Hi Gang!

I am in love with Living Social. I hope you have Living Social in your lives too but if you don’t, please allow me to explain. I get emails, sometimes two or three a day, that offer me 50% or more off of different services around town. I’ve gotten unlimited hot yoga for a month for $50. I’ve gotten organic lunch and coffee for two for $10. Soon I will be taking a camera course that I got for cheap. Before you know it I will be trained barista, capable of amazing foam art!

So when I saw that an hour in a pressurized oxygen chamber (normally $97) was offered for $29, following a friend on Facebook touting the benefits of these sessions, I said why  not?

Raised oxygen levels in your blood is good for all sorts of healing, but most noticeably it helps your body fight viruses. As a mild germaphobe, I like to think that I am sanitary enough that I don’t have much to worry about. I eat healthy and listen to my body for it’s rest requirements so I rarely get sick. However it is flu season here in wintry Australia and in the spirit of being emphatically anti-vaccine, I have chosen to try this out instead.

I arrived at the Glebe Healing Center about 20 minutes early and no one was at the front desk. The chamber was right there in plain view so I stealthily turned off the sound to my iPhone and started snapping pictures. After 10 minutes later of still no one in sight, my stealth pride left and I started my usual “YooHooooo” in order to get attention at an establishment. A woman came down, signed me in, and gave me the run down of the rules. Cell phone had to be turned off and I had to promise to clear my ears. It’s like being on the plane except there isn’t a tropical paradise waiting for me when I walk out. So I went in and sat down.

I declined the in-flight movie since I would only be there for an hour and I pulled out my book instead. She showed me the safety buttons in case of (!) and locked me in. It was a lot noisier than I thought it would be. I imagined more of a spa experience with soft music or at least quiet but the constant psssting of the system was a little nerve wracking. There was no clock in there, I wasn’t wearing a watch, and didn’t dare turn my phone on in case of bringing armageddon to Taylor Street. I tried to relax, read, and enjoy the experience but I ended up tensely forcing myself to read and not care about what the time was, only to finally give in and try to press my head far enough to the side of the peep hole to see the clock on the side wall. Whew 20 mins to go.

I noticed several times that my breathing was more shallow. I don’t know if this was from the self induced stress or the general environment, but I did find myself yawning quite a few times. I tried to force myself to take in big breaths to get the most benefit from the added oxygen but I can’t say that it made a difference. In the end I was very glad to get out of there and felt no difference in my overall well being. I didn’t feel bad when I went in, so maybe any benefits were on the inside where I couldn’t detect them. I sort of half expected a surge of energy when I got out but I didn’t feel the urge to race home and pack for the Himalayas.

Oh well.

So here’s another thing I can cross of my list of things to try. If you were curious and are healthy, now you know. If you are unhealthy and curious, why not try it for yourself? The ad read as:

“If you need a pick-me-up to put an end to niggling health issues and want to try a new-fangled approach reminiscent of a Jules Verne novel, this is it. The highly-experienced health practitioners at The Glebe Healing Centre offer you the chance to experiment with the amazing healing power of hyperbaric oxygen treatments. Oxygen is essential in the air we breathe, but it’s also the fountain of youth stimulating collagen production, helping injuries heal faster and boosting immunity and the regeneration of nerve cells. And it helps get rid of stubborn infections, sinus, bone and chronic skin disorders. This is accelerated in the chamber as the controlled pressure forces oxygen to where it’s needed making you feel better, faster.”

Maybe I didn’t do it right? I certainly didn’t come out looking like the woman in the ad.

Stay classy (and healthy) America!

Hi Everybody!

