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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in simplykathryn's LiveJournal:

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Monday, June 18th, 2012
12:23 pm
knitting - June 2012
I have a zillion projects I want to be working on currently, but I'm doing my best to try and finish off the things I'm still working on first. With the possible exception of Darren's winter sweater...

I finished my multi-colored socks (with just enough yarn!):

and my stripey socks:

my cardigan body is complete, and since I took this photo over the weekend, I've finished that sleeve:

and the top from hell is nearly at the fiddly bit:

and, unusually for me, I'm doing a pair of toe-up socks, in this spectacular yarn I got in Florida (I've decided instead of buying souveniers, I'm going to buy yarn from a local shop instead):

Keeping busy, at any rate!
Thursday, May 24th, 2012
1:18 pm
Thoughts on knitting
One of my knitting friends has a wonderfully clear perspective on her knitting. If she doesn't like it, she'll pull it out and start over. A few months back, she spent a good two hours unravelling a sweater she had made - and worn - and has since reknit it into a cardigan. She explained that while she liked the style of the sweater, she didn't like the way the colors in the yarn had 'pooled' (when you used multi-colored yarn sometimes one particular color will accumulate row after row in the same place and the results aren't always great), and she knew it would annoy her enough to not wear the sweater at all. She loves the cardigan she knit and it will get a lot more wear, and all in all, it was a very logical, practical thing for her to do.

Of course, sometimes it is difficult to acknowledge the logical, practical things. You look at how much time and effort you put into the project. You try and convince yourself you can probably 'live with it'.

However, I have decided to take a page from Allison's book and pull out a good 8" of plain knitting in a cardigan I'm working on, because the textured band I did earlier on is nowhere near wide enough. It looked fine when the cardigan was only 5" long, but now, a dozen or so rows from completion, it just looks, well, silly. And although I can look at those hours and hours of stocking stitch and think 'what a waste', I also know that it will annoy me every single time I go to wear it and will probably make me NOT wear it, and what would be the good of that? So tonight, I'm going to go home and pull out all that hard work, and redo it.

This is why you should work on cardigans and sweaters in the summer...
Friday, April 27th, 2012
3:10 pm
Thoughts on motorcycling...
A girlfriend of mine at home once said 'You need to be really paranoid to ride a motorcycle - you have to look at every other vehicle on the road and think 'What is this person going to do to try and kill me today?'' She is completely correct in this.

This morning, out of a line of vehicles, I was the only one who moved over to the other lane to allow the guy waiting on the side street to join the traffic. Maybe he'll remember that and will *see* that motorcycle, rather than change lanes on top of it. Of course, he's not to know I was just following one of the basic laws of motorcycling - stay as far away from other vehicles as possible. Plus, I'm just that nice! :)

It's always a little cooler out than it looks.

People who say they ride a motorcycle because it's economical are lying. Or they're riding for entirely the wrong reasons.

Motorcycling gives you lots of time to think. This is, perhaps, not always a good thing. I've done two trips to central Australia with two different boyfriends over the years, and broke up with each of them not long after we got back...

My motorcycle boots are older than some of my friends. Wonderfully comfortable though - Italians know boots, what can I say? Speaking of my boots, I really need to stop wearing them as snow boots in the winter. They're the only boots I can stand - anything else, even high tops, rubs that little bone on the side of my ankles raw.

One thing I miss riding here is that I don't know many people locally who ride - when I had a bike at home, it was because I'd spent my time dating guys who rode bikes, so lots of my friends had them too. We would go on motorcycle rallies probably once a month (one thing I don't miss - sleeping in a tent!) and I spent my 21st birthday in Tibooburra, which is an awful long way from anywhere, mostly on dirt roads. And because that wasn't remote enough, we went on to Noccundra from there! Frankly, I'm surprised it warranted a Wiki page. So - yeah - I could do without camping anytime soon. In this lifetime.

I had thought, in the last year or so, that I might sell my bike. She'd sat in the driveway, unridden, for at least 18 months. I know if I sell her, I won't ever buy another one. And I'm not quite ready to admit that just yet. This morning, I was really glad I hadn't. Will probably be even more so going home!
Thursday, April 26th, 2012
2:22 pm
As with any hobby, there are - these days - blogs and websites and a zillion things that people who have a specific interest in can read. One of my favorite blogs is by a Canadian lady who blogs as the Yarn Harlot*. She's been so successful at this that she now has in print half a dozen books, sells patterns, and pretty much supports herself that way. She's also quite funny. And - more importantly for our story - she has a HUGE readership.

