for granted

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We are eight months on. Almost to the day since we landed in Brisbane. Amazing.

You know, moving across the seas was (at the time) a struggle – all that packing, getting settled in and dealing with realtors, shipping companies and phone companies. The necessities. The first few months felt like a complete blur but it was never something that would feel like a long-term inconvenience. We got into the groove pretty nicely.

Then today, it dawned on me how much I have taken from granted to conveniences we had well-established in Columbia: our dentist and optometrist. Living in a medium-sized city (as quaint CoMo was, I just can’t call it a small town) had its advantages: personable service from your trusty dentist and optometrist.

I was fortunate enough to have inherited both of my husband’s teeth and eye doctors. Both provided that warm and personalized treatment. I got to know my dental hygienist (Trish) and dentist (Dr. Shapira) very well in the five years I visited them both. They both knew not only Zach but also my in-laws. We shared stories (Trish lived on a farm and loved horses) and they told me tales about how Dr. S remembers my husband as a wee little lad. As someone who doesn’t shy away from personal conversations, I found their banter to be comforting and quite simply, enjoyable.

Then there’s Dr. Studer, the eye doctor. First impression was that he was a hard nut to crack, but once you crack him he’s a jolly man with equally jolly stories. He often asked me questions about Australia (he had family who lived in Australia at one point in time, if my memory serves me correctly) and like Dr. S, he had adorable anecdotes about my husband (and he liked to re-hash Zach’s eye problems).

I just cherish these little moments now that I no longer get to have them. I most certainly took them from granted now that I realize how much I dread having to find a new dentist and optometrist. Will I ever get a Trish, my two Dr. S’s? Highly doubtful, but I can always hope, I suppose.

It’s interesting what I end up reflecting on as time goes by. In the first few weeks I missed far different things (the food, the way of live, the weather). Now these days I end up reminiscing on the littlest of things, such as my horse-loving dental hygienist. Is that strange? I sure hope not!

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hashtag blizzard of 2015

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Call me crazy, but I miss snowstorms. All this talk about #blizzardof2015 has got me reminiscing about six year’s worth of Missouri snow days. There was something so calming and soothing about watching the snow fall, the drifts and watching the snow come towards you on a windy, snowy evening. The novelty wears off rather quickly only when things get icy and you have no choice but to drive in those treacherous conditions. But once again, all is forgotten when a beautiful snow fall comes through and blankets the roads, the trees and surrounds all over again. It’s one of those experiences that doesn’t compare to what you see in the movies or view via photos. I highly recommend it.

an aussie sunset

Sunset over Straddie

A Straddie Sunset

We were fortunate enough to have spent four awesome days in Stradbroke Island (aka Straddie) over Australia Day long-weekend.

We headed over (via the ferry) on Friday morning – it was rainy and cold, simply miserable. It pretty much rained non-stop that entire day and evening. It got so bad that we were drenched going to, during and after dinner and a mini-stream of water was just gushing around our car and created a small pool. Welcome to Queensland summer storms, I suppose.

Luckily, the sun came out Saturday morning in time for our half-day 4WD tour with local Straddie resident, Billy. He took us on the beach, off the beach and places only his trusty 4WD could take us. It was time and money well spent because not only did he take us in areas that we wouldn’t have found on our own, but he told us local stories and legends that only a resident of Straddie (for 34-years) would intimately know.

Sunday morning was pretty much spent lazing around by the beach, dodging the spectacular waves and trying my best not to get sunburnt (I still failed). In the late afternoon we headed over to Amity Point to get some fresh cooked crabs (a recommendation from Billy), watch the dolphins make their daily visit to the Amity Point pier (unfortunately they were scared off by the pier jumpers) and we also watched the sunset (which was spectacular).

For our first Queensland island, we picked a pretty awesome one. Straddie was perfect for what we wanted to do in the time we had to do it in. The only real disappointment were our accommodations and even that we had little control over (late booking and the fact that it was a long-weekend). Its only redeeming quality was that it was only a few hundred meters away from a great beach.

Overall, we spent Australia Day the only way an Aussie should – by the beach, enjoying the sun and the search and marveling at the beauty of this glorious, wonderful country!

blame it on amos

Remembering the Good Times

Yesterday, instead of doing an outdoor activity, we decided to hit the Lifeline Bookfest and enjoy the free indoor air-conditioning. Yes, I start this blog post with a complaint about the Brisbane weather. I must be local 😉

But I digress.

We had a somewhat late start to our Saturday and didn’t get to the Brisbane Convention Center until about noon. Our plan to maximize A/C time was to spend a few hours at Bookfest, have a late lunch/early dinner (aka Linner), catch a 6p.m. session of the latest Hobbit movie and go home and it’ll be nice and cool by then.

