Sunday, December 31, 2006

Up too late, with access to a computer

It turns out that I'm a lazier blogger than even I knew. I have had weeks off of school and haven't managed to write one stinkin' thing in all that time.

On a side note, the break has been wonderful. I enjoyed all our Christmas celebrations, although I have come to the conclusion that I am officially a disenchanted twenty-something type. I discovered this when, upon waking on Christmas morning, my first thought was not, "Ooooh! Presents!" or "Yay! We get to attend another beautiful church service." No, my first thought was more like, "Mmmphrrrrm. Still sleeping."

I worked every morning this last week. The library is finally moving to its amazing new home, and the process started in the Genealogy department on the day after Christmas. I spent 4 hours every morning shifting books from the original set of friendly, smooth, stable shelves to the vicious, nasty, cruel, unsanded-plywood moving shelves. For some reason, no one else seems to have had much of an issue with these beasts. I, however, don't seem to be able to approach them without my hands being savaged.
It could be worse. I am being paid for my trouble, after all.

In honor of the New Year, Patrick and I are watching our favorite Tivo-ed episodes from the past year. I discovered in the course of the evening that Patrick had missed the series finale of Alias last Spring, so we're in the middle of it right now. Jack is dying, Irina deserves to die, and Sark is awesome in his $500 shoes. That was one great show.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Long Day

I'll get the semi-depressing part out of the way first. It would appear that my Spring Break trip to Germany has been cancelled. I got a $250 refund check from the IPFW Continuing Studies dept. (the dept. that works with the travel programs) in the mail today with a note attached saying,"Full Refunds are given if the university cancels a program." Sniffle. Really, though, it is almost a relief. Funds were going to be very tight and I was a little stressed over the cost. Now that I won't be spending every penny I have, I feel quite well off. ;o) My mother is even talking about a family trip to Siesta Key for Spring Break.....That could definitely make up for any suffering.

Andrew and I started this morning much earlier than we would have wished. He and I had to be over at church for Christmas program practice (he's a Wise Guy and I'm the accompanist.) I like to moan and complain to my mother about taking part, but really I enjoy playing for it, even on the dreadful piano in the church basement.

After practice was over and I had wrapped some gifts, we headed down to Anderson for an (early) Christmas get-together with family. My grandparents, and maybe some aunts and uncles, are going to be gone for Christmas, so we had to celebrate a little early.
We got to my grandparent's house a few hours before the festivities were supposed to commence, so my mother and I helped out a little in the kitchen. I got to assist my grandpa in making the beef brisket for dinner... a VERY important job.

Back at Thanksgiving, all the cousins exchanged names to decide who was buying gifts for whom, and so "us kids" had our exchange this evening. Since I'm technically an adult I also got to take part in the adult's gift exchange (the sort where you can steal presents and everyone gets really wild.) I contributed a set of Starbucks demitasse cups and saucers which I fell in love with yesterday (nothing like waiting until the last minute.) My mother scooped them up and was able to hang on to them all evening. I got a gigantic, soft, fluffy, warm fleece blanket which is my new best friend. In fact, we're hanging out together right now.

Speaking of soft and warm, my grandparents got me a cashmere sweater which I am completely in love with. It's a pretty sort of sea-blue and oh-so-soft.

Tomorrow, after church and the Christmas Program, we have the Bach Collegium-sponsored Messiah sing-along, which should be fun.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Finals are OVER!

I am sitting in the library computer lab right now, heaving many sighs of relief. I just finshed my piano final, and before that completed my psychology final.

The piano one went fairly well. I flubbed my way through Mozart's Rondo alla Turca, but they judges decided not to hold my memory problems against me because, "it was a gutsy move to even try to play that piece." (I didn't know I was being gutsy. I just liked the music.) My other two pieces went off beautifully, and I got very high marks. Now I can go back to playing the piano for fun, and maybe even pull out some Christmas music sometime soon.

I now have a month of freedom before me.... a month to get excited about next semester and, most of all, a month to spend NOT thinking about when my next paper is due. Yesssssss.

Now I just have to wait for all of my grades to come back. ;o)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saturday Photo Hunt

Today's theme is Red.

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I just love taking pictures of the flowers at Foster Park, especially the tulips. They have so many "good sides" to get pictures of, and the colors are just fantastic! For some reason, this one always makes me think of a dragon.

I love this picture, which I took while staying in Australia. That's my aunt in the red coat, and my uncle is father up along the path in his red shirt. We were on our way to see some Aboriginal cave paintings (which, incidently, were also red.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Last day of class!

I just thought that I would share some of my glee. This afternoon I had my last class for the semester. I still have to make it through a few days of finals next week, but actual classes are over. I think that when finals are over I'll throw myself a party.

On Monday I'm getting together with some friends from my honors 20th Century class for some pre-final studying time. We got together before the midterm and it was incredibly helpful. Our professor tends to talk very quickly, and it can be difficult to write down all the necessary points, so meeting to compare and compile notes helps to create a much more cohesive picture. We'll be meeting at a classmate's house and there will be food and coffee, plus a fire in the fireplace. Cozy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Oooooh! Blog Update!

I just realized that my blog has been sitting there, gathering dust-bunnies since Thanksgiving. The poor thing. I'm sure it has been feeling incredibly neglected, but I do have a good excuse for my desertion. My perfect excuse is that I have had many long, disgusting, boring, school-related papers to write. When I have long, disgusting, boring, school-related papers to write, I find myself completely unable to even contemplate writing for fun.

Perhaps after finals are over next week I'll post more. In fact, I'll make myself post more.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm sitting in my grandparents' living room right now, having chopped **9** cups of celery in preparation for the best stuffing in the entire world. My grandmother's stuffing is legendary.... People start dreaming about it on the day after Thanksgiving and crave it all year. It makes chopping cups and cups of briny water chestnuts bearable.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Theme today- Plush

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This is my little brother, cuddling with his bears Toby Keith and Firebreath. (Yes, those are the names he gave them.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

I changed my mind

I do have the brain power to write something.

I spent the entire day today in my pajamas. I didn't have school, work, or anything responsible to do, so I vegged. In this case, vegging meant entering 336 books into my Library Thing account (that would be Rachel's fault.) It was nice to just relax and waste an entire day. I've been so very useful lately, and it was starting to catch up with me. ;o)

I'm getting ready to start on my final paper for the semester. It's for my 20th Century class, and I'm writing it on government-sponsored eugenics and social engineering. As I'm sure you can guess, it's going to be a very uplifting paper...almost as uplifting as the one I wrote last year on physician-assisted suicide. I honestly don't know what makes me choose such dreadful topics. Maybe I should have a talk with my psychology professor.....

My history class has been really interesting lately, mostly because our discussions keep going off topic, so that when we're supposed to be discussing communist China, we're actually having a philosophical discussion on human rights, which morphs into isolationism v. internationalism, which somehow turns into a discussion of why we hate Wal-Mart (and not for the usual PC reasons.) Somehow, with all of that going on, we still manage to learn about Communist China. And, on one in the class, including the professor, tries to argue in favor of Communism or Socialism

Of course, there are some of the usual flakey people involved in the discussions...the sort who try to tell the class that everyone in America hates the US military, and that all good Americans should move to Australia. Apparently Canada is no longer an option... something about Canadians being too American.

My American history class is quite different. For the two weeks we've had the pleasure of hearing the professor rhapsodize over Johnson's Great Society and whine about the evil Vietnam veterans and all the problems they caused for us. We're talking about Nixon on Tuesday, which should be... interesting.

Because my mother wants me to post...

...and I'm lacking the brain power to actually write something:

In One Word-

1. Yourself: hungry
2. Your spouse: hah!
3. Your hair: up
4. Your mother: dancing
5. Your father: bald (good thing he doesn't read this...)
6. Your favorite item: books!
7. Your dream last night: weird
8. Your favorite drink: water
9. Your dream car: convertible
10. The room you are in: bedroom
11. Your ex: hah!
12. Your fear: failure
13. What you want to be in 10 years? rich.....
14. Who you hung out with last night? my mother
15. What you’re not? energetic
16. Muffins: poppyseed
17. One of your wish list items: horse
18. Time: flying
19. The last thing you did: LibraryThing
20. What you are wearing: pjs
21. Your favorite weather: sunny
22. Your favorite book: Pride and Prejudice (so I can't answer that one in one word...)
23. The last thing you ate: cereal
24. Your life: busy
25. Your mood: cranky
26. Your best friend: my mother (aww)
27. What are you thinking about right now? dinner
28. Your car: hah!
29. What are you doing at the moment? breathing
30. Your summer: short
31. Your relationship status: fine
32. What is on your TV? : movie
33. What is the weather like? cold
34. When is the last time you laughed? just now

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Blog

One of my very favorite people now has a blog, and I am CERTAIN that it will be very interesting when he gets around to posting on it.

