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I’ve been absent again.  Sorry about that. (I feel like I’ve spent more time apologizing for not posting than posting in the last few months.) 

July was actually my lowest month of posting ever, which is pretty bad since I think three of those posts were just pictures of jewelry I had made and posted back to back.  And now, somehow, its mid-August. 

There are so many factors that can cause a lapse in posting.  Top of the list is usually work (all nighters tend to cramp my creativity, and fingers). 

But while I’ve definitely been busy at work, I don’t think its fair to say that’s the real culprit here.  Honestly, its been a tough couple of weeks personally and professionally and I just haven’t felt like sharing. 

Slowly but surely, I promise I will fill you in on what I’ve been up to: grasping at ivories; remembering a great man; savoring moments with friends; feeling like a deserter; gulping down dry English cider like its going out of style;  planning trips to New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, Paris, Switzerland, London and Ireland; learning to cook like an Italian; and thinking about the future.

(thanks E, for reminding me people still check in on me even when I’ve been checked out.)

One of the things I loved about D.C. was that there was always someone protesting something.  Especially in Lafayette Park, at the back of the White House, which I passed through every day to walk to the office.  Through rain and snow, you could always count on the anti-nuclear war guys; been there every day since 1981 and still going strong.

Some pictures from a blog called “Ordinary Places, Ordinary People” of NYC street protests.  

You don’t have to agree with the message.  You don’t have to stand out there with them.  But to me, there is no more cherished right of free expression than the ability to stand in the street with a sign and speak your mind.  And I have such admiration for those willing to stand proud and express themselves, even (or perhaps especially) when I don’t agree with the message. 

Seeing these pictures of people lining the streets of lower Manhattan to speak their minds made me proud to be an American today, and a bit nostalgic for home.

Readers beware, how can you be sure this is the real Claire White blogging?

A Claire White imposter has apparently been sighted in the state of New York, doing things like withdrawing thousands of dollars from the real Claire White’s bank account.  (Luckily, the real Claire White has an “air” tight alibi from the U.S. and Australian governments, as she was on a plane back to Australia at the time of the withdrawal.  So after about 35 hours on the phone with Citibank at international billing rates should be able to recover her money… possibly…maybe even this year).

Sure, there are ways to protect myself going forward.  I hear things like “fraud reports” exist, and Citibank may permanently freeze all my bank accounts such that no one – not even me! – can ever withdraw money again.

And the more and more I think about it, this is really my husband’s fault.  After having a perfectly unpronounceable name for the first 24 years of my life I was saddled with “Claire White”, possibly the most generic last name ever.  You might as well call me “female John Smith”.   Perhaps the best course of action is to change my name — using at least 1 capital letter, 1 symbol and 1 number (for security purposes of course).

Maybe I could seek to recoup my losses from him…

The real question is, with cash in hand, what will the imposter’s next target be?  Perhaps, knowing my love for mexican food, she will get a frequent purchaser card at Taco Bell, maliciously earning the benefit of free bean burritos in my name.  Or pull off a political-heist, registering an “R” vote on my ballot for the 2012 presidential elections thereby simultaneously creating newsworthy headlines (“Vote for a Republican candidate is received in the District of Columbia for first time ever!) and permanently tarnishing my carefully crafted political image.  With these pursuits behind her, what’s to stop her from invading my virtual identity??

So the real question is… are YOU safe?

In my little world of amateur blogging, the ultimate reward would be to be “Freshly Pressed”–an honor judged and selected by the folks at WordPress that puts one of your posts on the homepage. I often read the Freshly Pressed homepage with intrigue and a ting of jealousy, and have found lots of great blogs to subscribe to through this function (ESPECIALLY cooking blogs).

Well I woke up this morning to 60+ amazing comments, critical feedback and encouraging words on my recent post of frustration/aspiration re: quitting my day job as a corporate lawyer and becoming a full-time [chef]! Turns out I am now one of the few elite, totally famous bloggers on WordPress.  Friends and family back home, you can say you knew me when….