Now, there's also this little site called Ravelry, which is an interesting combination of message board and database for those involved in the 'fiber arts'. They have hundreds upon thousands of patterns listed (some free, some for sale) and many types of yarn and you can cross-reference these things with amazing ease. On their pattern page they have a little section called 'hot right now' and this is where these two come together. Because when the Yarn Harlot mentions a specific pattern in her blog, you'll see that pattern not only on top of the 'hot right now' list, but thousands of views above the next most popular pattern:

The Yarn Harlot doesn't blog every day (though she does probably several times a week) and if I see a pattern has spiked interest, I'll go check her blog :)

*this link will take you to her entry about the 'Color Affection' scarf you can see on Ravelry. And if you scoff at the thought of a 'sock camp', let me tell you that spots for those things sell out in MINUTES.
Monday, April 23rd, 2012
10:10 am
Knitting stuff
One of the good things about going to see my friend Judy in Ohio is that I got to give her the replacement socks I made her (she had made a pair of socks for herself that were a little small, so she gave them to me - sadly, they were a little small for me also, so I passed them on):

They are based on the same pattern of the socks she gave me, but I cheated and did the foot plain. I've also finished a pair for myself - I call them my purple honeybadgerette socks, because, once again, I did the foot plain. It's just how I am!

This is my scarf (pre-blocking) - it's done in two halves and then sewn together in the middle:

It's blocked now, and I just need to sew the middle seam and tuck in the ends.

I've started some new dark blue every day socks, just to give me something to do.
Sunday, April 22nd, 2012
1:44 pm
To Huron and Back
Last Wednesday, Jackson and I headed west to attend the American Whippet Club's National Show in Huron, OH. I have a friend who lives about 100 miles south of there, so our plan was to go to her place Wednesday night, head up to Huron Thursday, stay at the hotel Thursday night, come back to Baltimore OH Friday and then come home Saturday. And that's exactly what we did! Some thoughts on the trip:

Heading west on I64 there was rain, fog and smoke. The first two helped with the third, and when we came back on Saturday the smoke was gone, and everything smelled charred. You could see in places where the fires nearly came to the interstate, and why it was closed for several hours earlier in the week. Hopefully the ongoing rain has helped put them all out.

Sheetz Brothers have expanded their empire into West Virginia, so I was able to get coffee for me and gas for my little red car and a bag of the world's cutest animal crackers for Jackson and I to share.

I do love my Sirius radio - I got to listen to an hour long concert by Midnight Oil recorded live at Glastonbury in 1993.

There is a Jackson County in West Virginia - if it wasn't raining, I'd have stopped and taken a photo.

The Capital Building dome in Charleston always looks pretty, even in the rain the gold glows.

It occured to me that if you could take a photo of Interstates 64 and 77 from the side, they would look remarkably like the state abbreviation - WV. Lots of downs, followed by long, steep climbs. You know when you get a sign saying 'left lane - no trucks' that you've got a long climb ahead of you. At one point there is a 4.5 mile descent at 7% grade - I'm sure that stretch did wonders for my mileage, I didn't have my foot on the accelerator nearly the whole way down. And my little red car continues to impress me - she sat between 70 and 75mph without a problem.

Of course, once you leave the interstate system, that top speed drops to 55mph, which feels incredibly slow.

Along US33W in Ohio there are several 'park and ride' signs - which is all very good, but ride to where??? Columbus is a hundred miles away...

There was also a sign for the 'Fur Peace Ranch and Concert Hall' - no idea what that is.

Both Jackson and I got to visit my friend Judy's office - I'm waiting for her to tell me that when she went back the next day there was a sign saying 'no dogs'. :)

Judy's dog Henry is very sweet, and he was quite disappointed that Jackson did not want to play with him. Hard to explain to him that Jackson doesn't want to play with anybody (although we discovered there were a few pretty girls at the National he would have made an exception for!).

Years ago, the family and I were coming back from Minnesota, and we'd come through Michigan's Upper Peninsula and across the bridge between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Of course, we've seen Lake Superior many times. And we thought well, Lake Erie is just near here, we'll go take a look and once we came through Toledo we took a small detour into some little industrial town that - theoretically - is on Lake Erie. And ... we couldn't find it. We spent maybe half an hour looking, but no luck. Huron, OH, is on Lake Erie (yes, I don't understand the naming logic either) and here it is, with Jackson nicely standing in front of it, to prove it exists:

We met up with my friend Leslie at the National (Leslie owns Cricket, who is my Sawyer's littermate) and we looked at whippets, and toured around, and looked at more whippets and decided there was no way we could ever judge something like that as they were all gorgeous. We shared a room, and Jackson deemed the bed okay:

Friday afternoon Jackson and I participated in the rescue parade, with four other lovely dogs and after that we headed back to Ohio. We spent the night with Judy and family, got ice-cream (black raspberry!) and then headed home Saturday morning. Jackson slept most of the way:

Apparently Adele did a cover of The Cure's 'Lovesong' on her latest album - best estimates is that royalties from that earned Robert Smith around $3 million. Not bad!