Patrick's Gallimaufry is the blog, and if you couldn't guess, it is my weird and wonderful little brother.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This is what your taxes pay for

I am now officially a government employee.

Please, no one disown me.

I started today at my job as a shelver in the genealogy department of our library. I'll be working 10 hours a week, and after my first 5 hour shift, I'm exhausted. My legs and arms are sooo very tired, but they feel good. A few weeks doing this and I'll be in good shape!

So, I may also be the slowest shelver in the history of libraries, taking care of about 175 books in 4 hours. The aim is 100 books an hour. I'll get there...someday...maybe... ;o)

My coworkers seem very friendly and gave me lots of advice and help today.

Oh, and I have a locker. I've never had a locker before....

If you can't tell, I'm tired AND excited, which leads to semi-incoherent writing. Good thing I don't have any papers to write tonight.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When books collide...

This evening, as we were sitting in the family room relaxing, my mother discovered an interesting connection between one of our favorite books and our favorite author.

The book is Katherine, by Anya Seton. It is about Katherine Swynford, the third wife of John of Gaunt and 5th great-grandmother of Henry VIII. One of the lovely things about our copy of this book is that there is a beautiful family tree inside the front cover, showing John's family (Edward III, his brother Richard II, etc) andalso Katherine's.

While perusing this family tree, my mother noticed that Lionel of Antwerp, brother of John and Richard, married an Elizabeth de Burgh. Lemme think. Where have I seen that name before? Hmm.... A little down the line, Katherine's son Thomas, by her first husband (Hugh) married a Miss Margaret Darcy.

And, hey! Katherine's daughter Joan Beaufort married a Sir Robert Ferrers.

As though I didn't have a hard enough time telling my real historical characters from my fictional ones, now Jane Austen names are popping up in real, historical families. :o)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Photo Hunt- Dreaming


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I'm posting this is conjunction with my mother's post on the same topic. We both dream of being on the beach on Siesta Key, my favorite place in the entire world. This is a picture of my brothers and me from the last time our family was down there, and as you can tell from the date on the photo, it has been entirely too long!

Monday, October 09, 2006


The semester is about half-way over, and 2007 schedules are floating around. This is always the most exciting part of the semester for me, but also the hardest- I just want my current classes to be over with!
Over the weekend I sat down with my schedule book and my mother (both indispensible) and figured out which classes I want to take in the spring. I'll be taking second semester-second year German for sure, Weather and Climate (clouds! storms!), a lovely "Western World Masterpieces" lit. class, Ottoman history, and 20th century British poetry. And THEN....the best part of all.... GER320 "Berlin and Beyond," involving a 10-day trip through Germany over Spring Break! I'm so excited!

I've almost decided to try for an English minor, and depending on how the classes fall, a double History/English major. The classes just look sooooo yummy. I'm just crushed that the Elizabethan Poetry class conflicts with the classes I need next semester....But maybe next year.

Or maybe I'll just stay in school for a really long time.....

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Photo Hunt

Today's theme: Sleeping


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Another picture of my killer Callie-Cat. This time, she has shoved all my music boxes out of the way, and is sleeping on a from the other cat. (Incidently, she had just come out of the rain and was soaking wet. Just what I wanted. ;o) )

Next Week's theme is "Lost."

Next week:

Thursday, October 05, 2006

As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I am not a "math person." I don't enjoy math, which I find boring and, in many cases, irrelevant to my life. As such, I was not looking forward to taking a math class this semester, even one as nonthreatening-sounding as "Math for the Liberal Arts Student."

To my very great surprise, I have been getting perfect grades in this class. In fact, I've been getting perfect grades without even needing to study all that much. This has been freaking me out more than a little bit.

Today, at the end of class, the professor suggested that the class share phone numbers, so that we can call each other to conferr on our homework assignments. She finshed by saying, "...and this does NOT mean that you can all take down Bethany's number and call her to find out the correct answers...."

:cue Twilight Zone music:

I am the smarty-pants in math class? Did someone swap my brain? Has my psychology professor been doing covert experiments on me? Anyway, it is WEIRD.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Photo Hunt

Today's theme is "comfy."


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This is my darling little brother getting comfy in his jammies (and hamming for the camera!)

Next week's theme is "sleeping."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fridays are the Best Days

School is over for the week(end), and even if I have some studying to do, it is much more comfortable to do that studying on our very comfy couch, rather than in some squished chair of questionable cleanliness over on campus!

This afternoon we took a drive down south of Fort Wayne. We stopped at an apple orchard in Ossian and picked up a bushel or so of apples. Half of them were from the seconds heap and are destined to become applesauce. The other half are for eating, and I can't wait to try them.

From Ossian, we took off through the country toward Decatur. It was beautiful day, and the soybean fields are at their most lovely- all golden and glowing. Since we weren't really in a hurry, I had my mother stop so that I could get out and take some pictures. I loved getting to walk around out there, even if it was only for 50 ft or so. The grass was full of grasshoppers, so that every time I took a step they would hop all over my feet. There were also lots of great wooly caterpillars along the sides of the road, and their "fur" was looking pretty thick....Cold winter coming? I hope not.

This spot in particular caught my attention. The fields were such a bright gold, and the grass is still so green. And the clouds! I love clouds.

We stopped to visit with my great-grandma for a little bit before we came home. She was very happy to have visitors, and chatted a great deal. Grandpa even woke up for the entirely of our visit, and was able to recognize us. My mother is planning another visit, after we get Patrick back from our grandparents, who kidnapped him Wednesday.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Photo Hunt

So, I'm a little late getting my picture up today, but I've been out of the house all morning.

Today's theme is "Eyes"


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This is, of course, the Mighty Huntress Callie-Cat. She doesn't like this picture very much- she thinks it makes her nose look big.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Indolence in Blogging

I really really haven't felt like writing anything recently, even though there were a multitude of topics I could have covered. Perhaps it is because writing has once again become something I do for school- something I try to get through as quickly as possible. If so, that phase shouldn't last long. Within a few weeks I should feel like writing again, if only to complain. :o)

Ok: my current excuse for not writing anything of substance is that I am dead tired. I woke up at 6:00 this morning, and spent the entire day on campus. I held my eyes open through 6 straight hours of class, and tried desperately not to fall asleep while studying for a couple hours. I thenNow

Now I have four days to relax, write a history paper, study for a few tests.....

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Today's theme... "Looking Up"


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One of my personal favorites (of which I seem to have quite a few), I took this one in April. The bulbs were all blooming at Foster Park, which always makes for good pictures. This one I took from the middle of a tulip bed, looking up.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pride and Prejudice Humor


It's really painfully stupid, but sometimes stupid is just funny.

Miss Bingley: "You write uncommonly fast Mr. Darcy."
Mr. Darcy: "Of course I do, I have a light saber! Get out of my way.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Saturday Photo


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These giraffes, at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, are enjoying a late-morning snack. And everyone else is enjoying watching them!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

And I thought I was unique...

While poking around and spying on everyone who visits my blog, I discovered that my blog had come up on a Google search for "bethany beppy." That in itself wasn't surprising.... What WAS surprising was that I came up 6th. Apparently, I am not the only Bethany nicknamed "Beppy."


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Photo Scavenger Hunt

The photo theme for this Saturday is "On the Road."


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This is my favorite "road" picture. I took it at the top of a mountain, just outside Akaroa, NZ. To the right and left are sheep pastures, and that stretch of blue out there is the Pacific. This photo brings back memories of total silence and a very peaceful stillness. It was the first time I can remember where there were no man-made noises to be heard, just the wind and the rustling grass.

Next Saturday: Food (hahaha!)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Book Tag

Apparently I have been tagged by my mother, and also by Not Worthy. I like this one...anything that requires talking about books sounds good to me!

