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!

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