We have been quiet for almost a year and we missed you all! It’s was really crazy with school and homework. I started cleaning apartments and checking people in for my landlord so that kept me overloaded especially once it started to get warm. For a few months I was on a dead run it seemed like but then I got a handle on it. Then school ended and I went right into a job with a travel company. It was the craziest thing too, it was the one and only company that I have traveled with, Grand Circle Travel/Overseas Adventure Travel. I had a great time, made some money and new friends, and even perhaps have a job offer for the future! They are an American company mainly for 50+ but no matter what age you are, they are an excellent bang for the buck. I highly recommend you checking them out, especially the Overseas Adventure Travel portion. It’s small groups and lots of fun.

http://www.oattravel.com

My student visa allowed me to work but when that was up I had to find another way to make money. I still had the work coming in from my landlord, which was good all but one hitch. I’ll tell you right now that I have a new found respect for anyone who cleans for a living. I will never leave a mess in a hotel ever again for, I have seen messes that require an exorcism. People are pigs! So before you leave a hotel room or a short-term apartment with dishes in the sink, toothpaste smeared from one end of the bathroom to the other, unidentifiable viscous material on the bed, or furniture moved/stacked in the wrong place, please, just please think of me with my shoulders slumped over in defeat. AND for God’s sake, if your child has “made” on the bath mat, CLEAN IT UP YOUR DAMN SELVES… You know, now that I have aired my grievances I feel much better, but that won’t stop me from threatening people who check into our building with hefty cleaning fees if they don’t clean up after themselves. I feel that it’s the key to my sanity, along with rubber gloves and industrial bleach.

I put it out to the universe that I would like to do something that was clean, fabulous and paid well. So I networked a little and sure enough I found a job with a jeweler. I am mostly doing a little admin work and some girl-friday stuff but it’s a lot of fun! Learning a lot about the world of pearls and letting my inner princess revel a bit.

JD is still teaching at Garden Island when they need him and has taken quite the active interest in himself. My man has been hitting the gym and we eat mostly veggies and rice now. We of course still have pizza and movie night on Fridays. Sunday has been nominated as “Calories Don’t Count” Day and we enjoy a big breakfast that always includes pancakes. Our breakfasts during the week are always fruit until lunchtime, thanks to reading “Fit For Life”, so come Sunday I have to lay down to digest.

It makes the week tolerable if you can dream about what you are going to make on that one cheat day. Or so I’ve been told. I love my veggies (Thanks Mom!) so I am in heaven regardless. JD has found that a little curry powder and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese will go a long way. He looks amazing these days and from what I hear, he is getting ribbed about how much time he is checking himself out in the mirrors at the gym.

Well that’s the basic update but I will be back tracking and covering some of the tales that you have missed while my blog has been on the mute setting.

I trust you have remained classy, America?

Hello Everyone!

Time for a little update of the JD & Jennifer Show.

It’s winter here, so JD hasn’t been able to do much motorcycle riding with the Aussie blokes. Too cold for them to ride and the roads are too confusing for JD to go alone. So the blue monster sits. Work is kind of slow for him at the moment. There aren’t any students to teach so his days are filled with surfing the internet and checking emails. All the guys take turns being the one to babysit the office while the others clear out, so a lot of days he comes home early. He reads books at a terrific rate and we wander around the city from time to time in search of whatever. Life is simple and worry free. Life is good.

Moi?

Oh, I stay busy no matter where I am. As you read before a lot of my time is spent on everyday stuff. On the 19th I will be embarking on a new adventure. School. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, last time I was a trash picker and now I’m a student. The Australian Immigration department says even so. I thought it might be fun to be a travel writer but the school I chose doesn’t offer that, so I picked Tourism Wholesale. They teach you how to put travel packages together behind the scenes and other tourism stuff. This I think it will be a great way to learn a couple of things and gain some great contacts for when I want to travel and travel cheaply. Because I will have class 4 days a week ,I am going to have to go back to my more American way of life and be diligent about being efficient with my time. I will plan out all the meals for the week on Sundays and do all my housework on Saturday. I won’t get as much pleasure reading done and naps will become even more rare. However I want to stay in Australia and this is the easiest way to do it. I’m looking forward to expanding my brain and knowledge base.

