Canadian Down Under

Monday, January 31, 2005


Who shows up to visit Vietnam for 10 days with only US$100 in their pocket? Who thinks they can just go to an AUSTRALIAN bank around the corner and buy more as if she were still in Canada? Who listens to a bank teller when they say you have to use your credit card to get Australian cash and can't use your bankcard (thereby incurring a zillion dollars in interest....)

My mother. That's who.

(15 minutes into the drive home from the airport. A new record I think...)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Mother of All Visits

Yup, she's here...... She's in Melbourne visiting my brother at the moment, but I pick her up at the airport tonight. The flat has been scoured (I tried not eating to lose those extra couple of pounds - but to no avail - I love food too much), so I have done the best I could to prepare for her visit.

Don't get me wrong, I love my mother and I am very happy she's coming to visit and looking forward to seeing her-it's just that sometimes...well, let's just say we can be like oil and water together. Which is fine as long as nobody throws a match... however, in each other's company, my mother and I become pyromaniacs.

I'd love to give you updates (because usually it becomes so ridiculous its hilarious) but I figured distraction was a good preventative measure for the two of us spending an inordinate amount of 'quality' time together - so I've booked for us to go to Vietnam together for 10 days. I figured ten days looking at the sights instead of looking at each other would be a better way to go....

Anyway, I'll be around tomorrow and will try to give a progress update then but won't be able to recount the entire visit until I get back. Hopefully those of you who do visit my blog remember to come back....

Google Search Yourself

Sounds kind of rude - but it's not - just a little self-absorbed. I couldn't help myself, I was inspired by a recent event while setting up my new home phone number. I had phoned Telstra to set up the phone and was going through the usual tedious downloading of personal information when we hit a snag. I had given them my first and last name but that wasn't enough - they then asked for me middle name - which I gave them with a sigh of resignation (I hate giving out personal information) - then they asked for my birthdate - which I reluctantly gave them (see above reason and add the fact that I hate that I'm getting older....). After which, the operator I was speaking to paused - and just as I was starting to worry that I had been a little rude - she asked hesitantly, "Ummm, do you have a phone line in Queensland?" Okay - for those of you who are not familiar with Australian geography - that's like asking if a Torontonian has another home phone number in Trois Rivieres.... Obviously, the answer was no. What had happened? There's another person out there with a first, last and middle name the same as mine with the exact same birthdate! Kind of weird in a freaky way - but it got me thinking - who else is out there living with my name? (I don't care when they were - before or after me - it's still MY name.) Hence, the Google search.

Did you know that I am a engineer; have a boyfriend named Tim; have been married to Mike for a year; am an expert on world history; am running a try-out camp for paralympians; want to help adolescents become better people (truly, the website says that..); am a Denvey diva (whatever that is); am a seventh grade art teacher; am on the US handball team and have been convicted of credit card fraud? And, it seems, that's only the top ten!! (My favourite is the credit card fraud article....)

Who knew I was so interesting?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Happy Australia Day!

It's amazing how having a job makes you take note of important events. I mean last year I was in Australia but had no idea that January 26th was Australia Day until I asked some stranger what the fireworks were about. (Hey, when you're unemployed - every day is a holiday!)

But this year was different - I have a job so this year I knew it was a holiday. Why? Because I had the day off.

Not only was it a day off - it was a sunny day off (and I must say - that's pretty unusual this summer - it's been raining every weekend....) - and for a change - I had plenty offers of things to do: picnic in the botanical gardens, kayaking in the harbour, reading on the beach... I chose kayaking on the beach but by the time we got organised, a book on the beach seemed just as good.

And it was even better. Lying on my back for Chapter 1. Lying on my stomach for Chapter 2. Some body surfing in the waves. Then a repeat of the above.


And then all of that followed by traditional Aussie fare: prawns, prawns and more prawns. (Read shrimp you Canadians out there...) Cold prawns, hot prawns, barbecued prawns. Yum. Oh yeah - and salad - now back to the prawns.... Yum.

Hmmm, I think Australia's starting to grow on me again... Actually - come to think of it - after all those prawns, maybe it's me that's starting to grow...

Nip n Tuck

I started with the intention of writing about Australia Day (I'll get to that after this...) and was doing so in front of the TV - half watching, but not really. Anyway - Nip n Tuck was on in the background- and all I can say is: Man that show is creepy. Do people really like that show????

I'm going to have nightmares because of it now...

Sunday, January 23, 2005

You know it's time to get a life when.....

you go to the local video store to rent a DVD and they don't need to ask for your name and/or password....

Friday, January 21, 2005

Tell Me Not to Care

My second last Friday in my job and my day starts like this:

I walk into the office at 8 am. By 8:05am my boss has informed me that there had been some 'fingerpointing' happening and that apparently my name had come up as the person responsible for there not being enough salary dollars in the budget. The budget that I put together two weeks into the job - OVER A YEAR AGO.

My response? 'Wow, I haven't even left yet and the 'blame the girl who's left' strategy has already been put into play. Wow.'

Who does that to someone who is leaving anyway? Even if it was my fault (which it wasn't - truly - I would admit if it was...) why end on a note like that?