Coming back into Virginia from WV there is a big sign that says 'Drive Safely - Come Again Soon!' but, oddly, it's on the other lane. I'm guessing the other side is the 'welcome to West Virginia' sign, but it still seemed strange.

At some stage I need to go see the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is, according to the signs, 65 miles off I64. Also the BlueDogArt Cafe in Buena Vista, which is much closer.

Jackson has forgiven me for forgetting his bear, but has slept near it most of the time since we've been home.

Next year's National is in Oregon, so I doubt I'll make that one, but the year after is in Maryland - just up the street!
Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
3:37 pm
Little Black Dog update
The Little Black Dog, by the way, is doing really well, has survived all his treatments (though he'll need a final confirmation next month) and has done his level best to make sure he doesn't live anywhere but with us. My husband took him to work to show him to a few people and he spent his time cowering under the desk. Then, of course, he came home and bounced happily all over the house...

Admittedly, he is a cutie:

3:25 pm
On (and off) the needles - April 2012
Hmm - I wonder if I could manage this updating thing once a month...

So, since my last update, I have finished:

Adrienne's Nashville socks:

Stephanie's gray scarf:

Jennifer's 'amazing' seed stitch scarf:

Anne's Nashville socks:

Angela's birthday scarf:

Stephanie's socks:

and another pair of surprise socks that I can't show yet!

I've also started a sweater for the hubby:

and a scarf for myself (from some yarn a friend gave me for Christmas):

I have also, rather terrifyingly, photographed all my 'yarn stash'.
Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
2:51 pm
Little Black Dog update
Otis survived his neutering, and I'm sure he can walk much easier now that his enormous testicles are gone - it must be a small dog thing - my friend and I have a theory that dog testicles come in one size, no matter the size of the dog. They took another x-ray while he was 'under', and his spine is healing nicely, and whatever was going on with his tummy seems to have resolved itself. All in all, he looked well enough to start heartworm treatment.

Heartworm treatment is a pretty severe thing - basically, a compound that includes arsenic is injected into the animal two days in a row, and this will kill the heartworms. Of course, then you have a big bunch of dead heartworms that will slowly decay / be absorbed / filter out of the body. This process takes a couple of weeks, and during that time it is really important to keep the animal QUIET. Calm and quiet. If they're not quiet, and they get their heart really pumping, chunks of dead heartworms can break off and obviously you don't want chunks of anything washing along your veins.

Otis does not do quiet. He is on, or he is off. There's really nothing in between. Being a small dog, he tends to pelt around the house like he's in a pinball machine at the best of times. It's really cute listening to his little paws click-clacking on the wooden floors at a million miles an hour. He takes little, bitty steps, and many of them. We tried keeping him in his crate, where he spends the daytime hours when we're out quite happily. He did not like being in his crate when we were home - in fact, he got so frantic, we figured he was probably doing more damage in than out. So we leave him out when we're home, and we try and make sure he doesn't run around the back yard like a crazy thing too much, and so far he's made it to one week post heartworm treatment and hasn't keeled over.

It's a miracle.
Friday, January 20th, 2012
11:13 am
on the needles - January 2012
I've been knitting, on and off, since I was 8 or so. Some days I feel more energetic about it than others, but when I have the bug I often have several items on the go at once. I am, sadly, quite good at not getting things finished, which is why I tend to stick to smaller things like scarves and socks. That said, I even have a few half-finished socks, which really shouldn't be possible. I have six large plastic boxes of yarn at home that I need to sort and assign a project to, or get rid of - those are the choices. A lot of the time I'll buy one skein, just because I like it, and then what am I going to do with one skein??

So far this year I've finished a shawl for myself:

have started two pairs of socks for friends:

and started a scarf for a friend as well:

We'll see how long this enthusiasm lasts...
Monday, January 9th, 2012
3:32 pm
On becoming a six dog family...

We currently have six dogs, one and a half cats, and a fish. Well, we don't actually have half a cat, we have one cat that is home every night and another cat who comes by from time to time, mostly, from what we can see, to beat up on the stay-at-home cat. And we thought they'd be friends.

We intentionally have four dogs. Doodle, our nine year old whippet / afghan cross; Sirius, our nine year old black lab; Soybean, our three year old whippet and Lulu, our three year old little black mutt. Then, in August, I got a call from a fellow whippet rescue lady, who was inundated with both dogs (mostly her own) and Hurricane Irene who asked if I could please take the elderly rescue she'd picked up that Friday. So we took him in - his name is Jackson and he's thirteen - and he's a sweet old thing and we basically consider him to be a permanent foster. Realistically, we're not going to put too much time and effort into finding a home for a thirteen year old dog. He's settled in really well, is quite the snuggler, and has a thing about my clothing, which he likes to carry around the house when I'm away.

