Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mozzies, Dymmies, Wooly's and other Australian traditions

Australians never use the long form of anything, it seems. I think they'd abbreviate "beer" if it wasn't already one syllable.

Mozzies.... currently our least favourite thing. Mosquitoes! We don't have screens on our doors/windows at home so we have bought something like a Glade plug-in that has mosquito repellent in it, and it is helping.

Dymmies... This seems more an affectionate name, as it's just as long to say as its actual name, Dymocks. This is not Die-Mocks, as I had first supposed - it's Dymm-icks. It seems to be the Chapters of Australia, or at least the B&N.

Wooly's, you might already know if you've been to Britain. There are several Woolworth's around, and depending on the size, they are part grocery store, part clothing store, part electronics boutique. We've bought a couple of cheap DVDs ($13) and some food from here. There was one in Balmain, where we spent two weeks in our friend's apartment; and there's another in the Central Business District (CBD - see! another abbreviation). The one in the CBD has a Netcafe on the top floor.

So we are learning little things and buying little things, trying to get settled in. We now have an iron and a toaster and a drying rack, all of which contribute to a more homey existence in our new place. But I am getting really sick of living out of my suitcases and a few hangers, and would like a dresser. There is only so much you can convince a cabdriver to put in the back, so I'll have to wait until a friend can help us, or until we find someplace that delivers. Phooey. We'd also like a second comfy chair or a two-seater couch, because currently we have only one recliner and a bunch of dining chairs - meaning someone gets to sit in luxury while the other sits in steerage (a coworker's analogy, and it's rather appropriate). We swap of course, but it's not very much fun. Still, better than having no luxury chair at all! We borrowed it from a (different) coworker, which was very nice of him.

So I was standing near said luxury chair last night, going through piles of recycling from our porch, when Jody suddenly cried, "Watch out! Watch out!" And I jumped around in my bare feet until I was by the sliding door to the porch. My heart was pounding because all I could think of were poisonous spiders! And I'm like, "What? What is it?"
"By your feet!" said Jody. "It's a cockroach!"
Oh. Oh.
It says something that this made me less scared. "Jody," I admonished, "I thought it was something poisonous. Don't freak me out like that!"
We made a plan to catch it and fling it off the balcony using the box from our new iron. Then Jody figured it would be just as simple to use the tiny dustpan. I grabbed it from the laundry area, handed it to him, and stayed way the heck on the other side of the room. If you've ever seen me on a mosquito hunt, or killing/capturing spiders (much appreciated by several former roommates, and my sister), this little scene would have amused you.
"It's probably more frightened than we are," Jody mused.
He chased it around the TV corner, nabbed it in less than a minute, and stepped onto the porch to return it to the wild. Er, the courtyard.
"My hero," I said.
"Did you see it?" Jody asked.
"Then I really am your hero."
"Yup. Thank you."

I then polished off my beer, like a good Australian. Nothing like a shot of adrenaline to make you thirsty.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like... summer???

It's midweek, and I am at home making pasta and spinach salad. I haven't quite gotten over the novelty of a gas stove, and am slowly learning how to use it without burning the food – and without flicking the gas on five times before it lights. I've got it down to two or three now! And because it's necessary to wash salad here, I got a salad spinner – and it's a ridiculous one. I don't have to turn or wind the salad manually; it has a “one-pull” that winds it up for me like a spinning top – and a single button to tell it to stop spinning! Ah, little things.
– Break for dinner –

Last night was our company's customer Christmas function. It turned out really well, and I was pleased with everything from how the d├ęcor looked to how the people enjoyed themselves to how I handled greeting people and making announcements with the microphone. I had help preparing, but since company events are part of my job description, I did a lot of work and was the “host” of the function. So it felt really good to see everything come together. Now I just have to do it all again next week in Melbourne! Jody and I and two other coworkers are flying there for a day and a night, along with our bosses, to attend the other main branch's party and to work with the Melbourne crew for a day. It will be good to meet people I've spoken to and emailed. I have already met one, JC, and he and I are getting along well – which is great since he's the lead marketing guy in Melbourne, so we'll be working together a lot.

Now that it's December I'm listening to Christmas music, and Ave Maria is playing – which reminds me of a funny story someone told me about their mother singing along to it in the kitchen, and this someone decided they would distract their mother from singing, for the betterment of the other people in the house. Nice going, you - you know who you are. Now I'll never be able to think of that song without thinking of your mother and her singing.

The other weird thing about Christmas music, and indeed Christmas in Australia in general; is that I keep hearing about fireplaces and snow and cocoa and popped corn – none of which are seasonal here. People still wear Santa hats and give out stickers with snowmen on them, but it's just not the same. It doesn't feel like Christmas is coming. Not that I'm complaining (though I might be in January or February; I hear it gets much hotter) because it's wonderful to finally feel like I'm getting a summer- but it is disconcerting. I hope my music will help me get in a holiday mood. And maybe some baking. Jody brought his favourite cookie sheets all the way here, only to find they're too large to fit in most ovens! So we have to find some smaller ones before we make cookies. Though he did bake delicious blueberry muffins yesterday, and bring them to work, where they disappeared like moustaches at the end of Movember.

I know, I know. This blog post is totally random. But I'm told that people miss my randomness.

I miss little things, like watching the bunnies at UVic. Going for coffee at Timmy's late at night. Watching the people riding the #6 bus. Being excited when Thrifty's actually has salmon and cream cheese sushi in stock. Thrifty's, in general. Sales at Reitman's and Suzy Shier. Snickering at high schoolers who think it's cool to hang out in Wal-Mart. Giggling uncontrollably when passing the Little Caesar's by Wo-Mo. (If you don't know, sorry – you're going to have to wonder.)

Walking along the breakwater. Spotting deer in peoples' yards. Planning to go to the mainland, then remembering what a pain the ferry + BC Transit is and scrapping the idea. Checking what's playing at the Roxy but never going for the double feature. Going to Cinecenta instead, because the theatre and the popcorn have much more interesting names. Calling someone I've just seen and talking for an hour. Calling someone else and talking almost entirely in pop culture references and inside jokes.