What a great way to start a day! I hope to respond to all comments sometime between my lawyer work day today and my dinner party planning for Saturday night 🙂

For any new readers, I hope you won’t be too disappointed that this is not (solely) a foodie blog.  Yes, cooking is clearly one of my passions, but the real thrust of the blog is to share my amazing experience in beautiful Australia.  So I hope you’ll visit my out and about and photos, especially for anyone thinking about visiting this great continent.

[insert shameless plug for upcoming pictures of Kangaroo Island wildlife and Hamilton Island sparkling beaches here.  this weekend I promise.]

And I’ll definitely plan to keep on sharing my recipes, since it seems like there are a lot of people out there similarly excited about food!!

I know you’re out there. I know that you’re reading this blog (at least a few of you, at least occasionally). How do I know this? The blog tells me when you’re reading it. For example, we’ve had over 100 views on the latest post (and related photo pages), including two consecutive days of all-time high views of the blog.

So here’s the thing. Yes, I may be sending these cyber-ramblings out into the great world wide web for the sheer fun of it. But I also do it to regale you with my witty stories from Down Under. And to share pictures of all the beautiful things we are seeing and experiencing. And to stay connected. (that one’s probably the most important).

So, when you don’t gimme some comment love, you’re basically getting a free pass. You get to read my witty posts and view my phototastic pages, and you don’t have to give anything in return.  There’s no connection made.   How many comments did I have on the latest post?  One (thanks dad!).  

These posts don’t write themselves people; this blog takes work!  And getting your comments makes the work worth it, and inspires me to keep writing (to try and impress you further and get more comment love). 

Here’s a few things you could try to increase your blog-reciprocity:

  • Sign up an email alert. See that little button to the left that says “Sign me up!” Go ahead, click it! Then, when there is a new post, you can check it out at your leisure. Or immediately. Comment with whatever random 5 words come into your head after reading the new post. (try to avoid profanities in the public sphere; extra points for cohesion and grammatical correctness).
  • Integrate me into your weblife generally. Set up an RSS feed.  This one’s as easy as a click too – see that little orange and green button in the upper lefthand corner that says “subscribe to feed”? It’s a bit more complicated than an email alert though, and makes more sense if you regularly check a number of blogs.  Read about RSS feeds here.
  • Make a habit out of it. For you lawyers, make it a routine to check into An American in Australia on those boring, I mean pointless.. uhhh, I mean “long” conference calls. I know you’re probably playing brick-breaker or checking CNN anyways.  There’s 2-3 hours a day that you could be logging both billable hours and friend credit. That’s what I call multi-tasking.
  • Have your Sunday morning coffee with Oz. I pretty much always post something on (our) Sunday night, especially if we actually did something fun on the weekend. That means you can read all about it over coffee on Sunday am U.S. time. Once the caffeine kicks in, your jittery fingers should just take over. Place on keyboard, and GO!

After some holiday blog surfing, I realized that unlike most blogs, I have no purpose. To the blog that is. Since some topical focus would mostly likely only decrease my posting frequency and devolve back into my random rantings and life stories after, oh let’s say 2 weeks, I’ve tried to give the blog a more purposeful appearance instead. (also, hoping that by featuring recent comments boldly on the main page, some of you will upload actual pics of yourself as your avatar (instead of using the default flourescent Rorschach blobs)). Let me know what you think about the blog’s appearance/ functionality generally, especially the use of tags.

For those of you that frequent the photos and out and about page, I’m interested in feedback as to the interplay of the two pages and whether galleries (smaller scale, grouped photos so that you don’t have to scroll down) or slideshows (you know the deal, press play and photos rotate automatically) would be a better format to display photos? The two types pages were originally designed to tell our stories (out and about) and display our photography (photos) as we wander this great continent, but there’s a bit of overlap (which I’ve tried, in part, to manage through a summary posting. See, for example, this post).