You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2011.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind!  Here’s a brief summary posting, but be sure to click all the links embedded below for more stories and many many more pictures. 

Wes arrived in town Feb 7th for his Australian adventure.  For the first week of his trip, we all explored Melbourne – him by day, us by night – including the bars of the CBD, the Queen Vic Night Market, and the infamous De Raum.  And on Friday night, we switched over to vacation mode…

The first part of our vacation was more Melbourne-area exploration for the weekend.  On Saturday we immersed ourselves in a bit of nature and took off for the Healesville Sanctuary (an open habitat zoo) and a hike through the Dandenong Ranges, topped it out with a gourmet kangaroo feast back at home.  A music-filled Sunday followed at the annual St. Kilda Festival, with a prime view of the main stage from the balcony of Adrianna and Krisztian’s beachside apartment, and by the time Sunday night rolled around I was definitely feeling in need of a rest. But sleep is for the meek, and our first extended vacation was lying in wait…

So on Monday off to Queensland we went, where two World Heritage Listed wonders collide:  the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.  We hiked, we kayaked, we swam, we sweated, we basked in the sun and completely avoided any cyclones, and we hiked some more.  Northern Queensland is just breathtaking, and it was hard not to pause occasionally admist all the activity to just take in the surroundings.  Being that it was vacation, we did just that. A lot.

After 5 days in QLD, it was back to Sydney for weekend number 2 to show Wes the other Aussie city and continue my obsession with the Sydney Opera House.  A little old, a little new… Sydney (so far) never disappoints.

(Sample pictures from the trip, more on the out and about and photos pages!)

We’re on hiatus for a little R&R. All I can say is we’ve had another roo sighting, seen some ridiculously large gum trees, lounged all day at the beach during an outdoor music festival, and I’ve fulfilled a New Year resolution. And vacation doesn’t start til tomorrow!

We’ll catch you on the flip side…

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So on Tuesday night, to expand my current circle of friends – which generally consists of cabbies, baristas and panini makers – I went speed dating for friends.

Although both Steve and I have made a few good mates at work, it’s been a bit hard to break into the friend scene in Melbourne. Kinda surprising given that everyone seems both very friendly and very keen on hanging out with their friends; Aussies are always having coffee or a beer or lunch with a small group of friends, which we observe green with envy at the outdoor street tables that line the sidewalks of the city. But, since most people here already have a solid circle of friends, it can be hard to break down the barriers. So when Mel told me about Be My Wingman, I laughed and then said “sign up me”! (after all, at least it would make for a good blog post!)

My greatest friends in life have pretty much been forced into the arrangement. Sarah & I have been friends since childhood, and 5 year olds aren’t the most discerning when it comes to life-long decisions. Lisa and Kristin were captured by the gravitational force of my brutal honesty, because everyone needs at least one (and not more) friend willing to tell you when that dress really doesn’t work for you, or a new haircut is just too short. And my sisters have been tied to me by genetic and marital bonds…

So as the day approached, I started to get quite nervous about the whole ordeal. Real speed dating is one thing – we all know (with varying degrees of success) how to woo the other sex. Wooing females is a whole other ball game. Females are discerning, particular, and judge in a nanosecond. Then there’s answering the evitable difficult questions, where I’m forced to explain what I like to do on the weekends (i.e., make up something interesting), and tell people I’m a lawyer.

“No, I don’t have any “cases”. I’m a corporate lawyer, so I don’t actually do trial litigation. ”

<<<Huh, well, then what type of law do you do?>>>

“Well, it’s sorta like being a business person. I handle complex corporate transactions for business entities, but from a legal side.”

<<<Oh, like contracts, right?>>>

(At this point, I give up and nod my head affirmatively. Because it’s easier (and less dorky and therefore more likely friend inducing) than trying to explain what I really do. And I suppose that a purchase agreement, which is one of the main contracts involved in all the million-dollar securities offerings I work on for Australian companies to raise money and boost the local economy, is a contract….)

