My Life Abroad: The Adventures of Two Birds
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Sat
19
Jul '08

Chico, California (day 7 of 35)

So…. chillin with the Hommies 

Things are going great so far, we arrived in Chico last night and met our friends John & Reena at Woodstocks Pizza in downtown Chico for dinner.  It was a nice catch-up with John and it was our first meeting with Reena – she’s very cool and we are happy to see John in a good relationship.  After, we walked around downtown during the Thursday Night Market and just checked out the scene. They close down the streets on Thursday nights from 5.30pm and we get growers and venders from all around with everything from produce to flowers, oils and wines.  It was nice to revisit this ritual.  Here are some snapshots from the Farmers Market and LaSalles bar afterward (click to enlarge pictures):

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We met up at “LaSalles” bar to see Julia and other friends and we hung out there and listened to a band for a while before we cruised down the street to my old favourite “Duffys Tavern” and we stopped in at “The Towne Lounge” to play a couple rounds of pool and knock off a few brews.  Some good old beers and a couple new Sierra Nevada options available “Anniversary Ale” was a new one that wasn’t too bad.  I ended up drinking the $1.75 Olympia can of beer – one of my favourites from back in the day because when you are a student and you only have a Schwinn Cruizer bike as transportation, you can only afford to spend $2 on a beer. Ahhh, the memories.

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scottys_new.jpgSeeing Julia was fun we got to catch up with her and we are planning to go out to this place called “Scotty’s Landing” which is a very old bar on a run off Slough of the Sacramento River called Pine Creek.  During holidays like 4th of July and Labour Day when college students have the day off, they rent intertubes and float down the river tied together with their (Eske) cooler floating behind with beer!  Landing at Scotty’s was a typical end or start for some floating down the river.  The patio overlooks where the river used ot lap against’ Scotty’s Landing dock until 1976 when the river changed course. There have been many famous names who have visited on perennial Labor Days such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Even before John Scott bought the bar from his father, people came from all over the world, but for different reasons. In the 1955, when Scott’s father bought the building, the Sacramento River was one of the few rivers in the world where the salmon ran all year, and Scotty’s was the only place to launch a boat near Chico. “This is the last of the last,” Scott said. “When it’s gone you won’t see anything.” We are looking forward to our dinner tonight at Scotty’s Landing, it’s Prime Rib night and Karaoke with my friend Marlene DJ-ing. Couldn’t be any better than that I suppose, old friends and one of the oldest places to visit in Chico.

We are on for Sierra Nevada Brewrey tomorrow for lunch then catch “The Dark Knight” new Batman flick with John & Reena.  We are having a big dinner with friends at Casa Ramos on Saturday night and on Sunday we begin our drive down toward the city of Angels, Los Angeles to see Adam & Kat, Candace, and Jewells & Steve.  It’s gonna be a long drive but we are going to make the most of it and try to put up some good pictures of the coast from NorCal to SoCal!  Check back soon for more journal entries.

***

Mental Status: Feeling healthier, but tired from staying out late.  So happy to see old friends.
Favourite thing this week: Getting back to Chico to see everyone and going back to Duffy’s Tavern for an Oly.
Book this week: Everybody Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger
Happy Moment today: John helping us to get our PS3 working and trying out all our new games.
Looking forward to next week: Seeing Adam and meeting Kat, and giving Candace a big wet kiss.

Sun
8
Jun '08

Poker Tournament

Well Blair and Michelle’s Poker Tournament was a big success, and as always we had a great time.  It allowed us to catch up with some old friends and get re-acquainted with Blair’s brother Scott and his girlfriend Narelle.  Unfortunately with this two round tourney, Birdie and I were out in the first round.  The Timms brother and sister team hung in to the very end, but Scott still took the trophy.

Yes, there was a trophy! 

There were also great eats, the best ever at a Blair Poker event – Michelle was a wonderful hostess making sure everything was ‘just so’.  The professional dealer and table was quite fun, and that’s something we’re used to now with these poker things – but we had a great time overall and are really looking forward to the next tournament!

Here’s a pic of the participants, I couldn’t name everyone if I tried.

poker.jpg

Mon
26
May '08

20th Annual Cider Festival

apples_50.jpgGoing back to the place we got married for our anniversary dinner this year was fantastic – and that’s how we found out about the Cider Festival they hold every year.  We decided to make the trip back out to check out the festivities.  They had all kinds of cider (mostly alcoholic variation), apple juice, apple deserts, handmade candied apples, pork and applesause sandwiches, a folk band, dancers, apple brandy, and cider making demonstrations. 

All-in-all there was a bit to do and see.  They had the entire winery property opened up for the public, many picniced around on the grass and throughout the vineyard.  We decided to walk around and check out some of the cool things they offered. 

The demonstration of the machinery was also interesting – very old large equipment used to crush the apples to the core (literally) so that they could make their fabuolous cider, it was very yummy.  I have one picture in here of the machinery, I think that they guys said the machinery was second hand back from the early 1900’s.   Here are the rest of our pictures:

scrumpytogo.jpg refill.jpg makingcider.jpg dance1.jpg candyapples3.jpg candyapples2.jpg candyapples1.jpg 

dance2.jpgI wasn’t sure if I was going to like the cider so it was apparent that we needed to do some taste testing.  We started out with some Sparkling Cider, which was beautiful!  Aside from the sparkling there is “Scrumpy” which is a flat version of cider without the bubbles – a bit darker in colour and tasted a lot like spiked apple juice.  It was also good. 

