Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 83

I didn't get the job at the Hewitt Cattle Company, so I'm a bit bummed at that.  It seemed like a really great job, working in the office of a family owned ranch....but I guess it wasn't meant to be.  Rachel called last night, just as I was getting back from walking the dogs.  She wanted to know if I was going to be at Jacob's 18th birthday party this afternoon.  I hadn't realized I was invited, and she thought I knew I was because Les was to have told me.  She had showed me the invitation in passing but I don't remember being told I should go and since his Birthday was on the 16th I had assumed the party had already passed anyway.  I suppose I should probably go, I have nothing better to do, but I barely know Jacob and certainly don't know any of his friends.  It's so completely out of my comfort zone, but how bad can it be right?

Well, I'm thinking about writing a post on Australian foods, but I haven't gotten up the courage to try Vegemite yet, so maybe I should try that first... The other Aussie foods I've tried I have really enjoyed, but nothing's more Australian than Vegemite.

Here's some Aussie news if you'd care to watch.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

An Invitation to Tea

I got a call Wednesday evening from Liz (a woman I met at church) asking if I was free for evening tea on Thursday.  Apparently even native Australian's call meal times "tea".  So last night after walking and feeding the dogs I set out for her house.  The directions seemed simple enough, but since I didn't have her phone number to call her if I got lost I was a bit nervous.  I made all the turns and was on her street when I realized, they apparently don't think much of properly labeling their house numbers around here.  It was dark and I couldn't find a single house number anywhere!  I knew she was #7, but without knowing any other numbers that wasn't doing me any good.  I finally managed to find #10 so I was able to figure out which one was 7 (not before turning into the driveway I thought was for house 7 only to realize it wasn't).  I don't think I'd met her husband at church (at least not that I remember) and she didn't introduce him to me, so I'm still not honestly sure.  Regardless, we had a lovely meal.  He is a teacher in the Math & Science department at a local public school and she helps various teachers at another public school as a teacher's aide, so we talked a lot about education.  They have 3 children, one of which is currently working in Massachusetts for the American branch of an Australian company who designs air conditioning systems for high-rise buildings.  Luckily for him he makes Australian wages and gets Australian vacation time!!

When I arrived back home, I realized to my dismay that I'd forgotten to lock the garbage can in the bathroom before I left.  They had warned me that this was something I'd need to do before leaving, but I think I've only done it once because I usually lock the dogs outside and it didn't cross my mind.  Thankfully, I'd just emptied the garbage that morning, so there wasn't much in there and nothing really messy.  Lots of plastic wrappers ripped to shreds and scattered throughout the living room and the hall, but at least there was no mess on the carpet.  Hopefully I can learn from that mistake and remember in the future.  Oh, and did I mention that one of their goldfish died?  Thankfully when I emailed them about it they weren't upset.
 They told me that fish die all the time and the vet had told them that they would die when they're ready.  Yep, they have taken their goldfish to the vet.  To each his own I suppose.  Thankfully, the remaining ones look pretty healthy, so I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed.  Well, I'm off to the library and to get some groceries - have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Netball 101

I'm about to impart all my netball wisdom, yes all of it.  Jo (daughter-in-law) texted me and asked if I'd like to go watch a netball game.  She plays in a local league with some friends and since I'd never really heard of netball, let alone seen a game, I figured I might as well give it a go.  I was given some background to the game and some things I picked up while watching the game.  So, here you go.
Not my photo, I found it online
It's like basketball, except there's no backboard, you're not allowed to dribble, when you get the ball you have to stop.... nevermind.  It's not really like basketball at all.  There were 11 people on Jo's team, but you can only have 7 on the court at a time.  As I said, you're not allowed to dribble the ball and the ball looks a lot like a volleyball to me.  When someone passes you the ball you have to stop and then throw the ball to someone else.  You're only allowed to take one step after you've stopped and you can't put both feet on the ground once you take that step, so you're a bit off-balance with one foot off the ground. If you're guarding someone who doesn't have the ball and someone passes them the ball you have to back up and give them 3 feet of space.  Since there's no backboard and you have to give the person with the ball three feet of space, the shooting, as you can imagine, is very different from basketball.  When they get near the net with the ball everyone just stops and the shooter has lots of time to get it in the net.  Jo's team did win despite some biased refereeing (at least that's what I'm told).  It's an interesting game and is much more popular among girls than basketball.  There is boys netball, but it's not as popular and I'm also told that the U.S. has a netball team in the Olympics, not sure where we find our players though.  Does anyone know of somewhere in the U.S. where netball is played?