So, if anyone is planning to come and visit, I need more time to find cool places to take you. All I've got so far is Darling Harbour, two shopping districts, one semi-decent bookshop and an ice cream parlour. But oh my word, is the ice cream ever fantastic. Jody and I cheaped out on dinner one night and splurged on dessert. The place is called Passionflower, and all they do is gelato, ice cream and sorbet. With fruit. With brownies. With chocolate. With their signature passionfruit sauce. With practically anything decadent you could put with ice cream. And each creation has a name. Yes, it's expensive and yes, you'll try to tell yourself you should share – but you'll want one all to yourself.

There's a movie theatre near Passionflower, and I haven't been to the movies yet. Jody and I were waiting for our friend Mark (who used to work with Jody in Vic) to return from his vacation in Thailand – but he got waylaid because of the protesters that forced Bangkok Airport to close. He's back now, a week late, and he's tired but unharmed. So once he's over his exhaustion we're dragging him along to the new Bond flick. Like in South Africa, movies come out later here than in Canada, so I haven't seen Quantum of Solace, Australia, or Twilight – though it looks like I'll give Twilight a miss. Can't wait to see Bond, though – go Daniel Craig! Go Judi Dench! And then there's Hugh Jackman... Please, no spoilers.

As I have some time to myself this evening (Jody's at a conference downtown), I'm going to try to get in some beadwork. We finally have a level surface I can work on – the table and chairs we ordered from a rental place came yesterday, nearly a week later than planned. But it's here, and now we can eat like civilised people and I won't lose a pile of seed beads in the carpet.

Next up – a bookcase, an ironing board & iron, and a second living room chair. IKEA here we come! But really, the place we got is pretty nice, and it won't take much more to settle into it. Being so near to the office and downtown is a definite bonus, but we'll have to take care not to limit ourselves to two villages in all of Sydney.

My Macbook – which so far seems to have recovered from its cup of tea, aside from a tendency to get very hot – is telling me it is charged, so I'm going to put it to sleep and make some earrings. I'll post this in the morning when I get to the office. That's another little thing I miss – unlimited Internet at home!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cash, Thongs and Haich-es

I've now been in Sydney a little more than a fortnight- 17 days. It's amazing how fast the time has gone, and how some things have radically changed while others are still plodding along. What has struck me the most, however, has been the little everyday things that are becoming part of my life here.

To begin: The company I am working for installs a fair bit of HP hardware, and all around the office I hear phone calls and discussions about Haich-P. Haich. It didn't really occur to me that the way someone pronounced a letter (such as our Zed and the U.S. equivalent Zee) would bother me that much, but seriously – hearing it as part of a brand name I'm accustomed to is jarring. And the woman who works at the desk the other side of the partition has a last name with two h's, which she often spells over the phone.

Then there's tomahto sauce, not ketchup. EFTPOS, not Debit (which I can only assume stands for Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale). The first thing I learned here was, “How you going?” and I am still trying to figure out the correct response. And my latest today is courtesy my office mate, who told me the proper phrase is, “Do you have two secs?” instead of “a minute.”
It's very rare to leave a tip. Cabdrivers don't always know where they are going. I like taking the train, but I have yet to ride the monorail. You generally can't transfer buses and you cannot take a return trip on your first fare. Sometimes you have to go downtown to get anywhere. And they're very fond of acronyms for places: QVB is Queen Victoria Building, CBD is Central Business District. It took me days to learn that Pde in Anzac Pde, a street, stands for Parade.
A regular coffee is 8 oz – I've seen a 12 oz as a large – and it's cheaper than water in many places. It's not often you'll find drip coffee, but cappuccinos, lattes and mochas are everywhere and very reasonable. (And I can drink the milk! No more soy!) I haven't had bad coffee yet, but then I have been frequenting nice coffee places and restaurants.

People here love their thongs. Although many women wear heels daily, a lot of them wear flip flops to their destination and then switch. A lot of the men wear thongs, too. But Jody bought a new pair of Keen sandals at the outlet mall on the weekend, and I only have the brown and pink ones that match my swimsuit – so we'll have to get some.
But first! We must get a flat – er, apartment - of our own so we have somewhere to keep our thongs, our haich-es and our sanity. It seems most flat-hunting is done on Saturday, but we've booked one appointment for Friday lunchtime (which is tomorrow for us; it's nearing 11pm Thursday as I blog) and another for Tuesday. Tuesday's is promising, but it's also our last shot before we have to leave Mark's and go to a hotel again. That reminds me, “unfurnished” does not mean it includes a fridge, and “laundry” sometimes means hookups only, or just a dryer – washing machines are easy to take when you move, so apparently it's pretty standard to just have a stove and dishwasher. We're really hoping for air conditioning because Jody's already too hot.

When Jody was away the other week and I was walking near our hotel, I happened by an Irish pub called Scruffy Murphy's. And it was playing, not pipes or horns or Celtic, but Ring of Fire. Johnny Cash, folks, in an Irish pub. And in case you were wondering what kind of cash I was talking about, I can mention the other one too. The money is colourful and has little clear windows in it. If you're coming to visit, though, make sure to bring a change purse – the coins are hefty. The $1 are larger in diameter than the $2, the 20 cents are bigger than a quarter, and the 50 cents are larger still! bigger than a toonie, I think! 5 and 10 cents are more sane. Supposedly there are 2 cent coins and no single pennies, but as most people round here, I haven't seen one.

Tonight I finally got a good view of the harbour; because Jody's boss was unable to attend, he passed his invitation to a cruise ship schmoozefest on to us. We enjoyed champagne with guava juice and canapes, some lovely live music and a little dancing, and a harbour tour. The tour, cleverly, ended just after sunset – so we should have some good pictures forthcoming. There were some very friendly people aboard, several of whom Jody will come into contact with as he is part of the FOSS4G planning committee. FOSS is a yearly conference taking place in Sydney in 2009; it was in Victoria fall 2007, so Jody's already had experience with it.

