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Oh god, the news is awful. The heat there just hasn't died down and Victoria is ablaze. It's horrifying. Oh my Aussie friends, I hope you stay safe and cool!
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The Sydney Opera House is awesome. But that's not why the country is awesome.

Some short reasons before I launch into the main one: it's beautiful, Sydney is a great city, the birds are amazing, eucalypts are also beautiful, the country is small (population wise) and national news is more like the neighborhood report, Aussies are super friendly and chill, there's not a lot of pretension.

But the number one reason Australia rules is the food. No, seriously. I think this is the first trip (of my now seven trips) that I've thought this. Growing up it was always bland biscuits, tasteless tea, meat with two or three veg, instant coffee. I mean, I love me some pavlova and butternut squash, but you can only eat so much of that. I never need to eat another meat pie, sausage roll, or lamb chop again. In general, food in the country is still all of those things.

Two howevers.

However #1, food in the city and in other pockets, such as Daylesford, rivals food in the East Bay and is more reasonably priced and less pretentious. Oh yeah. I ate at two particularly incredible places - The Farmers Arms and Glebe Point Diner. The last one wins big time points for being THE BEST at dealing with a baby. It was the 105 degree day and they immediately made an iced neckerchief for B, brought him a toy and a crust of bread to chew on and then two slices of cucumber and tomato (but by then B has fallen asleep in my arms). Plus, all of the servers at Glebe Point were crazy fabulous and one of them was gorgeous, a man's man (gay or straight) and turns out he had gone to UCBerkeley.

Also, all restaurant workers are paid a living wage. This means that prices were steep - even for some one from the Bay Area. Just going to the corner cafe can run you over $10 dollars. But you don't have to tip. As someone said, I don't remember who, Australia doesn't have Mexicans. I'll gladly pay more knowing that everyone is being paid fairly.

However #2, the food in Australia is of higher quality in general. Cage free eggs are abundant and clearly labeled. Even the caged eggs are of a quality that I only recognize from the CSA eggs we got for awhile. Bright orange yolks. Delicious. The dairy is crazy good. If I could import Ski brand's passionfruit yoghurt I would do so by the barrel. None of the meat or dairy are raised with hormones. All of the meat is grass fed. Some of the cattle get grain fed at the end, but the vast majority is just grass fed. All of that is amazing. The piece de resistance? High fructose corn syrup doesn't exist. Fer real. We couldn't find any. Cheap crackers? Nope. In cereal? No. What about soda? No sir.

I salute you, Australia, for your tastiness!


Jan. 25th, 2009 01:30 pm
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We made it! Strangely an easier flight home than going over, even though the time zones work against us. Nearly empty plane so we had an entire row to ourselves. Bennett PUKED big time, all over Adam in hour 3. Ew.

The time in Sydney was wonderful, however Saturday was 41 degrees Celsius = 105.8 F. Highest recorded temp in Sydney ever. Keira, no wonder we were zombies! Too too hot, especially when lugging around a baby in a black sling. Not wise.

Will post more about how much I love Australia, all about Aussie food, why things were hard with my parents and other stuff eventually. Brain currently is struggling to function. But it's only 1.35pm on my second Sunday. It's going to be a looooong day.
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In Sydney. It's humid and in the 90s. I am EXHAUSTED. Run down and gaining weight and sleep deprived and did I mention hot?

Ending with my parents did not go well.

Our friend in Sydney is fab, however her modern Australian condo has neither fans nor AC. WTF? One wall is entirely windows and they open up to a sort of balcony - neat, except then all the mosquitos come in at night. Bennett looks like he has the chicken pox. We stopped counting at 32 bites. :(

I love Sydney.

Meeting my second LJ Aussie friend tomorrow. Whee!
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Super quick. Really I mean it this time.

After I posted the last post Adam came back from his own tarot reading with a different woman in a part of Daylesford. How did his begin? "Are you planning a trip abroad? Or have you moved recently?" And no, this trip abroad isn't what either tarot reader was referring to. Weird. But our readings were almost exactly the same. No shit. So, um, YES we WILL be moving. Pronto. We've been talking and talking about it and here's some creepy kick in the psychic butt. I have many more thoughts. Will save for another time.