Rainy days

The weather is now back to cold and rainy.  I was thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures of last week, but I know they need all the rain they get here in SA.  Most of yesterday (and today) were spent working on my speech and powerpoint presentation for the Rotary meeting.  It's coming along pretty well, I think.  Hopefully I can somehow keep it short, but make it flow from topic to topic and make it interesting.  Right now it feels a bit choppy, gotta work on my topic transitions. Anyway, I had a few apples that I thought were going to go bad soon, so I decided I'd try to make some sort of apple crisp.  I didn't have a recipe, but I knew what basically goes into an apple crisp, and figured it couldn't turn out too horribly wrong.  I was right, it didn't turn out horribly wrong, but it also didn't turn out like an apple crisp either.  Not sure if it was the lack of real butter, the type of muesli/oatmeal I used, or not enough apples. Since it's so dry I'm going to assume it was the apple to oatmeal ratio.
It turned out more like a granola (the muesli I used had dried raisins and apricots) with half-dried apples added, but as you can see I still think it tastes great.  There are worse things I could snack on, right? Well, Jo has invited me to go watch a Netball game tonight, so you can all look forward to that post tomorrow.  It's apparently a version of basketball (girls don't play basketball here girls basketball isn't as popular).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Guest Speaker?

I was really hoping that I'd manage to fulfill this house sit without getting asked to speak at a Rotary meeting, but alas, that wasn't meant to be.  Bev emailed me and asked if I'd be the guest speaker at the meeting next week.  I so wanted to say no, but I didn't really think that would be an acceptable response.  Thankfully it only has to be about 15-20 minutes, but there's no topic or anything to guide me.  I have no idea what I'm supposed to speak to all these people about.  When I asked her what I should speak on she replied:
We have had guests speak about their overseas journeys.  You could speak about how you helped your friends build their home and then when you went back to help them run their book/coffee shop you ended up teaching English.  It sounds like you have done quite a bit of traveling and not to your everyday places.
It's one thing to speak to people you already know about trips you take, but I'm not sure how to make my travels interesting to a bunch of middle-aged, Australian business people.  **Any hints or ideas on this are welcome to be given in the comments section** So, I guess that will be my first priority for the next week - trying to write a speech.

Well, I guess that was the biggest news of the day.  After skyping with my little brother (and other various people who stopped in while we were chatting) for an hour, I ended up cleaning.  I planned on just cleaning some cobwebs and mopping the kitchen floor, but, as many of you know, once I start cleaning I sometimes have trouble stopping.  I ended up cleaning the bathroom and the spa room too.  Then I went outside and scrubbed all the water buckets for the dogs and the birds, which then lead to doing some more weeding.
I did find some job postings for a resort on Hamilton Island, so I applied for 3 different positions in the hopes that they'll at least consider me for one of them.  Not excited to be back on the job search wagon... Oh well, I guess that's all I've got to share for today.

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." ---John F. Kennedy


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Traveling Solo

The introvert in me was worn out this morning.  As I was walking into church it struck me that I really wasn't in the mood to give my "story" again.  When I'm constantly meeting new people it can get a bit tiring to always have to do the talking.  That's the trouble with traveling alone among non-travelers.  When you stay in hostels everyone is a traveler so the conversations are bit more 2-way.  Here in Gawler, I'm obviously the visitor, so everyone asks you lots of questions (but they're usually the same questions everyone else asks).  Sometimes it's just nice to be known.  I do enjoy learning new and unique facts about life in Australia, when I'm able to talk with someone long enough to get past the usual questions that is.  At church I meet several new people a week but I only usually talk with them for 2 or 3 minutes so I rarely make it to that point. Pastor Jeff & Wendy invited me to go to lunch with them and their daughter and 2 grandkids after church so that was nice.  While waiting for them after church I had to keep introducing myself to people so I wouldn't be stuck sitting by myself.  I'm perfectly content to sit by myself, but figured I should make an effort to meet people.  After chatting with a lovely woman named Liz she asked for my phone number so she could have me over sometime, she lives a few streets away from where I'm staying, so that was really sweet of her.  I guess my attempt at being an extrovert paid off in that sense.  In talking with different people today I was struck again by how well traveled Australian's seem to be.  I feel as if 85% of the people I meet have been to the US, or have a relative who lived in the US or married an American.  I don't think I've ever met an Australian before I came here - although with my memory it's possible I simply forgot.  Plus, since they have tons of UK immigrants many of them go to Europe a lot as well.