If you’re not in the know, Bookfest is this gigantic book fair where you can score $1, $2.50 or $10+ secondhand books. It’s run by the good folks at Lifeline as one of their fundraisers for the year. It seems to be an annual shinding that has been going on for a few years. Since this was our first Bookfest visit, we didn’t really know what to expect (which is always a fun way of doing things, in my opinion). The entire production took up Exhibition Halls 3 & 4, so it was HUGE. Rows and rows of books. The $1 section was a hot mess (but I still ventured out of there with $5 worth of books). The $2.50 section was a bit more organized and the books were in somewhat better condition (not to mention, belonging in this decade). Whilst the High Quality section contained, as the name suggests, books that are in prime condition and more recent releases. The great thing about the HQ section is I didn’t really see any books over $10, so it’s still a bargain.

Now, I’m not a prolific reader. I aspire to be, but in actual fact I get easily distracted and would take months to read a novel (prime example, I am still on Book 1 of the Game of Thrones series and I started reading that bad boy while I was still living and working in Columbia!). But despite not being a committed book worm, I still like to buy my fair share of books (mostly non-fiction) and indulge in one past-time I wish I made more time for. So this Bookfest was right up my alley and I figured that buying secondhand books should always be the way to go for me (especially since I am very much a judge-a-book-by-its-cover kinda gal).

Overall, it was a spectacular day and I am so delighted with my loot. I came away with a few reference books, two cookbooks that are so old their pages are browning (but that was the appeal to me), a few cross-stitching books that will provide me with endless amount of patterns (for a mere $5!!!) and between my husband and I, we purchased five Photoshop/InDesign/Illustrator instructional books. Oh, and Zach picked out some much-desired Sci-Fi novels and his best pick was a $1 book titled “A Manual on Exorcism”. (Do yourself a favor and Google it to learn more about it). Like I said, we made out with some gems! I’m even thinking about going back down there sometime this week after work and see what other treasures I can come away with.

To end, I want to explain the image above. While perusing the “Reference/Textbooks” section of the $2.50 group, I stumbled upon the textbook above. I saw it from a mile away, I will never forget that simple black and white textbook. It was the bane of my existence during my first year at University doing my Bachelor of Science (majoring in Computer Science). It was a textbook for a mandatory subject I had to take as part of my major. It goes without saying that I STRONGLY DISLIKED this sole course. Strong feelings towards it. So it was only fitting that I had to take a photo and send it to my University BFF, Paul. I just had to share the memories with him, a moment of reminiscing for what transpired many, many years ago. I have always been a sentimental fool – even for things that I would rather forget. Oh, and for the record, I didn’t actually buy it to burn. I’m not a masochist and would never disrespect a book – any book – despite what bad memories it gave me. It’s still piled there amongst other books priced at $2.50.

the grandest place

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I came across this article this evening and it immediately brought me back to the Summer of 2013 and to one of the best 4 days of my life: visiting Yosemite National Park.

No, no, no. We didn’t free climb our way up El Capitan. We just merely enjoyed the grandness of Yosemite. Oh, it was a wonderful trip! There we were, driving our bulky white God-knows-what-model-year Crown Vic around the windy roads of the Park that hot Summer week. It was glorious, it was one that I will always remember.

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Every picture taken was perfect, every stream we crossed divine, every sweat that trickled down my forehead was worth it. I was simply in awe of this place and I am almost selfishly wishing that no other National Park will ever top it. I want my memories of Yosemite to be the ultimate of my life (as far as Parks go, that is).

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I told Zach that one day, when we’re old and wrinkly, I want to make another trip to Yosemite and re-visit the places we reached and check on the giant sequoia tree that we re-named the Houston tree.

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 One day I will be back and all of those warm and fuzzy memories will come flooding back. I look forward to that day.

when you care enough to send the very best

In all honesty, my ultimate dream job is to work for Hallmark.

I love greeting cards. Sending them, receiving them, picking them out and even just perusing through them when I’m trying to kill some time at the store. I love the sentimental ones as much as the humorous ones and everything in between. During the six years we lived in the U.S., I kept Hallmark in business because I had over 20 family members living back here in Australia who celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, engagements, weddings, etc. Any and every chance I had, I would send a card – just for the heck of sending a card. I love a good witty card and I am of the belief that Hallmark makes the best kind.

It just happens, Hallmark is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri and I had the pleasure of visiting their Hallmark Visitors Center in KC many times while living in Missouri. I remember getting giddy over the free bow maker they had at the center along with all the memorabilia and the dozen or so Hallmark decorated Christmas trees they had on display. Kid in a candy store, I was. Then we got a different doze of Hallmark right across the road at the Crown Center with the best Crayola store known to mankind, a Hallmark store on steroids and one time they had a wonderful Wizard of Oz exhibit.