We went on to try some of the eats, with a sheapards pie each and a homemade brownie to go – we watched the candied apples being made from the cooking of the sugar right down to the dipping of each apple and the kids sucking them down!  It was quite interesting to watch, and they looked yummy and fresh but we definitely passed on this treat.  The dancers were pretty cool, doing some old celtic dancing with bells on their knees and sticks in their hands.  Incredible picture I took – as they jump you can see that no foot is touching the ground!  Also note the beautiful vineyard in the background – yellow like during our wedding – it was beautiful.  This was definitely a fun day.  Lots of families were out and enjoying everything. 

Our next Holiday

Well, we are starting to get ready and excited for our trip to Thailand, I’ve never been to Phuket before so I can’t wait. Want to spend some stress-less time with Birdie and relax a bit.  I’m feeling very anxious lately.  Maybe because our trip to the U.S. is coming on so quickly, the Reunion is looming and I have to get things organised this weekend and start selling more tickets.  I’m really looking forward to everything but there is a certain stress with planning of such a large event. We are also attending my Reunion in Houston at Klein Oak High School where I went to 9th and 10th grade – most of those kids are the ones I grew up with from the age of 10.  I’m probably looking forward more to the reunion in Texas than the one that I’m planning ~ only because I’m so excited to see friends from so long ago.  I’ve reconnected online with most of my Texas friends and I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.

Flautas, Tamales and Stuffed Peppers

Finding Mexican food here in Australia is a pretty daunting task!  Luckily Mom was good enough to bring Birdie some fabulous Mexican cookbooks this trip.  We started with making some special dishes for Birdie’s parents after Mom and Adam left.  We made pork tamales, chicken flautas and stuffed peppers:

tamales.jpg flautas.jpg stuffed-peppers2.jpg

If you’ve ever been invited to our house for dinner, you’ve most likely been exposed to our favourite – Mexican food!  These new recipies are just lovely and although it was hard to find Mesa (Polenta) to make the tamales, and even harder to find corn husks (believe it or not) we finally got all the ingredients to make this lovely treat. We used green chili sauce and they were wonderful.  Birdie used burrito flour tortillas and stuffed them with seasoned shredded pork, veges, cheese, and hot sauce to make a wonderful fried “Flauta”, and finally the red peppers stuffed with a potato, herb, and cheese mixture topped things off.  All yummy!

Kadam and Mom

Looks like Kat & Adam (Kadam) are going to be visiting Mom this weekend in Sacramento.  I am glad to see that they are getting up to visit for Mothers Day.  I’m sure they have other things planned as well but Mom is really looking forward to their company.   It’s not long now and we’ll be there wearing her out – not to worry!  Now that they are back home from their Australian vacation they seem to be getting back to normal.  Adam has a bit of gab and pics on his blog, be sure to check it out: http://www.rugturd.com/

 

***

Mental Status: It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, and we are back to Kellybrook Winery for a nice lunch to celebrate. Also looking forward to Blair’s big Poker Night!  We’re looking to win big!
Favourite thing this week: Back out to doing training within Victoria – glad to be out of the office again!
Upcoming events: Thailand trip 16 June, and the U.S. 10 July.

Mon
24
Mar '08

3rd Annual Easter Campout

What in the SKIP are you looking at?

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 Pictured left to right: Billy, Lainey, Birdie, Ethan, Tara, Glenn, Alex, Lawrence & Norelle

This was a fun Easter camp, 2008 Briagalong Forest at Lee’s Creek.  Although we missed our friends the Hartogs & little LilyDog, Sheridan-McCartney, and Blair + children… we still had a great time this year.  Our newest campers included the likes of the Eagles family (with cutesy-curls Alex), and the Glenn-Tara-Ethancombo.  We were joined by a special guest this year, friend of the gang: Billy.  Our first night at camp was just us and the Eagles and we mixed it up with a bit of burgers and a very late night of drinking – as I rose after my hour-spinning-sleep, I staggered for the loo and realized that there was no loo… and puked on a tree.  Consequently the tree right next to where the Eagles would set up their tent the next morning… SOrrrrrEYYY!

Night two was chicken fajitas night, and we delved into a bit of the “Phase 10” card game which is a cross between Uno and Rummy – and it was played with a single deck meant for 3-4 players.  With 7 players the game was like a skippin’ Cricket match, a two-day-er, we estimated it went almost 10 hours split between Friday and Saturday nights.  With the kiddies around we resorted to making up our own cuss words and the most famous this weekend – which went right along with our Uno like card game, was “Skip”.  It was all we could do to keep the game going. You know it’s all funny till you poke your skippin’ eye out! 10 hours of drunk skipping chatter really makes for a long weekend.  Just so you get the idea I’ve outlined the ‘headliners’ in the skip-fest at the bottom of this post.