And now, there's Otis. I got a call a few weeks back from a shelter, swearing blind they had a very emaciated whippet in their cages. They told me he weighed ten pounds. I said that he probably wasn't a whippet. They sent me photos. I said that he really probably wasn't a whippeet. They told me I should come look, and I kind of agreed and then ... they told me he was heartworm positive. Well. Nobody in their right mind is going to adopt a heartworm positive dog. So we discussed it, and decided that we could afford to take him in, get him de-heartwormed and then find him a new home.

If only it were that easy.

We took him to the vet and she called back and told me he was a train-wreck. Another term she used was T-Rexed. Basically, it looks like he was picked up and shaken by a much larger dog. You can see the puncture wounds, and there is a fracture or two along his spine. Something was going on with his stomach - lots of bruising, and quite distended. It may have been an infection, it may have been who knows what. He was very tender along one side, and because of the fracture, it was difficult to take more than one x-ray without really hurting him. And yes, he was really emaciated.

We were faced with the conundrum of not being able to treat him for the heartworm, because of his health, but by the time he was healthy enough to be treated, the heartworm may have killed him.

He is, surprisingly, still with us and doing pretty well. He's gained three pounds, which is a lot for a fifteen pound dog. And he is getting more mobile every day. Next week he goes in for neutering, and we'll see how he's doing then, and what kind of heartworm treatment we'll do. We may well go the more passive route, and just use the preventative and wait for the ones already in his system to die out. I guess we'll see.

And after that ... anyone interested in a small, black terrier mix? :)
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
12:45 pm
So, a new year...
...and perhaps I'll actually get energetic and blog from time to time. Maybe.

Anyway, some vague things I'll attempt to do in 2012:

Lose another five pounds. I've lost ten since July, and while another ten would be great, I'm okay with five.

Make a list of the ridiculous amount of yarn I already own and either assign a project to it, or donate it to someone who needs it.

Use my camera more.

Be brave, and let the color in my hair grow out.

Ride my motorcycle at least once a week from spring through fall.

There. I think five things is more than enough to attempt! Fingers crossed!
Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
2:00 pm

Doodle doesn't do mornings. Lately, she's decided that she doesn't need to go running with my husband and the other dogs either. They'll be downstairs, all happy and ready to head out, and she'll have slunk back upstairs and is curled up in her chair. She does, however, run back downstairs when they get home, so she doesn't miss out on the post-run treat. Doodle's other problem is that she is a bit on the tubby side these days. Well, okay, these months. Years. It's been a while since she could be described as slender. Rubenesque would be closer.

So I decided that both she and I could benefit by getting out and walking a few mornings a week. The first time I did it, I literally had to drag her across the floor in our bedroom. Darren and the other dogs slept through this, so I was able to escape the house with no problem. The second time I only had to drag her off her chair, but I'd forgotten my shoes and had to go back for them. Although I thought the other dogs were still asleep, they had apparently woken up, and spent the rest of the time we were gone crying about being left behind.

This morning... well, I was not sneaky enough and by the time I was ready to leave I had four dogs looking hopefully at me at the door. It didn't help when I reached up to get a leash. However, I can't take four dogs on a walk. Between them they weigh over 200lbs, and their center of gravity is much lower to the ground. I singled Doodle out of the mass, and off we went, into the darkness. Only having one dog turned out to be a very good thing, as there was a possum ambling along the side of our street. If I'd had all four, I think the possum would have been the least of my worries. We walked a mile and a half (out and back) and when we got home, the two younger dogs had given up on us and gone back to bed. Sirius, our black lab, I'm fairly sure spent the entire time watching through the dining room window. He's silly like that. He announced our arrival and the rest of the pack came back downstairs and got treats, so in the end everybody was happy.

However, I wasn't alone out there. The moon and his lovely friend Jupiter kept me company.
Friday, July 9th, 2010
9:16 pm
Australia Trip Post 7
Okay, so we've actually been home for just over a week. I've decided that leaving Brisbane at 11.00am was a really bad move, because I wasn't at all tired during the time they had dimmed the lights on the plane but I was starting to get that way when they brought the lights back up. We arrived on time in LA at around 6.30am local time, which according to my internal clock was actually a little after midnight. Of course then you have to keep going - through customs, change terminals, all that fun stuff - and by the time we finally got home I'd been awake for over 24 hours, which isn't something I've ever done well :)

Anyway - a few more details. The last couple of days in Australia were actually pretty quiet. Had lunch(es) with friends, and we took a trip down to Byron Bay. The main reason for this trip was because Byron is the 'most easterly point of mainland Australia', which seemed as good a reason as any. However, there had also been a mass of hump-backed whale sightings all along the coast, and we thought that would be a good place to perhaps catch a glimpse of one. Of course, 'glimpse' is a very accurate word. There is a whole lot of ocean out there and, relatively speaking, whales are not really all that large. Sure, they seem that way if they're right next to your boat, or shown next to a diver but when you're standing on the land scanning the ocean it's more a matter of 'Quick, what was that splash? Was that a tail??' So we think that perhaps we might have caught a quick glimpse of some whales. Maybe.