A Drive Through the Barossa

An early morning on Saturday... I found out there was a Barossa Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings and figured I might as well go, I had nothing better to do.  There was a possibility we wouldn't have water most of the day so I got up and walked the dogs early so that I could be back and get ready for the day before they shut off the water.  That's beside the point, it was a gorgeous day, perfect for driving through the Barossa Valley and all its vineyards.
The Barossa is a major (and oldest) wine-producing region in Australia.  I started off with the Farmer's Market and it was honestly a minor miracle that I found it.  I have a GPS, but for whatever reason they don't seem to like to use actual addresses in the Barossa Valley.  I looked it up online and even used google maps to try and figure out an address nearby that I could use to get me there.  Every address I tried to put into the GPS wasn't valid (even though it was valid on Google maps), so I picked a crossroads and hoped for the best.  The GPS told me I'd reached my destination but I didn't see any signs for a farmer's market so I kept driving and did end up stumbling up on it (score one for the directionally challenged).  It was a very busy and very interesting market.  As per usual there were lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, but there were also stalls selling breads, nuts, olive oil, wine (of course), jams, jellies, curry paste, meat, seafood, chocolate, honey, fudge, pasta, it was quite astounding.
Did I mention the market really isn't that big?  As they say, variety is the spice of life.  I bought some salad mix, cucumber, and some strawberries. After consulting my map I decided I'd head to Angaston and then work my way west and then back south to Gawler. Angaston was a nice little town, this was one of my favorite little gems I stumbled upon.
I also found this old church that was turned into an antique shop - there were tons of neat, old things in there. From Angaston I decided to head to Luhrs Cottage in Light Pass.  The cottage is a restored and authentically furnished German cottage built in 1845.
 Much like Western PA, there is a lot of German heritage in this area of Australia.  After the cottage I headed to Maggie Beer's Farm and Shop in Nuriootpa.  Maggie Beer is a famous Australian cook, food author, restaurateur and food manufacturer. *Later in the day while flipping through channels I saw her as a judge on some cooking show.
Tons of farm products for sale - you could sample some of the items and even have a lovely lunch there as well.  I did sample some of the quince jelly and it was quite tasty.  Moving right along, I decided since it was such a lovely day it was perfect for driving down Seppeltsfield Road (or Palm Avenue).
 Someone told me that the Seppelt family paid workers during the Great Depression to plant the palm trees, but I can’t find any “proof” of such a story, so who knows.  They have a lovely family mausoleum up on a hill with a great view of what was once their property.
 I think the original winery is once again (at least half owned) by a Seppelt, but I could have my facts mixed up.  I wasn't sure what else there was to see in the area so I decided to head down through Tanunda and see if there was anything interesting to see there.  Maybe I was in the wrong spot, but I didn't really notice anything of real interest and the strawberries from the farm market weren't working all that well at keeping my stomach from grumbling, so I decided I'd head back home for a late lunch.  It was a lovely morning tour and I'll have to do some more research and see what I might have missed.  I know there's an old chateau somewhere around here that I want to visit, so maybe I'll do that this coming week.  Well, that was my driving tour through the Barossa.  Hope you all enjoyed the ride!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Possum Party

There was a possum party here last night, and I'm a bit miffed I didn't get an invitation!  The room I'm in is an addition to the house, so my room has a flat, tin-like roof; whereas the rest of the house has a steep roof and isn't conducive to a possum party.  The first night I spent here the possums visited and it was rather noisy, I could hear them scrambling around on top of the roof and it sounded like they were right on top of me.  Last night, from what I can tell a fight broke out.  Isn't that what usually happens at these types of parties?  The hissing and screeching was incredibly loud, and unfortunately, lasted most of the night.  So instead of Jordan's barking keeping me awake it was the possums.... So either the possums blocked out the noise of her barking or she finally kept quiet.  I couldn't make this stuff up.

Well, it was a pretty lazy day here.  I tried to take a nap, but that didn't work very well.  I did go into town to visit the Gawler Information Center.  The woman wasn't all that helpful, all she did was hand me a ton of different brochures.  She was really nice, but I guess brochures wasn't what I had in mind in terms of what to do around town.  So, now I've got a stack of reading material to wade through in hopes I can find some things to do.  I did get an Aussie/Aborigine move called Bran Nue Dae from the library and it was a funny little musical.  I think I might go to a farmers market and then stop at some other sites on the drive back.  They're working on the water pipes on our road tomorrow too, so with no water I might as well go somewhere.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Petsitting Adventures

Watching Pancho & Jordan during the day is no problem.  I take them on a walk in the morning and then again at night before dinner.  They behave pretty well between 6:30am and 9pm.  But for whatever reason, Jordan seems to think night time is the time to bark.  By 11:30pm every night I have to lock them both in the house so that at least they're (hopefully) not keeping the neighbors awake.  I've had tons of advice from friends on FB, so that's appreciated. Thankfully she's been getting better each night (or maybe I'm getting more tired so I'm sleeping through the noise) so I'm hoping tonight is a good night. 

I headed into town this morning to wander around a bit.  They call the Salvation Army "Salvo's" here, the sign above the store actually says Salvo. I ended up getting a DVD and a book from the library and then headed back to the house.  After changing the kitty litter and watering some of Les' flowers I decided it was too nice an afternoon to go back inside.  So, I decided I'd go ahead and do some weeding of her flower beds.
 Thankfully these weeds (they're everywhere) are super easy to pull. I'm starting to realize there's a good chance I could be bored rather quickly.  Other than reading and watching TV or movies, I'm not sure what else there is to do.  I'm hoping someone at church on Sunday can suggest some things, or maybe knows of a place I could volunteer for a few hours a day or a week.  I did get a text from Lesley asking how things were going and letting me know they missed me.  She said she has an Italian couple coming next week and they love to cook, so hopefully that works out for her.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Oh What A Night