I'd love to write some more but I think for now I am going to have to call it a night. I am typing on my Eee to give my Mac a little more time to dry out, but it seems that it has miraculously recovered from its bath in Jody's tea three days ago. The Apple guys couldn't believe it. Still, unless my travel insurance happens to cover replacing it, my warranty is void because liquid damage isn't “normal” wear and tear – so this voids anything else that might go wrong later. That it is still working at all is impressive. Jody turned it upside down and removed its battery immediately, so that gave it a good chance of recovery – and we found the Leatherman and unscrewed the hard drive about ten minutes later. The mic and camera still work and the screen is fine – the only lasting damage seems to be the loss of functionality on the left-side Opt key, but since there's a second Opt key I'm not worried. Yay Mac!

Jody is playing on his PSP and seems to be on the last level of some Joan of Arc game where monsters are kicking his butt. He might be a while and I am tempted to keep writing. Oh,he has now gotten “Stage Cleared” so there might just be a cut scene left before the end. So I will say goodnight.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

No Kangaroos yet, but plenty of feathers!

Pictures will have to come later, as I've nearly used up all my Internet time- despite typing this blog post offline throughout the day.

Late this morning, I took a train to meet Jody at the bank. Here are photos of my walk and my solo train venture. The train was underground, and had two decks! I was very grateful to have had some experience with the Light Rail Transit in San Francisco, because it was similar in terms of tickets and train platforms. It was quite exciting, and although I had to ask where the correct platform was (turns out it was down two levels from the main floor) I was otherwise able to find my way.

I've just been watching the Melbourne Cup with my new office mates. Like Durban July is to South Africa, Melbourne Cup is to Australia – the largest, most publicized horse race in the country, topped off by a plethora of feathery headdresses and couture dresses. The country slows to a crawl for the first hour of the races, and in Melbourne it's a public holiday. The trams have been packed with people going to the races; the streets are teeming with feather-festooned heads and high heels.

Speaking of high heels, I was walking near our new bank this afternoon and saw JIMMY CHOO! And FERRAGAMO! Jody, naturally, had no idea what this meant. To me, it meant that I could at last look up close at shoes I will never be able to afford – but at least I can now covet them from a reasonable distance! There was also a Tiffany's and a Gucci. All within a block of each other. Someone pinch me.

-Break to watch more racing-
Woo hoo! The second race is over, and my horse won! I won 18 dollars in the office pool, randomly betting on Juggle the Books. Go, Books!

And now we're off to check out a conference centre.

Jody and I went back to the hotel and found drinks and snacks on the way, including HELLO PANDA biscuits! I haven't seen these in years. Vitamin Water is prevalent here too, and regular water is more expensive than coffee. Chocolate bars are also more expensive, but they do sell KitKat here, so I'll survive.

After changing into more comfortable clothes, we headed off to find dinner. A Lebanese restaurant offered kebab, hummous, falafel and some sort of sauteed chicken. I ordered a chai latte and there was barely any tea in it. The nice woman who ran the place plunked a teabag into my cup so it could steep longer. By the time I finished my drink it had more flavour (previously it was like drinking steamed milk with nutmeg), but I think my search for the perfect chai will continue.

So, we succeeded in having three meals today; taking public transit; opening our bank account and applying for credit cards; winning a bet; and using cynicism in the workplace. More another day!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Top 10? Me?

Yes, I love music. But not usually Top 10 stuff. I surprised myself by actually liking two of the songs that are currently in the MMM Top 10. I don't usually listen to popular music, but I can't get these two videos out of my head:

Maroon 5 & Rihanna's "If I Never See Your Face Again"

Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl"

(Videos removed)

I have to hand it to her, Rihanna looks hot. The hair, the makeup, the clothes - but who wouldn't if she had a personal stylist? I was getting a little sick of pop stars with superlong locks, and she shows that short hair can be sexy. The beat in the background is driving and Maroon 5 and Rihanna sound awesome together. A little edgy, a little pop. Love it!

The gold dress. The posh grown-up slumber party idea. Very glam, very dreamlike. The half-innocent, half-unabashed lilt to Katy's voice that teeters between the adorable and "dare-ya-to-criticize-me" lyrics. I think my favourite part of the video, though, is the very end when she wakes up next to a guy and gives that little smile. I shouldn't like this song so much, but it's just so much frothy fun.

Then, we have NKOTB. Pardon me, New Kids on the Block. They're back, again? Looking like a cheaper, older version of *NSYNC? (Did I get that spelled right??) Sheesh. Yeah, I get it; *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys wouldn't have been as successful if NKOTB hadn't come out first. I think they should have stayed broken up, and not just because their "reunion" makes me feel old. The "Summertime" video is basically an excuse for the guys to spend a lot of time with pretty 20somethings in swimsuits. (At least, I hope they're over 20. The band members are all over 35 - I checked.) And really, what is "Summertime" about? It's like a cheap - there's that word again - shadow of "Summer Lovin'" but without the female point of view. I can't see how too many original New Kids fans would be falling over themselves to take a walk on the beach with these guys, even though they're trying to make a comeback. I just think they're trying too hard.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Very Good Day to be Me!

Today was a wonderful day!
I saw Jody off to work, did some things around the house, read some of my book (Philippa Gregory's Meridon) and then left for my hair appointment. Even though my usual hairdresser was unavailable (again - we seem to be having issues with scheduling) I took a chance on another stylist at my usual salon, *plus* took a chance with a style I've been thinking about for awhile. I am so happy I didn't chicken out! She took five inches off the back and between three and four off the front (it was layered). I left the colour alone for now - I might go fully brunette again in the fall.

I walked to the nearby mall and saw my grandparents by chance, so we sat down to eat Subway together. Grampa was waiting for some new glasses from our eye doctor across the street, so they had about 45 minutes to kill. After our sandwiches I said I wanted to go buy a new shirt or two, and ducked into Reitman's. Twenty minutes later, I came out with two pairs of summer-weight dress pants and *three* tops, all at fabulous prices and all fun but professional. So excited! It's like I had my own mini "What Not to Wear" episode. I never find so many things in one store. Granted, I have to get the pants hemmed, but that's no big deal. I am in love with the blue and white blouse with smocking in the front that I bought, as well as the pinstriped pants. I met up with my grandparents, who shuttled me home. I then went upstairs to get books for them to read, and a pie plate they'd loaned to me containing watermelon. It's nice to be in the same city so we can share things.