1. One book that changed your life: I'm going to be like my mother and not give the obvious answer (The Bible.) I think I'll have to say Anne of Green Gables. It is largely responsible for making me a goofy, overly-romantic, poetry-reading, girly girl, prone to fits of nostalgia. ;o)

2. One book you've read more than once: Ha! One book.... I'll say Pride and Prjudice, since I've read it more than any other (probably 15-16 times)

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: The Bible

4. One book that made you laugh: Most books make me laugh, at some point. I'll agree with my mother and say Life with Jeeves

5. One book that made you cry: The first book that made me cry was Little Women. I also cry when I read depressing books like The House of Mirth

6. One book that you wish had been written: Time Travel for Dummies

7. One book that you wish had never been written: The Koran

8. One book you're currently reading: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

9. One book you've been meaning to read: War and Peace (if I ever find time!!!)

10. Scariest book you've ever read: Oooooooooooooooooooooooh.... Thunderhead, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. That book was terrifying. Anything that involves witchcraft-ish activities scares me. A close runner-up would be Relic, by the same authors.

Who to tag, who to tag.... Rachael, Katie, and Lynea, and anyone else who wants to do it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Here it is...the finished project, under construction for just about a month and now FINISHED.

This was my first real knitting project, since I don't count misshapen doll-scarves as anything real. :o)

Now that I am done with the blanket, I can get on to my next, slightly less challenging project- making scarves for allllll my little girl cousins!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Photo Scavenger Hunt

I decided to join the photo scavenger-hunt blog, just like my mother. :o) The theme for today is "Blue."


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This was the tent at Katie and Nathan's wedding reception. I liked the blue and white-ness, which reminded me of the Greek flag. Not that that has anything to do with anything....

Monday, August 21, 2006


School is starting in the morning for me. I've been looking forward to the start of school for weeks, but now that it is actually here, I'm wishing that todday could drag on and on! It doesn't help that the weather has been completely gorgeous for the last few days, and I spent the entire afternoon sitting outside and reading. After a nice relaxing day like this, 4 months of papers, german homework, and actually doing (gasp) math just doesn't sound appealing.

I know that by tomorrow evening, once I have my syllabi in hand and have seen some of my school friends I'll be happier about the whole thing.

Now, I'm going to go watch a movie with Andrew and enjoy my last day of complete freedom for the summer.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I am officially a wimp...

...I suspected as much before, but it has been proven.

One of the problems with having all my boys out of the country for more than a week, is that the grass does not stop growing in their absence. The lawn needed to be mowed the day before the guys left, and Patrick "forgot" to do it. It's been several days now, and our lawn is decidedly scraggley.

My mother and I decided that it would make sense for me to just buck up and do some physical labor, rather than paying someone else to come do the lawn. We knew that the job would be difficult. Our mower used to be self-propelled, but at some point that function disappeared, leaving us with an extra-heavy push-mower. I, however, didn't grow up with three brothers for nothing, so I headed outside this morning, thinking to myself, "If they can do it, I can do it."

I have been disillusioned.

I made it through about 1/5 of our yard before giving up, my wrists aching and my head about to pop. I came stumbling into the house, and my mother decided that it was time to give up and call someone else. Now, I am sitting in a comfy chair, freshly showered and wearing my girly-girliest skirt, with a new appreciation of Patrick, who has to wrestle with that mower on a regular basis.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Oh. Canada.

For the next 9 days, our house will be guy-free. (With the exception of the he-cat, Ben.) My father and brothers left at 6:30 this morning for their annual fishing trip in Canada.

My littlest brother Andrew is going for the first time this year, and he was thrilled to be going. He gets to be one of "the men" for a week, and the fact that there will be no bathing all week is just gravy. (Smelly gravy, if you ask me.) What I don't think he realized is that this week also entails hours and hours in a dirty boat, waiting for the silly little fishies to bite. He also doesn't comprehend the idea of "no running water" or "spider-infested outhouse." The darling little arachnophobe may have a nervous breakdown. Or, he might just find that he enjoys being a filthy little hooligan.

Patrick, who has gone every year since he was 7, is completely aware of what a week at the cabin entails. He spent the last week detailing for me so that, even though I have never gone and never will go, I have a rough idea of what he was facing. I don't think he was looking forward to his week in the wild. He's the sort of civilized person who thinks that fish is best when served as part of sushi, and that his sister is better company than giant mosquitos.

The person who this trip really suits is Jonathan. Not bathing, sitting around doing nothing, and being generally uncivilized fit him better. He's more the typical young ruffian. He likes spitting and urinating out of doors.

They all, however, were looking forward to spending a full week of uninterrupted time with our father, away from his usual concerns.

And, as for my mother and I, we are enjoying our girl time. Today was spent shopping, eating out, and seeing Pirates of the Caribbean once again. I know she misses the boys already, and I'm sure that, by next Sunday, I'll be ready to see them too. Just as soon as they have showered.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands and a nice camera.

Those of you who were at The Wedding (;o)) might recognize the picture on the left. I guess I just couldn't leave it alone.

Dr. Pepper gets a makeover.

Monday, July 31, 2006

So I'm a shoe freak...

...but if you've ever met me you probably already knew that.

Here are my two new favorite pairs, purchased on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

They're actually much less painful than they look, although they do make really good weapons.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I am a bad blogger. I haven't felt like writing anything for quite a while, so I...haven't.

We got home yesterday from our trip to Turkey Run state park in the west-central part of Indiana. We went with a group from our church and met up with Pastor Fickel's group from Chesterton and Pastor Foy from Valparaiso (and his children.)

We sang Matins and Vespers daily, as well as some great bible study time with Pastors Petersen, Fickel, and Foy. My mother was in charge of cooking, and armed with a cast iron skillet and dutch oven, an aluminum camp pot, and a charcoal grill, she was able to concoct yummy and filling meals for 30+ people with very little left over afterwards.

The park is lovely, and we were able to enjoy the scenery on our first day. We went on a hike through the woods, along Sugar Creek, and through ravines and gorges. Being the nervous older-sister type that I am, I was very watchful of the younger children we had hiking with us. I know they wouldn't have been allowed to come were the trail not safe enough for them, but I still worried and held little hands whenever I could.

On Thursday we took a short canoe trip down Sugar Creek. It was easy going, and the scenery was beautiful, so it was a very relaxing way to spend a few hours. We stopped halfway for a picnic lunch on the beach. The food went quickly, so we spent the rest of our onshore time skipping rocks across the creek. I found a couple of interesting rocks that I kept, and also a piece of beach glass that I strongly suspect was once part of a beer bottle.

I finally got a tan, after a whole summer of being a glowing, brilliant, shining white. I look much healthier now, and not so much like something that just climbed out of a cave.

Thursday evening we played games in the common room of the inn. Mrs. Fickel, Mrs. Petersen, my mother, Thomas, and I played dominos for the longest time, although it might have gone more quickly if we hadn't been laughing so hard. It was Pastor Fickel's fault. (Incidently, I don't think I'll be able to read anything about Mr. Darcy for a few weeks now. It will conjure all the wrong pictures.)

On Friday we went horseback riding, something I had been looking forward to for months.
My horse was a large brown mare named Grace, although I'm not certain how deserved that name really was. The trail we took was about four miles long, and snaked through the woods. I enjoyed my ride, but found myself very envious of our guides who continuously cantered their horses back and forth next to us. A walking horse is well and good, but I was dying to let loose and run with Grace.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Force-fed Football?

Second post in a matter of minutes, but oh well. I thought of something to write/rant about.

I am so tired of hearing people complain about the World Cup being "shoved down their throat." When last I checked, I don't think that FIFA, ESPN, or ABC were forcing people to watch games at gun-point. If there has been a big deal made about it, it's because the World Cup is a big deal. It is an international event, with a far greater audience and wider fan base than any American sport or even the Olympics. Yet one never hears anyone accusing the networks of "force-feeding" us golfing tournaments.

One of my favorite radio personalities, Mark Belling, filled in on Rush's show this afternoon. He was driving me a little nuts. He kept saying that he "got" soccer and still found it boring and lacking any sort of strategy. It seemed to me that he was mistaking a knowledge of the rules of the game for an understanding of the game. I know the rules of golf, American football, baseball, NASCAR, and hockey, but I don't "get" any of them. I know how one would score in a game of American football, but the strategies and intricacies of the game are completely lost on me, and so I find the game incredibly dull. Having played and watched soccer for most of my life, however, I can see all of the finer points which are, apparently, lost on most of the American public.

I miss having World Cup games to watch already. I'm glad our satellite provider carries Fox Soccer Network and Telemundo so I can still get my FOOTBALL fix. ;o)

Incidently, Italy stinks, even if they are good-looking. Frace totally should have won....

