Sunday, November 30, 2008

O Canada

Well, I am back home and officially Canadian. It feels a bit different, but mostly - the trip was exhausting and long. And cold. Flights were uneventful both ways, and the ceremony was long and somewhat boring. But, it all went by fairly quickly and it's good to be back home. Dan and I were on the same flight home and that made it less boring. And we scored exit row seats!

We joined about 10 friends on Saturday for Thanksgiving dinner at Natasha and Tracy's new apartment. Good food and fun was had by all. I made pumpkin pie and we had turkey and all the fixings. Yum.

Showed Dan around Sydney for a bit this weekend before he leaves for his adventures in Queensland. Poor guy was a bit jet lagged, but he'll make it. Sounds like he has a fun trip planned - we look forward to hearing all about it when he returns to Sydney before Christmas. Only a few weeks now and it's vacaton time! woohoo!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another whirlwind tour

Well, after nearly 5 years, I am finally becoming an official Canadian this week. My application was approved this week, and I was ordered to appear to take the oath on November 26th at 8am. (Thanks, Canada, for the whole 7 days notice.)

So, on Tuesday I will fly 25 hours to appear on Wednesday morning in Mississauga to stand in front of a judge and take the oath of citizenship which will make me a full Canadian citizen. Wow. It feels a bit big and momentous. If you would like to come to the ceremony, you are more than welcome. Just email me for details on the location.

Anyway, as this is the busy season at work for me, I only got 3 days off for this trip, so I will be hopping back on a plane just hours after the ceremony on Wednesday. I think I am in town less than 24 hours in total. The fun bit is that I am on the same plane as Dan on the way back, so that will be cool. I wish I could stay longer and see everyone and celebrate Thanksgiving... but I am also not looking forward to seeing snow, so I will be glad to get back home to sunny Sydney.

Anyway - as I will be in the air over the Pacific on Thanksgiving, I want to wish all our American friends and family an extra Happy Thanksgiving... please eat some mashed potatoes for me! I will be celebrating here next Saturday with a few expat friends who managed to find one of the only turkeys in the country. Looking forward to that!!

The Bush

Here in Australia, there are 5 geographic areas that spiral inwards. The coast, the city, the bush, the outback, and the red centre. We plan to make our way all the way into the red centre in the coming months, but Dubbo is the furthest I have gotten yet. Dubbo is really the last dot of civilisation before you hit the outback. It's like a whole 'nother world compared to Sydney. It's just on the border between farmable land and desert.

We had the opportunity to spend a few hours driving around the red dirt roads surrounding Dubbo last weekend and it was amazing. So many interesting animals and birds. The birds in the country are unbelievable. They come in every colour imaginable.

We explored a rural cemetery with headstones dating into the early 1860's. Some of the birthdates went back to England in the 1700's. So many people died so young back then - we were blown away to think that someone dying at age 23 had lived a full life and was remembered as "beloved wife and mother".

I think the best part was being able to watch the kangaroos just hopping through the fields in herds. I am sure a few locals driving by in their ute's were laughing at us - but we didn't care. We had the best time driving down dirt roads snapping pictures of roos and birds and beautiful views.

We had the full Aussie experience, complete with Ned Kelly pie for brekkie. Strange to think that just an hour plane ride inland and we were in such a rural place. I can only imagine what the centre is like. Can't wait to explore more of this amazing country!

PS - click on the photo collage to see the pictures full size!
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Western Plains Zoo

Last weekend we flew out to Dubbo and visited the Western Plains Zoo, one of the most fantastic safari style zoo's I have seen. It was a great trip and we took some fab photos. Here are just a few. What an amazing variety of animals! Such great textures and colours and patterns to photograph. We were able to get quite close to everything and see the animals in real detail. My favourite was the hippo, of course, but really, they were all awesome.
I will send a prize to the first reader who can correctly list all the animals shown!
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Summer in November

Well, we are starting to feel like we have come full circle. The pub across the street just put up it's Christmas decorations... which I remember seeing when I got here the first time. I can't believe it's been a year already - time seems to have flown.

Jon and I were just thinking today that it's Remembrance Day today back 'home' in Canada. Which marks the 4 year anniversary of when I first landed in Canada as a permanent resident. Four years already! Wow, it seems like just the other day. That was the happiest day - we were so glad it was finally over. And now we are just beginning the process all over again in reverse. How crazy are we?

Anyway, it seems to be snowing 'back home' lately and I have to admit that I am almost a bit jealous. I think we will have to skip Christmas altogether this year. I am not sure I can get my head around the whole summertime Christmas thing. It's too hot to bake and since we didn't bring any decorations, I doubt we will be 'decking the halls'. Can you believe it - strings of ordinary Christmas lights are over $40 each here! Yikes. Oh well, I am looking forward to my road trip, and we are excited to be hosting Dan over the holidays. He arrives just in time to join us for an American expat Thanksgiving.

It's full on summer here now. Everything is in bloom and it's just gorgeous. Temps have been in the high 70's each day with glorious blue skies and sunshine. It just doesn't get any better than that!

And since it's been nearly a week, I think I can end on a celebratory note. I am so proud to be an American this week! So proud of my country and so excited for our new President-Elect Obama!! Hooray!