Sunday, July 31, 2016

There is no outrage in this post.

These days, my social media websites are just page after page of outrage. Politics, racism, fear, hatred. It's kind of tiring. I'm tired of outrage and anger. I feel powerless against it. In fact, I've even stopped reading fiction if the primary emotion within the book is anger and outrage. I haven't made it through a popular recent sci-fi trilogy because the second book is anger-based. I get enough anger and outrage in real life. I can't take it anymore in my escapism. Love? Great. Humor? Beautiful. Sadness? Fine. Crippling depression and hopelessness? Wonderful. Just not anger. I'm tired of anger.

Today was the most beautiful warm winter day you could imagine. And The Boy downloaded Pokemon Go recently, and so he was the one to suggest a lovely long walk through the nearby parks. Tim and I let him direct the excursion. We got off the tram near a fountain and walked into the trees. We paused where he told us to pause, and walked where he told us to walk. Throughout, he kept close watch on his screen so he could catch Pokemon. And I took some lovely photos using my screen.

The players:
 Selfie with the "genie".
 Arts precinct.
 "Ok. Stop here for a minute."
 Edward VII. I think this may have been the one also known as "Scissor hands." Or maybe that was a different movie.
 "Stop here."
 Selfie with Miraggio.
 The outdoor music theater, in between shows.
 The trees in this city are gorgeous. I took about 70 tree photos. But I didn't upload them all. Did you know that in Melbourne you can write love letters to your favorite trees? The city has a website on which each urban tree has its own inbox. Love the trees.
 Did you know who invented the moment of silence? It was Edward George Honey, apparently. I didn't know that either.
 The sculpture honors friendship between Turkey and Australia, which is important because 100 years ago thousands of Australians died in Turkey in World War I.
 Daffodils in bloom.
 This is my selfie with Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller, distinguished botanist who founded the Botanic Gardens.
 But not all plants in the botanic gardens are friendly. There were a few signs posted letting us know that Death Cap mushrooms have been spotted. These mushrooms look benign, but they will creep up on you while you're sleeping and spray poisonous spores into your nose! I read poetry once about mushrooms inheriting the earth, and here we have it. There is fear in this post.
 Another gorgeous tree.
Oh, and one more.
Just one more.
And maybe another.
Last one, I promise.

Monday, July 25, 2016


It was a big round number birthday for Tim this year. All he wanted for his birthday was a trip to the Healesville Sanctuary. So I rented a car, and that's what we did.

And the visit totally lived up to all expectations.

The cassowary was out.

And the emu along with the galahs and the corellas. And only one of those was not actually a wild bird come to get a free snack.

A koala woke up and climbed its tree and jumped a couple of branches, before settling back down to sleep again.

A kangaroo consented to be patted gently on its back.

The gang gangs kept watch.

A wombat went out for a walk.

Three little Tassie devils growled at each other as they fought over raw eggs.

A pair of wild king parrots came to visit a pair of captive ones. Not all the king parrots in the picture are inside the cage.

The rainbow lorikeets were acting social.

And a female bower bird landed on Tim's arm to take a selfie.

And then tried to check out the snacks in his bag.

The regent parrots were friendly.

A lyre bird gave us a song and dance routine. The bird is a mimic. It copies the calls of other birds, very loudly.

And shows off its long, lovely tail.

I got my photo taken with a wedge tailed eagle. Kind of.

And a pair of wild rosellas stopped by.

On the way home, we stopped by the fancy bakery. 

Happy birthday, big guy.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thursday with the car

My aunt and uncle came to visit for a long weekend, arriving Thursday morning and leaving Monday. They were en route from the Philippines, where they had spent the last 18 months serving as church missionaries. I figured that in the spirit of celebrating their arrival from tropics to winter, we should all drive south to Philip Island to see the penguins climb up the beach in the cold.

So I booked a car for the Thursday they arrived. It was my first time using the car share program that I had signed up for soon after deciding to buy a car. I didn't buy a car. Tim talked me into trying car share first. But I haven't needed it yet. Until my aunt and uncle came to visit. The plan was to leave soon after they showed up from the airport, spend the afternoon checking out the harbor where we saw the large sting rays a couple of years ago, hike around the cliffs at the far end of the island, then watch the penguins at dusk. Which is just 5:00pm in the winter. Maybe grab fish and chips before the drive home. Doesn't that sound like a lovely winter afternoon to you?

But my aunt and uncle's plane was delayed. When we realized they wouldn't arrive for two more hours, Jonathan and I went out to try the car, and to pick up some groceries before they arrived. But for some reason, my card didn't unlock the doors on the car share car. I tried several times, then finally looked up the company phone number and called.

The lady at the end of the line tried to help me out. She was able to unlock the car remotely, and asked me to find a replacement card in the glove box. There was no replacement card in the glove box. She apologized, and directed me to a different car, parked not right outside my door, but on the other side of the park. Jonathan and I headed across the park.

Fifteen minutes later, I couldn't get into the new car either. My access card didn't work. This time, the kind lady speaking to me on the phone helped me find a replacement card, and 90 minutes after our reservation began, we were finally off to the grocery store around the corner. Finally!