Where I've been

We had the pleasure of seeing Uncle Sean and Aunt Anne-Nicole last week; a pleasure that was far too short-lived.

Our family drove over to Plymouth (IN) on the 4th, where we visited with my grandparents; aunt, uncle, and adorable cousins from South Bend; bummy Uncle Scott the Golf Pro; and, of course, "the foreigners." We hung out, had a go at just about everything, and played a few rousing games of bocce ball.

My mom drove us over again on Friday for another visit, and they came over to Fort Wayne the next day. My mother and I fixed a splendid brunch for our visitors (omlettes, lox, several different baked goods, homemade granola & yogurt....mmmmmmmmmm.) After we had finished eating, we all sat down and watched the World Cup semifinal- France v. Portugal game- cheering on France.

Uncle Sean and Aunt Anne had to leave far too soon (to me, at least) and go visit other family members. I know the time will go quickly between now and when we see them next, but as of right now, it seems like an eternity.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

He's just a chick magnet

Comments directed (or screamed, rather) at Patrick by some girl, who happened to be driving past as we were out walking with our mother:

"I love you, boy. Get used to it. This thing happens. It's love at first sight. You'll love me in a week."

I very nearly fell over laughing after that. His face was ABSOLUTELY priceless. I'm not sure he'll ever hear the end of that one.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Nice cart!

I'd like to say at the outset that this is not meant to be a slight to all teenage boys. If you are one of the many intelligent guys I know, this probably doesn't apply. But honestly. Some of you are idiots.

I was at a golf course yesterday where my mother was doing a presentation. Since it was a beautiful evening, I spent most of it sitting outside in the car with the windows rolled down, reading. I just happened to be parked near the golf cart cleaning station, and this particular golf course appeared to be staffed almost entirely by guys between the ages of 16 and 23.

After about 10 minutes, I noticed that the path the carts were taking had changed, from running behind the car to running right in front of the car.... Then, the guys started really gunning the engines just as they got in front of me.... Then, they started squealing their tires. When they reached the station, they would climb out, swagger a little, and look over at me.

Yeah, they were really hot stuff. In their golf-carts.

I know I'm heartless and mean, but I just laughed at them.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I'm having anger issues this afternoon. The object of my frustration and ire? Ignorant people- racists in particular. Racism is one attitude I have never been able to understand, especially in today's world.

We have a neighbor who in most ways is a lovely person. When she discovered that we are considering moving to an urban neighborhood here in town, however, she was very concerned, and wondered if we really want to live there. What she meant is that there are non-whites in that area and we couldn't possibly want to live around anyone who isn't white. Give me a break.

We've also gotten this reaction from some extended family members. They make cryptic remarks about how "dark" the south side of Fort Wayne is. This is coming from otherwise intelligent, sophisticated people of whom one would expect more.

It's not just interracial-racism either. While Jesse Jackson and his ilk have certainly directed their vitriol against whites, they are also prime examples of how members of the same ethnic or "racial" group can propagate the very stereotypes they claim to rail against. Every time someone refers to a woman like Condoleeza Rice as a sell-out or traitor, they contribute to the idea that all real black people (and women in particular) are downtrodden, unsuccessful, and incapable of helping themselves without selling their souls. Apparently, if a black person wants to "make it" they need the help of their benevolent and caring government. I find the entire idea completely odious.

So that's my rant for the day (week, month, whatever.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006


We have wireless! After months and months of having a useless router sitting upstairs gathering dust, everything is connected. A HUGE thank you to Pastor Gehlbach who helped my father get things figured out.

Oh yeah, Gehlbachs are here today. They are on their way home from vacation and, on their way through, they came to visit and go to church at Redeemer this morning.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Because some happenings are too weird not to share

Have you ever heard of anyone being attacked by chipmunks? You know, the cute little furry things that run around parks, dig into flowerbeds, or sometimes raid birdfeeders? They're harmless....aren't they?

I was attacked by chipmunks.

I don't know why it happened. I was just outside yesterday evening, crouched in the garden, tending to my roses, when I heard a skittering-chirping sound rushing across the street and up the driveway. I looked over my shoulder just in time to see two chipmunks rocketing toward my bare feet. I was very startled, so I screamed, and started waving my skirts around at them. They must have decided I was too much for them to handle because, after charging my feet, they circled around and headed back across the street.

Andrew thought that this was the coolest thing he had ever heard, after being assured that I hadn't caught any diseases by being in close proximity to the little darlings.
I can't decide if being attacked by chipmunks qualifies as cool, weird, or just pathetic.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This is probably my favorite photo that I have ever taken. The angelic-looking girlie is my little cousin Gabrielle. I snapped it this afternoon while at Jonathan's belated 13th birthday picnic at Mounds State Park.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Feeling USEFUL

(Be prepared- I've been shut away from all human companionship since 6:30 and as a result, I am feeling....chatty.)

I have been lamenting the paucity of tasteful sun-dresses this season. Despite the fact that they are supposed to be very "in," it is incredibly difficult to find a dress that is neither skanky nor frumpy. Anything I have found that looks cute initially tend to end up being waaaay too short/tight or just plain transparent.

In order to solve my problem I've resorted to desperate measures. I'm FINALLY teaching myself to sew. This is a skill I've been wishing for as long as I can remember, but never had the time or the patience or the plain ol' will to practice. So. On Monday I pulled the sewing machine out of the basement, dug the box of fabric out from its cob-webby dungeon, and took over the kitchen table. I started off just cutting up pieces of old fabric and sewing them back together. I probably did that for 3 hours that day, just trying to get the feel of the machine and getting closer and closer to perfectly straight seams.

My mother and I went out to the fabric store, where we picked up several patterns. One is a very simple, straight sleeveless dress. The other is slightly more complicated, and involves a full, swirly skirt. I had such a good time picking outfabrics (blue tropical print for one and brown/cream Eiffel Towers and Poodles for the other. ;o))

I've been too scared to cut into my lovely fabrics yet, so I spent most of yesterday and today making an apron which I started last November. I've been feeling a great sense of accomplishment ever since I finished it. It's a little large for anyone but Patrick (here seen modeling said apron) despite the fact that the pattern said "SMALL," but it is well-made and my seams are very neat and straight.

Sewing isn't all I did today. After getting home from my work-out with my mother, and before changing out of my grubby work-out clothes, I had a serious job to attend to.

We have 4 gorgeous rose bushes on the side of our house, one of which reverted to its pre-hybrid self and went wild this year.
It has been producing myriad brilliant pink blooms, and seems to want to climb up the side of our house. My (self-chosen) job has been taking care of the roses, pruning and dead-heading them whenever they need it. I was doing my rounds last night when I discovered that in the last week my darling roses had been taken over by a fungus, which was spreading black splotches across all the leaves, which would then fall off at the slightest touch.

Having diagnosed the problem with the help of my trusty garden manual, I turned into a rose-doctor this afternoon. I removed the diseased limbs ( I love saying that) and CLEANED the bed....literally. All the mulch, leaves, and old flowers left and the entire area, including the bushes themselves, got a soaking of anti-fungal Sol-U-Mel. My brothers were none to pleased with this process, as they were drafted into service and had to clean up after my ministrations. (This included picking little pieces of moldy, centipede-ridden mulch out of the grass. Sorry boys.)
My poor little rose bushes are considerably smaller now than they were when I set out this morning, but they should at least survive to bloom again.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I FINALLY realized that there is an easy way to post pictures to my blog! That took long enough. Too bad I didn't discover it while I was on vacation!

Anyway, in lieu of a nice, interesting post, I'm sticking these photos up. I think I got spoiled by always having something interesting to share...suddenly I can't think of anything to write about that anyone might possibly be interested in.

I took these a few days ago, in our backyard. It was one of those perfect, warm, bright days where any excuse to be outside was welcome.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I seem to be well on my way to full recovery from my trip. I've gotten a few good nights of sleep, and have been outside enjoying the sunshine. Today we went out for lunch at Coney Island, and after that, to see a movie.

I admit...I'm not overly thrilled to be home. I'm incredibly gald to have my mother and father and brothers around, but I don't think I've ever been glad to be home after a trip. I'm sure that after a while I'll sink back into normal life here and everything will be comfortable again, but right now I'm feeling slightly disconnected.

I'm afraid I haven't stopped talking since I got home. (For all I know I've even been talking in my sleep.) Any time now my mother is going to get tired of hearing, "Oh, and Uncle Sean did..." and "Anne-Nicole said that..."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Home Again

My trip home was not nearly as pleasant as my trip over. Apart from the usual end-of-vacation let down, I had the sort of flight that makes people swear off air travel.