What a wanker.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


It's my second last week at work - and although I have tons of work to do - I am bored.

Bored. Bored. Bored.

I think company's requiring four weeks notice a very dangerous thing. You end up with people like me who generally are fairly bright (myself being a small exception...) who either have nothing to do or no desire to do the mounds of work they're suppose to do - or both. (The latter actually describing myself.)

What ends up happening are things like this:
  • While meeting with group executive you actually say what you're thinking - ie. No Bill, the reason I got sugar for the coffee you asked me to order for you is not because I'm psychic, but because I figured if there was anyone in this world who needed sweetening it was you.
  • You make jokes that are funny only to you. ie. suggesting backpacker hostels as potential accommodation facilities instead of the Marriott in order to curb travel expenses
  • You reach expert level on the Mah Jong on-line computer game
  • You go to meetings and when people started telling you their sob stories as to why they can't meet your deadlines you tell them you don't care. When they try to tell anyway - you then interrupt them and tell them 'I don't care' repeatedly until people on the conference call line start laughing and the person in question finally gets that you really mean you don't care.
  • You spend half your day going around telling people you're leaving - then spend the other half telling them why.

Personally, I think it would have been far more productive to the company just to have paid me out. Too bad I couldn't sell them on that one....

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Dating Scene

I don't know if you can actually call it a 'dating scene'. It was a 'scene' alright - but within moments of starting a conversation - it had so far blown past anything I would remotely call dating....

I was out the other night with a few girlfriends for dinner. One of the girls was talking to a friend - who was talking to more friends - and word on the line was that there were some single men going to be at one of the local pubs. So, a nice evening evening with the girls with some wine and a karaoke machine turned into a full-out predatory hunt for single men.

Although the usual MO for someone who has recently come out of a relationship is to be on the hunt - I am still at the stage where just hanging out with the girls is enough. However, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. So off we went: six single women in their mid-30's in search of a specific group of single men. (After writing that sentence - all I can think is 'cougar'.)

We met up with them at the Skiff Club and introductions all around. I went and got a drink from the bar and came back and sat at the only seat available. Luckily for me, the guy I was sitting beside was quite amusing and I was having quite a good time- joking around, laughing - then he told me I was kind of cute. Although I wasn't really out to pick anyone up - I was flattered and I figured it was all pretty harmless.

Until he tried to hold my hand.

Then he asked me back to his place.

What's up with that?

I gotta tell you - I was shocked. This all happened in the space of about 20 minutes. I said no - and then the group moved on to a place called The Boatshed where there was some dancing. I was goofing around on the dance floor with one of the other girls when he grabbed me and said it was time to go.


As the crowd started to dwindle, I figure it was about time for me to go home. Guy in question asked me back once again - to which I said no - then he asked if he could come back to my place - same answer - then he asked if he could at least walk me home. After all that? Not a chance.

I don't know who behaved worse - the girls that I was out with or the men we met up with. If this is what dating and the singles scene is going to be like in Australia - forget it. I'm remaining single.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Night Ocean

Just got back in. Went out to rent a DVD and took a detour.

From Manly, you can still see the lightning storm that's in the city, but there's no rain here yet. The sun has gone down and the wind has picked up - all the necessary ingredients for a fabulous night ocean show.

I went to my favourite place: just off the Corso there are steps down to the main beach and I love to sit there and watch the waves. Tonight they were foamy, frequent and steady - the wind likely the cause. The sea spray was in the air tonight and as I sat and watched and listened, I felt the summer's warmth in the air, and at the same time, felt the cold of the approaching storm.

There's something about the wind and the waves that affects me - sometimes its unsettling, but mostly its just mesmerizing. My mind goes blank and it makes all those little, but annoying everyday problems disappear. Didn't stay long, but the night ocean had once again worked its magic. I am in love with Australia once again.

Lightning Strikes

Some days I wonder what I'm doing living halfway across the world from the majority of my family and friends. but then there are days like today...

Friday, 5 pm - and I was out the door today. After all, I've already resigned and only have a few weeks left of work (did you know you have to give 4 weeks notice here? Unbelievable - and unbelievably painful.... ) so no impetus to put in the long hours. Anyway, it'd been a bit of a scorcher today - 30 degrees in the city and over 40 degrees in the Western suburbs - and I was looking forward to a hopefully breezy ferry ride home .

So first in line meant I got my favourite seat on the ferry - outside on the bench on the side the you can see the Heads from. (To enter Sydney Harbour you have to pass between North and South Head to get to Circular Quay (the city). The Manly ferry route is the only one that passes the Heads. ( for those who like pictures))

As we were pulling away from the Quay - the clouds were rolling in. Nothing like ferrying into blue sky while leaving the angry, roiling clouds behind. (Hmmm, seems nature likes to mirror what's going on in my life....) The clouds themselves were truly amazing. They had an ominous quality to them, yet they were a fluffy dark grey - not what you'd expect for an approaching storm.