Hank is well settled in his home and we have moved onto helping other dogs. We had “Shadow” for awhile until he found a great home last Saturday. At the moment we have “Coco” who looks just like Hank but a female version and is our current center of attention. In the short amount of time that she has been with us, she got very attached to Shadow, a male German Short Haired Pointer, and she is spending her recent days moping around looking for him. We have decided that this weekend we will take her up tot he kennels to look for a new buddy. It’s just too sad not to.

I get up every Sunday morning and am out of the house by 8:15am to take whoever is senior to an obedience class in Tempe, a few towns over. Normally you have to join the club, pay annual dues, and pay for each class, but since these are foster dogs the instructors and club members have decided to help out. I get to go for free and the dogs learn their manners with some extra help. I started going because Shadow was so much to handle, anyone who has had a GSP knows what I am talking about. These dogs are not just full of energy, they bounce every where they go. If he was waiting for a treat and trying his best to be good, he would dance in place, tremble. and get ready to explode into exuberant joy. If we took him for a walk, your arm would feel like it was going to pop off with all the pulling. I tried on many occasions to rent him out to tow cars. Why not put his strength to good use? Coco went with me last Sunday since Shadow was gone with his new family and she was a perfect angel. Whoever had her before hand must have taught her all this stuff. I think the instructors were very impressed with her. Hopefully they will spread the word about how fabulous she is and she will get a new home soon.

I don’t leave the house these days without a flyer of some dog we are trying to place. Joe was placed because of an ad in the paper. Hank was placed because of the normal pet rescue website we use although he had been on there for two years. I think the new pictures and updated description set him apart. Shadow we placed on a pure breed website and got lots of attention for him. Coco we haven’t had any nibbles yet but looking at the pet rescue site she has already been viewed 104 times. It’s only a matter of time. (http://www.petrescue.com.au/view/76561)

The future is on our minds a lot and I’m dreaming of what life has in store for me next. I know that JD will retire after his assignment here and we will go where ever his new job takes us. We are hoping to have enough money by then to buy some land outright and put a house or two on it. I looking forward to having a big garden and maybe even some fruit trees.  He’s looking forward to not having to look at neighbors. I’m looking forward to installing solar and wind power and seeing how much we can sustain ourselves without help from the outside world. He’s looking forward to not having any bills. I am looking forward to having our own cows and chickens so we don’t have to eat the diseased and tortured carcasses that look so innocent behind shrink wrap. He’s looking forward to meat that doesn’t taste like cardboard. After the experience of rescuing dogs, I would say that maybe even a kennel would be in order. You just never know. I don’t know how all of it will fit into my world traveling but I’m sure will work something out.

In your wanderings, if you come across the Imperial mandarin, get as many as you can. You can always tell you have  good one because it seems like the fruit has shrunk inside of the rind. We both agree they have to be the best citrus fruit we have ever had and I’m looking forward to having a few even if I have to grow them in a greenhouse. Oh yeah, that’s another thing I want on our future land!

Stay classy America! As for me, I’ll just be in class.

Hi Everybody!

Life is zipping along here in a glorious fashion and as usual, dull moments are hard to find. I have noticed that when you walk and take public transportation everywhere, your day fills up pretty fast with stuff that used to take you half the time or less. I helped a friend start packing for a move today and I stepped onto the train 4:30pm. I was on that train for approximately 10 minutes but after ducking into the grocery store, waiting for the next train, and walking home from the train station, it was 6pm before I got home. However the roads are apparently hideous so this is actually the fastest way for me to get home. The ones that I have experienced in a car are so confusing, one way, twisty-turny that only someone with Garmin-like instincts could make it from point A to point B. I suppose you eventually get used to it, but I’ve never seen anything like it.

However I am not going to complain about my lack of automobile because not only is the train a fraction of the cost, but I am in the best shape of my life since I was a young wood nymph in the mountains of Vermont. Plus I get a lot of reading done. You do have to be careful to not load yourself up to heavy, when grocery shopping however. I learned that valuable, back breaking lesson the first time and now stagger purchase dates of items such as detergent, dog food, or a bulk bags of potatoes. On the weekends, I have JD with me and I load him down like a rented mule.