My expectations of my first night started out about how I expected them to be.  I fed the dogs as soon as Dick & Les left and then reheated some leftovers for dinner.  I knew that I would probably have a bit of trouble getting Polly, the cat, into the bedroom when I was ready for bed.  Thankfully, I was able to get her lured into the room after about 20 minutes or so of trying.  I think it helped that I hadn't fed her dinner when I fed the dogs, so she was a bit hungry and eventually realized the food was in the room.  The trick of course was to keep the dogs from going into the room first and eating it all.  I guess I should explain that the only reason I have to lock Polly into the bedroom is because she's recovering from surgery on her leg and isn't allowed outside.  So, in order for the dogs to be able to use the doggy door (in the laundry room) she has to be locked in so I can leave the laundry room door open all night.  For whatever reason Jordan decided she didn't feel like sleeping inside for the night.  Around 2am I woke up because I heard a dog barking.  That was unusual, they're usual asleep on Dick & Les' bed, so I got up to check on them.  She wouldn't stop barking so I made them come inside and closed the laundry room door so that if they kept barking at least they'd be less likely to keep the neighbors awake.  No such luck, she kept barking and around 4am it sounded like she was back outside barking!  I got up again and sure enough, they were both back outside.  I must not have shut the door tight enough.  She did bark a few more times after I brought them back inside, but thankfully I did finally get a few hours sleep.  There had better not be a repeat performance tonight, but considering they've both been sleeping most of the day I have a feeling there could be one.

After having a lovely chat with my sister while taking the dogs for their morning walk I had some breakfast and started cleaning.  I'd been itching to clean this house since I arrived on Tuesday.  I know I'm a bit of a neat freak, and I'm not saying they're unclean people, but Les was having a lot of arthritis trouble and could barely use her hands most days for the last few weeks, so cleaning had fallen a bit by the wayside.  With two dogs and a cat inside it was definitely not up to my standards.  Thankfully Les told me before she left that I could clean to my hearts content.  Now the kitchen cupboards have been wiped down, the floors all swept and vacuumed, and the bathroom 98% hair free.  Sadly, her vacuum didn't exactly measure up to my expectations after using Lesley's awesome, new Dyson....
But a little known side benefit of such an old vacuum is how heavy it is to push.  Who knew vacuuming could be such a good workout?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Gawler Happenings

Apathy.  Such a dirty little word, but at the moment that's a bit how I feel towards blogging.  Sometimes the creative juices are flowing and I can type out a story and it doesn't feel like I'm simply listing the things I've done, but other times...ugh.  I'm not sure how you all can stand to read my ramblings.  Well, I suppose I'll give you a quick rundown on my driving experiences so far.  Last night they decided we'd just have fish & chips for dinner.  There's a great little place not too far from their house so Les and I went over to pick it up.  She said she'd drive over so I knew the way and then if I'd like I could drive back.  It was dark out, but since it wasn't far I decided I'd might as well practice with someone who knew the way in the dark.  And it's a good thing, because on the way back we both missed the turn into their driveway!  It is very hard to find in the dark and it was quite humorous that we missed it.  I then had to do a U-turn in the dark and then a car came...she said she was glad I don't panic easily.  I of course assured her that my father had taught me on my very first driving lesson that panic does no good.  It was dark and raining that night and we were in his big, old pickup truck. I was sitting on some coats or pillows (can't remember which) so that I could see over the steering wheel, that alone should have been my first clue that we should have taken a different vehicle.  As we were going through the intersection, turning onto a highway, we ran out of gas.  He told me to speed up, to which I promptly replied "the pedal is all the way to the floor!"  That's what happens when you have a broken gas gauge. Thankfully, we managed to coast through the intersection safely, and I'll never forget that driving lesson.

Anyway, back to driving in Australia.  This morning was my first attempt at driving on my own; this time in the Tiburon.  Thankfully it wasn't as bad in the little car as I had thought it would be.  My only issue was when I came to the intersection and I wasn't quite certain whether I was allowed to turn left on my own or if I had to wait for a light.  When the person behind me beeped I decided that must mean I didn't need to wait for a light.  Strangely enough, in the Jeep the turn signal indicator is in the same spot as it would be back home, but in the car it's on the right.  All that really means is that I kept turning on the windshield wipers instead of signaling a turn.  I remember my Dad having a similar problem while driving in Japan, so I guess that goes with the territory.  There was only one turn between their house and the church, so despite my penchant for getting lost, I didn't have any trouble getting there or back.  I'm not sure I'm ready to drive in the city through lots of traffic yet, but I'm feeling quite confident that I'll survive driving around Gawler for the next 6 weeks.

Doug and Rosalie had texted me last night telling me that they'd spoken to the Pastor (his name is Jeff) and told him to be on the lookout for me in church, so that was really nice of them.  When I got there I'd only been sitting a minute or so when he came over, sat down and said, "You must be Abigail."  I just laughed and told him that was indeed my name.  He took me up a few rows to sit with a woman named Liz, who it turns out was in charge of the morning announcements.  Although I apparently wasn't the only visitor, she did make it a point to mention that I was from America (to which everyone clapped, not sure what that meant though).  She also told everyone I was looking for work, so I guess a bit of embarrassment at being pointed out might be worth some possible employment down the line.  The church here is much more laid back and more contemporary than the one in Adelaide; it's also smaller.  I still didn't know any of the songs we sang, but it was an enjoyable service none-the-less.  