It started when, as I was getting situated in my seat on the plane, I saw a very hefty woman walking down the aisle. There were tons of seats left, so I figured the chances of her sitting anywhere near me were slim. Huh. Slim or not, she ended up having the seat right next to me. She also had a terrible cold and (I suspect) hadn't showered very recently.

I was ok for a while, but I realized the full extent of my problem when I tried to get to sleep. I wasn't able to get in more than an hour in the full 32 hours I was traveling.

When I FINALLY got to LAX, I wasn't able to find my tickets for my next flight. I spent 30 minutes sobbing to my mother over the phone before I discovered that the lining of my purse had split and my tickets were hiding inside. After that little mishap, the trip went very smoothly. I only sat by nice, well-groomed, relatively small people.

My whole family was waiting for me in Indianapolis when I got there, as well as my cousin Kate. My brothers charmed the other people waiting there by being exceedingly sweet and mobbing me as soon as I was through the gate. We drove all the way home, and were back in Fort Wayne by

Maybe when I'm feeling slightly more capable of abstract thought I'll say something about the trip as a whole. Right now, I just need coffee.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Saturday: LAST full day

We had another cold day today. This time, we took off up the coast north of Sydney. The surf was at 6 ft. (that means, in the water, you get a 12 ft. wall of water rushing at you) and we went out to the beaches to watched the idiot surfers get pounded. We sat in the car, all snug and warm and Uncle Sean gave a running commentary on the waves, and we oohed and ahhed over the size and power of them.

Eventually we had enough of the cold and wind of the coast, so we headed back down toward the city into Chatswood, the home of several malls and many many stores. We shopped for a little while and drank some coffee before heading back home. Anne-Nicole took a nap, Uncle Sean went for a swim (crazy man), and I finished packing.

Tonight, we went out for dinner with Uncle Sean and Aunt Anne's friends Graham and Janelle (sp?). First we went out for drinks at a pub, followed by dinner a Vietnamese place. Both were in Newtown, a rather coloful/seedy area of Sydney. (Colorful meaning even the old men had blue hair and nose rings.) Dinner was wonderful, and afterwards we went out for more coffee and dessert-Uncle Sean and I split a huge piece of heavenly chocolate cake.

After we got back from our night out we hada calm evening in the nice, warm family room. Uncle Sean broke down and watched P&P with us and wasn't even annoying! One thing I found very peculiar is that there is a different ending in the Australian version. It just doesn't include the last 10 minutes or so of the film. Very disturbing..... We found the REAL end eventually, in the bonus features menu.

I'm leaving tomorrow. I can't believe my 3 1/2 weeks are gone. I spent most of the day today trying not to think about it, but I couldn't help it. My brain was going about a million miles an hour, concocting all manner of dramatic scenarios and story lines about leaving, how the cats will miss me (yeah right ;o)), how empty my room here will be....just generally being quite silly. But them, that's me. Apart from the fact that I get to see my parents and brothers again-little thing that that is ;o) - the thing that is making everything much easier is that I'll get to see Uncle Sean and Aunt Anne in less than a month when they come over to Indiana. I already can't wait!

Now, I'm going to go to my room and get ready for bed, have a good cry, and get a good night's sleep so I'll be perky and cheerful tomorrow.....

Friday: Manly when it rains

Yesterday, I made the wonderful decision that, despite the low-hanging clouds and cutting wind, I was going to the beach! Brilliant, right? I figured that since it was my next-to-last full day here, I should see Manly one more time.

I took a ferry over to Circular Quay, and then caught the 11:00 Manly Ferry with abt. 100 other crazy people. The trip over was a little choppy, even in the harbor, but I spent the entire half an hour with my nose buried in my book, so I hardly noticed.

I got to the beach absolutely famished (those ferry rides can do that to you...;oP) so I quickly found a relatively cheap Indian restaurant where I was able to get a platter of nice, warm curry and rice. I ate outside with the seagulls who, oddly enough, were not the slightest bit interested in my food. Silly birds- I guess they just don't know what they're missing.

After lunch I walked down by the water for a little while, taking pictures and people watching. The beach and the ocean looked completely different this time around. The water, instead of glowing turquoise and shimmering, was a wonderful milky-looking blue, eventually changing to iron grey. The sand looked like suede- a light tan color and very soft.

After I felt that I had more than enough sand in my shoes, I went back up to the promenade and found a bench. Before too very long I was joined by an elderly man eating a slice of pizza. Or perhaps "eating" is an exaggeration. He took about 4 bites, and proceeded to feed the rest of the pizza to the pigeons. The seagulls wanted a piece of that action, but the man was determined that the seagulls wouldn't get anything from him. Any time they got close, he would swat them away. Everytime he gave a crumb to one of the legion of pigeons gathered around him, he would break out into a lovely, beatific smile.

When the pizza was gone, the old man left. His spot on the bench was soon filled by two punks who amused themselves by kicking at all the remaining pigeons, and cursing when they missed (which was very often....I was glad for the birds sake, but my ears weren't so happy.)

Eventually I just got too cold sitting out by the water, so I moved into the Corso, an open shopping area that stretches from the wharf on one side to the beach on the other. I found a bookshop filled with good browsing material (albeit a little out of my pricerange at the time) which was, above all else, WARM. When I came out of the store it was beginning to sprinkle, so I high-tailed it over to the bus station, where I immediately caught a bus back to Cremorne.

When I got off, it was pouring. Thank goodness I had had at least a little sense when I left the house, and there was an umbrella in my backpack. I stopped in at the bakery on my way home and picked up a lamington, by way of apology to myself for getting stuck in the rain. (So it's a terrible excuse. I just wanted a lamington.)

When I got back, Anne-Nicole was waiting for me with a cup of hot tea and the heaters cranked up.

The weather continued to be nasty the rest of the day, making us decide that maybe going out for dinner wasn't the best plan in the world. We ended up running to the newly opened Woolworths (grocery) and picking up some gourmet-type snacky foods (brie and soft bleu cheeses, french bread, smoked trout, pate.) We ate a lovely, light dinner by candlelight while watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (Our other option was Pride and Prejudice, but I'm not sure I could take watching it with Uncle Sean. That's one movie I take waaaaay too seriously.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wednesday and Thursday

Yesterday was my lazy day. I basically sat on my rear all day and watched movies. I was very popular with Calvin and Hobbes (the cats) who think that people are just big cat warmers, and a stationary person is their favorite sort of person.

Today I didn't feel like doing much either, but Uncle Sean made me a cappucino and after that I at least had the energy to leave the house. It's amazing what a little coffee can do for a person.

I took the ferry into town for some shopping. I started off in The Rocks, which apart from being really neat to look at, houses some great shops. Not that I bought anything at those great shops. Louis Vuitton, Coach, and Gucci are all a little out of my price-range! I did find a really great little bookshop where I purchased a book of Australian children's stories and poems. I'm not sure exactly who it's going to yet. Some lucky kid.

I made my way from The Rocks, up George St. to the Queen Victoria Building, a gorgeous old Romanesque building, complete with a Grand Staircase and lovely stained glass windows. Apart from being absolutely spectacular in itself, it also houses some really great stores. Many of them were out of my price-range as well (Dolce and Gabbana, anyone?), but I found several really wonderful stores with just what I was looking for.

By the time I got out, it was growing dark, so I speed-walked my way back down to Circular Quay to catch a ferry back to Cremorne. The sun was setting when I reached the water, and the white "sails" of the Opera House were reflecting the sunset, and glowing a brilliant rose. The water's edge was lined with people, both tourists and locals, trying to catch a photo of it. I took a picture, but it didn't come anywhere close to capturing the radiance of the light.

Uncle Sean is going to be playing badminton tonight, so Anne-Nicole and I are going to watch a movie, whether at the cinema or here, we have yet to decide.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tuesday: Canberra

Tuesday, Anne-Nicole and I had breakfast while Uncle Sean went for a long run. It was a pretty nice spread, for a continental breakfast. I got brave and tried some Vegemite on my toast. Never. Again. It ranks right up there with sauerkraut.

Anne-Nicole and I hit another museum that morning. We went to the National Gallery at 9;00. We didn't realize that it didn't actually open until 10:00, so we ended up walking around outside for a while, waiting for the doors to open.