Bennett is awesome and making new faces.

I'm not feeling so well again. Not a cold this time. I wonder if getting away made me realize just how stressed my family makes me.

Lastly, I love my sister and her girls. They left for Sydney today with my parents. It was a bitter sweet parting.
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Ok. Quickly.

Once again, post cards are for crap. I really did mean to send a bunch out. Oh well.

In Daylesford, VIC, spa capital of Oz. It's *amazing*. Like, I've never spent this kind of money on myself and now I know why people do it. Our Japanese ryokan is peaceful. The minimalism is restful and I love the futon on the floor. The region has a load of magic here. Originally it was an Aboriginal healing center (mineral waters) and it was matriarchically run. Only the women brought the infirm and ill in. After the gold rush in the late 1880s the white folk developed the springs and it's been a spa place ever since. It's quaint. It's also perfect for Bay Area people such as Adam and I. A good mix of regular joe places and overpriced fancy home wares, gormet cafes and resturaunts (THANK YOU GOD for meals that consist of things other than meat and three veg, meat pies and chips or salad rolls), and massage/spa/tarot readings everywhere you turn. However, there is a distince lack of yoga here. But damn, it's lovely here.

Vacation RULES.

This break has been so necessary. The timing is just right. I look forward to leaving tomorrow and getting back to my little boy. Contrary to what many women told me, going away has not ruined my breast milk supply. I have never pumped more in one sitting (except for maybe with the industrial pump while B was in the NICU). I think rest has done wonders for me. So there, sad little ladies who can't get away from their bubs! Ok, that's just mean spirited, but I'm pleased as punch that I will go back revved up, rather than run down.

This break away has given me the space I've needed to take some evaluation of my life. I WILL be quitting my job sooner rather than later. Adam and I are also thinking seriously of moving to Wales. Once I get home I am going to start looking into how that might work. We may not be moving to Wales, we're open to other places, but it could be good for my scholarly pursuits and my psyche. On the drive down here Adam said of all the places we've talked about moving, he'd like to go to Wales. He said it felt right, and moving sooner rather than later. Not so oddly, I had a tarot reading yesterday and the lady looked at me and said, "Oh! So you're planning to move abroad, are you? Oh that will be very good for you." Ha! And then she said that the move needed to happen within the next 12 months, staying would be disastrous for me personally. She said I've been "packed" for a while and a move was both immanent and necessary. As if the break in and shattering shower door weren't signs enough.

I may post more about the reading at a later date - to expand my thoughts on it.

I am happy, I am faint from the heat (it's 100F/38C), I am quaking in the pit of my stomach when I think of what the year holds - so much change afoot! - but I am more than ready.
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In Junee at the public library. Bennett thinks he's a baby pterodactyl - that's the only way I know to describe his new(ish) sounds.

I was sick the whole trip over. Took days for my ears to unplug. One week in I'm finally feeling better. B is a snot and coughing machine, but seems to be finally adjusting to new people, places and smells. The family stuff was quite overwhelming for the first few days: sick and sleep deprived, with overwhelmed baby. UGH. Oh and some family drama. I see the stories we cling to so much more clearly. Uncle Jon is like This, mum always reacts like That, I fill This Role, etc. It's tiring and I'm doing my best to opt out as best I can.

My parents' place here is amazing. Pepper trees, myriad parrots and other birds, kangaroos, lizards, bugs, fresh peaches, plums and squash.... Our natural schedule here is to be up with the sun and I love walking around in the cool, doing yoga on the verandah as the sun rises above the hills. Spectacular. The small town that we are near is quaint - over the last decade it's really gone from some dusty boring place to a wonderful little spot. The nature needing, small town thriving me is dreading a return to Oakland.

One exciting thing we've already done is see a sheep herding exhibit. My uncle arranged an exhibit with a friend of his that raises kelpies for sheep herding, as well as Australian stock horses. We got nuzzled by a 6 week old foal and got to play with kelpie puppies, as well just learn about his take on farming. It was really cool.