We did go to a pig roast at the Keller Meister winery the other night with some people they know from Rotary, but I'm not sure there's anything all that exciting about the night that you'd like to hear.  We had fun though and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I don't get asked to speak at a Rotary meeting while I'm here.  Dick told Bev that I'd been to Japan a few times and I could maybe fill in if needed.  I really hoped she'd let that pass, but she got my email address off me, so it's possible.  Public speaking is certainly not my forte, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Friday, May 16, 2014

I've moved...

My apologies for the absence of posts recently, but in my move from North Adelaide to Gawler I just haven’t found (ok, I haven’t made) the time to write up a proper post.  I got up early Tuesday afternoon (the 13th) to be able to say goodbye to the boys before they went off to school.  I scrubbed down the apartment and packed up all my stuff, then cleaned Lesley’s house again.  She didn’t have anyone come through during open house on Saturday so we didn’t have one, she didn’t see the point.  After waiting around most of the afternoon without a ton to do (I should have just gone to the library, but didn’t really feel like it) Dick finally arrived at 3pm to take me and my stuff up to Gawler.  After taking the dogs for a walk, Dick and I went to my first Rotary meeting that evening.  It was very interesting; I’ve never been to a Rotary meeting before.  They played this one game, I’m told it’s a traditional Australian pub game and I vaguely remember reading about it in my “Becoming More Australian” book, where you guess whether the 2 coins tossed will land both heads up, both tails up, or one of each by putting your hands on your head or “tail”.  They had me do the coin tossing since I was the guest.  The speaker for the night was the club President and he told the story of his trip with the RAF to do a memorial and burial service for the remains of some Australian servicemen from WWI whose bodies had just recently been identified in Germany.  It was a really interesting talk. 
On Wednesday Dick went to work early so Les and I ended up sitting around, pretty much the entire day, just talking.  She’s been having a lot of pain and inflammation in her hands and they nearly cancelled their trip because of the issues, but she’s still trying to get to the bottom of it all and figuring out how to cope.  We ended up ordering out pizza, and after Dick and I got back from walking the dogs, we ended up watching The Big Bang Theory together.  Oh, and it was just getting dark as we were walking and the moon was almost full and I couldn’t believe how clear and bright it looked in the sky.  At one point along the trail it sits just above this field on a hill – I’ll have to take a photo at some point to show you all, it was amazing.  Thursday morning I got up and walked the dogs with Dick and then we took Pancho to the vet for his arthritis shot.  When we got back Les was about to drive down to Salisbury so I went along with her to see some more of the area and to help get my bearings.  On the way back we stopped in this little housing development and she had me test out my right side of the car, left side of the road driving skills.  After driving through there for a bit I ended up driving the rest of the way home, which wasn’t far.  The jeep is Les’s car, and I was definitely more comfortable driving it than I think I will be driving the “dog car” as they call it.  It’s a little, blue coup and sits really low to the ground so hopefully I can see over the steering wheel.
 Their youngest grandson was dropped off in the early afternoon and then we went and picked up his two older sisters at school.  We had afternoon tea (can you tell Les is British?), which was really just a drink and a snack at a café before heading to a small park for a little bit.  When we got back to the house the girls taught me how to play some card games, so the four of us had fun with that.  On Thursday nights they always take the kids to Fasta Pasta for dinner and tonight Rachel and her two boys were joining us, what with Dick and Les leaving on Monday for a 6 week holiday.  Plus there are a few birthdays they’ll be missing while they’re gone.  Rachel’s two boys are involved in Chinese Lion dancing at their school (they’re the only school in SA that does this apparently) so Jacob was showing me some pictures and trying to explain it to me during dinner.  He’s also involved in RAF Cadets so we were able to determine that ROTC isn’t actually the equivalent of being an RAF Cadet.  Sorry, RAF stands for Royal Air Force.  Rachel is also involved in the cadets and her brother is in the actual Air Force, stationed in Canberra. 

Dick and Les leave on Monday night and so far I think I’ll be ok for the next 6 weeks.  These extra days, just being at the house, seeing the routine, etc. have certainly helped me feel more comfortable.  Plus, driving back and forth to town a few times had tremendously helped this poor, directionally challenged individual.  They are leaving me a GPS, so that is definitely a God-send for me.  They have a large garden and rather large home for just the two of them, so between the dogs and the garden and the house I’m sure I’ll be able to keep myself occupied.  Lesley told me they’ll be up to visit sometime, as did Ally, maybe if I get bored I can find somewhere to volunteer…  Anyway, that’s been my life in Gawler so far.  Oh, and could the Pens really not make it through the semifinals?  I just found out we lost to the Rangers (that's what happens when you miss a few days online and they don't have hockey in the country).  What a bummer.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Waterfall Gully & Port Adelaide