A few days ago I was taking a movie back to Civic Video and I came across a table that someone had put to the curb for the trash man. It was dark but it looked serviceable to me so upon my return trip, I hoisted, puffed, dragged, pulled, cursed, and carried that table back 4 blocks. When we first moved in here in January, I had asked our landlord if we could have a table in the kitchen so we could maximize our counter space. It was promised but never delivered and I have given up asking. This seemed to be the perfect size so I took advantage of my opportunity. Ladies and gentleman, I am officially a trash picker. But now I am a trash picker with a table so that makes it ok in my book. JD wanted to know what my plans were for it and when I said I wanted to fix it up, he said “You can’t polish a turd, baby”. I wanted to try anyhow and bless his heart, he helped me.

I should have taken before pictures but didn’t think of it. The top was stained and had various amounts of paint on it. It looked as though perhaps it was used for plants with all the water marks. The bottom part was metal tubing that was rusting and painted that horrid institutional tan paint that you see on the old metal teacher desks. Well they were old metal teacher desks when I was in high school and that wasn’t exactly yesterday, so I am sure that they don’t even exist anymore.

JD spent about a half hour sanding the metal part to get rid of the rust and helped me sand down the wood until most of the marks were gone and wood grain appeared. We painted the metal part black and rubbed wood oil into the top. I was given a great table cloth from Indonesia today when I helped my friend pack and I think the whole thing looks great. The table isn’t going to be auctioned off at Christie’s or anything but I am delighted to have a place to put all the dog treats and other things that don’t need to be up on the counter.

Stay Classy America

Hello everyone!

When we got back from New Zealand last month, we gathered ourselves, and went in search of a new foster dog. Joe had left a giant hole where all of our love and dog attention went to and it was time to bring in the next recruit. I had decided to let JD pick out our newest focus since I was having trouble choosing. I had been up to the kennel with my friends Robyn and Sue who run the rescue group that we got Joe from, 4 Paws Rescue, the weekend before we left town. There are so many great dogs who need homes and as I was finding out, some of these dogs have been at the kennel for a long time.

“Hank” was one of them. This cutie pah-tootie grabbed my attention right away. He had been there for two years, ever since he was a pup and watched all his litter mates and his mother get homes. I can’t imagine why he didn’t get a home before we came along since I have never seen such an out-going, happy little soul. Every time you came up to his cage he was so glad to see you, like you had been his best friend forever. He would lick your hand like his life depended on it and maybe he knew it did.

The volunteers at this particular place have a lot to do, so not a lot of time is spent with each dog. They are let out into a run for approximately 10 mins a day while their cage floor is sprayed down with disinfectant and the waste is removed. Then they are fed and put back in. When we first got Joe, he was scared to death to be out of a cage and he was only there for two months. I find it a miracle that Hank has the personality that he has. However 10 mins of the chance to get exercise a day doesn’t help keep you fit. Hank is a Staffy cross or Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Smaller (and in my opinion cuter) than a pit bull and bred in Australia to be family dogs. These guys are low to the ground and pack on weight quickly. Most of the ones I have seen trotting around Sydney are like little sausages with short legs. Hank is no exception. Although he is taller and bigger boned than a true Staffy, he is as round as Buddha and just as happy.

Are you my new mom?

After JD had a good look at all the dogs, we agreed that Hank had the best chance of getting a home quickly. So we found a collar that would fit over his neck rolls and away we went.

From the start I couldn’t believe what a champion this dog was. He had never been in a car or if he had it had been a very, very long time, but he acted like it was no big deal. He was just as happy and accepting in the back of the car as he had been in his cage. We drove to a pet store to get food, toys, and bones and he followed around on his lead like he knew exactly what to expect. It wasn’t until we pass by some large refrigerators that he showed any sign of uneasiness. We had to remember that EVERYTHING was going to be a brand new experience for him. We let him go in another direction and tried him a little later going by the same place. This time he stayed with JD and walked past it, although he gave it the evil eye as he went. We stopped again later on to get a bite to eat at an outdoor restaurant and he made friends with everyone that passed by our table. When we got out to the car he hopped into the back without any help, like he had always been doing it.