Downtown Byron Bay is actually a pretty busy place, which was nice. The boys and I got a late lunch (more baked goods!) and wandered back to where Mum was waiting in the car. I found a store that stocked jewellry from a cool place called Elk Accessories (they're from Melbourne and as far as I know have nothing to do with actual elk - maybe they just liked the name?) and I got Mum and I a new pair of earrings.

Wednesday we spent packing, pretty much. I had taken a spare bag with us, and we ended up filling it completely and then Scott and I walked into town and bought another backpack as well. Wednesday night the boys went bowling with my dad, and all three of them survived the experience.

Thursday was leaving day - amazing how quickly it came around. Our friend Lyn picked us up at the not too horrible hour of 7.30am, we had a traffic free run through to Brisbane (Murphy's Law), which meant we had 2.5 hours to kill at the airport. Actually, it worked fairly well - there was a HUGE group of exchange students ahead of us at the check-in line, so that part took quite a while. But we had time for a late breakfast / early lunch before we went through security and out to the gate. I had put the majority of my knitting needles into my checked bag, and only had three or four projects with me in my backpack. As I did every other time, when we went through the scanners, I pulled the knitting out and put it in the tray separately, so they could see what it was. The security person looked at my needles and said 'Hmmm - I'm not sure whether we can allow that'. I assured her I had checked, and the regulations had changed last December, and they'd be fine. To which she replied 'Oh. Okay then' and off we went. I wasn't quite sure whether to be amused or horrified by that. I'm fairly certain she wouldn't have been quite so believing if it were a flame thrower, but you just never know.

The flight to LA was quiet - the screaming child who had been hanging around the gate in Brisbane had apparently been drugged or something, because we didn't hear a peep out of her the whole way. We were served lunch, which was nice, and many hours later, breakfast. You can see why my body clock had problems! Going through the lines in LA didn't take too long - the joys of having US residency - even though they did do the fingerprint and eye scan thing on me. I had dutifully checked 'food' on the customs list, but they didn't even look twice at me. I discovered later that the TSA had rummaged through one of my bags, so perhaps that was why. We handed our bags over to the next group of handlers and trusted that they would all end up in DC with us (they did).

Then we went out into the smog of LA and walked down the half mile or so to the United gate (there were some incredibly helpful - and cheerful, considering it was all of 7.30am - female LAX employees who showed you were you needed to go once you got outside), where we were confronted by one of those women who talks a million miles an hour and, more tellingly, doesn't let you finish your question before she starts to answer it. She sent us to the automatic boarding pass machines, which would have been fine except when the machine asked if we had already checked other luggage, and I said yes, the machine said we couldn't get the pass that way. We went back and *tried* to explain, but half-way through she told us to go to area 4. The much less hectic lady at area 4 told us to just say 'no' when the machine asked about luggage, and we'd be fine. And we were.

We went through another security check - there was a Russian family ahead of us, who had two little blond haired, blue eyed girls about 8 and 9 or so, and who were just babbling - in Russian of course. They were as cute as anything! Getting through that particular line took 35 minutes, which I know for certain because one of the LAX people gave me a scrap of paper with the time written on it, and instructions to have the scanning person add the time there, and then for me to give it to the last security person, which I did. Apparently I looked helpful. Unlike in Brisbane, where I apparently looked suspicious, because this very nice lady asked me to step behind this cubicle, and scanned me with her little wand. She sounded Scandanavian, which was interesting.

As we were settling into the plane to fly to Dulles, I heard the pilot say that if we wanted to 'eavesdrop on his negotiations with the control towers', we could tune our headsets to channel 9. The United headsets were fairly hefty and I thought it would help block out the noise of the inevitable crying infant (this one they failed to drug) and the chatter would help me stay awake. It was, in fact, really cool to listen as we were passed on from one area to the next and I'm really wondering what (or perhaps who) 'Presidential 60' was... There were many more men than women, both flying and in the towers, and it was fun to hear their different methods of acknowledging each other. One thing I did notice was that a lot of them said 'Good Day' (the four hour time difference across the country makes things tricky) and it was often said quickly enough that it nearly - NEARLY - sounded like they were saying G'Day. I'm sure it will happen eventually :)

In each of the three airports we were in, we got a luggage trolley, but it was only in Dulles that I actually had to pay for it - frankly, it was well worth the $3 and I'd have happily paid that at each of them if I'd needed to.