Since Lesley’s foot is broken we had some trouble thinking of something to do Saturday afternoon.  In the end she decided we should head to Waterfall Gully.  We didn’t have too much trouble getting the boys into the car (because they were playing Mine Craft on the ipad), but once Magnus realized we were actually heading somewhere he threw a tantrum.  We got out of the car and despite Magnus crying and moaning we made the 100m trek to the waterfall.
 After a quick visit we then headed to the Utopia café to get tea and biscuits.   They were delicious; I should have thought to take a photo of them when they arrived because they were picture perfect: warm from the oven, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served with some strawberry jam and cream – tasty.  Thankfully the boys ran off and played for a bit and left us to our biscuits in peace.  We decided to head home and shortly after we returned Ally and the girls stopped by to have the boys give Lesley her Mother’s Day presents.  After their visit we had the usual evening, convince the boys to do their reading and piano, convince the boys to eat their dinner…  Boring stuff.

After church yesterday they had a pancake lunch as a fundraiser for their mission’s projects this month.  I met two more lovely women and when the lunch was over they offered to take me for coffee in the city or something since I was on my own.  Since it was most likely my last Sunday I said my goodbyes to Torrey & Liz and Doug & Rosalie.  Rosalie said that if I needed a place to stay if/when I come back, they have a spare room I could stay in.  Torrey told me he’ll still be on the lookout for a job for me in hopes I’ll come back to Adelaide as well.  Everyone at the church is so wonderful and hospitable; they’re such an example of how to treat visitors.  Hossein had been asking to meet up all week but between his work schedule and my lack of a schedule it just hadn’t happened.  Since Lesley and the boys were at a friend’s for lunch I knew I’d have a few hours after church free, so we decided to head to Port Adelaide to check it out. We went to The Fisherman’s Wharf Market to look around and then wandered around town a bit. 
During our conversations I found out that today in Iran is actually Father’s Day, which I found a bit funny.  I also discovered that the weekend in Iran is actually on Thursday and Friday.  Since Lesley’s text simply said she wanted help getting homework done when they got back I had no idea what time I should be there.  I figured 3:30pm was a safe time and when they still weren’t home I decided to take a walk around North Adelaide and get some photos of the beautiful homes in the area before I left.  
They still weren't home when I got back so I listened to one of Pastor Dave's sermons while uploading and tagging some photos on my computer.  Once they got home we managed to get some reading done and they got a hair cut and a batch - even managed to get some dinner into them as well.  Monday's they have to be up early for piano lessons in the morning, so they went straight to bed after dinner.  That was about the extent of my weekend – hard to believe I only have a few days left until the next phase of my adventure.

Friday, May 9, 2014

An Australian Tupperware Party

Lesley broke her foot the other night, just a small fracture, and she decided she didn't want a cast, so she's just hobbling around.  It's quite bruised but she's doing pretty well with it all.  Not much has gone on the last few days, but we did have a Tupperware party last night.  It's Tupperware Australia's 53rd Birthday last week, so there were lots of special deals and what not so I think she did pretty well on sales.  Anyway, the party went pretty well I guess.  There were only 2 other kids and all four of them behaved quite well (at least in terms of their behavior at the last party).  They watched TV the whole time so I just made sure they had snacks and checked in on them occasionally.  The party was a bit boring, but then Ally showed up and she had no interest in the Tupperware either so we stood in the kitchen and chatted.  She's so incredibly nice and certainly seems to understand my situation.  She said to me that she told Lesley that if she wanted to have me back (which Lesley does, she's told me so repeatedly) that she'd have to pay me and give me set days to watch the boys and what not.  She asked about Gawler and if I could afford to live up there by myself or if they'd have to send me care packages.  A friend of hers, I believe she said he's in his 60's lives up there (he's good friends with JR) and she would make it a point to come up sometime and all of us go out to dinner so we could be introduced.  She really is quite thoughtful - she also made sure to get a card for the boys to sign for Mother's Day and said she'd be by later today to give Lesley a little Mother's Day gift.  She is such a good friend to Lesley.

Another friend of Lesley's lives in Gawler and her and her daughter were at the party so I met them.  The woman said she'd try to have me over for dinner some night.  Then another friend of Lesley and her daughter Hillary were there (they live a few blocks over I believe because I've seen the girl walking a few times) and the mother and Lesley conspired to get the son James to take me out some night.  I think he's 22 and  Hillary seemed to think he was a bore and I wouldn't like it.  Oh the things people do when trying to be helpful.  Hillary is probably about 15 I'd guess and quite chatty so we talked for a bit (this was before I knew Lesley and her mom were conspiring against me while I was occupied talking with Hillary).  Thankfully, I'm leaving for Gawler on Tuesday, so I think I'm gonna get out of this blind date.