I did some laundry, which as we all know is terribly exciting (blech). I talked to M on the phone, which we all know is terribly exciting (yay!). I posted pictures of my new haircut on Facebook. At 4:30 I checked out the 'spa' near our place and was very impressed with how painlessly and perfectly the girl did my brows. I'll be back another time.

I went immediately to Jody's gym, and checked it out, it being my first time there. We thought it would be a good way to spend time together, and get him out of the office at a reasonable time. He was a little late meeting me so I jumped right into a dance class that was taking place as I got there. It was awesome! "Dance For Joy," it was called, and we danced and tae-kwon-do'd and yoga'd our way to working up a sweat and, incredibly, smiling. At least, I was smiling - the guy next to me didn't think he'd come back. Anyway, I quite enjoyed it. Unfortunately it's not included in the cost of monthly membership. But it felt so good to be doing exercise beyond walking and partner dancing, I might go again regardless.

Jody & I walked home and made breakfast for dinner! Yum. Which of course reminds me of Juno, because breakfast for dinner is also Bleeker's favourite. Dinner was accompanied by some terrific jazz on CBC Radio 2, including Fever and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Gorgeous.

Essentially, the only thing missing from today was chocolate. I guess I'll fix that tomorrow - otherwise, it was a very good day to be me! The exercise equals happiness and the pampering makes me feel beautiful. I took a break from this blog to make dinner, and now that I've picked it up again it is just past midnight and time for bed. I now go off to sleep, a very happy Julia.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ultimate 5: Favourite Things, Right Now

1. Eee PC

Love, love, love. It's small and mighty, it's white and pearly, it runs Linux, weighs less than 3 lbs., connects to wireless networks, starts and shuts down in seconds, allows me to word process in small places, AND is supercute. It's especially useful for blogging before bed, trying out new online recipes by taking up minimal space in the kitchen, and using Skype to talk to my parents. Its webcam and mic are much less fuss than my desktop.

I could not have gotten through my last semester without it, and now I often take it with me - it fits in a lot of my purses - to the coffee shop, on weekend trips, to the bead store when I need to match something I only have a picture of. I literally balanced my Eee in one hand and my bead tray in the other one day last week. I dropped it off my desk once in class, while it was open and running, and it's perfectly fine because it has a flash drive. So I don't worry too much about packing it around with me, whereas I might be more careful with a MacBook - which I hope to get when my desktop packs it in.

Because my Eee PC is so light and shiny-white, I have named her Bubbles. I thought this suited it as much as GIR suits my slower, bulkier, WinXP desktop - see Nickelodeon's Invader Zim if you don't get the reference. Bubbles, however, has nothing to do with Powerpuff Girls - I just thought it was cute. It's certainly no sillier than saying Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!PC.

A picture of GIR!

2. Pencil Skirts

I have two right now - a chocolate brown wool blend with a modest slit at the back and seaming in the front; and a black satiny high-waisted one with embroidery near the waistline and a beautifully pleated kickpleat. I wore the brown one out dancing last Monday, and since there wasn't enough space to Lindy, I didn't have any trouble moving in it for blues and West Coast. I felt sophisticated and fabulous. I wore it again this morning for my interview.

The black one was a gift from my mom from Italy. I've worn it to my grad luncheon, and now to Angie's recent show at Habit. I found this great wedgewood-blue top to wear with it, and paired them with another gift from "The Mom," black slouchy ankle boots. Being able to tuck the top into the skirt showed off the embroidery, and I am trying to get over the fear of connecting high waists to the 80s and my penchant for tucking and re-tucking my shirts in while in elementary school and junior high.
I want more pencil skirts, but since my skirts far outweigh the pants in my closet, I think I will have to hold back. Including the pencil skirt, I have six black skirts, nevermind the other ones!

3. Veronica Mars

Jody and I have been watching this for the past two months, thanks to Alf & Laura, who hooked us up with burned DVDs. We only have eight episodes left! It was so difficult not to watch any without Jody when he was away for two weeks last month. Some weekends we've watched half a dozen shows. I don't know what we'll do when it's over and we have to go back to cable. I watch TLC, and Ellen, but in the evenings and on weekends there isn't much to see. We caught an old Bond flick last Sunday (Her Majesty's Secret Service) which was very sad, and then Jody found a remake of Knight Rider, which was pretty awful. "The Hoff" only makes a brief cameo at the end, so we couldn't even laugh at him for an hour and a half.

Back to Mars. It is odd to see Charisma Carpenter and Alyson Hannigan on the same show again, having watched them together on Buffy. There was a single episode that featured Rider Strong, too, and I thought he'd dropped off the face of the earth after my teen years. (Then again, he didn't show much improvement, so no wonder he was only in the one episode!) Leighton Meester, who now plays Blair on Gossip Girl, showed up in some early episodes. And now Kristen Bell narrates Gossip Girl... It's a shame it got cancelled, but at least it wasn't the end for Bell. She does have great timing, and her character's reliance on favours, gadgets, quick thinking and friends-as-resources makes for an interesting show. I hope it gets somewhat tied up at the end of season three so I'm not left wondering what happens - though Jody and I have formed some theories, we aren't positive where it's going. What we do know is that it's engaging enough to make me think about it as I fall asleep some nights, which is more than I can say for a lot of shows that have come out in the last few years.

And yes, I'm still undecided about Logan.

4. CoverGirl Lash Blast Mascara

Awesome. Really. I have been wearing either Rimmel or Clinique mascara since I left high school, and I have to say, Lash Blast is both cheap and effective. Its tube is bright orange and happy in the morning, I barely ever manage to clump my lashes, and it doesn't make them go all spidery either. The brush looks really weird, but it works (though if you're looking for one to curl your lashes, look elsewhere). If you're looking for a basic daytime mascara, give it a try. I'm pretty sure it comes in waterproof now too.