But I digress…. All in all, the friend shopping experience was actually pretty fun. After a 30 minute introductory period, during which there was free champagne, we got down to business. 6 minute conversations per person, signaled by a bell at the 5 minute mark (to wrap it up) and then again when it was time to rotate. Counterclockwise rotation x 4, then a short break (to fill up the champagne glasses) and at it again. If you like someone, you mark them “yes”. If she also like you and mark you “yes”, Be My Wingman shares your contact details with her. Oh boy oh boy. I hope someone likes me.

The upsides:

  • even if it doesn’t result in a plethora of new friends, it was a pretty interesting social experiment. The other ladies were from all walks of life–kindergarten teacher, nurse, stockbroker, financial analyst, children bookstore keeper, model, corporate purchaser, secretary. Different backgrounds, different cultures, different suburbs of the city (including up to 1 hour away). Particularly in the face of my explanation about my cross-world journey, it was surprising how many of the girls were born and raised Melbourne, and hadn’t really traveled much outside of Victoria. And it was interesting to watch their reactions to the somewhat predictable course of our conversations; and
  • it was also an interesting introspective examination. I found that my approach with each female changed based on their body language and initial question. And I could tell in the first minute whether I had hit it off or not, the other 5 were really superfluous but helped fill in a few details and solidify my initial impression.

The downsides:

  • it was kinda like the classic Bill Murray movie – Groundhog Day – but in 6 minute increments.
  • every single one of them thought I was Canadian; and
  • one girl actually had the gall to ask how old I was. And not in an “are we the same age and share the same 80’s cult classic movie references?” As in, “and just how old are you???”

And now, the agonizing wait. Will she email, won’t she….?

It’s sunny and bright today, after 2 days of rain brought on by the tail-end of Cyclone Yasi percolating down south as it moved over the continent. From a high of 39ºC earlier this week, it’s down to about 19 (high-60s), with classic Melbourne winds.

And, although not anywhere close to the devastation experienced by Tully and Innisfail in Queensland by the land-fall of the cyclone, Melbourne was not without the weird weather after-effects, including hailstones as big as a fist and serious flash flooding as torrential rains started on Friday night.  Luckily, we managed to escape the waters and nothing (other than some waterlogged plants and a drenched dachshund) in our house was affected.

Which is pretty amazing, as some seriously severe rains did fall, as attested by this guy kayaking down our street. Yes, that spot he’s paddling at is the corner of Abinger and Hosier Lane. Which is 25 feet from our house. So yeah, all and all, pretty amazing. Now let’s just hope there’s something left of Port Douglas for some decent vacationing next week!

See that large swirling red mass? That the eye of a category 5 cyclone heading straight for Port Douglas, QLD. Now, while Port Douglas is far far away from our humble abode in Melbourne, it happens to be the central destination of our vacation in little more than one weeks’ time.

And that’s a big ‘ol UH OH.

We’re no stranger to the effects of an ill-planned trip to a location in the face of extreme weather warnings (just read about our trip this summer to Costa Rica — rainy season, what rainy season?). Still, maybe we should learn our lesson one of these days. After all, everyone warned us that February was cyclone season up north in QLD. “But, what are the chances?” What indeed.

To the woman who took a bath in floral perfume this morning and got on the 8:56 75 tram:

It is unacceptable to disturb the olfactory senses of 95 people packed into a tram when the stifling heat has already reached 39 degrees by 9 am, and there is zero air circulation. Seriously, can’t you see the beads of sweat on everyone’s faces? It’s 9 am. And it’s 39 freaking degrees!!

They make this thing called body spray. It’s light, refreshing even. A subtle smell, one that reminds the man sniffing your neck that you’re a lady, but doesn’t cause coughing spasms for persons unlucky enough to be in your general vicinity, or two blocks downwind. Or, cause me to get off the tram three stops early and walk to rest of the way in the sweltering heat, because the smell of you for 3 more minutes just might make me pass out.