Anyway, everyone seemed to take forever to leave.  I was quite tired and did my best to clean up without making people feel like they had to leave.  I'd basically finished and only two people remained so by 11pm I said I was going to bed - the three of them were sitting down and looked like them might talk for hours, so I knew I'd best take my chance and head to bed.  Thankfully there wasn't too much to clean up this morning before the open house.  Since the kids had stayed confined and the party was all in the kitchen and dining room what little mess there was to clean was contained.  Not sure what the plan for the rest of today will be, but I think Lesley wants to go do something so we'll see what she comes up with.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Visit From Friends

As we hugged goodbye, Jennifer and I said the usual things, like "it was so good to see you" and "have a safe trip", but Tom simply said, "have a nice life."  It made me laugh and I said to him, "I'm pretty sure you said the exact same thing when we said goodbye in Sydney about 6 weeks ago."  He grinned back and simply stated, "probably."  He's absolutely right though - each time we say goodbye we never really know if we'll ever see each other again.  We're still heading in separate directions and it's a big country.  Either way, I'm very glad we were able to spend the afternoon together yesterday.

Tom isn't really into that many things, Jennifer said he likes to golf and that's about it.  There isn't a ton to do in Adelaide if you're not interested in many things, and the things that might be interesting cost money, and since they also haven't worked since they arrived they'd rather not spend too much money.  It was decided that even Tom would enjoy a tour of a chocolate factory, and we were lucky enough to be able to get booked into a tour at Haigh's Chocolate factory.  We had lunch and then started our walk across town looking forward to some chocolate tasting. Just walking into the store front was like a little piece of paradise, it smelled absolutely amazing.  It was a short, but very interesting tour, they explained the whole process of making their chocolate, start to finish.  They do a ton of it by hand - rolling the truffles, decorating the chocolates, they even hand wrap them all (even the egg from this post).  It's a fourth generation, family owned company and they've won lots of awards for their chocolates.  And get this, if you work there you can eat as much chocolate as you want.  Seriously.  And, because they do so much of the stuff by hand, a chocolate from every single batch has to be tested to make sure they're good, and that something wasn't left out.  Our guide told us her day to test is the chocolates is every other Monday.  So apparently I was searching for the wrong kind of job while here in Adelaide...
So after starting and ending our tour with chocolate (they really know how to give a tour, sandwiching the information with chocolates), we had a free coffee and headed back into town.  We were going to bike to the beach, but Tom doesn't really like the beach and it was already 3pm and it's about 12 km away we decided to go visit the Botanic Gardens instead.  On the edge of the gardens is the National Wine Centre of Australia, so we stopped in there, but the exhibits and tours were closed due to renovations.  Jennifer and I had a chat with one of the employees though and she was so helpful.  She gave us lots of tips on finding work in Australia and websites that would help us.  So, although we didn't get a tour, it was definitely worth stopping.  They even gave us some recommendations for where to have dinner.

We wandered along Rundle Street checking the menu's of all the little cafes and restaurants and ended up stopping at The Austral.  We had dinner (fantastic burgers) and they had a trivia night at 7pm so we stuck around for that.  As the other tables started showing up we realized we didn't really have a shot.  All the other teams had a minimum of 6 people and Adelaide is full of college kids...  We didn't do too bad on the first half, but the second half had way too many Australian questions and we didn't have an Australian on our team.  We don't know Australian actors or Prime Ministers or soccer players...  Oh well, we still had lots of fun.  We were told when we started that the average score is 30 and we managed to get 32 in the end....and come in at last place. Due to our poor finish we won a jug of beer anyway.  I'm sure the person Tom gave it away too was appreciative.  So it was a nice day and hopefully we can meet up again somewhere, sometime, in the next year.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The latest news....or lack there-of

Well, nothing too inspiring has happened of late.  The boys started piano lessons so I've been sitting around the house reading a book waiting for the delivery man to show up with the piano stand.  We had open house yesterday morning, a couple from Sydney had flown in to look at some houses in the area and Lesley's was one of them.  So, yesterday was cleaning and waiting, then this morning was a bit of cleaning and then mostly waiting.  I'm reading "The Bourne Identity" and as usual, it's quite different from the movie, but also quite captivating.

I did get a text from my friend Jennifer and her and Tom should be in Adelaide either tonight or tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have some time to go meet up with them while they're in town.  I'm not sure how long they're planning on staying since Perth is their ultimate destination and they're driving...  Anyway, it will be nice to catch up with them both again and hear about their adventure so far.  I hear that the Penguins are in the playoffs, so that's always a good thing :)  Unlikely I'll get to see any of the games though because ice hockey is pretty much a non-existent sport in Australia so probably isn't on any of the TV stations.