5. Soy Hazelnut Lattes

I ordered a hazelnut americano a few weeks ago and got this by mistake. It was a very happy mistake, because I was in a rut. Now, I cycle between these, americanos, and chai - unless I'm at Habit, where they make wicked boonahs and vanilla lattes. And now that my S-bux card is registered, I get free soy and hazelnut when I pay with it - which saves me 80 cents! Very exciting. I don't mind paying for the extras at Habit because their coffee - whatever I order - is always wonderful, but S-bux has been hit or miss lately. The hazelnut latte does a lot to perk me up, and it's great writing fuel!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The busyness

Where to start?
Here are some things that have been keeping me busy, of late:

1. Planning

Jody and I are thinking seriously of moving. Out of the country. So I dropped off my Canadian passport application a week ago - which was not terribly painful, but it was annoying and expensive. The law has been changed so that I can't just amend my passport; I had to completely reapply-- and pay again-- for a new one with my new last name, despite the fact that the one I got for my South Africa sojourn is good for another 3 years.
Today I am going to Vancouver last-minute to get a family friend of Jody's to sign his application and passport photos for the UK. We had this done a week ago, except that my first round of photos got rejected (too fuzzy; flash wasn't working where we got them taken) so we figured Jody's would be rejected also. He got them retaken on Saturday and we brought the photos to church on Sunday - but our pastor is now on vacation until August. So, now we have to find a new guarantor to sign his photos and application. Which means going to Vancouver, since Jody has no one here that has known him two years in a professional capacity.

(Fortunately this little trip means I can spend the ferry ride with friends of mine who have been visiting from out-of-province, but haven't been able to catch up with me. Yay!)

There's also financial planning, and job planning - which of course are related. Ah, spreadsheets. We are spreadsheet-happy right now; I think we have at least half a dozen going. I need to figure things out like RRSPs and my student loan repayment plan. I think the time has come for professional help, now that we have some sort of outline of where we are and where we want to be come winter.

2. Job Search

This has been sliding to the back of my mind. Yesterday I found an ad for a secretary that sounded interesting, so tomorrow I'll drop a resume by. No luck with bookstores or the library. Jody keeps joking that I could apply to drive a horse-drawn carriage and spend the rest of the summer in the hospital from asthma attacks, but I don't think that would be lucrative either.

3. Beadwork

Despite not having a job, I have managed to earn some money. I have sold some of my beadwork - to family, so far, but others have expressed interest. BeadedWishes is now on Etsy. At the moment I have only listed one item, but it looks like it works because it's had more than the 2 views from myself. So now I will put up more items and see what happens!
Jody and I spent a few hours this weekend just making the banner and profile picture for Etsy, and I'm very happy with how professional and fun they look.

4. Veronica Mars

We are addicted. I think we've watched 8 episodes this weekend. We're almost midway through the 3rd season now, and I'm sad that it's almost over.

5. Books

Recent reads:
The Host - Stephenie Meyer
Persuasion - Jane Austen
Sweetness in the Belly - Camilla Gibb
Spook Country - William Gibson

and writing:
Turned - a work in progress! I hope I get to write more on my trip today.

It's 9:15 now so I'd better get going - a few things to do before I head out!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Creative wineglass usage

I was playing with afternoon light and a wineglass today in order to photograph the collection of earrings I'm sending off to my aunt tomorrow.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Mad Midnight Beader

I have been doing beadwork the past two late nights in a row. Last night it was due to having no earrings to wear with my black and white print sundress. I had a wedding to go to, and quite frankly it was easier to make, rather than find, black and white jewelry. Tonight, I was inspired to work on the cluster earrings I had planned for my grandmother. She asked me to create a second set of earrings to match another necklace she had, and pretty much gave me free rein again since she loved the jade and olive stone drops I made her last time. (See previous post: Beads of 2008, top photo.)

Unfortunately my EeePC doesn't like our old Fuji camera's USB, so the pictures will have to come later. But oh my goodness, the new earrings are fantastic. The black and white came together really quickly, and were just the thing. Tonight's pair, though--my fourth pair today--are even more fantastic. They took me almost an hour because I was measuring chain (12 lengths of it) and working with very very tiny pearls and crystals.

I am calling them Swarovski Waterfall earrings, because 4/6 beads are Swarovskis- 2 crystals of slightly different shades, and 2 pearl-coated crystals that look like luminous pearls. The other two beads are Rhodonite, a rich dusty rose coloured stone. I hung each one from a length of fine antique gold chain, using a gold headpin. When they were all on chains of varied lengths, I strung them in ascending order on a straight pin, bent it into a circle and attached it to the earring hook. Now, they look like a dainty waterfall of rose and pink, which hopefully will work with the bead-and-shell necklace my Gramma has. Oh, they are so pretty. A lot of work, but so pretty!

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The other earrings I worked on today are for a set of 6 I am sending to my aunt for her gift cupboard. I did two yesterday, so that leaves just one more for her. I haven't quite decided if I'll work with stone chips again, or do a chandelier pair for a change. Still, I'm pleased with the work I've done this weekend. :)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Blogging by Glo-Stick

I have just gotten in from watching the Canada Day fireworks - on the other side of the bridge this year. It was fantastic! Last year I watched from Angie's bathroom window (great view without all the crowd-fighting) but this year, it was definitely worth being out there at 8:30 and waiting 2 hours for the show to start.

A group of mostly dancer-friends were huddled together, hot chocolate and licorice at hand, with extra blankets and sweaters providing coziness. I got to be in the middle, being small and without Jody. Tina and I, summer skirt junkies that we are, were a tiny bit cold, but the wind died down just as the fireworks were scheduled to start, and I was quite comfortable. Scott had given us glo-sticks, mostly green ones, so we could find each other. This would have worked so much better if Scott was not among the last to arrive, but still - glo-sticks are fun. And soon, we were surrounded by light that far outshone even Lisa's trio of glo-sticks.

Oh, how I love fireworks. There were twinkly ones. Small spiraling ones. Fizzing ones. Zigzagging ones that exploded in a shower of sparks. Big ones that lingered. Shooting ones that streaked orange through the sky. Red inside white, white inside red, purple and green and gold. The reverb off the buildings behind us was quite impressive. I have never been so close to where they've set the fireworks off before - I now understood why part of the Point had been closed off. Sparks landed in the water only a few hundred feet from us, and I had to crane my neck to see the giant fireworks that sped far out over the water. Wow.

