Wednesday, January 26, 2011

waltzing matilda

Today was our fourth Australia Day in Sydney, and it was apparently the hottest one in twenty years. Yikes. (I thought last year was hotter, but what do I know?) Anyway - we celebrated Australia's 110th birthday with lots of activities in the sunshine. Starting out just like last year, we got up in the very early darkness and headed to Parramatta for the dawn hot air balloon launch.

Unlike last year, the weather was gorgeous, without a single drop of rain. The wind was blowing in the wrong direction, however, so the balloons didn't actually launch. But we did manage to take some great photos. The colours of the balloons were beautiful against the brilliant blue summer sky. Note the balloon reminding you to 'Slip! Slop! Slap!' I am happy to announce that I did all three!

It's not easy for me to get out of bed at 4:30am with a smile on my face, but it was totally worth it. Not everyone thought the balloons were wonderful, however. This guy wasn't so sure.

As usual, I took more photos of people than of anything else. I love that my long lens allows me to take a close up of someone without them even knowing it. People watching is always a good time; so many quintessential Aussie moments to capture this morning.

Just like last year, I headed back to bed for awhile, before we headed down to the harbour to watch the boat races and air show. Strangely, a thick fog had rolled in off the coast, and so the tall ships looked almost ghostly, floating through the mist.

It's kind of a bummer to have a holiday smack in the middle of the week, but always nice to have a day off to spend together. Definitely another successful Australia Day. Happy Birthday Australia!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I have taken a long break from blogging again, thinking at some point I will wake up and want to blog again. That the words will flow easily and freely, and I will be able to share lighthearted stories of our holidays. I keep telling myself that this blog is about fun adventures in a (sometimes) foreign country and I should keep it perky and funny. But life continues to show me that it isn't always going to be sunshine and butterflies. It's sometimes going to be rough and stormy and rainy and difficult. And finding the joy in those times can be awfully hard.

The Husband and I ran away together for Christmas this year. We spent some time in a quieter place, reflecting on the future and enjoying each others company. We held hands and watched the sun go down on 2010, looking forward to 2011 with anticipation, mixed with a little trepidation. You really never know what life is going to swing your way... and the more we live, the more that becomes clear.

We returned from our trip anxious to catch up on the rest of the world. We had - by choice - isolated ourselves from the world for a time and there was a rush of overwhelming information to read and take in. I found that a woman whose blog I frequent had lost her home over the holidays. Following her story in the days since has humbled me and made me feel incredibly sad and hopeful at the same time. I cannot imagine the feeling of utter loss, and yet, her story only rings of hope and blessings.

The last week or so has brought incredible, unbelievable loss to the people of Australia. Floods the likes of which are rarely seen have engulfed vast portions of the country, and all we could do was watch in disbelief. Personally knowing people who have been affected has brought a new dimension to the tragedy. But, after the waters peaked and the sun appeared... seeing the waves of people giving and sharing and helping in the cleanup has been equally awe-inspiring. It may take years for these folks to recover, but right now, they are pulling on their boots and going to work - helping those who are even less fortunate. The inherent goodness of humankind is sometimes too great for words.

Despite all of the tragedy and suffering going on in the world these days, it's the images of hope that stand out for me. People, joining hands, pushing past the opinions that divide us, and instead holding on to the things that make us all the same. These moments may be fleeting, but they stay with us long after. After the storms subside, even while we continue to slog through the muddy remainders, we can look up at the sky and see the rainbow.

Happy New Year. May it be a year that brings each one of us hope.