Eventually, we did get in. There is an exhibition of the works of John Constable going on right now, and I was thrilled to get to see that. His skies are some of my favorite bits of art- but then, I love sky-scapes anyway. Having finished looking at the Constable works, we moved on to the International gallery, featuring mostly post-impressionist through modern & post modern pieces. There was a Duchamp readymade, the Hat rack. (I wasn't quite sure I believed he actually existed until yesterday- the whole "urinal as a fountain" thing seemed too much like some artistic prank to be true.) We saw Jackson Pollack's Blue Poles, which is a million times cooler in person than on a screen or in a book. I thought I detested Pollack, but that painting was great.
After we finished up in the International gallery, we made our way to the Asian gallery, and from there to lunch. It was a very nice lunch (curried chickpea and couscous casserole-HOT) and the settingof the cafe, overlooking the gardens, was quite nice. We sat in there chatting for a while after we had finished eating, just talking about our "normal" daily lives, and what we'd be doing on an average Tuesday afternoon.
Eventually we went upstairs to check out the Australian gallery. There were lots of of really great pastoral scenes, but once it got into more modern works, the collection wasn't so great.

Uncle Sean picked us up that afternoon, and we made a quick stop at the Australian War Memorial before heading back to Sydney.

There were showers threatening as we drove back, and the sky looked like something straight out of the museum. In fact, everywhere I looked the landscape created pictures for me. Most bore a remarkable resemblence to the style and composition of Constable's works, especially after some lovely rainbows made their appearance. Some had a more native Australian look, especially where the gum trees were more prominent. This was the first time I'd experienced what I saw as paintings. Normally, I just see photographs wherever I look- this time it was full-fledged oil paintings. (And no, that isn't an indicator of any mental problem.)

I wasn't seeing paintings when we visited the Big Merino in Goulbern. I was doubled over laughing with tears streaming down my face. How can an art museum compare to that?!

Monday: Canberra

We left late Monday morning for Canberra, the capital of Australia. The drive down was pleasant and took us through the Southern Highlands, which are a lovely area of rolling hills south of Sydney. We had lunch on the way down in a little town called Bowral, at the Elephant Boy cafe. The decor was very interesting, a sort of British/Indian colonial theme, plus old Hollywood music, Charlie Chaplin movies, and shelves and shelves full of 1900-40s books. (Which I spent the entire meal drooling over.)I had a delicious beef pie, one of my new favorite things and something I'll miss when I'm back in the States.

Canberra itself wasn't overly exciting. I've never been to Washington D.C., but I expect that it is more interesting. I think Canberra is still too new to have much atmosphere. It could be also that, not being Australian, I don't feel any sort of emotion being there. I don't have a sense of their history like I would hope a citizen would. Maybe you just have to be an Aussie to appreciate Canberra.

Anne-Nicole and I spent most of the afternoon at the National Museum. It was a very interesting place. While looking at the exhibits, I got a stronger sense of something I had felt before. There seems to be a very strong collective guilt here over the treatment of the Aboriginies in the past. It is pervasive in the museums, almost to the exclusion of anything else. (Again, being an outsider, I may not be getting the full story, so to speak.) I would certainly not suggest that they not address or gloss over the issue-that would be ridiculous and unfair to everybody. We need reminders of the atrocities committed in the past or we risk forgetting them. It just seems that the fixation on the subject, to the point that other aspects of history are missed entirely, isn't healthy either.

I also noticed that there was little or no differentiation made between those Europeans who came as missionaries to the Aboriginies, meaning to share the Gospel, and those who came to get rid of them. They all seem to be painted with the same brush. While I certainly wasn't there to judge the behavior of those involved, I cannot believe that every European who came into contact with the native people here did it with the wish to wipe them out.

Now that I'm finished spewing-

We had a fantastic dinner Monday night at The Chairman & Yip, where we dined alongside at least one Australian MP (Mr Kevin Rudd, Labor's Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and International Security and apparently a very important person.) The establishment was the sort where, not only do they take you coat at the door, they also pour your wine and dish out your food for you. (The wine thing can be dangerous.... I'm too much of a lightweight to make it past one glass, but our waitress just filled it back up as soon as I had finished. Good thing I had Uncle Sean there to finish it off for me!)
The food was amazing, starting with jelly-fish/chicken salad and fishcakes for appetizers. Mains were lamb Shan-tung and seseme trout. We even got dessert.....ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I had black seseme ice-cream and coconut sago. I could still almost taste it hours later.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Saturday & Sunday

Before I launch into the weekend, I think I should add something about Thursday. Somehow I forgot it when I was writing before.

Thursday night we went to the symphony at the Opera House. We heard the "Shock of the New:III" which was interesting to say the least. The Tibetian monks were pretty cool, and we had seats right up next to them, and it was fun to watch them. The best parts were the didgeridoo player and the great drums. Apart from those, it was pretty weird.


Saturday, we went over to the fish market for lunch, and pigged out on a huge seafood platter and chips. We ate outside and were visited by many, MANY seagulls. There were pelicans down on the water; the the brown ones I am accustomed to seeing in Florida, but magnificent white ones.

Sunday we drove out to the Blue Mountains. One the way we stopped at a park where there were wild kangaroos, and we watched them for a while, and we able to get pretty close. They were just sitting in a field, like deer but less skittish.

The Blue Mountains aren't anything size-wise, when compared to New Zealand's mountains, but they were lovely. The take their name from the blue haze that seems to cover them, and adds a bit of an unearthly air, especially when the sun is setting.
We drove to Echo Point, overlooking the Three Sisters rock formation in Katoomba, and walked partway down the Giant Staircase (980 steps down, and over 1000 ft...but we only went about 30) to get to the Three Sisters. The area is what I imagine the Grand Canyon would look like if it were covered in vegetation. Pretty spectacular.

Before heading back to Sydney, we hiked down (460 steps) to a lookout point from which we could see Bridal Veil Falls and the Hanging Gardens. They would have been much more appreciated were it not for the fact that we later had to hike back up 460 steps. When we finally got back to the car, we comforted ourselved with deep dark chocolate (gotta replenish all those lost calories...seriously.)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Thursday and Friday: Around Sydney

I hadn't planned anything for the Thursday after we got back, so when Anne-Nicole mentioned the Sydney Authors Festival, it sounded pretty good. The order of the day was speeches by Australian historians/authors.

I took the ferry downtown and walked to The Mint, where the event was being held. Getting there took longer than I anticipated, and the speakers were just getting ready when I walked in. There was standing room only, so I didn't get a seat, but my spot had an excellent view of the podium anyway. The authors speaking were Thomas Keneally, Beverly Kingston, and Henry Reynolds. Their information was interesting, even to one who knows aas little about Australian history as I do. Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Kingston came off as exceedingly intellectual (read: superior, slightly condescending), but Mr. Keneally was highly entertaining and his books looked more interesting anyway. I was planning on buying one of Keneally's books, "A Commonwealth of Thieves" to have signed, but they were $60, and I only had $40 on me at the time.

After the lectures were over I walked down the street to the State Library of New South Wales which had several exhibitions going on, including the World Press Photo Exhibition. Many of the pictures were beautiful and touching, but more were meant to be shocking. They were all great pictures, although the captions on most of them were very PC.

Friday, I spent most of the day at Taronga Zoo again, and this time I remembered my camera! I got some great shots, especially of the chimps and the giraffes (my two favorites, naturally.) The day was perfect for a zoo outing. It was almost hot in the sun, but and nice and cool in the shade. Unfortunately, the perfect conditions meant that the zoo was packed- not my favorite way to see the animals. I decided not to let it bug me, and got almost as much amusement out of watching all the children running around as I did out of the monkeys and apes. ;o)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Wednesday: Kaikoura-Christchurch-Auckland-Sydney

We woke up Wednesday morning to a lovely breakfast prepared by Mrs. Groufsky. We had fresh-from-the-hen eggs, homemade muesli, jams and jellies, and the famous Manuka honey. We had to leave around 9:00 to get over to Christchurch and the airport. As we left, I snapped a picture of the Groufsky's garden gnomes. They aren't just any garden gnomes...They're garden gnomes who appear to have been attacked by a member of the cast of "Kill Bill." Priceless.

Our flights were nice and uneventful. On the trip from Auckland to Sydney they tried to show King Kong-or rather, a much chopped and condensed version of King Kong. That meant cutting all of the good scenes in favor of the action sequences. Ugh. I found it easier to basically ignore the movie and concentrate on my books.