Today marks my 8th anniversary of returning to Victoria. It's been quite an adventure! It's hard to forget the opportunities I gained in moving here when I'm reminded every year that I could still be in Ontario. I have loved living here, but since Jody and I are likely to pack up and move...somewhere, it wouldn't surprise me if this was my last round of fireworks. I'm glad it was a good one.

I can now hear people near my apartment building screaming out O Canada. I do hope to get to sleep before 2 am. Good night all, and thanks for the good times tonight, and for the safe ride home.

Beads of 2008

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Picture 1: Commercially made necklace with earrings I created to match.
Antique gold findings with olive stone (top), Nephrite jade, South China jade, and bead caps (lower).
Picture 2: Chain, glass bead and crystal earrings
Picture 3: Happy Birthday Jane set - multicoloured seed beads and glass
Picture 4: Happy Spring set - dual-layer floating necklace of glass and seed beads, with squeeze clasp
Picture 5: Happy Spring set - closeup, with silver filigree post drop earrings

Beads Galore!

These are my newest earrings - they are articulated, with two separate posts joined by loops.
The tiny silver-and-seed-bead drops in the last picture are my other recent creation, for size comparison.
Picture 1: Blue Goldstone, black round beads and clear/grey colour-lined seed beads
Picture 2: Crystal, glass beads, and gold filigree balls
Picture 3: Crystal, glass beads and textured gold balls
Picture 4: Side-by-side comparison for size
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Beads of 2007

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Pictures 1 & 2: Pink Birthday set: floating dual-layer necklace with cowgirl-inspired chandelier earrings
Picture 3: Chain and glass bead earrings
Picture 4: Silver chandelier earrings with blue, teal and purple seed beads

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The hunt

The job hunt, that is.
Naturally, my first attempts will be at bookstores and the library. Perhaps the university as well. I plan to go up there tomorrow and see what's up at Career Services. I am pleased with my much-edited and looked-over resume (thanks to M and S) and am getting the hang of cover letters. My search has been made slightly more difficult due to my lack of experience in libraries and the lack of booksellers needed, despite the high bookstore ratio present in this city.

Seriously. There are a lot of bookstores. Which is why, last year, I did my final Web class project as an online guide to Vic's used bookshops - and only included my favourites. I called it The Well-Read Path. It's mostly still intact, but the links to request books only go to my uni inbox, so don't bother if you happen to visit. :)

I stumbled across a uni job but pretty much don't have any of the qualifications for it. Not only am I only an undergrad ( they ask for a grad or PhD student ) but I also am unfamiliar with APA, having spent my years on MLA. Apparently this other style of citation is quite difficult to do properly.

Something will come up. But it would be really great if it came up before Jody returned from his business trip.

Photo Mosaic

My mosaic meme creation, originally uploaded by Eternity's Hour.

The concept:
1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page of results, pick one image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The questions:
1. What is your first name? Julia
2. What is your favorite food? right now? Gelato
3. What high school did you go to? St Peter's
4. What is your favorite color? Turquoise
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Hugh Jackman
6. What is your favorite drink? Ice tea
7. What is your dream vacation? Mediterranean holiday
8. What is your favorite dessert? Hedgehog cake
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? Librarian
10. What do you love most in life? Books
11. What is one word that describes you? Old-fashioned
12. What is your flickr name? Eternity's Hour

Here’s mine. I stole this idea from supertiff.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Caffeine Intake Click-Counter

This is silly, but since I had just finished a hazelnut americano when I found it, I had to give it a shot. The person whose website I found this on was waaaay under my click count. I had 137 clicks in 30 seconds, and I wasn't trying very hard.

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ultimate 5 : Snacks

Today's entry is less introspective and more gastronomical. It is also shamelessly un-health-conscious. I do eat healthy snacks, but they don't make the top 5.

1. Chocolate

Number one. Obviously. KitKat has been my favourite for a long time, as far as chocolate bars go; it's simple, with its wafers and chocolate, and it's shareable. I might share it with you, or I might share it with myself. If I'm writing something, I can eat one stick, or half a stick, at a time. It's hard to split up a Snickers, but those are very good too (although I have to hide them from my dad). Cadbury's has excellent variety, and can be snapped into squares - those bars got me through many an essay.
Hedgehogs. Purdy's are consistently good, but my sister brought me gourmet hedgehogs made with dark chocolate from Saltspring. Oh my goodness. Yum.
Chocolate mousse. Chocolate cheesecake. Creme brulee with chocolate ganache. Mint chocolate, orange chocolate, mocha cake. I'll take any of the above. I like my chocolate ice cream to have stuff in it, but I enjoy plain dark chocolate.
I don't know why I love it so much. I suppose that chocolate lends itself to many textures, from solids to liquids, so it can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Anything chocolate is often the dessert of choice at a party. It's rich, but not always expensive. I like the sound of the word itself. I like melting good-quality chocolate in my mouth and tasting the complex flavours. And, whether it's scientifically proven or just an added benefit, chocolate makes me happy!

2. Popcorn

I love popcorn. Particularly stovetop-popped with butter and salt. I think this goes back to when I spent my elementary school lunch breaks at my friend Rachel's, and her mom would make ridiculously good corn. I have an awesome stovetop popcorn popper from my great uncle, with a crank handle that spins the kernels around so they don't burn. I also love kettle corn, and occasionally Kernels double butter. Jody and Camilla like theirs with some kind of health food store yeasty topping, but this must be a Kootenay thing.

3. Licorice

Red only, please. No licorice allsorts, no cigars, no black pinwheels. I will, on occasion, eat green or purple licorice, but strawberry is the best. Especially if it's Twizzlers, or Nibs. I like to eat my Nibs in conjunction with my #2 favourite, especially in movie theatres. Mmmm. If I am very very lucky, some people buy me RedVines when they go to the States.