On tap: Wed we leave for some wine tasting. I think tomorrow we're all going to go see Australia.

Here goes!

Dec. 28th, 2008 03:39 pm
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A 45 min BART ride, 14.5 hour flight, 5 hour layover, another 2 (?) hr flight and we're there!

A new year

Dec. 21st, 2008 03:34 pm
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Before Bennett, we hosted Thanksgiving, threw a Solstice party, and celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve by wandering around San Francisco, going out to eat and catching a carol service. The next day was spent in jammies, lounging about eating Adam's homemade cinnamon rolls.

The new year feels like it is starting now, with the solstice. The wind down to this holiday, for me, usually starts at Thanksgiving. This year's Thanksgiving was amazing but came during a very difficult period. Last night was a Feast Bay and it was such a great way to spend the evening. Adam's parents were here for 24 hrs and so we had gift opening this morning, over strong coffee and oatmeal cooked in coconut milk. We will modify our Christmas Eve plans by taking Bennett and going in the afternoon, ending with dinner, so we can start our baby bed time routine at the normal hour. Christmas morning we will still have cinnamon rolls, but we might go for a long walk and find a morning carol service. New Year's involves making a collage of the year to come. This year I'll be in Australia for that. I really love Christmas/Solstice/New Year.

This year we are adding a special occasion: our trip to Chez Panisse on the 26th. Thankfully we have found a babysitter. A trial run with Ansel, the guy were are probably hiring as our nanny. It is very very weird to say that we will have a nanny. The word brings to mind privilege, people not interested in parenting, high powered careers, mousy 20-something women. All images not necessarily true. We have Ansel, the 20-something, vegan, gamelan playing, wants to be a farmer, possibly gay male, two days a week so I can go to work.

What new things will 2009 hold? I feel a little bit like our trip to Australia is a buffer between this long year past and the new one to come. I have some decisions to make and I hope the time abroad refreshes and revives me, allowing me some rest to recharge with the clarity and strength to keep setting fire to my life.
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When in Australia, Adam and I have decided to take a private vacation, a vacation within a vacation. It's a honeymoon of sorts. We have three nights (I know! three whole nights away from Bennett, I will either die of the distance or forget he exists in a blur of uninterrupted sleep) at this Japanese ryokan and a day scheduled at this bathhouse.

I'm so excited. And I'm so afraid I'm jinxing it by posting about it, even though I don't believe in this sort of jinxing. Last time we made luxurious plans for a getaway a certain little boy decided to arrive early.

My mother called tonight to discuss plans. There is a jaunt to northern Victoria for wine tasting. I'm so excited for this trip. Have I mentioned that yet?
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I say that in quotey marks since autumn arrives differently in different places. I LOVE autumn. I am so glad it has arrived. Usually I fast over the Equinox, but since I'm breastfeeding that's not an option. I'm not doing anything to mark it this year, other than verbally acknowledging it. Maybe I'll light the candles on my altar.

Last night I watched Jesus is Magic, Sarah Silverman's stand up "movie." She is HAWT, but she's not funny.

I am getting a bit of waist back! YES!! I'm starting to get a bit more shape. Thank god. And my stomach is noticably flatter. I may not be 112lbs this winter, like I was 5 years ago when I last went to Australia. Then again, I don't want to go to the gym everyday and eat mediocre graduate dorm food to get that way, like I did it last time.

What did I do after I noticed my waist in the bathroom mirror at work? I ate brownies. I swear they were laced with crack.

Australia tickets have been booked! I did it this morning before work. Holy crap, three adults, two kids and an infant round trip from San Francisco to Sydney is about $11,000. But, I'm going to Australia for a month! I am so so excited to share this part of my life with Adam. I'm also a little nervous since my parents can be cold and alienating and other members of family are evangelical space-cadets. Still. It's going to be great.

We'll be gone from Dec. 28 through Jan. 25. If you want to house sit while we're away our cats would be most grateful. Seriously. Contact me. A free place to stay in the Bay Area, right near BART. It would be a win-win for all involved. As long as you don't lose my keys, break certain items or kill the cats.