Darren arrived not long after we got outside (with no dogs) and three hours or so later we were home. The dogs apparently missed us, and it has only taken me a week to convince Sirius that he isn't really a bed dog, and he can sleep on the floor.

I have some more photos to go up on Flickr, and I'll post a link once they're done.

Monday, June 28th, 2010
10:22 am
Australia Trip Post 6
Saturday we had a really nice day. Roma Street Parklands are gorgeous (especially considering it used to be a train yard) and the weather held up for us. All in all we had 29 people there over the course of a few hours. There were a few people I'd not met before (cousins of my dad, including one who I've been friends with on Facebook for ages!). My cousin Kathy had three boys who have since grown, got married and had children of their own - all girls. There is some kind of karma there. Also there were my cousins Donna, Sheryl, Gary & Laurel with assorted spouses, children and grandchildren. It's a little spooky to have cousins with grandchildren, frankly :) Then again, Aunty Irene said virtually the same when one of my kids called her little sister 'Grandma Lottie'.

Anyway, the boys got to kick / throw a football around with my cousin's boys (though they were a little hampered by all the little girls running after them) and also with my cousin Gary for a while, though he claims he couldn't play much because he was in the wrong shoes. We all did a tour of the gardens with Paul (who works there, and nicely arranged a reserved barbecue area for us) and generally spent time catching up. It was fun.

We spoke to Aunty Irene this morning and she said it is still fairly windy up there, so even if we had been able to stay longer and try for Lady Musgrave another day the weather may not have been in our favour. So that makes me feel fractionally less annoyed about the whole thing.

Knitting update - three single socks completed (the 2nd of a pair, and a whole pair); two socks 3/4 done (because who would ever have just one pair of socks on the needles at a time??); added four inches to a lace scarf I have been doing for a while and my top down wrap cardigan has the body done, but I'm convinced I've screwed something up, because it isn't sitting properly, so it has been packed into my bag and I'll try and work it out when I get back home. My friend Judy refers to this as 'shunning' and advises it will not get any better while I'm not looking at it! Ha. So she says!

Mum's dog Celia sleeps in the boys room most nights. She's too old to climb up there with them - probably just as well.

We don't have much planned for the next few days - visiting with friends and perhaps a trip to Byron Bay on Wednesday.

I also need to pack, which should be interesting to say the least. I have one bag packed already, and another 2/3 done. I'm hoping all the biscuits will make it in one piece. The chocolate should be fine.

I heard the boys playing with the scale in the bathroom last night - back in the 'olden days' before Australia went metric (early 70s, I think) we used pounds and ounces, but we also used a weight measurement called 'stone'. I'm fairly sure this is/was used in the UK as well, but for some reason I've never seen it used in the US. A stone is to a pound what a pound is to an ounce - there are 14lbs to a stone (lordy - no wonder people use metric!). Mum's scale has kilograms on it, but also stone, which was confusing the boys completely from what I could hear :) There was a lot of giggling, at any rate.

I've not hung clothes out on a line in years.

I need to try and get some photos of various cars around here - the four wheel drives with their 'snorkels' and the various styles of utes / pick-ups. Some look like what we have in the US and some look nearly more like station wagons with the backs cut open.

The boys and I have been really enjoying Top Gear - the UK car show. Although I find Jeremy Clarkson fairly insufferable most of the time, the race they did across Japan was highly amusing - especially as every time he went through a speed camera he would hold up a photo of Bill Oddie in front of his face. I know they had it on BBC America for a while, but we no longer get that, so I guess we'll have to check NetFlix.

So. Two and a half day to go, and we'll be on our way back home. Time flies!
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
9:24 pm
Australia Trip Post 5
So. Earlier this week a high pressure system developed down near Tasmania, and the barometric pressure readings caused the weather people to use terms like 'record-breaking'. The end result of these record-breaking barometric pressures was a strong wind warning for the ENTIRE east coast. Winds of up to 30 knots. Sea swells of 3m (about 10 feet). Murphy's Law therefore states that the ONE day in probably months they have to cancel the Lady Musgrave Island trip is the day we'd planned on going. Instead we went to the beach (very windy), flew my kite (perfect for it!) and then went to the movies (saw Robin Hood - fun, and entirely not what we were expecting).

It was nice to catch up with Aunty Irene, Uncle Eddie and my cousin Fay while we were there. We also did a tour of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery (not the full tour, because I didn't realise you'd need closed in shoes until we got there and I was reluctant to 'rent' some) and purchased some things to bring home. I'm starting to worry that I may need more than one spare bag...

Some kinds of food are incredibly expensive over here. The single person bottles of Coke that I would generally pay around $1.50 for in the US are closer to $3.00 here. I have yet to buy a bag of potato chips, because the price is just mind-boggling. Two burgers, a bag of (hot) chips and three potato scallops plus drinks came to nearly $40, but the bulk of that pretty much came from the drinks!