Here are some of the highlight shots from our weekend, from the card games and kiddies, to the lamb roast before the torrential downpour on Easter Sunday, and the burning of shoes, chairs and a very holey pair of jeans.

alex-the-settler.jpg cards2.jpg tent-city.jpg ethan2.jpg

girls1.jpg burningchair1.jpg glenn.jpg cans.jpg lamb-roast.jpg

If you want to get the full idea, you can see all the pictures in the Photo Album entitled Lees Creek Camping 08 from my Albums page.  I’m already looking forward to next year!  And looking forward to adding Tara’s pics to the album – stay tuned!

skipit.jpg Our list of skipping hilarious lines

“What in the Skip?”
“Skip off and die”
“Get skipped”
“Go skip yourself”
“You skipwit”
“I don’t like your skipping tone”
“Shut the skip up”
“I don’t give a skip”
“You mother skipper”
“You skipping rope”
“Skip you”
“You’ve been skipped”
“For skips sake!”
“You skipping idiot”
“Skip you, and the horse you rode in on”

If you have some to add to the list be sure to add your comments!

***

Mental Status: Upbeat knowing I have a four day work week then a week off with my family!  Oh, friends over for a big BBQ on the weekend and my birthday is just around the corner (yikes)
Favourite thing this week: Getting to know the new people on the camp.
Book this week: Maximum Ride: Schools out Forever by James Patterson
Upcoming events: Mom & Adam arrive in only 4 sleeps.

Wed
20
Feb '08

Neat things online

There’s always something cool online. Most of you know my real name, and I ran it through the system to see how many of me there are in the good ‘ole USofA. I thought this was interesting:

HowManyOfMe.com
Logo There are
16
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Sat
19
Jan '08

Perth, The Western Coast

Well, I start out on my first trip to the west coast tomorrow morning (Sunday).  I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like, not much of my family here have been so I don’t have many preconceived ideas about it.  I hear that the beaches are nice and that there is booming industry there – so we’ll see.  Stay tuned for my update on Perth and Darwin.

Now every once in a while I put up my Australia map so you can get an idea of where I’m headed on my next business trip.  If you click on the left sidebar under “Map of Australia” you can see the lay of the land. (You can also find some other great information about Australia there.)  However, here it is for you:

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As you can see leaving from Melbourne, Victoria going to Perth, Western Australia is “coast to coast” – and about a 4 hour flight.  I will be in Perth for three days then flying straight up to Darwin in the Northern Territory for three days, also quite a trek — and finally back to Melbourne.  Luckily we have a three day weekend next week so I will get some recovery time from all that flying.  This is my last trip of the project and I can finally say I’ve been to every state and experienced the many different ways of Australia. 

Of course, these trips being for work and not pleasure means I didn’t always get to see everything I wanted or get to go to every town I wanted — I still have my top 4 list and I’m looking forward to getting around to those places in the next year or so with Birdie.

1. Coober Pedy (South Australia) – home of the opal mines and a town in the desert where it’s so hot, the people live underground.
2. Uluhru/Ayres Rock (Northern Territory) – the classic Aussie desert rock.
3. Flinders Ranges (Victoria) – camping and walkabout in the “Outback”.
4. Kangaroo Island (South Australia) – breathtaking scenery, seal beach, desert and beach.

Videocast Brilliance

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I don’t know how I came across these guys but Rhett & Link are freaking hilarious. These faternal twins just have it going. They quite often are creating songs in their videocast that make me fall to the floor with laughter, usually about current events and other nonsense.  It’s worth checking out their site. I’m now a big fan. The Facebook Song is my very favourite, and for you that are on Facebook, you won’t be able to resist these hilarious songs and there’s a ton more where this came from.  Enjoy!

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 You can check out their website on www.rhettandlink.com

Our Winery Visit

Last week, bored and sitting around on the weekend, Birdie decided to take me up to Healesville for a country drive.  On the way home we stopped at Chandon (champagne and sparkling wine) for a drink and some quick eats.  It is really lovely there and I always have a good time when we go.  I am looking forward to taking Adam and Mom there when they come in March! 

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Here are a couple pictures from our day:

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***

Mental Status: Getting ready to leave for Perth tomorrow morning early… kinda looking forward to it!
Favourite thing this Week: Meeting some new people this week and having some excellent conversations – welcome new friends to the Lainey Bird blog.
Book this WeekDouble Cross by James Patterson <-almost done, I just don’t get enough time to read anymore, however my 4 hour flight to Perth will change all that.

Tue
1
Jan '08

Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2007 

Now as we say goodbye to 2007, I hope that everyone has a wonderful 2008 to come. We are excited about the prospects of this coming year as we are already booked out for the entire year!  We are looking forward to our Annual Easter Campout, my Mom and brother’s visit in March, the prospect of changing jobs, making another attempt at having a bub, our family trip to Thailand, and our trip back to the States to attend my two high school reunions! We have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to in this new year.

We were invited by our friends Jen & Dave to their new years party and it was great, excellent people, nibblys, and booze of course. The down point was that it was 42 C yesterday (which is about 105 F) – so even as it started to cool a little in the evening it was still hella hot.  You can see from the pictures that we are sweating a bit. 

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The rest of our pictures can be found under the Photo Albums link on the left sidebar!

Happy New Year everyone!

Thu
27
Dec '07

Boxing Day Test Cricket: Australia v. India

A couple of years ago we went to the Boxing Day Cricket at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with some friends, and this year I bought tickets for us to go with friends again. Boxing day is the day after Christmas and it is the big shopping day (just like in the States). Instead of shopping we went to the Cricket to see Australia v. India. We had a great time!  Mel and Brent joined us and we had a long sunburnt, beer-filled adventure.  I got some great shots with my new camera, here’s a couple favourites but you can see all the pictures in my photo album: Boxing Day 2007.

go-australia.jpg batting.jpg melon-police.jpg the-wave-mcg.jpg action.jpg

Boxing Day is a public holiday recognized in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, as well as many other members of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is celebrated on December 26, the day after Christmas Day. Boxing Day is a traditional celebration dating back to the Middle Ages, of which the primary practice is the giving of gifts to employees, the poor, or to people in a lower social class. The name has numerous folk etymologies; the Oxford English Dictionary attributes it to the Christmas box; the verb box meaning: “To give a Christmas-box (colloq.); hence the term boxing-day.” Outside the Commonwealth, the holiday is sometimes called “St. Stephen’s Day”.

