Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Chinatown decisions

Here is MIL in San Francisco's Chinatown, looking through the jam-packed shops that line Grant Avenue. (It hasn't changed in all the years I've known it.) MIL has a hard time making decisions at the best of times, and I think the sheer number of items on display defeated her. But she had a good time browsing anyway, as I did. I even had a "chop" made for me, a symbol carved into stone which is used as a stamp. I chose the Chinese symbol for "peace" and red ink.

Monday, January 22, 2007

MIL and her first Irish coffee

Just to continue the theme from the last post, here is MIL with her first Irish coffee.


Don't know what prompted this reaction. Maybe she'd just been told the Irish coffees had run out?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Yee har! Rain!

Little did I think that a day and night of rain would bring so much happiness. It has soaked everything. We didn't have to get up this morning (Sunday) at six a.m. to water the garden. And we won't be watering during the allowed evening hours tonight. The rain has also brought cooler temperatures - very refreshing.

The lake at the Wilson Botanic Garden, Berwick.

Yesterday we went to a wedding held in a beautiful park in an outer Melbourne suburb. The Wilson Botanic Park reminded us a bit of the park the MWC and I got married in 35 years ago. Even though it rained gently throughout the ceremony yesterday, I think most people there were happy to stand under their umbrellas to watch the couple take their vows of commitment to each other and would have felt that the ceremony had been blessed by the rain.

Techie Son has been reporting back fairly regularly from California, and is surviving the cold snap they're having there. Meanwhile I have rearranged his room to accommodate a couple of house guests, and in a couple of weeks Dad will stay there on his annual visit. Then I will see about fitting it out as a craft room. I think it's got great possibilities! (Don't worry, Ben, you'll have a room when you get back!)

I have been creating a book incorporating all the little bits and pieces of things you bring back from a trip: maps, brochures, tickets, labels etc, and have sewn them together with hemp, using a stitch I taught myself. Each of the folded pieces of construction paper has a brochure, such as the one from the Buena Vista, sewn inside it, which allows you to open it out to read. I still have to decorate the cover, probably with a map of San Francisco.

The Buena Vista is an important San Francisco institution, as it's the home of the Irish Coffee. You can read about it here. When Dad and I were leaving for Hawaii last November, we discovered that there was a Buena Vista right in the airport. Unfortunately we didn't have time to have an Irish Coffee before boarding, and they don't sell any to take away. So when the plane we were sitting in waiting to depart was declared "not ready", we were only too delighted to deplane and head straight for - you guessed it - the Buena Vista. Dad's not much of a photographer, but here's me drinking an Irish Coffee. This is how I would look if you had drunk too many Irish Coffees.

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.
Alex Levine

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Trying to catch up!

I've been reading some blogs and commenting here and there, and figured it's time for an update from me. Plenty has been happening, and that's the thing, where does one start?

First I should report that Techie Son is having the time of his life, meeting all sorts of people from all over the world (he IS living in International House, after all), and one of his goals is to learn a few words of each language he comes into contact with. A very admirable goal! And thanks to those of you who have left comments and sent emails sharing their experiences with children who have left home.

Last week at this time I was on the first of my planned train/tram journeys, as one of my retirement goals. I will be keeping a journal of these travels, and the Man Who Cooks helped me think of an unusual name for it, The Flanged Wheel Journeys.

A definition of a flanged wheel can be found in Wikipedia, with photo here and I can use it for both trains and trams.

Those who know me would not be surprised that I chose Castlemaine, in Central Victoria, as my first destination. I arrived about 11 a.m. and spent 5 hours just enjoying the daily midweek life of my favorite country town. I spent nearly 2 hours in the library (of course!), and borrowed some origami books I hadn't seen before.

The 19th century Mechanics Institute which houses the Castlemaine Library.

Had a lovely lunch and spent some time in a public meditation garden that a local church has provided. It is on a hill near the railway station, and caught a gentle breeze.

The Castlemaine Railway Station, a panorama shot taken with my new camera. I can't even see where the stitching is, the camera would have done that!

And the best part of the day? Sitting in the train, looking out the window and gawking.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Techie Son leaves for overseas today...

I can't remember whether I posted about this last year, but Techie Son applied for and was accepted to do a semester as an exchange student at the University of California at Berkeley. The whole process from first finding out about the program until today, when he leaves, has been a long one. And now here's the day of reckoning, when my "baby" leaves home for six months. Oh, yes, now I remember that I did post about this, and was thinking about turning his room into a craft room for me. (heh heh, that's still on the cards)

But today I think about other things. Will I worry? Will I cry? Will he make the most of this opportunity? Will he find an American girlfriend, like his dad, but maybe that girlfriend will not want to come to Australia? Am I jumping too far ahead? Calm down, Val, let's just get him to the airport first.

Alice and Kerri have emailed me about their experiences of sending off their own children, and it is comforting to know that this is something many people do and survive. A while back I wrote about what my mother had to go through in the 60s when I went overseas for the first time:

... she was at home, doing the Mom-thing, which was worrying about me when I was traveling around Europe by myself. But the best thing she did was NOT to lay a trip on me about going to Europe as a 19 year old on her own, even though it must have been dreadful to see me fly off to the unknown. And those were the days of no internet, no emails or mobile phones, and normal phone calls were prohibitively expensive. Communication was infrequent; how she must have suffered, and there I was, having the time of my life, working and traveling, not realising until I was a parent many years later, what she must have gone through.

Now it is my turn to be the one at home, waiting. But now there's the email, cheap international phone rates, my family and friends are near the university, and we even know, quite well, where Techie Son will be living: International House is where the Man Who Cooks and I met nearly 40 years ago. So I certainly have it easier than my mother did. I will try to remember this over the next few months.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New year, new profile photo

Although I might have had one of the more eye-catching profile photos in Blogger, I've decided that it's time for a change. So I took myself off to Edit-Profile-Land but (re)discovered that you need to have your photo already on the web somewhere. That old horror photo I've been using had been uploaded to a post soon after my 60th birthday (here's the link for those of you who just can't get enough of the old photo or just want to have a laugh) so I used that URL for my profile. So why not do the same thing this time?

Why not indeed, meaning I could kill two birds with one stone, change my profile photo AND get a post out of it too. So here it is:

Meanwhile, as I wait for Blogger to upload the photo, I will mention that, no, I haven't "upgraded" to the new Blogger. From what I've read on a number of your blogs, there is a fair amount of frustration associated with the swapover. And that seems to include uploading photos. So am I right in just ignoring the whole new Blogger thing, especially given that I'm not blogging too often these days? The comments box is now open for voting!

So, five minutes later, there's the photo. It was taken in September just before we left for the U.S. I'm in our front garden, with my mug of tea and a tin of bikkies (short for biscuits, which is what Aussies call cookies). The wisteria is happily flowering in the background. We are now in stage 3 water restrictions and can water only 8 hours per week, either by drippers or by hand - no sprinklers - at given times. The wisteria, like much else, is under threat. Pray for rain!