I think there is a bakery on every second corner here, and some wonderful things to eat as a result. The boys particularly enjoy the bacon and cheese bread rolls - they're about 6 inches across with the bacon and cheese baked into the top. They've also had several sausage rolls. I've yet to convince them to try pies with mushy peas however.

We got some DVDs from the library and have watched some early episodes of Magnum PI (including the pilot, which I don't believe I'd seen before) and Hercules. Apart from Kevin Sorbo's looks (before I went off him during his Andromeda tenure) it really doesn't have much to recommend it. The boys are enjoying it, but I think it's more in a Mystery Science Theater kind of way :)

On our way home from Bundy today we stopped by Australia Zoo for a few hours. It's a really nice place with lots and lots of space for the animals. Perhaps the most fun thing was seeing the tigers sleeping around their enclosure while their three keepers sat and chatted not far from them - in the enclosure. Basically they all spend a lot of time with the tigers, keeping them entertained, which must be nice for all of them. Also - otters!

We have our family get-together Saturday, an afternoon at the Mudgeereeba Show Sunday and hopefully early next week we'll make it down to Byron Bay (aka the most eastern point in Australia). It has to be early, because next Thursday we'll be on our way home. Hard to believe, huh?
Saturday, June 19th, 2010
7:00 pm
Australia Trip Post 4
Random bits and pieces:

When we were at Wet N Wild I asked the boys if they wanted me to upgrade their tickets so that they could come again by themselves, and would they be okay with being there alone? Scott replied "But who would be our camel?"

I got some arthritis type tablets for Mum's dog Celia from the pharmacy - there's a whippet on the label :)

While I still like Weet-Bix, you still need to eat them with a large amount of sugar.

Speaking of breakfast cereal - Scott has discovered the joys of Kellogg's Nutri-Grain. I've purchased two enormous boxes and a bunch of ziplock bags and will bring home as much as I can. He also likes the Nutri-Grain cereal bars, which I don't like, despite the layer of chocolate underneath.

Friday we finally went by the fresh donut place at the shopping center near here. Mmmmm.

I've started accumulating candy to bring home - I figured it would be less a shock to my budget than buying $80 worth the day before we leave.

Luke and I decided to play Scrabble the other night and were just overwhelmed with vowels. Eventually we gave in and went through all the tiles - there were an additional 21 letters, the majority of them vowels. Next time it should be much easier - this is what happens when you buy games secondhand.

My parents own the world's oldest clock radio - the clock part has the little plastic numbers that flip over. It is incredibly loud.

My bronchitis made the trip alive and well - I think the hermetically sealed environments I spent so much time in only encouraged it.
Friday, June 18th, 2010
5:26 pm
Australia Trip Post 3
Monday we caught the train up to Brisbane to hang out at South Bank with my cousin Sheryl, her partner Greg and their grand-daughter Claire. Claire's mum, Karen, is ten years younger than me. Or to put it another way, I was ten when she was born, which meant she was someone I looked after on a regular basis. Claire is so much like her it's just spooky. I spent the day doing the deja-vu thing :)

Monday was also a public holiday, so there were plenty of kids on the train. As we left the platform, the boys were ahead of me and a pair of policemen (don't know if they were rail or regular) asked them if they had tickets. I spoke up and said they were in my pocket, the police said 'Oh, they're with you' and I said they were, and they didn't even bother looking at the tickets. It was the first time I'd ever thought of my kids as possible juvenile delinquents, because at home there isn't anywhere they can go that doesn't involve us taking them there. It felt quite odd.

Tuesday was pretty quiet - trip to the library and walked home. We're getting a fair amount of exericse at any rate.

Wednesday we went to the movies (saw the A-Team, which wasn't bad) - discovered that cinemas here are the same as at home - ticket prices aren't too terrible but you pay nearly double that for 'snacks'. At the 10.30am showing there were perhaps a dozen people in the theater. Afterwards we went to the beach again, where it was cooler than the weekend, but still fun.

Thursday the boys and I went to Wet N Wild. The place was pretty much deserted - school is in all around the country, so there weren't many kids their age and the lines were pretty much non-existant. What that place is like in mid-summer I dread to think. Winter hours means the water is heated and that some of the rides alternate one hour on, one hour off, as they have reduced staffing. The boys used the wave pool the most, but went on all of the other rides at least once. It was gray out, but not overly cold (to me, because I was dry!) - they also have a big hot tub area, and the boys spent quite a bit of time in there as well. Two burgers and drinks came to nearly $40 but it was a lot of food (I stole their fries) and the boys said they were really good, and frankly it was pretty much what I was expecting to pay somewhere like that. I will say that you can bring your own food if you want, and they even have grills available to use if you want to BBQ.

