrive at 12:45 p.m., and once we clear Customs and haul our equipaje (I love that spanish word) down to AC, we're free to see people and hug and kiss you!

Tom is finished today, much to his relief. The pots he fired in the kiln at Robert Barron's are quite gorgeous -- some are spectacular, some are just plain lovely! A bit of salt got thrown at a few mugs and the results were a bit drippier than he would normally like, but I'm realizing with this wood firing/salting experience, you take what you get. The owner of the kiln had a few disasters when a shelf broke. So you never know the complete picture until it's done. Now he's got a bit of time to chill, visit the Ian Potter Centre again, hang out, and finish packing and sorting.