Check back for our New Years Eve post coming next week!

***

Mental Status: Feeling good. Need to catch up on the after-Christmas house mess! Have been web-camming it up with the family this week back in the States, can’t wait for our trip back home in July!
Favourite thing this Week: Nice to have a week off from work, the Cricket was the highlight this week – hanging with Mel & Brent and partying last night with Blair at his new house – tons of fun!
Book this WeekDouble Cross by James Patterson
Something New: Looking at new jobs again, keeping my fingers crossed to make the move over to IT Project Management as there are some new great opportunities ahead.

Tue
25
Dec '07

Gingerbread for Dummies

We had a test run with my friend Blair’s girls, making our first gingerbread house.  It was fun but Birdie wanted more… we decided to set out on a three day journey to make a shit-hot gingerbread house from hell. You can do this too, we’ll show you how… and if you just can’t “get it” don’t throw your gingerbread monstrosity away, freakin eat it… dummy!

1. Use the Internet to find a pattern for the gingerbread house or other gingerbread sculpture you want to make. There are tons of sites, you can easily Google “gingerbread, pattern” and find some good sites. Most of these sites will give you recipie for gingerbread and royal icing (used as glue for your pieces) and will also give you a document with the pattern to print and cut out to create your “house”.

pattern.JPG

2. Making the Gingerbread:

roll-dough.JPG5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 ¼ cups molasses
2 eggs, beaten

In large saucepan, melt shortening on stove over low heat.  While shortening is melting, in a separate bowl stir together flour, salt and spices (if using for cookies, add 1 tsp. baking soda).   When shortening is half melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until completely melted.  Add sugar, molasses and beaten eggs.   Mix well and quickly (to prevent eggs from cooking).  Add molasses mixture to flour mixture.  Mix well. Dough will be soft.  Cover and refrigerate until firm enough to handle.When dough is firm enough to handle, remove from refrigerator and let sit until room temperature (about an hour).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

3. Once you have cut out your paper pattern, roll out your gingerbread – thin but not too thin – and lay out the pattern pieces and cut them out.  Use a good amount of flour so your gingerbread won’t stick to the cutting board or surface.

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When dough pieces are done baking, remove baking sheet from oven.  Quickly lift foil from baking sheet and place on a flat area for gingerbread pieces to cool.  If pieces have distorted while baking, while still warm, run knife or pizza cutter along sides of walls/roof sections to create a straight edge.  If pieces have curled up during baking, while still warm, gently push edges down to lay flat.With gingerbread pieces still on the foil, let cool overnight.  Next day – gently peel foil off of gingerbread pieces.  You are now ready to assemble, or add windows! 

4. Larger gingerbread pieces should be cooked until just barely browned, 10-12 minutes for large, and 5-8 minutes for smaller pieces.

5. Making Royal Icing:

3 egg whites
1 lb powder sugar
1/2 Tsp Cream of Tartar
1 Tsp Vanilla or Almond extract

Because this frosting dries quickly, and very hard, this is the recommended frosting to use for gluing together the walls and roof sections.

1.        Keep all utensils completely grease-free.  Combine all ingredients, mixing slowly with stationary mixer until peaks form.  Beat at high speed for 7 to 10 minutes.  This is important for the frosting to be soft enough to use with pastry bag.

2.        This frosting is fast drying – keep bowl covered with a damp cloth.  If icing is too thick when using fine tubes, add a few drops of water.  For thicker icing, beat in a little extra confectioners sugar.  Store leftover frosting, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for weeks.  Rebeat before using again (if using real egg-whites, the frosting will not keep its cementing properties after the initial beating).  This recipe makes about 3 ½ cups of glue frosting.

Frosting Tip: When working with egg whites or meringue powder, keep all utensils  grease-free.  Any oil or grease will break down the frosting mixture.  Note that the “decorators frosting” contains grease (shortening).  When decorating,  it is helpful to keep one bag exclusively to be used for “glue frosting”, and another bag to be used for the decorators frosting.  This helps to keep grease away from the  “glue frosting”. 

Disposable Decorating Bags / Quick Change Couplers / TipsTo Prepare Bag:

1. Unscrew coupler ring.  Notice that the threads on the coupler start about ½ inch above the coupler tip.  Push the coupler tip into bag, forcing it down as far as possible.

2. With scissors, trim bag about ¼ inch below bottom edge of coupler.

3. Position decorating tip over coupler tip and bag.  Screw ring in place to secure.  To change tips, unscrew ring, replace tip and screw on ring. 

To Fill Bag:

1. Cuff bag top over one hand while using your other hand to scoop in icing with spatula.  Don’t fill bag with more than ½ cup icing.

2. Unfold cuff and twist top of bag closed, forcing icing down into bag and decorating tip.  Release air bubbles before decorating by holding bag over icing bowl and squeezing until air is released.