4. S'mores

There's toasty marshmallows PLUS chocolate here, and the graham crackers keep it from burning my fingers. They're really just a vehicle for the tasty filling - am I right? And burnt marshmallows are not a problem - I just eat the outside and stick the mallow back in the fire. Thin chocolate wafers are good because they melt all the way, and Hershey's or Dairy Milk are yummy whether they're melted or not, so I'll take either one. S'mores are one of the best things about camping or beach fires. I wish I could have them all year round, but when I can't I just eat a S'mores Chewy bar.

5. Cinnamon buns

Cinnamon...brown sugar...warm dough... The only other necessity? Buns must be free of raisins.
If I didn't love cinnamon buns before, I certainly would have after reading Robin McKinley's Sunshine. I couldn't stop thinking about them as I read that book. I craved them, and wished I could make cinnamon rolls as well as the heroine - but I'll leave the vampire conspiracies to Sunshine.
Until the technology to transport edibles from literature exists, I have to limit myself to Sally's or Cobb's cinnamon buns. I tried one at my local cafe and could not eat more than two bites. It was disgusting. If I am desperate, Pillsbury is good, but I always eat too many and they're full of stuff I don't care to contemplate. But Sally's... or Cobb's... delicious. Sally's makes a plain one, and a blueberry-pecan one. Cobb's has icing, and is more bunlike; Sally's is more roll-like and in no need of icing. I think that when I finish my resume - which I have promised myself will be later today - I will go to Cobb's as a treat.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ultimate 5 : It Begins

I haven't been posting lately. Scratch that; I haven't posted in a long time. But I figure I can manage thinking of five things every week or so to get me going, so I've come up with something I'm calling Ultimate 5. I will pick a topic, be it food, music, event, book or life-related (in short, anything; and I'll take suggestions) to start me off. I will then list my top five, and write a little about each one. I might write chronologically, or I might "rate" entries. Who knows.
So, for my first week: Ultimate 5 Firsts.

(If you're reading this on Facebook and not seeing images, you'll want to go to the original note - there are photos.)

1. Date

My first official date ever is still a highly memorable event in my mind. It could be that I was 14 and had a date with someone two grades ahead of me, when my parents had told me earlier I couldn't date until I was 16. It could be that I thought William was amazing, and that he took me to his junior prom, which happened to be on a tiny cruise ship on the Maas River in Maastricht. Either way, I felt pretty grown up, and it was very special.

Not that it was all a fairy-tale. Will picked me up and drove me to the school (we were living in Germany at the time, and attending high school just over the border in the Netherlands), where a "shuttle" was waiting to take the grads and dates to the floating party. Our shuttle was no carriage, but a really old, clunky army bus with vinyl seats. It was pretty hilarious to be all dressed up on such a momentous occasion, and then to be met with...that. We enjoyed ourselves anyway. People thought we were very cute, there was probably a lot of smiling, and I remember trying not to fall off the bench seats- they were extra slide-y with the material of my dress.

Prom itself was wonderful. Food, dancing, pictures, and friends of Will's that were becoming my friends. I was wearing tiny heels and makeup, and I felt glamorous in my dress, especially alongside William in his tux. The "theme" of the dance was Moonlight and Roses, with Seal's hit "Kiss From A Rose" the song of the evening. Now that I think of it, that's kind of a creepy song for a romantic ballad. But it was on everyone's radio that year - bonus points if you know it won Song of the Year in 1996. I think I got my first CD player that year, too.

That night included a lot of firsts. Not only was it my first date, but I received my first corsage from a boy, stayed out late, went on a cruise ship, and received my first kiss on its tiny, starlit deck.

As first-ever dates go, it was pretty spectacular.

2. Publication

I hoped to be published by 18,and thanks to the burgeoning Internet I managed it., at the time, was small and new and tightly focused on user-submitted poetry, rather than personal ads. I was going to link it, but looking at the site now, it is nothing like when I joined in its inaugural year of 1997. If you want to go look it up, go ahead, unless you are my younger cousins or parents, or you are easily offended by photos. Anyway, Lovestories is headed up by Alanna Webb (yes, that's her real name), who decided to publish some of the site's popular poems in book format.

My poem "Baby's Blessing" was named Poem of the Week sometime in 1998, voted into the top spot by site members browsing the newest additions to the poetry vault. I had written the poem - very Hallmark-like - to celebrate my friend's new arrival, and I guess a lot of people liked it. I read it at her baby's christening, but never expected it would attract so much attention.

Webb sent a promotion package to my local paper, and a reporter and photographer came to my house to interview me. They asked me about the poem, the site, writing in general, my life in general, and how I came to be involved in the book, which was called Bytes of Poetry: A Anthology. In case you're wondering, I was paid with two copies of the book and an extra to bestow on my high school library. But it was not vanity publishing, and it was published the week of my birthday. A lot of the poetry in it is great, and knowing that "real" people wrote them and shared them online is quite impressive. I've always thought it was pretty cool to be included in a collection of 80 poets chosen by other readers.

3. Dance Competition

In 2001, I had been dancing for approximately one year when Erik and I (no romantic stories here) attended Grand Ball as part of the UVic Ballroom Dance Club. We had been practicing really hard, and I'd made a trip to Vancouver to buy shoes and a dress - which, though a bold choice for me, was not anything like what the other competitors were wearing. But I do remember a certain person's dad's jaw dropping when he saw me in it. It was a short, cranberry-coloured velvet halter dress with gold sparkles thrown at it, which matched my gold 3" sandals, and it was still the most conservative outfit on the floor.
There were five couples in the Newcomer Latin division, and Erik and I took home the 3rd place trophy. Following that, we also won 3rd place in West Coast Swing. So we were pretty excited!

The trip itself was pretty eventful. We stayed at someone's house in Richmond which had not been in use for awhile, so the hot water was not hot. And it was November, so it was freaking freezing. We (I think there were 6 couples? and a second car?) went to the rec centre at the end of the street to use the showers. We were very glad that a certain person was able to shower, because he reeked of Tiger Balm, owing to an injury. The ride through Vancouver in the rental van will, in fact, forever have the smell of Tiger Balm associated with it. I also remember Erik bringing more luggage than me, then complaining that his fitted Latin shirt didn't cover his arms enough. Yeah, Erik - look at what I am wearing, and then look at what you are wearing. Right.