Just as we passed by the Sydney Opera house, the first strike of lightning lit up the city skyline south of us. I'd never seen anything like it. The sun was shining to the North while the storm was gathering strength to the South. The lightning would flash - but because the sky was already partially lit due to the sun, the flash almost echoed off the clouds and gave a surreal light all around us. Almost felt as though you were in the eye of the storm, yet were safely on the outskirts watching it.

You could pick out the columns of rain from the clouds over the city - the storm was that close - the lightning jags seemed only metres away. Yet not a drop of rain fell near me. It really was quite beautiful - and I got to watch it all from the ferry in the middle of the harbour.

I love the ferry. Every trip is a little different. So far, I've ridden through storms, huge swells that I thought would make the ferry capsize, calm waters where I saw penguins and I've even ridden right through the middle of rainbows. (Sorry to say, there is no pot of gold..) But the best ferry ride of all was when... oh wait, I think I'll save that one for later.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Lucky Day

Yesterday was a Lucky day. No.. not a lucky day... a 'Lucky' day. Lucky as in Lucky the duck. A yellow stuffed animal that used to squeak if you squeezed him... well, that was before the boating accident.... but that's another story.

So, I should introduce Lucky. He's my travelling companion - and a great one at that. He hangs with me when I feel like having him around, he never gets jealous of other men - and he comfortably fits in my day pack or can easily be secured by my bra strap in times of travelling turbulence. Occasionally, he used to embarrass me by squeaking at inopportune moments, but he lost his voice after nearly drowning on the Whanganui River in New Zealand- and now (thankfully) is forever silent.

It all started as I was preparing to move to Australia. I was doing last visits before leaving and spent the afternoon with one of my best friends - her and her eight month old baby boy - and his toy duck. It wasn't until I received my goodbye gift that I realised I had spent the whole afternoon making the toy duck squeak. Apparently my girlfriend has as warped a sense of humour as I do and felt that a twin duck was appropriate for me to have as a memento... and hopefully she'd find retribution in that I'd either purposely squeak the duck and make an ass of myself or do it accidentally. Either way - she was hoping I'd embarass myself.

Truly - not a hard thing to do - and yes before I even got seated on the first leg of my flight, Lucky squeaked - or should I say squacked? I thought the whole thing was pretty funny - so I decided to take it one step further and took Lucky with me everywhere... and took pictures of Lucky with me everywhere. And for little Budinski's first birthday - he got a book of Lucky's travels. (Thank God he couldn't read - because although the pictures and the concept was appropriate for a child... some of the commentary wasn't - but that made it all the more fun.)

Since Lucky and I were introduced, Lucky's been to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa (with a new book with each new country) and shortly will be heading off to Vietnam - and aside from the loss of voice - he's in pretty good shape still.

Which brings me to yesterday (a very long tangent, I know - but I just couldn't help myself). In recent conversations, the girlfriend in question has requested photos of where I live so she can picture what my life is like now. So.... yup.....I've been taking pictures of my life -'Lucky' pictures. So yesterday became a 'Lucky' day as I finally finished off the roll of film in my camera. Today I got the pictures developed.

I must admit - although I was really enthused about the idea of putting together 'A Day in the Life' scrapbook with Lucky - it took over three months to finish the picture taking stage of the project. What's funny about getting the pictures back today is realising how much my life has changed since this all began. I've changed, apartments, offices and now jobs in that time frame.

I think I have a commitment problem - it seems I can't stick with one thing for longer than a few months anymore. Well, unless you're lucky...

Saturday, January 08, 2005


I quit my job yesterday.

It felt soooooooo good.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Christmas Presents

I discovered today that it doesn't matter if you're an adult - it's still possible to break a Christmas present within hours of getting it...

Just got out my new guitar... was trying to follow instructions on tuning it.... apparently it's harder than it looks.... broke a string. Haven't even played it yet.


Monday, January 03, 2005

Road Signs

So I bet you think that now that I'm living in land down under this piece is going to be about road signs warning of kangaroo crossings, wombat crossings and the like.... well, I did see those - and even a few signs that warned of koalas falling from trees (apparently they're a real hazard because the koalas get stoned on eucalyptus leaves and fall off branches.... oh to be a koala!) - but nope, other people have been there first. After spending over 30 hours on the road over a three day driving span, I feel the need to write about other road signs.

It seems the government here has a big push on to reduce car crashes and all the horrible things that can result from car crashes. Noble cause and I heartily approve, however I'm not sure their methods are entirely effective.....

Sure the threat of imposing greater fines sounds like it has potential, the threat of greater demerit points sound effective as well. Even their advertising campaigns warning of the dangers of speeding, drink driving (yeah, they call it drink driving here instead of drunk driving - I still can't get my head around that one....) and the dangers of fatigue are a good call in my opinion - it's the road signs that I'm questioning...

For kilometres on end there are a new series of road signs:
"Stop. Revive. Survive."
"A microsleep can kill."
"Tired? Take a powernap."
"Rest every two hours. Stay refreshed."
"Yawning? That's a sign of fatigue. "

And the kicker? They actually have a sign that reads:
"Feeling sleepy?"

I felt like screaming at the sign: "I wasn't until I read all those damn signs!!!"

I think the RTA in New South Wales may need to re-think their road signs...