Friday, November 29, 2013

"I'm gonna pop, pop Santa Claus with my water pistol gun, and then I'll take his bags of toys and run, and bring to all the kids who don't have none "

This post is a bit of a rant.  But with every rant there are also good moments.  The day I had my failed shopping excursion, was a day of almost being warm and sunny.  Also I found some excellent records for cheap, cheap, cheap.

I am pretty enthusiastic about Christmas-time. This is especially as the world has always been against me.
Does this sound whiny?  Let me lay out some facts.
Okay, well, most of these facts are too sad and shouldn't be shared publicly.  I have rarely had any friends that cared about Christmas-time like I do.  Even when I was free to do Christmas up without any restrictions, I think 1992 was the first Christmas that I didn't work.  Being the youngest, unmarried, employee not returning home meant all holiday shifts were mine.  My Swedish friends probably can't conceive working Christmas Eve or Christmas day, but L.A. is a city filled with lonely stragglers at Christmastime needing a place to be.

But then, all the times that anyone did something nice for me at Christmas does really stand out in my memory.  If I am feeling the Christmas spirit, then I would say that getting to spend ANY Christmases in Sweden have been a delight.  Not to mention Iceland.  I could let those balance out the Christmases spent in Summer, here in the Southern Hemisphere.  

There is also the obstacle of knowledge.  Sometimes I long for Christmas unfettered by global news and intelligence.  I have always looked at the masses of over packaged, unsustainable trappings of Christmas and thought "LANDFILL!".  Because really, where else will it all end up?
But there have always been ways around that.  Yet, still sometimes trying to be responsible can feel very lonely. 

While my car was being serviced, I braved town to do some shopping.
I didn't need much.  But really I found very little and certainly no Christmas spirit (what can you expect from a country without Thanks-giving and in the midst of a lousy, grey, wet Spring?).
I of course need craft supplies, I went to 'the' shop for sewing-all I needed was some linen.  There was a line of maybe seventeen people (looking as cheery as you would imagine, but geez there wasn't even any xmas music on!) and three people serving behind the counter.  After a bit of a search I found linen, without any polyester involved- they had 'pink' and not a very nice shade let me tell you.
I thought maybe there would be some (so popular!) up at the counter that hadn't had time to make its way back, so I waited (about twenty-minutes in line) to ask.  The exchange went a bit like this- "Hi, How are you?  I'm looking to buy some white or off white linen or both, and there is none on the floor- would there happen to be some back here?" Shop assistant "Hanna? Hanna! Could you take over I need to go and catch a bus."
Me- repeating my request.
Hanna "Linen is quite popular."
Me- "Great! So you have some?"
Hanna- "If there isn't any - No."
Me- "But it's um popular, so you'll get it back in?"
Hanna- walks away...returns
Me- "Oh, great, It's on order so do you know when it will arrive?"
Hanna- "It'sunorderable" 
Me- "I'm sorry did you say that the linen is on order?"
Hanna- "No, I don't know why we can not order it."
Me-"Would you happen to know where else I could buy that?"
Hanna- shrugging "A quilting store?"
Me- "Right, white linen, very important to the art of quilt making- Thanks!"

Most of my experiences go something like that, I also tried to buy a T.V. bench at a second-hand shop, I left my number as the women "thought" it had been sold but not paid for.  The next day I went back by the shop as I was nearby but the shop was not opened even though it was 11 a.m.  So I pushed a note through the door, but I have not heard from the shop.  I always feel as if I am begging someone to please take my money.
My other large failure was trying to buy Australian themed Christmas cards.  I mean, after all I am in Australia.  After the second person (in more of a craft or boutique type shop) told me rather cuttingly I should try "a tourist shop"- I realized I was woefully un-cool and out of style somehow.  
These are usually the endeavors that keep me inside and turning to places like Etsy.
Most years I make my cards like my embroidered cards from last year-

But here, alone, in the rain I can't quite rally.
So let me list (It is after all Thanksgiving elsewhere) some of my favorite Christmas moments.

 Iceland- the best Christmas myths ever, with a witch included.
Sweden in the winter, snow and lights in every window, real Christmas trees in every square, and many building put up a communal one in the yard (Just like the whos of who-ville!)
Any Swedish Christmas quite frankly, because although everyone spends Christmas with their families, they always make time for their friends.
There was a Christmas in L.A. where I was alone, and lonely and a friend left me a real Christmas tree, as I was sad I couldn't afford one.
All the Christmases where someone called me, hearts ripped by family strife, and we spent Christmas on the run.
The year a friend and I painted terracotta pots, and gave plants to every lonely bar fly we could find.
Any time friends have come to stay with me at Christmas time.
Christmases where someone's family took me in- genuinely and warmly.
All my xmas'es with Zok even though he really, at heart is a wee bit like the Grinch- but then you have to go back to his being responsible for Iceland and Sweden.
Also he pretends not to notice when in a fit, I put up the tree while he is in the garden on a sunny day- so I 'accidentally' make a blender full of chi-chis (this comes from Christmas in Hawaii) and 'accidentally' get sloshed and wind up teary eyed and watching 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.'  Also if you have EVER spent Christmas all alone- you feel pretty grateful for company.

This post is for my friend Monte who does not have a Grinchy bone in his whole body.