6. After your gingerbread has completely cooled you will want to start to assemble your structure.  Use the Royal Frosting to pipe morter onto the house pieces and put pieces together. Leave the roof pieces until the end.  Pieces should set with the frosting for at least a day until the frosting has hardened. You can choose to do some of the decorating before assembly when pieces are laid out or once the house is put together.  You may need to use canned food to hold the pieces in place until the frosting hardens.

glue-together2.JPG

7. The finished product is yours to decorate as you wish.  You can find tons of different styles and ingredients for decorating including types of candies.  We decided to sprinkle icing sugar over the top of the finished product like snow.

finished-house3.jpg finished-house.jpg

 Recipes from: http://home.comcast.net/~frankysattic/index.html

Wed
21
Nov '07

Our day at Dreamworld, Gold Coast – Australia

dreamworld.jpg

Birdie flew up last Saturday and we drove out to the Gold Coast to go to Dreamworld and enjoy the rollercoasters and have a nice day together.  It has been almost three weeks now since I have been home so it was good to have Birdie come to Brisbane to see me this weekend.  There are about 4 large coasters at Dreamworld, none quite as good as Magic Mountian or Six Flags fame (as Birdie pointed out).  We did however have a couple good ones.  I am deathly afraid of heights but I so love coasters. 

giant-drop.jpg

Remember last week when I went up in the Q1 Residential tower at Surfers Paradise?  I was on the 77th floor when I took those pictures.  The Giant Drop is a 78 floor drop and I literally promised Birdie I’d only go on it once –  as the 6 person long seat lifted us slowly (and I mean slowly) and raised us to the 78th floor, I was terrified. Not looking all the way up I tried to squint at the top while I was hyperventilating during the very long wait to drop with no notice.  During the squint I could see the entire parking lot of Dreamworld, and the cars were the size of little ants. No looking down for me. The squint ended after only 1 second. 

tower.jpg

I have this thing I do when I ride, I take a deep breath right before we take a dip or drop so that I can keep my stomach and scream bloody murder at the same time.  The problem with the Giant Drop is that it lets you hang at the 78th floor for 1 – 2 minutes.  There really is no way to tell when the damn thing is actually gonna drop.  I keep drawing deep breaths and holding them as long as I can – before I have to let it out and take another.  After about six of those, finally I hear a faint click and we drop 78 floors in a matter of seconds. 

AAAAaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhahaaaaa!

It’s finally over.  As I regain consciousness, we exit the ride never to return again.

Our favourite ride was The Claw.  Lame name, but it was a great ride, we rode this a couple times.  There was a lot of spinning on this ride in addition to “losing my stomach” as we swung wildly through screams and laughter.  This was a great one.  It was really almost like a carnival ride but Birdie and I both voted it was the best!

the-claw.jpg

Other things at Dreamworld include a great zoo.  This is one thing that I enjoy about Australia – they love their indiginous animals and they take advantage of any chance to show them off.  Something great about Kangaroos is that the ones in the zoo’s are domesticated.  They will walk right up to you, they like to be petted and fed, and overall they are pretty tame. Many of the female Roos at Dreamworld had little joey’s in their pouches.  In picture one you can see that this domesticated roo is protecting some food with his paw – saving it for later? In the other, if you look carefully you can see the joey’s little nose and twig-like legs poking out of the pouch.

roos.jpg joey.jpg

In addition to the joey’s there was a baby Koala.  We got some good pictures of the baby, and the handler said it was the first time he’d ever seen the mother away from the baby since it had been born.  I did get a cute video, I’ll have to set up my first youtube.com video with the Koala when I get home next week. I took hundreds of pictures of the little Koala baby – hope you enjoy all the pictures, they will soon be available in my Photo Album for Dreamworld. Here’s one to tie you over!

koalababy.jpg

There were tons of other animals, I truly love places like this because you get to feed, pet, and touch animals. They even take the tigers for walks and bring out the owls for a talk. Good fun! Click on the images below to see the full picture.

tiger-walk.jpg owl.jpg whitetiger.jpg koalamum.jpg gater.jpg

Movember

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That’s right, I said it “Mo”vember.  I think that if Birdie has a reason to grow a “mo” (mustache) he’s up for it. Movember (the month formally known as November) is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year. The Movember participants known as Mo Bros then have the remainder of the month to grow and groom their moustache and along the way raise as much money and awareness about male health issues, in particular prostate cancer. 

Sponsored by his organisation, Birdie has been sporting his mo this month. 

You can do you part for prostate cancer, join the effort today! Its too late to jump on board this year but register next year on the official site www.movember.com

Thanksgiving Eve

As we come back around to Thanksgiving this year we are looking forward to sharing the day with our family and friends as we hold our second annual Thanksgiving in Australia this Sunday, 25 November.  I’m so glad to have our American friends Dawn and Steve and their families as well, its a time that reminds us of home.  Check back for pictures of our Thanksgiving day this year and share in our fun.

Schoolies Update

The “schoolies” week is still underway and yesterday there were 78 arrests of year-12’s for drinking offenses and other bad behaviour.  Two girls were hit by a 17 year old drunk driver this weekend, one suffered a broken foot.  What a great idea to feed our youth booze.  Oh wait!  Let’s give them drivers licneses in the same year they are learning how to be responsible with alcohol.  Okay – now lets fly them all down to the beach for a 10 day drink fest!  Now were talkin.  Wooo HOOooo!