Singing with Jane and Christabel and Laura in the van. And screaming our lungs out with a huge UVic sign as "our" couples took the floor. Then there was the nasty woman who tossed our bags out of the women's washroom, screaming at us to use the competitor's "change room" - ie; a tiny curtained-off area you had to cross the floor to get to, and they'd squashed the events together so much there were no breaks to do so. When I got back there, though, I zipped a championship dancer into her gown. And sewed the top button onto Vernon's shirt collar while he was wearing it. Finally, we posed by the van with our mound of collective trophies. That was a sweet moment - anyone have that picture somewhere?
There were a lot of moments from that weekend that are inside jokes, so I won't puzzle the rest of you by posting them here - but it was very memorable. I don't know that I've ever been more excited at a dance comp, and I've been to six and competed in three of those. I miss it, and thinking about how awesome, though crazy, my first comp was, I hope to be back at it soon.

4. Ski Trip

I know -- it's hard to believe. I'm a Canadian over 25 and had never been skiing until January of this year. But my first time out was pretty fantastic! I went with Jody and Camilla (my sister in law), as well as their Australian cousin and his girlfriend. The powder was nice and soft, it was actually snowing as opposed to artificially blowing, and I had a lesson.
First off, though, I had to get the gear on. I had way too many layers on my legs at first, making it impossible to get the ski boots on. It hurt when Jody tried to jam the boot closures shut, so I had to take off the fleecy pants and put the ski pants over the boots. Much improved, I set out for the bunny hill, where I was told to lose the poles.

Yes, I've seen other people ski, but I didn't really understand the physics behind it. Unfortunately, this meant that when my instructor tried to get me started, I got a little ahead of her - and took off straight down the hill. And I do mean straight. down. I didn't hit anyone, I didn't run over anything, and I didn't fall over -- success! My instructor didn't know what to make of me, so she sent me back up the rope tow and proceeded to show me how to turn and stop. My next to forays down the hill were much more controlled, and soon I was on my way to the ski lift with Jody.
Oh, ski lift, how I hate you. No, seriously, look at my eyes in this pic. The rocking motion was not what I had in mind. Height, I can handle. Wobbly ski lifts, not so much.

Off the ski lift and feeling considerably happier, I let Jody videotape me with his camera as I did the hill in about three short runs. One of them ended in a spectacular tumble in which my skis flew off and buried themselves in a snowbank behind me, but I wasn't hurt- it was actually kind of fun! I began to feel okay going fast, and I was linking turns just fine, even without poles. Nevertheless, one big run was enough for me. I was tired and wanted to end on a good note, so I packed it in and headed for the lodge for hot chocolate.

5. Year of Marriage

I will never have another, and it began with support and good wishes from innumerable friends and family. If what people say is true - that it's the hardest - we got off easy. Not that it was 100% bliss, but there were so many moments that I wouldn't trade, not even for a box of hedgehogs.

My first year of marriage was also my last year of university, which made for an interesting contrast as I tried to understand the direction I was headed in. So many people have helped us get through this year, and I am grateful. To have the freedom to study, to make time for people, to be invited out for meals and movies, to be kept sane by those who were able to take my mind off stressful exams, and to Jody, whose support and encouragement at home were immeasurable. I was worried about combining those two major life events, but it has turned out well. I don't know that I could have managed otherwise.

Living with Chris and Angie was perhaps unusual, but it worked for us. Sometimes they would invite us upstairs to watch Battlestar. I would give Angie "doorway support" as she sewed. The four of us often made dinners together. "The cookbook," i.e., The New Best Recipe, became a sort of Bible as Chris & Jody attacked new ways of cooking. Meanwhile, I baked family recipes and made chili or casseroles, while Angie's salsa has yet to be trumped. (I want her to make me some. Angie, you come here right now!) The kitchen was the site of many giggle fits, discussions, and discoveries. I think the four of us all took something away from living at Belmont House together. Chris and Angie were as much a part of my first year of marriage as Jody was. Especially when Jody was away on business, it was nice to have them in the house.

There was a lot of traveling involved in our first year - our honeymoon to San Fransisco, New Years' at Jody's parents' in the Kootenays, my venture to Evette & Richard's wedding in February, and our up-island weekend to celebrate our first anniversary. Jody went to Romania and Korea, for one to two weeks per trip. We also hosted a horde of nerds in the fall (one of the reasons we didn't want our wedding to take place in September) during the FOSS4G conference. Being able to invite people for dinner or barbeques without worrying about bothering our neighbours was a big plus of the Belmont House. Unfortunately we had to leave it, because it was sold to our landlord's cousins. Boo! So now we are in our new place, an apartment that's nearby many useful places. Still, all but the last two weeks of our first year was spent there, and we had good times.

I can't believe the first year was over so quickly. We filled it with ridiculous amounts of laughter, walks, coffee, dancing in our living room, reading, and talking. Jody worked a lot, and I wrote more papers than I care to think about right now. We supported each other through deadlines and celebrated little victories. I've never been so stressed about school, and I'd never seen Jody fight his way through each stage of a project before either. This year was not what I expected, but that kept it interesting. We were waiting for me to graduate, and now that I have, our next step is one we take together. We still haven't decided where we'll be, but we're excited about the year ahead. With no car, no mortgage, no kids and no ties to the university, we're ready for an adventure! I have to say, though, I'm a little nervous about the prospect of leaving so much of my stuff in Canada if we move Down Under. Hopefully the opportunities will place my uncertainties in shadow.

So I'm looking forward to Year Two!


I have to say, I thought this might be a nice way to blog about some "moments on my beach." But I didn't expect to run on quite so much! If you read everything, wow. Either you're bored or really interested. If you read only the headings that sounded good, that's fine too. But if you're Evette and skimmed through it, shame on you - you told me to blog, and blog I did. Guess I had a lot of pent-up ideas.
Oh, and if you're wondering why I didn't write about my first date with Jody? Read this.

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