Over the next few days, we found that he was nothing like Joe. I didn’t need to lock him in the bathroom when I left, because he didn’t have any anxiety about being alone. He wouldn’t seek out things to destroy while I was gone and would wait patiently on his blanket until you came home. He has never once made a mess in the house. If he chewed on something you only had to tell him “No” once (maybe twice a few times) and he would leave it alone whether you were home or not. He learned to sit and lay down on command very quickly.

The personality that we saw at the kennel was just the tip of the iceberg. JD taught him to jump up on the brick railing on the front balcony so they could do neighborhood watches together. Where ever I go, he trots behind me like we are on the best adventure ever. He has taken to wriggling around on his back when the mood strikes him. He dives and rolls over shoulder first and then twists his body back and forth, all the while growling and snorting with great relish. Case in point:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmbAriOz09E . If he catches you watching him, he gets sort of a sheepish look on his face as you can see in the video and he pops up right away.

I've got my eye on you!

He loves walking to the beach to eat ice cream and knows that Friday is Pizza night. He will cuddle with you at the drop of a hat and knows not to lift his leg on the tomatoes. He doesn’t bark at anything or anyone and very gingerly will take his treat out of your fingers. This is no ordinary dog. He is one in a million and JD and I are beside ourselves.

We recently had to make the decision that Chubby is not coming. It’s heart breaking, especially to JD who feels he owes his life to that dog. When he was going through rough times, Chubby was the reason to get out of bed and go to work. Chubby loved him unconditionally when he needed it the most and made him whole again. When I first met him, it was apparent that she was indeed this man’s best friend. Our original plan was to have her go through the 5 months of tests and then come on over to be in quarantine for 30 days. Chubby is a Bull Mastiff and 8 years of age. That’s kind of old, especially for a mastiff, to be on a trip that lasts roughly 24 hours. Then you have to think about her being even older and having to do it all over again when we come back. When we started running into one problem after another with her transport plans, JD started to second guess his determination to have this dog come over. When he talked it over with his parents, his Dad insisted that she continue to stay with them. Like father, like son, he has gotten attached to having the old girl around. After all how do you think she has learned the term “Snickerdoodle”? It’s tough to be without your dog but JD knows that she is loved just as much there as we could here.

I talked to JD about keeping Hank since we are both so attached but the experience of trying to get Chubby over here has him scared to death to keep Hank. What if we can’t take him back with us? It’s better to find him a great home here before a few years pass and we are that much more attached and have to scramble to find him a new home. No, this is for the best.

Sunday we went to the Sydney Olympic Park to participate in the 2010 Million Paws Walk to raise money for the RSPCA. We plunked down our $15 a piece and took Hank on a 5K walk with Robyn and two of her three German Shepherds. JD took Hank, I took Katie and Robyn took Kane and off we went. There were roughly 5,000 people and their dogs and we saw every possible breed and mixture. Some had on cute little costumes and some just had a balloon tied to their collars. Kane and Katie started out with leis but Kane broke his early on, so Katie had a pink lei and Hank had a cute bandana. We walked the 5K like a bunch of champs and then milled around amongst the vendors. We saw beds and toys for sale. We even saw a doggie ice cream company who gave us a few free samples for our pooches. I think an ice cube has a longer existence in hell than this ice cream did. We got dog tags that said “I did the 2010 RSPCA Million Paws Walk” and were handed tons of flyers by each vendor. Hank got lots of compliments and pats like always and although they all look longingly at him, no one that we have run into has been ready to take on a dog.

Keep those doggies rollin…

That may have all changed today, as I got a phone call from a very nice couple in New Castle. They are going to come down on Thursday to look at him and it looks like a perfect home from what I can tell. I hate to part with him but it would be selfish on my part to not share a dog this great with the world.

Stay classy America and please consider adopting a dog or cat from your local shelter. They need you!