***

Mental Status: Ready to go home Friday, prepare for Thanksgiving, and have a week home with Birdie before I go back out on the  road… next stop: Adelaide, South Australia.
Favourite thing this Week: Birdie bought me a new camera, you can see by the pictures, they are great! Thanks Birdie, I love you.
Book this WeekThe Jane Austin Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Mon
22
Oct '07

Woy Woy, Australia

The quaint little seaside country town of Woy Woy

The more I travel, the more I get to see some of the smaller towns of Australia.  Outback is a word I didn’t really understand until I came here, and “country town” is another word. Woy Woy is a coastal town and a southern suburb of the Central Coast region of New South Wales, Australia, located on the southern reaches of Brisbane Water north of Sydney.

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Woy Woy is located in the northern half of the Woy Woy Peninsula, a densely-populated estuarine peninsula that also includes the districts of Umina Beach, Ettalong Beach and Blackwell, in addition to several small sub-districts. (Wikipedia)

Really now, before I came here I was thinking “Woy Woy”, what kinda name is that? And coming from California with the many Mexican city names as San Jose, San Carlos, Buena Vista, Chico, Del Mar, Los Gatos, La Habra, El Paso De Robles, and Rancho Santa Margarita – I have to think more about the first settlers of Australia, their native people, the Aboriginals.  Most of the city names in Australia were named by the Aboriginal people, including the town I live in: Nunawading (nun-a-wad-ing) as well as Woy Woy.

This is a cute little town, and it does remind me of Grass Valley, California.  I still do love the mountains, and the country quite a bit. Here are some picture of Woy Woy and my trip this week.  Click on each pic to enlarge.

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Next this week I am on to Newcastle, Australia.

Tesla Live in Melbourne

We met up with friends Claire, Rob, and Blair to go to the Tesla show in the city (Melbourne) last weekend when I was home. The thing about Tesla is that they were big in the 80’s as a hair metal band, but here in Australia they didn’t get much airplay. 

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It was suprising to see so many Australians that would pay $50 bucks a ticket, there were about 300 people crammed into the hot and sweaty HiFi Bar in Melbourne. It was standing room only to hear some of our 80’s favourites.  The best was Love Song

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All original band members – they may be looking older but they sound just the same.  Excellent show!

***

Mental Status: Had a good training day today, at a very nice hospital with a great staff.
Favourite thing this Week: This week my favourite thing was Tesla with Birdie on Friday with Rob and Claire.  We had such a great time!
Song of the Week:  Love Song by Tesla
New Book: The Quickie by James Patterson – almost done!

Sun
2
Sep '07

Lunar Eclipse, Game Nite, and our holiday plans!

The Lunar Eclipse last week was incredible.  Luckily we didn’t miss the whole thing… we got out in enough time to see the red moon in the sky and it was fantastic.  They say that it won’t happen again in our skyline for another 4-years and then it will be in the wee hours of the morning.  I’ve seen two solar eclipses in my life and this is my second lunar eclipse – but my first from Australia.  Here’s a picture from our view:

 2008-lunar-eclipse.jpg

Game Nite

Well, it’s official.  We’ve started our fortnightly game nite with the Sheridan-McCartneys.  We’ve decided to alternate weekends and cook together then play games and today I ventured out to the 24-hour Kmart to purchase one of my favourite games: Pictionary.  Hilarious this game is.  And it really brings out the beast in some, Birdie is very competitive and we’ve never really played board games together.  We traded off being partners with our friends.

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We cooked fajitas for dinner, steak and chicken and they were excellent. Our cat Pete joined us for dinner, sitting at the table as he does and Birdie broke out several bottles of his home made Sierra Nevada style Pale Ale and some others.  The beer this year is very good and I’m awaiting some new batches!  I have a very weird cat, he has his own Facebook page – if you want to be friends with Pete, look him up on Facebook with his name “Pete Kitty” or email address pete@laineybird.com.

We’re looking forward to dinner at their house in the next couple weeks and we are working on some new games: Taboo, Phase 10 (which is a really fun card game), and Cranium.

We all like to play cards and when we go on our annual camping trips together we end up playing all kinds of card games.  Phase 10 is a card game made by the people that brought you Uno.

Holiday Plans in the making

Mom and Adam’s visit to Australia: March 08 

balloons.jpgWe also have my Mom and Brother Adam coming out for a holiday in March. We plan to do a lot of cool stuff while they are here, mainly we try to do the same lot of stuff for visitors.  Either the Melbourne Zoo, or my favourite the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary (all native animals to Australia), we are going to do some local dining.  And I don’t know if you know this but Melbourne is rated one of the best restaurant cities in the world.  We have also decided to go hot air ballooning over Melbourne with Mom, Adam, and Birdie’s parents.  None of us have done this before so I’m really looking forward to doing this.  It’s one of the cool things about having to drive to the city in the morning for work – you always see tons of balloons out floating helplessly over the city between 6 – 7 a.m.  We also have some other cool plans for Mom and Adam as this will be Adam’s first trip here – and my Mom’s second.  We will also be taking them to experience the sporting and cultural aspects of Australia such as a Footy game, take the train to the city and go shopping, to the open air market at Victoria Market, as well as the basics around our local area. 