Friday, November 22, 2013

"...And as soon as that packet was out on the sea, `Twas devilish hard treatment of every degree..."

Sadly, Hobart is not big on public transportation. So, although
I like to think of myself as a person who is always a tourist in her hometown, I miss a lot of the quieter aspects of Hobart's charms.

  Hobart was settled before much of the mainland.  Therefore "First" is often attached to a place.
Walking from my mechanics shop to my yoga class (about a twenty minute walk). I realized how much of interesting architecture I usually just breeze by.
There was the "first" Jewish Synagogue consecrated in 1845. (How I love proper words).
A 'historic engineering marker' the world's oldest McNaught Beam Engine.
The fire brigade (which I do always admire).
The Mission to Seamen Hobart Station (1915-1956)
and of course The Drunken Admiral which is next door to the Yoga Studio I go too.  There is a plaque talking about the buildings 'colourful history' my favorite involves the time period Hobart was doing its best to lure 'widows and other females of good character' with high wages and prospects of marriage.
This was during the time the island was prospering, convicts finished with their time were transitioning into the citizens that built a society that would stay on the island.
Really, every few buildings there was a really interesting one.  
 When I stepped back and looked at the whole area, yes I could just focus on the ugly, smelly fast food chips place, or the car lot.
But would I? If I was a tourist, looking to be pleased?  
Perhaps, I can credit Yoga but I was definitely feeling that one's mood can be directed in a positive way.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"...what do I do with only a photograph to tell my troubles too?..."

Zok has left for his China/Russia/Japan tour, which is in reality not very long at all.  He will only be gone less than a month but somehow, this time it appears, or looms with greater intensity than it should.

Spring continues to only show itself in brief sunny moments.  Intense, hot Australian sun that is hard to remember when the storm follows.

This time of year there are always these sea snails around.  I really love snails.  Zok and I definitely differ on how and where to relocate garden slugs and snails.  (The operative word in that sentence is "re-locate").
As you can see there is greenery on the beach rocks that I think of as 'sea lettuce' because the snails and the greenery come at the same time of year.
Zok was really concerned about the birds eating all his berries before he returns so this was his last project.
 With all this netting around these vegetables and berries, it is good I have been practicing Yoga again, because weeding and feeding will be a good balancing act.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Friends of Peter Murrell Reserve or Getting to the root of the problem

 Above you see the dreaded 'Gorse'  Well, this is one of my piles of them...

I spent a couple of very enjoyable hours weeding 'gorse' from an area in The Peter Murrell Reserve.  We (the group of volunteers) got to legitimately go 'off trail' which was exciting for me, because I always want to forge into new areas, but I don't want to cause any trouble.  That sounds a bit funny, but it is rather serious, the damage that can be done by the uniformed yet well intentioned.

I am happy to give time to this group to discover secrets of the reserve.
This was only my first time, but I heard that a few people did know where some Tawny Frogmouths had relocated and they are one of my favorite birds.

I will have to dress better next time, I forget how personally I take weeding- which means I will jump a creek and crawl in to the underbrush.  I forgot my hat so my hair was being pulled from all angles, I am sure I looked a mess by the end.

With my new knowledge I had no problem walking home from where we were.  I was already pretty grubby so I just enjoyed a nice walk in the rain.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

'Thursday's Child'

I think of myself as adaptable or at least flexible.
I like to find things interesting, more than I like to complain.
People often ask me about how I deal with living in different places, not just geographically different but different-different, as in not the same.
But I seem to be as happy in either place because really one's perspective brings happiness more than a place itself.

Currently I am really excited about volunteering (which means weeding actually) at the reserve near my house.  I have been working hard to actually fix this place in my mind.  For years I have just wandered aimlessly, sometimes getting lost-Zok doesn't understand this but when I can't see the mountains then I don't know which way is the ocean and that is the direction of home.  I have no sense of direction, but between the camera phone documenting my progress, the maps on the internet to refer too and my app that works as a compass and a gps walking map I am doing really well!

Now, I am also using the timer on my phone, I have always used the reserve to waste time but I want to start using the space for actual exercise-so I have been routing trails for running and bike riding.

I am hoping to learn more of the reserves secrets (where are the tawny frogmouths currently nesting?  has anyone seen the striped bandicoots lately??)
from my volunteer work. The park has something like 277 hectare and perhaps you remember my wandering into the horse zone??  Updates soon!

Meanwhile, my birthday was surprisingly friendly and full of presents!
I got a beautiful hand made bag from my friend Theodore, my neighbors gave me a (heartbreakingly) interesting book on movies that never got made.  My favorite so far is a treatment Nick Cave wrote for 'Gladiator Two' at the request of Russel Crowe, that was turned down because it was so anti-war.
I got a lovely bit of pottery, fresh flowers (!!), candles, cards-I feel really thankful (and a bit awkward I am not actually used to getting gifts anymore).
 The best gift of all is I got phone calls (Skype of course) from two friends that I haven't heard from in years.  That was so delightful, and timely.

Today is warm! I am making a new batch of rhubarb syrup as all mine got used up during Cup Day at the Croquet Club where I bartended while Zok played some tournament games.
It was pretty sweet, pink colored cocktails on the Croquet lawn while wearing a large sun hat fits into my ideal of croquet playing.

Here is a link to the reserve map if you are interested.