Hello everybody!

As you may know, every three months I have to leave Australia to renew my tourist visa. You will get absolutely no complaints from me about this. I will never say, “Crap. We have to go to Fiji again?” or “I have no new places to go to now.” I will always be up for new adventure and the world is too big to run out of places that make my heart pound. As my luck would have it, I found a partner who loves to travel as much as I do and this time is no exception. We choose New Zealand as our first.

The main priority was to get the visa renewed which can be done online in about 60 seconds.  We had a relatively short amount of time to be here since someone has to be back at work but we chose to go to the Fox Glacier for a trek. I bought a few books, made my reservations for hotels, car & guide and eagerly awaited the day to hop on the plane.

My Achilles heel is lack of sleep. When two people who share a bed are excited about the next day and one of us can’t sleep because of a late nap then this does not bode well for the next day. We got up at 5:30am and shot out the door to take the train to the airport. I have zero personality at that time of day and I stood there on the train in my own little world till we got there. All went very smooth when we checked in and I sashayed over to an airport cafe to have a cafe latte and scarf down two ham & cheese croissants. The character defect of that morning was gluttony but I was hungry, so there. JD almost never eats breakfast and this wasn’t an exception. He wouldn’t even have coffee since he didn’t want to have to get out of his seat to pee on the plane. I am not a desert animal used to arid conditions so I gleefully drank my coffee and had plenty of water in flight.

I have to give two thumbs up and a high five to Air New Zealand. What a WONDERFUL flight. The food was actually GOOD. I watched The Hangover on my personal LCD flatscreen that picked out of 15 other possible movies, 5 games, and 30 or so other assorted shows. Even the presentation of the safety regiment was out of the ordinary. They run a small clip going through all the normal stuff but every one is NEKKID!!! All their clothes are painted on and they are  positioned just right so no bits and pieces are actually shown.

We flew in to Auckland, on the north island, where the customs officers are located. We went thru the normal routine of declaring nothing, waiting in a bunch of lines and then walked next door to their domestic airport to take another flight to Christchurch on the south island. We arrived safe and sound in Christchurch and after being pointed in the right direction, phoned the rental car company. It was about 6:20pm and they had closed at 5pm! After a curt and short discussion about customer service and common courtesy notifications with the after hours person, I also found out that the cell phone place also closed at 5 so I wouldn’t be able to procure a NZ sim card for my phone. My facial expression was approaching something akin to Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians but we managed to flag down a taxi and get to the hotel, $40 later.

I had chosen the Hotel So because of it’s modern decor and fun look. No the hotel isn’t the important part of the trip but with so many to choose from in a great price range, why not book something fabulous? Of course, we must remember that JD and I have differing opinions  on what is fabulous or not. So when we were placed on the PINK floor (see photos) he was less than amused. I heard some muttering about he really needs to take control of the reservations but I was too busy soaking up the pink glow from my room to notice. It was tiny as well which didn’t allow for much privacy. There was a curved sliding frosted glass door that sectioned off the bath chamber (too small to be a bathROOM) that was right up next to the only night stand next to the bed that was taking up the rest of the room. We had roughly a four square foot area for moving around in and the luggage slid under the bed with the blue neon lights and ironing board. As my friend Margie, used to say, there wasn’t enough room to cuss a cat in there.

However I skipped downstairs to used the computers and check up on Facebook and answer emails while, JD talked to a man about horse. Privacy issue resolved. Once he joined me, we went off in search of somewhere out of the ordinary to eat. We both enjoy really great food and although I would have settled for Japanese, we pressed on. We ended up finding an adorable one woman operation that offered Swiss food called Le Pot Au Feu (see photos). We started out with a cold potato soup with a strong buttery taste that had a hint of a few herbs that I couldn’t quite name. Regardless, I could have had another bowl for desert it was so good.  JD had some sort of a pork and mushroom dish that disappeared faster than an ice cube in hell and I had a beautiful salmon dish in a caper and butter sauce with little pastries to imitate the head and tail of the fish. Both dishes were delicious, were consumed with great fervor and our chef/waitress/owner took one look at JD and brought out bread just so he could mop up the rest of the mushroom sauce. Talk about knowing your customer! With our tummies full we headed back to Hotel So and crashed. I will say this about the hotel. It may have been a small room but the bed was very comfortable and they had great pillows and sheets.