Except the gas gauge showed low fuel. The previous driver was supposed to leave the tank at least a quarter full. It was about 1/8 full. So we stopped at a gas station first. The gas card provided, the one that we were supposed to use to pay for fuel, didn't work. I tried it twice. So I used my own card, saved the receipt to mail back later....

And then we were off! 

Only the traffic on Commercial Road was pretty much stuck, moving nowhere. So we were pretty much stuck. We inched along, wondering if we should try to turn back, but finally made it to the grocery store. Paid $1.50 for parking. Picked up groceries! Decided to get two extra toilet paper packages because we had a car! We wouldn't have to walk home with it. Somehow forgot in the mean time that we had been switched to the car on the opposite side of the 100 acre park. Woops. We did have to walk home.

Tim texted that the aunt and uncle had arrived. Where were we? Um, trying to drive home? [Edit: Jonathan received the text, not me, as I was driving.] A little while later, parked back on the side of the park, I texted Tim. Come now with the rolling grocery bag. We need help carrying things back.

And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, Tim appeared, with my aunt and uncle meandering along behind him. My aunt was dressed in a light skirt and sweater, my uncle in a regular suit. They looked cold.

So we abandoned the penguin idea. Instead, we took a tram to the city centre, to a charity shop there, and purchased warm jackets. And then it was dusk, and aunt and uncle confessed they were exhausted -- even though they weren't traveling from across an entire ocean, they had still booked the red-eye flight. Early night.

Friday morning, with a few hours left on my car share booking, we drove 30 minutes to a nearby park to see where the bats roost.

So we had a successful adventure with the car after all. Kind of.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


There was a major election yesterday in Australia. We aren't eligible to vote, because we aren't citizens. But for anyone who is eligible to vote, voting is compulsory. That means if you don't show up to vote, you are fined.

I saw a line of people waiting to vote earlier in the day, but otherwise being ineligible to vote made me pay less attention. There have been flyers at train stations, and large political ads. I received an automated phone call recently asking me to participate in a poll, but I wasn't eligible. So not really paying attention.

However, yesterday evening and this morning my news is filled with election news. The Liberal party, which is very conservative here, was in control, but the Labor party, which is more liberal, may have won some seats. And the papers are reporting that there may be a possible hung parliament or bare coalition majority. And since I didn't know what any of that meant, I asked Tim, who looked it up. He recommended reading the materials for the Australian citizenship test. Here's what I read.

Australia, it turns out, is a Constitutional Monarchy. You already knew that. The Queen of Australia, who is the queen of England, is the monarch part of that. She is head of state. And since she lives in a different country, she appoints a Governor General to act for her in Australia. The Governor General's job is to signs laws and regulations -- to give "Royal Assent" -- and to take care of "ceremonial duties." Probably things like holding afternoon tea during important cricket matches. And each of the seven states of Australia also has their own Governor, who can also give Royal Assent, I guess, and give the stamp of queen's approval to state business. And shows up to appropriate fancy dinners. The Governor General is part of the executive branch of government, along with ministers appointed by the Prime Minister.

The legislative branch of government, which actually makes the laws, is Parliament, and includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. And these are the ones elected democratically. After an election, they count up the number of elected MPs (Members of Parliament) in the House of Representatives, and the political party with the most members becomes the Australian Government! (With leading capital letters.) The leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister.
 So that's why a hung parliament is a big deal. Who will be Prime Minister? And who will form the Australian Government? Or the Opposition, which is the party with the next most members.

I know you are on the edges of your seats with anticipation. I certainly am, now that I know what the newspapers are talking about. Kind of.

If we're here in four more years when we're eligible for citizenship, I promise to become more informed. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see what effects an election will have.

Saturday, July 2, 2016


I've mentioned before that I let Jonathan decide, a little over a year ago, what physical activity he was going to try. Because balance, people. Balance. He needed something physical in his life. If he hadn't made a choice, I threatened to put him into swimming lessons. In January.

He chose ice skating. He started in basic lessons a year and a half ago. And he's kept it up, even after three moves and two countries. And he's getting good, I do think. He is.

This year, for the winter school holidays, which run from the end of June through the beginning of July, the local ice skating arena decided to have a Nutcracker theme, and put on a Nutcracker-on-ice show three times a day, every day. They invited the kids from their top skating classes to be in the performance.

At about the last minute, Jonathan told me that he thought it sounded kind of fun. So I contacted the woman in charge, signed him up, and he was in. 

I'm so glad he has participated. It's been a lot of work -- he spent several hours rehearsing, basically giving up weekends before school ended. And since school let out, he's been spending about five hours every day at the arena to do the performances. He's gotten to know a few of the other kids, though, which is really great. And he's done a really good job.

Tim and I watched the performance twice today, and we are prodigiously proud of our old-fashioned-gent:

 And also our mouse minion:

He jumps. He spins.

And now he even knows the names of some of the other jumpers and spinners.

So awesome.