Phuket, Thailand: June 08

holiday-inn-phuket.jpgIn mid-June Birdie’s parents are taking us on a family holiday to Phuket, Thailand – Patong Beach, along with Birdie’s brother and sister-in-law (by then they will have their new baby as well!).  With the windfall home sale this month Mum and Dad have been gracious enough to take us all with them on this great holiday.  I’m already getting excited.  I believe we are staying at the Holiday Inn Phuket, Patong Beach.  I haven’t been to this city in Thailand although I did spend some time in Bangkok and Pataya City. Located in southern Thailand, Phuket is the kingdom’s largest island offering some of the most beautiful scenery in all of South-East Asia, with magnificent white, sandy beaches and quiet coves, set against a lush, green backdrop of coconut palms and forested hills. I’m looking forward to some more scuba and getting tan. You can see the hotel pool in the picture, and then the beach in the background.  Insane!  The new diet starts today (haha). The first resort area to be developed, Patong is Phuket’s largest and most popular beach. An expansive 3,000 metres of white soft sand extends around a curving bay fringed by two rocky headlands on the west coast. In the town area which extends away from the beach, Patong has plenty to do and see, with shopping, excellent restaurants and a vibrant nightlife providing plenty of diversions for an excellent holiday.

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US Trip & 20-Year High School Reunion: August 08

Then in August we are going home to California for my 20-Year High School Reunion.  We have a busy year planned and we are going to make the most of it.  I am the chairman for my Senior Class Reunion Committee – somehow I got stuck with it at our 5-Year Reunion and nobody ever stepped up to take it over.  Our 10-Year was kinda a bust but we are going to make the 20-Year a fantastic event.  I am lucky enough to have the best co-chair ever – Jeff Weatherly, PhD who lives in North Dakota helping me out with the plans and arrangements. If you would like to know more about the Nevada Union Class of 1988 Reunion, or more information on Reunion Planning you can go check out our website at www.nuhs88.com or email us at reunion@nuhs88.com.  We actually made the paper this week in the Grass Valley Union in an article by Dixie Redfurn:

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THE UNION
READERS’ CORNER 08/29/07

By Dixie Redfearn, dixier@theunion.com
» Read the article by Dixie Redfearn here
12:01 a.m. PT Aug 29, 2007

…Class of NUHS 1988 reunion: Elaine Hay is working on organizing this thing and guess what? She’s doing it from Australia! Elaine says, “Currently we have 103 students registered, a bit shy of our 400+ class. Students need to come to the Website www.nuhs88.com and register by clicking ‘Register here’ at the top of the page. Registering on the web site will enable students to follow along as plans are made and make suggestions to the Committee as we go.

“Our date is set for Saturday, Aug. 2, 2008 at the Miners Foundry. Early bird tickets go on sale around Sept. 1, 2007 from the web site and will only be available for a short time. Additionally, questions can be forwarded to reunion@nuhs88.com.”

*** 

I convinced myself last year that I could do this reunion from as far away as Australia. With technology the way it is today I worked out that I could set up a bank account in the States with my counterpart (Jeff) – we could sell tickets online through secure credit card payments with PayPal, send out invitations with eVite, and use the internet to book a venue, equipment, a band, caterer, etc.  Things are right on track and we are looking forward to a weekend of events including a family bowling night, family picnic, golf tournament, and our formal reunion event with service dinner and live music. Personally, I want to thank all of the committee members including Jeff – who has helped to make my Internet-planning dream come true.   Cheers yall.

 ***

Mental Status:  Feeling good, we got a new mattress and my back feels wonderful!
Book: Facebook – Laineybird
Song:  Pins – Yeah Yeah Yeah’s
Best Thing this Week:  Going to my favourite restaurant for Father’s Day dinner with the family tonight.

Fri
13
Oct '06

Friday the 13th

The 1st Annual Halloween Costume Party

This has been a difficult task here, in Australia, to make my friends understand the importance of Halloween and dress-up.  Even my closest friends here have been leery about the whole thing.  But, I pulled it off this year.  We had about a 25 head count, and still with our little live band – it was a blast! So, how many times does a Friday the 13th end up in October!  Here’s another issue – none of my friends here could understand why we were having a Halloween costume party two full weeks before Halloween. AND… they all wanted to dress up scarry, I kept reminding them it was a costume party and there was no scarry theme.  I just didn’t want to have 18 vampires hanging around the house.

So we decorated the house with red light bulbs, spiderwebs, and big balloon spiders. All the girls made food and we had a great time.  Rod had a beer-tasting contest with his home brew and Emma took first place.  Tara, took best costume.

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Emma: Beer Tasting Winner                 Tara: Best Costume

We had quite an array of costumes, from Indiana Jones, the Flash’dance’ Beer guy, strawberry shortcake, fairy’s, vampires, the Crow, Wednesday & Pugsley, Rod & I were a Nurse & Surgeon….and some other creepy looking people.      

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Overall things went great.  You can see more pictures from the 1st Annual Friday the 13th Halloween Party by clicking on the PHOTO ALBUMS link from the Pages list on the left.