I have a magnum (half-magnum?) of shiraz-cabernet open on my counter top. Leftovers from an event I put on at work yesterday evening. No one drank any of it. Come over and I will gladly share it with you. I also have some blueberry pie from Whole Foods left over from Feri Pie on Saturday. I was skeptical of the pie, since the only pie I really like is blueberry pie and I grew up in blueberry country. But damn. Whole Foods makes a fabulous blueberry pie. I will share some of that with you too.

Wow, I really need new icons. And better baby clothes. And maybe some for me. I realized today that Bennett's diapers are nicer than much of my own clothing. And cloth diapers? Also laced with crack.

Wrapping it all up.... may you all find balance on this Equinox, in body, mind and spirit!
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1. Save money
2. Lose 15 lbs so I can fit into my swimsuit
3. Go to Anchorage to see my sister, the Future Gov, her baby, and Alaska
4. Deal with my mental health
5. Set up the office to deal with more of my absence
6. Pack my bags because we're going to Australia

What had a 5% chance of actually happening just became a 97% chance of actually happening. My grandmother has alzheimer's and so my sister, my nieces, Adam, B and I are all going to go over to Australia to be together as a family for the first time in 14 years. Grandma will be covering airfare. Guaranteed ports of call include Canberra and Junee (near Wagga Wagga), Sydney, Woolongong and hopefully south coast NSW. Maybe Melbourne and Victoria wine country, and maybe (only because I've always wanted to check it out) Adelaide.


May. 16th, 2008 09:37 am
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Some days I have moments where I get confused about where I am. For a brief second the scent of eucalyptus, the light and weight of the sun, the sight of bottle brush trees, confuses the memory part of my brain. I get confused and think I'm in Australia. Sometimes the jacaranda trees also confuse me. Jacarandas aren't native to Australia, but that's where I first saw them and see them the most. The land and climate here, from southern Northern California to northern Southern California reminds me A LOT of New South Wales - and parts of interior CA also remind me of interior parts of NSW and Victoria.

When it gets hot here, like it's been (I know 90 isn't hot for many, but it is for me, especially now that I'm pregnant), I just remind myself that it's like being in Australia. Dress for the heat, expect it, lots of washing the hands and neck in cool water, move slow and expect to be a little sweaty. If only the Bay Area would acknowledge that it DOES get hot here sometimes -and sometimes cold, too- and have fans or air conditioning or heat available. Such denial around these parts!
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I finished California: A History. It is a whirlwind tour of California. Basically, a well written love song to a great and complicated state. It's always a joy to read about place from someone who is passionate about their subject, especially when the ugliness of racism, greed and fantasy (California's particular weaknesses) aren't overlooked. I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone wanting a detailed history, but for a broad overview and general jumping off place, this is a good book to start with.

In other news, I have been enjoying watching World Cup soccer. This morning I had the pleasure of watching Australia win its first ever World Cup game, with their first ever World Cup goals. Australia - Japan, 3-1. Yay! I don't know why I enjoy WC soccer so much, I don't follow the game in the off years, but I'm not questioning it. I'm going with it. Australia is sure to get knocked flat in their next game. They play Brazil, the favorites for the whole event. Still, I wore my Australia shirt to work today, in solidarity. My quiet, nearly empty office doesn't care, but still.

In yet other news, I am negotiating my raise today. This is all very grown up and exciting. If only one didn't need so much damn money to just stay afloat in the Bay Area.
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I am indeed from the ends of the earth. Alaska and Australia.
My uncle (my mother's sister's husband) has joined the blogosphere with his own site, focusing on the work that he is doing to reclaim habitat in the farmlands of New South Wales. He was a farmer (sheep, wheat, canola, alfalfa, etc.) for his entire life, until health reasons caused him to stop. My parents live on the back 12 acres of what was once his 1200 acre farm. Check out his site and see beautiful pictures of a beautiful landscape by a man who deeply loves where he lives.


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