Friday we did a bit of shopping, and now have our snorkels and masks for our trip next week to Bundaberg and Lady Musgrave Island.

Day time highs have been in the low 20s celcius / low 70s farenheit. This mid-winter stuff is hard!
Sunday, June 13th, 2010
6:55 pm
Australia Trip Post 2
You know you've been away from home too long when the guy at the coffee shop asks if you're American. Oy.

Saturday we went to the beach - the water was perhaps fractionally warmer than the outside temperature, especially when the wind picked up. However, it was glorious - simply glorious. The boys both swam (between the flags, of course) and had a good time. I managed to spend my time in the sun without getting burned - I may end up with a tan at this rate.

We'll be hanging around the Coast this week, and heading up to my Aunt's place in Bundaberg next week. We've booked tickets out to Lady Musgrave Island for Wednesday the 23rd. Darren and I went out there when we came here in 1996 when Scott was two, and had a wonderful time snorkeling. Most of it is done in a lagoon, so you don't have to worry about sharks (or so I keep telling the boys). The only downside for me is two hours (each way) on the boat, but I've found some Sea Bands so we should do okay I think. Need to find some masks and fins and things in the meantime.

Quote of the week - my dad asking if I was still in touch with 'that girl I went to school with'. Just as well I went to a co-ed school, I guess, as that narrowed it down to only 50% of the students...

Found at the local library - book 7 of Garth Nix's 'Keys to the Kingdom' series. Made even more amusing by the lady at the book store insisting that it hadn't been released yet. :) Now that I've read it I can wait patiently until it is released in paperback in the US.

I have photos from both Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (Friday) and the beach on my camera - I just need to see if Mum's computer can cope with me moving them from there to Flickr. We shall see. However, I've included one Mum took of the boys and me and our little feathered friends.

Being in Australia just in time to watch one of the State of Origin series is sheer fluke, but a wonderful one.

We flew Qantas this time, with their fancy individual screens and choice of movies. I saw 'How to Train Your Dragon' (fun), 'Fantastic Mr Fox' (fun) and the very bizarre 'From Paris With Love' which did have in its favour the very attractive Jonathan Rhys Myers - even without his accent he is nice to watch. I also watched a couple of episodes of BlackAdder and To The Manor Born.

The boys have been asleep by about 8.00pm every night so far. Winter daylight hours here are odd - dark by 6.00pm but light enough to read by at 6.00am. Don't ask how I know this...
Friday, June 11th, 2010
6:18 pm
Australia Trip Post 1
Amherst, VA, USA to Nerang, Qld, Australia - somewhere around 30 hours. Some random notes:

Dulles was amazingly deserted Tuesday morning. Didn't see a plane in the sky on the way in, and the airport was very quiet. All our planes were on time, and crowded. I'm not sure what the chances of having crying infants on two consecutive planes, but we had them. The one on the Qantas LAX / Sydney leg cried like a jackhammer. Scott declared he didn't know who in their right mind would take an infant on an international flight.

Dinner Tuesday was at the frou-frou Brioche place at LAX - $50. Joys of a captive audience. The boys and I took it in turns walking the length of the International Terminal. Our estimate is that it is approximately a mile round trip - oh for Heather & her iPhone apps :)

My new small knitting bag holds not only my current sock project, but three passports and three boarding passes quite nicely. And my wallet, I've discovered. The boys accused me of trying to smuggle sheep, judging by the amount of yarn in my bags.

Speaking of bags - you can't blame the people at the departure gate for getting exasperated. Honestly, we each had one carry on bag (a bookbag) - there were people who had 'carry on' bags nearly as big as our checked luggage AND a bookbag or some other bag. Originally at Dulles we only had one lady working the departure gate - she was a lot more forgiving with the passengers than the 2nd lady who came to help her. A whole lot more bags ended up being checked after that.

I'm sure that somewhere in the world there are people who are still concerned about their appearance after 15 hours on a plane, however the remaining 95% of us that don't could undoubtedly do without the full length mirror in the bathroom on the plane that faces the toilet! There's a sight you could do without, let me tell you.

You know you're getting closer to Australia when they refer to 'toilets' vs 'bathrooms' AND when you get tea served in a pot as one of the hot drinks. It was incredibly disgusting, but there you go.

I wonder what the pilot can see when the plane is hurtling through the sky at 595mph at night. The 'SkyCam' screen just showed pitch blackness. However, I still believe in the magic that is flight, and the running jump that sends this enormous lump of metal into the sky and keeps it there.

Today we went to Currumbin Bird Sanctuary where we fed kangaroos and were pooped on by lorikeets. Always a fun day. Off to dinner in a minute. More later!
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