I got an email from Dick today, so I'll be moving up to Gawler on the 13th of next week.  I'm trying not to have anxiety about being in charge of their home and dogs, and having to drive their car.  Sometimes I think I'm crazy for thinking I could do this and then I remember I'm not 18, (even though I still feel that way most of the time) and I'm perfectly capable.  Well maybe not "perfectly" capable, but I know I'll manage.  So I've got about seven weeks to figure out what I'll be doing in July.  I'm sure Lesley would take me back if she still hasn't sold her home, but I'm not really sure I want to go back.  At this point I'm thinking about going to some hotel in the outback to work.  You get paid and you get food and accommodation, so that kills 3 birds with one stone.  I'm sure the work isn't easy, but it would be different and it would definitely be an adventure.   Plus there would be no kids involved (I hope).  Anyway, that's all assuming I can get such a job - I'm not sure how sought-after such jobs would be, but I guess I'll cross that bridge in a few more weeks when I start searching and applying for such jobs.  I think Jane would definitely hire me if they had openings, but I think I'd rather go somewhere else, I'd have already stayed in South Australia for about 2 months, so I feel like I should move on.  Well, that's pretty much all my ramblings for the moment.  LET'S GO PENS!

Friday, May 2, 2014

My First Outback Adventure

As we drove up to the Flinder’s Ranges part of a song I learned as a child, based off of Psalm 139:14, kept running through my head, “Your works are wonderful, wonderful I know.  Your works are wonderful I know that full well.”  The scenery on the entire drive was absolutely astounding.
 It rained the entire drive on Tuesday, but the clouds just made the skyline that much more dramatic.  During our drive up to the Wilpena Pound Resort we had a kangaroo hop across the road in front of us and I even saw kangaroo road kill; they’re just like the deer back home.  Wilpena Pound is a natural amphitheatre of mountains and apparently a "pound" in British English meant an enclosure. On Wednesday morning there was an emu outside our little cabin, but the boys scared it off, of course.  After rain the entire day before, the sky was bright blue, and nearly cloud free for our Wangarra Lookout hike.  I guess you could say it went as well as we should have expected; lots of whining from the boys and constant requests to stop because they were tired.
 The hike was only maybe 7km and didn’t take us nearly as long as we expected.  It was quite a beautiful hike though, and the view from the top of the lookout was of almost all of the pound.
 Since the hike didn’t take anywhere near the length of time we’d planned we still had the whole afternoon free, so we took a drive to see some more beautiful scenery.  We ended up going to a place called Sacred Canyon and although the boys initially didn’t want to get out of the car, they ended up loving it.  Tons of rocks and boulders to crawl over and puddles to climb around (well, most of them were climbed around).  It was a very neat canyon.
 The bits of rock on the ground were these beautiful shades of blue, green and red, but the rocks on the sides of the canyon were just gray and red.  Anyway, on our drive back to the main road we saw over 20 kangaroos, I just couldn’t keep track after 20.  I got a bit of a break Wednesday night, I went to the patio outside the restaurant to read a book by the fire (and just have some peace and quiet) while Lesley made the boys dinner and got them ready for bed.

On Thursday we woke to overcast skies and cooler weather.  We left the resort (it’s not exactly what I would classify as a resort back home, but compared to most outback campgrounds I guess it does qualify) and headed through the Brachina Gorge on our way to Blinman.  The drive through the gorge was beautiful and we stopped somewhere in the middle to eat our lunch.  The gorge is home to the yellowfooted wallaby, but Lesley said you don’t often get to see them and thought we’d be lucky if we saw one.  Well, we were apparently quite lucky because we saw four of them!

 We made it to Blinman and stopped for some coffee and a snack.  They have a bush fruit known as Quandong (it's like a native peach) and they make it into jams and put it in pies and whatnot, so I tried the quandong jam on a biscuit and it was lovely.  The boys are very into the game “Mine Craft” so when Aleksander saw the signs for tour of the mine in Blinman he desperately wanted to go.  Magnus didn’t want to go so I went on the tour of the copper mine with Aleksander while she waited in the car with Magnus.  We were the only two on the tour so it was shortened a bit due to Aleksander’s attention span, but despite that it was quite interesting.  It was mined by Cornish and Welsh miners and they always mined their way up.  They would dig a shaft straight down and then work their way back up following whatever veins of copper they found.  The town had no water for the first thirty-odd years so the death rate was even higher than most mines.

After leaving Blinman and Flinder’s Ranges National Park, the landscape totally changed and it was completely flat!  The clouds made the landscape so incredibly dramatic and the photos just couldn’t do it justice.  All the wide open spaces made me long to go horseback riding.  Our stop for the night was at the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna.
Lesley knows the owners, Jane and Ross, because they’ve been coming up here for years.  The food at this hotel was absolutely amazing.  We had their famous feral foods which includes camel sausage, smoked kangaroo, emu pate, kangaroo mettwurst, goat cheese, and bush tomato chilli jam.  After dinner we headed outside so the boys could light their sparklers and play with glow sticks.  When we came back inside Jane and three of the staff girls were having dinner and we all ended up chatting for several hours.  By 10pm it was finally decided that we should get the boys into bed, but it was too late.  Magnus had a meltdown of epic proportions, I’ll spare you the gory details, but it was a pleasant enough evening despite the ugly ending.
We basically drove straight back on Friday, but the views were still spectacular – a mix of rain and sun throughout the day, we even saw some rainbows.  It was technically my first trip into the outback and the views are indeed spectacular!