Wed
12
Apr '06

The Bridal Shower and more Wedding News…

TO SHOWER THE BRIDE WITH GIFTS…. please

The bridal shower went off without a hitch. Mum and Heather planned and arranged for a nice gathering of young and old for a tea party (which doesn’t mean we drank tea), with goodies to eat and champagne cocktails – a good time was had by all.  My father-in-law Chris was our bartender and all-around host-with-the-most who catered to our pleasure. We had Rod’s Mum and sister-in-law, a couple of Rod’s first cousins, and one second cousin Jessica, his Grandmother, a Great-Aunt, lot’s of friends of the family and of course my posse: Em, Heather, Mel, and Dawn.  Things went well, we planned to have chapmagne cocktails and we came up with these three:

  1. Mimosa: Champagne & Orange Juice.  An alltime American Favourite, usually to be drunk at Breakfast or Brunch (late-Brekky/early-Lunch).  Amazingly, Australians not so familiar with this sweet drink but “you believe me” they are now!
  2. Chapmagne Sorbet: Should I make you guess: Champagne with a scoop of beautiful orange/red sorbet. Lovely bubbly drink with a fruity flavour.  Yummy but for adults only!
  3. Cran Champers: Cranberry Juice and Champagne.  Beautiful flavour with real cranberry juice, makes for a different flavour and goes well with just about anything.

I’d think Champagne & Orange Juice (Mimosa) is an alltime favourite but they’ve really not caught on here.  I will have to do more campaigning and work to get the word out MIMOSA FABULOUSO!
 

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Group photo from the Bridal Shower – my new family

BIRTHDAY COME AND GONE

Another Birthday has come and gone and as much as she doesn’t want me advertising my birthday’s as they go by, my Mother, will just have to deal with the fact that 40 is right around the corner for me.  I was upset at first but I realize now that she must feel much worse than I.  Knowing that you have a child the age that you feel you are inside, well… it stinks.  So, I’m not quite forty yet Mom, but I’ll keep rubbing it in for you.  Rod and the family (& Heather) took me out to this little Vietnamese place called Indochine in Box Hill for my birthday dinner and I received some wonderful pressies. Rod followed up my pre-birthday dinner with the family by taking me to the coast to have dinner in a quaint restaurant, followed by a night at the Mentone to see one of our friend’s band Mojo. And the weekend didn’t end until we went out for breaky the next morning at a cute little cafe.  It was a worldwind birthday weekend! 

MASTERS STATISTICS BLOWS CHUNKS

Don’t ever take ‘Masters Statistics and Research for Managerial Decisions’ with Professor Vladimir Crk from UOP. As far as I can tell this is the worst, most stressful and overworked class I have ever taken. Granted, I am over the hump with only 6 couses to go for my Masters – and I expected things to get more difficult as we went – but this is ridicuolus.  If you want to go to a University that is accellerated YET geared toward “working adults” look no further than Univeristy of Phoenix.  But BEWARE… if you are assigned Prof Crk, drop immediately!  I received a B in this class after two hernia’s, three sleepless nights, and one mild heart palputation. On we go to Operations Management – the class I’ve been looking forward to since I started this unseemingly long program. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

MY NEW BAND “SPLASH”

You heard it first here, Lainey has finally scored herself a new giging band.  Splash is a three piece ensamble with music from the 70’s to Now!  Myself and a male singer will take the spotlight up front for a great line up of material. 

***

Mental Status: Pre-wedding excitement, been waiting for this day for 18 years.

Song/Band of the Day:  Madonna “Confessions on the Dancefloor”

Favourite Thing Today: Preparing for my Mom’s arrival, her first visit to Australia and to see where I live. She’ll be here for Easter and stay through the Wedding.  I love ya Mom.

Fri
9
Sep '05

The Melbourne Zoo

Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo…

I do believe it, I do believe it’s true… do do dooooo, do do de doo doooo. And today on the drive to the Melbourne Zoo I kept thinking “this song keeps going through my head, something… about a Zoo, I could swear it’s Simon and Garfunkel” whom of course I love, but Rod had no idea. I’m wondering why Rod doesn’t know this song, doesn’t every thirty-something know songs by Simon and Garfunkel? I’d like all thirty-somethings to chime in on this one please. I dared to sing it aloud to him once we got home – still no clue. I love that song and it always makes me smile, I sang it loudly anyway, he wasn’t impressed.

Me at the Melbourne Zoo – the landscaping here is incredible!

Well, it was a fine and fancy ramble to the Zoo today and we didn’t have to take a cross-town bus to get there – just in the City and we got to see just about every animal today.  Somehow Rod and I ended up with about 200+ pictures from this trip and we have selected about 50 for our photo album online. Here’s a preview of our favorite animals from the Zoo:

 

 Meerkat standing watch                         Beautiful Peacock

 

Bear at feeding time                          Playing Seals

Check out the Melbourne Zoo album for all pictures!

The Ashes: Test Cricket Stumps Day 1

On to the fifth and final game of England v. Australia Test Cricket match – we ended day one with seven wickets against England’s score of 319.  Going into day two we have to really go for those last three wickets before England’s score gets out of control.  After 10 wickets Australia will be up to bat in the bottom of the first inning and hopefully we can make a come back. The total score of the Test Cricket games are England 2, Australia 1, and one Draw. Australia must win this final game n order to retain what’s called The Ashes. You can read more about the Cricket at www.baggygreen.com.au

Rod’s 35th Birthday

My dear Rod celebrated his 35th birthday this week, and we threw a dinner party to celebrate!  The whole family joined us at our house and we made dinner and margarita’s for everyone.  It was nice to have everyone over to our house, I am finally starting to feel at home here.

Pictured right to left:  Lainey (me), Chris (Dad), Amanda (sister-in-law), Mavis (Grandmother), Brad (Brother), Barbara (Mum), and Rod.

The house decorated for Rod’s birthday dinner party.