We got back late in the evening and waited in a very long line for a taxi to take us to Uncle Sean's car, which was parked in North Sydney. We finally got one, but we might have been better off hitch-hiking. It might have been safer, anyway. This cabbie drove at least 40km over the speed limit at all times, through heavy traffic, over bridges, through tunnels, and he did it all without a turn signal. Or a seat belt, for that matter. It was quite a harrowing trip, but we made it back to Uncle Sean's car in our respective pieces, and if the much shorter distance from N. Sydney to the house took more time than the long trip from the airport, at least it was a SAFE drive.

Tuesday: Hanmer to Kaikoura

We had a relaxing morning and a nice breakfast in our little house in Hanmer Springs before leaving for Kaikoura. The drive over was pleasant, even though the weather continued to be rainy and the mountains were obscured by low-hanging clouds and fog.

Our original plans for Kaikoura included a dolphin encounter cruise, where the boat takes you out to visit with the lovely little dolphins for a few hours. We went to the cruise officce and signed up as soon as we got in to town. Our next stop was the travel center, which had a wall full of brochures for various hotels, B&Bs, and farm-stays. We opted to try the "A Good Life" farm stay/B&B. The travel planner at the information center made the reservations for us, and we said we'd be there at 4:00, after our cruise.

We got back to the cruise center, to discover that our trip had been cancelled. Apparently, those pesky dolphins had swum out to sea and out of the range of the cruise boats. We got over our disappointment and decided that since we couldn't see the dolphins in the water, we'd have to settle for seals on the shore. There is a seal colony just north of the town, on Ohau Point, so we set off along the coast in search of them. The results of our search were initially very disappointing. We'd been driving for a while and only seen a few seals where there were supposed to be hundreds. We had finally given up, and were turning around in a gravel lot, when we noticed a sign marking a trail leading into the forest and away from the water. The sign indicated that there was a waterfall 10 minutes up the trail, so (despite the rain) we decided to go for it and at least get a water fall out of our little adventure. We started hiking up the path through the forest, across a creek running down to the ocean, and up toward the waterfall.

The waterfall itself was beautiful, falling from about 50 feet up, into a lovely rock pool surrounded by trees and ferny plants. But even more spectacular was what was in the pool. At least 2 dozen seal pups were splashing around under the waterfall! They were doing acrobatic flips over one another, and diving around, just having a marvelous time. They didn't seem at all alarmed by our presence, and some even would flop their way up onto the rocks bordering the path. They were all incredibly adorable with huge dark brown eyes which reminded me of my little brothers (animals with brown eyes always do that...wonder why. ;o)) A sign nearby explained that the pups had come up to play in this pool where they would be safe from predators. We later learned that this was a completely new behavior for these seals. They had just started frequenting that waterfall a few weeks earlier. We spent a good half hour just watching them play before heading back up the path to the ocean. I joked about being seal-shocked afterwards, but I was partly serious. For the next couple of hours all I could think about was what we'd just had the privaledge to see and what an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience that was. Far better and more unique than any old dolphin cruise.

From there we went shopping (and I bought gifts-shh!) Around 4:00 we headed out of town towards our farm-stay at the foot of Mt. Fyffe. Our hosts, Brian and Marion Groufsky welcomed us and entertained us for the next 2 hours. Mr. Groufsky (for those of you who are acquainted with my family) is rather like what you would get if you took both my grandfather's quirks, mixed them up with some home-brewed beer, and set them to rise. He was completely mad, but very friendly and generous. (He even shared his own private jar of mussels with us!) Mrs. Groufsky is a bit of a home-maker genius. She cans all her own veggies, makes all her own jams and preserves, tends to their chickens and other livestock, and brews beer. They have 4 dogs, 3 of which are Australian Terriers, and all of which were extremely entertaining. One of them spent at least 30 minutes giving Uncle Sean's stockinged feet a good licking, and all of them would trail along whenever their people moved to a different room.

It was incredibly dark outside after the sun went down. It was overcast that night, so there were no stars. There are, of course, no street lights 12 kms. from Kaikoura, and in Kaikoura itself there aren't many, so there was nothing to relieve the total blackness of the countryside. We went to dinner at Donegal House, which was also out in the country, not far at all from the farm. Our dinner there was delicious (salmon and veges for me, mussels and Guiness for the others.)

We went back to the farm after dinner and we had the house basically to ourselves, since our hosts had retired by that time. We relaxed in front of the telly to watch last season's Apprentice, CSI: Miami, and House. We also downed some sauvignon blanc and more hokey-pokey ice-cream (which Mrs. Groufsky later gave us the recipe for-good woman.)

Around 10:30 we all headed for our nice warm beds (more electric blankets!) to get a good night's sleep in before we had to leave for Aust. in the morning.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Monday: Akaroa to Hanmer Springs

We had a leisurely breakfast in our apartment in Akaroa on Monday morning, after which we packed up and took off for Hanmer Springs. From the postcards I saw, it looked like a gorgeous location, right at the foot of the mountains. Unfortunately, it was cloudy/rainy the entire time we were there, so one couldn't actually see the mountains.

Our accomodation luck continued, and we stumbled across a cottage rental company. They would rent out an entire house to you, even for one night, for less than the price of some hotels. We got a nice little 3 bedroom house, with a log fire, electric blankets AND heated towel racks (my new best friends!)

That afternoon, after getting settled in the house, we got out swim suits on and headed for the hot springs. Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That was incredibly relaxing. There was a light rain falling part of the time, which cooled my face, butthe rest of me was nice and warm. Moving between pools was an experience. It was NOT a warm day- something like 8 degrees Celsius (46 Fahrenheit) and wet, but the temperature made the pools feel that much nicer.

After a relaxing 2 hours, we went back to the house, got all cleaned and dressed, and went searching for dinner. Anne-Nicole had spotted something earlier that looked appetizing, so we headed for that, and on the way Uncle Sean suggested all of the places we didn't want to Burger King. We got to the restaurant, Jollie Jack's, which had a nice fire going and NZ news on a big screen TV in the bar. Our food was delicious. (Mussels to share, incredible seafood pasta, steak, and cod....and several jugs of water.) It was the sort of restaurant where the presentation of the food is beautiful, but not pretentious and over the top.

That night Uncle Sean built a fire in our fireplace and we sat down with a bar of chocolate and some local wine and vegged. Our hosts had left behind a selection of movies, and it was a matter of choosing between "Willy Wonka" and "Chicken Run." The chickens won. Easily. (Watching a movie like "Chicken Run" with your average, run of the mill person is NOTHING like watching it with Uncle Sean.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sunday: Akaroa, NZ

We left Christchurch after a large breakfast of muesli, yogurt, danishes, toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, and assorted juices and coffee/tea, all courtesy of Nita and Belina, the owners.

Our drive to Akaroa was very leisurely. We stopped several times when one or all of us saw something that looked interesting. After driving through Lyttleton toward the Banks Peninsula, we stopped off at a harbor park where we found a trail that went down along the water. It was a beautiful spot, with the hills coming right down to the water, and a view out onto the Pacific. While on the trail, we met a couple out walking their dog (the killer cocker, Scrumpy.) They were very friendly, and gave us tips on good places to stop, especially for food.

We continued on, stopping every once and a while for pictures. The terrain was hilly/mountainous, and the roads just wrapped around the edges. It being New Zealand, there were sheep EVERYWHERE, even in the most precarious spots. It was cloudy, so we couldn't see very far, but what we could see was beautiful. The hills in that area were a fall-ish golden green color, and very rocky. There weren't just large outcroppings like one would expect to find, but along the flatter parts, there were just big rocks everywhere.

A little outside of Akaroa, we came across one of the suggested stops, a cafe and art gallery. The coffee was delicious, and the art gallery was pretty interesting. (I bought something, but I'm not saying what because I know for a fact that its recipient will be reading this. ;o))

Further along, we stopped again, this time at Barry's Cheese Shop in Barry's Bay. Though I've never stopped and thought about what a cheeseman shoud look like, if I had a I imagine I would have pictured someone like the Barry's Bay cheeseman. He was tall and rosy, with a big white moustache, and he was wearing a white cap and apron. He really looked like something from a story book. We bought a few cheeses from him and continued on.

Before long at all, we were in Akaroa. It is a charming little waterfront town, with lots of neat old buildings, and cats EVERYWHERE. We started off looking for a a place to stay that night. We had seen The Giant's House B&B advertised several places, and it looked interesting, so we picked up the brochure, and started to walk the "four blocks" to the house. "Four blocks" probably equaled 8+ city blocks, went uphill, and seemed interminable. Eventually we got to the driveway, where we had to walk up another hill, followed by a set of stairs to reach the house. the house itselfwas gorgeous. It was built in the 1880s, and it has lovely bones. But an artist lives there now. A nutty artist. The sort who completely overwhelms a beautiful old house with garish colors and really weird sculpture. The owner was a little bit scary herself. I don't mind when my friends dress in mini-skirts and dye their hair blue (yes, that means you, Rachel ;o)) but there's something strange about a 50+ year old woman doing it, especially when one moment she's acting like she wants to hug you, and the next she's about to rip your head off.

We skeedaddled. Thank goodness. I might have gotten nightmares, either from the hostess, or her creepy sculpture garden.

We ended up renting a waterfront apartment, which was incredibly relaxing. We got take-out fish'n'chips for dinner, and sat around the family room watching Return of the King.

After finding a place to stay, we took off for a drive. We drove up into the mountains, starting with nice, fairly broad but curvy mountainside roads, and as we got farther in, the roads got narrower and steeper. Some gave way to gravel entirely. Boy that was fun. :o)
Uncle Sean is a good driver though, and we were in no danger of flying off the side of a mountain. The scenery was fantastic, but the most amazing thing was the silence. It was completely quiet up on the mountain. Even the sheep were silent. I don't think I ever realized before just how much background noise is always around me. There are always car sounds, people, birds, or some sort of machine making noise. Up on the top of that mountain, you could hear the footsteps of the sheep across the pasture, and every breath of wind rustling the grass.

Saturday: Christchurch, NZ

Starting at the beginning...who knows how long this could end up being! I am definitely going to do more than one post.

We left the house on Saturday morning (around 7:00, I think) and hung around the Qantas member's lounge until our flight at 8:50. I'd never been in one of the airline lounges before, and it was quite an experience. There was a hot breakfast buffet, espresso, and just about any alcohol you could want, as well as high-speed internet access. I could really get into travelling that way.

We got into Christchurch, NZ around 1:00 their time, and found rooms at the Croyden House B&B. It was comfortable, clean, WARM (electric blankets on the beds, heated towel kind of place!), and the house itself was lovely.

We did some walking around, looking at various art galleries, and visiting an open market near the cathedral. We got lunch at the market; fresh cheese crepes for Anne-Nicole and me, and a big old sausage for Uncle Sean. After we had finished lunch and done some more walking we visited the cathedral. Despite the modern paraphanelia scattered throughout, it was a very reverent space. There were some beautiful carved panels throughout the church, and the stained glass was lovely.

We went back to the Croyden House for a while, and sat in the parlour, drinking their complimentary sherry. After we had rested for a while, we set out in search of dinner. We ended up at a small Thai/Laotian restaurant. We had a delicious dinner, followed by dessert- fried bananas on "hokey-pokey" ice-cream. Hokey-Pokey is a New Zealand thing. They just don't sell it anywhere else. (I'm very nearly addicted to it...but don't worry. I got the recipe!) If you think that sounds revoltingly sweet, you're almost right. But it was delicious.

The streets were almost deserted later Saturday evening, because of the big rugby match going on, involving the Christchurch Crusaders. Everyone else was somewhere with a TV (and beer.) We decided to go act like locals and catch the end of the game at one of the pubs on the main drag. It wasn't a very pubby-pub. There wasn't any smoke in the room, it was very quiet (for a room full of rugby fans), and the decor was sophisticated. But the Monteith's beer was very good. :o)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday: Sydney to Christchurch

We're in Christchurch, New Zealand now. The town is adorable, and our B&B, the Croyden House, is very quaint and comfortable.

I probably won't get to post for a few more days, because I'm not sure if we'll have internet access everywhere. If not, I'll be sure to fill everyone in on our trip as soon as we get back to Sydney on Wednesday.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday: Sitting Around Reading

I woke up around 8:30 this morning, and Uncle Sean and Aunt Anne-Nicole were both gone for the day. After my hike yesterday, my feet were a little sore, and I didn't have anything planned for today, so I decided against gallivanting off. Instead, I lazed around in my pajamas for a few hours, checked email several times, and talked to my family on the phone. I finally got dressed around 10:30, after which I sat around reading and watching movies until 1:00.

After 1:00, I decided that taking it easy didn't necessarily mean staying inside. It was a lovely, sunny day, far too nice to waste with movies. I packed a bag with all the essentials: my book, camera, pen and paper, wallet, and a bag of chocolate chip cookies. Gear in hand, I set off for a nice, leisurely walk down Cremorne Point. At the very tip, just before you would walk off the edge into the harbor, there are a few benches. I planted myself on one of those.

The view from the point is wonderful. There's a white lighthouse just off the tip of the point, which is quite picturesque, and Taronga Zoo is just across the water. There were times when I could hear the animals over the sound of the water. Any number of boats were passing at any given time; motor boats, sail boats, ferries....

As the day progressed, the light over the harbor changed. It started off as a crisp, clear light, in which it seems that you can make out every leaf of every tree, and the sails of the sailboats shine almost blindingly. The water sparkled and gleamed, reflecting and magnifying the light of the sun. Gradually, the light softened, so that everything looked a little fuzzy around the edges, and the walls of the buildings across the harbor seemed to have a gentle golden halo. The water no longer shimmered, but it took on a deeper blue to contrast with the soft greens and golds of the shore.

Excuse the descriptive flight.... I sat outside for almost 4 hours, just reading and thinking, so I had plenty of time to take in my surroundings and appreciate and commit to memory every color and sound. Hopefully, when I got home I'll remember quiet moments like that as well as I remember all the adventures I've been having.

Speaking of adventures, we're leaving in the morning forNew Zealand! We'll be flying into Christchurch, and from there on, who knows. I get the feeling that whatever we do, as long as we get out of the airport, I'll be happy with it and find it interesting.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday: Manly

Uncle Sean and I headed over to Manly Beach at 10:00 yesterday morning. He hit the waves for some surfing, and I explored. I walked the length of the beach a few times before settling down with a book along one of the quieter stretches of beach.

According to the internet surf experts, it was a beautiful, "sparkling" morning on Manly. They were completely right. The water was shimmery and the waves almost seemed to be glowing. In places where the water was more still, it was incredibly clear and an amazing, un-real shade of blue.

After a little while, Uncle Sean came over to say he was heading back to work, and I put down my book for some shopping. I hit the Mambo store (again) to finish up shopping for my brothers. Lucky for me they had a sale, and I ended up with a free sweatshirt.

By the time I'd finished shopping, I'd worked up an appetite (funny how that happens.) I stopped in at an inexpensive little hole-in-the-wall health food place for some take-away tofu salad, which I took back down to the waterfront for a picnic. As I expected, the seagulls were far more interested in the fish and chips being consumed all around me than in my little tofu salad.

To make up for my super healthy lunch, I got myself a nice big cone of ice-cream for dessert. My ice-cream and I took a walk down the beach to Cabbage Tree Bay, which was oh-so lovely and peaceful. I settled back down with my book in a nice breezy spot, and stayed there for a few more hours.

At 2:00, I decided to head back in the general direction of home, via the "Manly-Spit" walk. (Ok, so it's really called the Manly Scenic Walkway, but it runs between Manly Beach and The Spit, and everyone calls it The Spit to Manly walk. I went backwards...Manly-Spit.)

Anyway. I thought to grab a bottle of water before I left, and it was a good thing I did. The walk was about 9 km. long and pretty tough in spots; the water was thoroughly appreciated. The scenery was incredible though. Some of the views were breathtaking....(at least, I'd like to think it was the views, not the very steep, uneven, 200 or so steps required to reach the views....) My camera battery had been dying slowly all day, but I managed to get some great pictures.

I finally descended from the heights, down to Clontarf Beach, where I promptly took off my walking sandals and soaked my feet in the water. It felt soooo good, and I walked the rest of the length of the beach up to my ankles in water. I found some really great starfish, but they were all still alive (drat. ;o)) By the time the trail picked back up, I was totally relaxed, cool, and comfortable, but my feet were just a little too big for my shoes. Ouch. I survived the last 1/4 mile or so, and settled in to wait for a bus to take me back home. Overall, the hike took about 2 1/2 hours, even though the posted time for it is 4+. I was pretty pleased with myself after that, despite my sore, swollen feet.