The next morning we got up early and made our way back to the airport to pick up the rental car. I waltzed into the place and bemoaned a long tale about being abandoned at the airport by their company. They humored me, made sure I got a sporty red car that got 100 miles to the gallon and a GPS and away we went. JD had said over and over that he didn’t want to drive but I think he wondered about the wisdom of that choice the whole way to the glacier. It was difficult to not only drive on the wrong side of the road which was mostly switch backs in the mountains, but also to SHIFT WITH MY LEFT HAND… I found that to be the most difficult part of it.

When first starting out I was a bit confused. I had only heard about how lush and green New Zealand was and it looked a lot like the Rockies to me. Brown tufts of grass everywhere and trees that were tough and windswept. There were large expanses of dry river beds several meters across that only had a small trickling stream making it’s way thru. We passed cattle and what we assumed to be elk that were being grown for food. And sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. Some shaven, some not, some shaven a while ago but don’t have their full coats back. All cute, fat, and happy.

Finally our red beast chugged it’s way up to the top of Arthur’s Pass which is the turning point. Arthur’s Pass is up in the clouds at 9,924 feet above sea level. After that it was the green green green that everyone talks about. We stopped at one point to look out at a ravine and there were these birds called Kees that attacked the cars and chewed on the rubber seals around windows and anything else they could their beaks on. One woman couldn’t get one of them off of her car so she just drove off. It finally hopped off of the car and then walked briskly back to another car to resume. They had wings so I don’t know why they chose to walk a lot but they were very comical looking.

After adding a few new grey hairs to JD’s head and countless swerves, following the road, JD made the comment that they must have followed a drunk snake when laying out the road. I have to agree with him but none the less we made our way to the Sunset Motel at the town of Fox Glacier. Thank goodness for GPS! Most of the roads are marked, and ALL of the creeks, culverts, streams, rivers, and bodies of water are labeled correctly but having it eased a lot of worry about getting to the motel without any drama. Our room was perfectly adequate, providing us with everything we needed including a towel warmer. The best part about the place was the views of the mountains! It wasn’t much when we first got their but the blue skies were out for a bit the next morning and it was quite a sight to wake up to (see photos).

We dined on New Zealand steaks that night and headed off to bed early. The following morning after looking at the mountains I picked my jaw up off the floor and got ready for the day. We grabbed some brunch at  one of the small local restaurants across the street from the company we had signed up for the guided tour. After eating and doing some souvenir shopping we and a few others gathered at Fox Glacier Guiding and were provided with instructions, warnings, threats, boots, wool socks, clampons, and waterproof gear. There was even one girl who was there from Washington DC!

They took us in a bus to the face of the glacier where it was very cold. The wind came down the mountains and glacier and made my face hurt. I started to wonder about whether I was going to make it since when my ears get cold from wind they hurt really bad. After making some adjustments to my clothing I was once again a happy camper and learning all about glaciers. New Zealand is one of the wettest places on earth receiving 9-10 meters of rain a year! There was a mini ice age back in the 1700s that the glacier reached much farther than it does now making it almost all the way out to the sea (see photo). This glacier is a fast moving one, moving about 5 meters a day and a snow flake that drops at the top only takes 50 years to travel down to the bottom and join the rest falling into the glacier river (see photos).

It was quite a sight to see and far from over. We were then led into the rainforest that crowds on either side glacier where it was hot, wet, and buggy. We hiked up over 800 stairs peeling off layers and guzzling water the whole way. Sometimes we were surrounded by trees and giant ferns, sometimes we were clinging to chain and rock to keep from falling down into the ravine. We finally made it back to the glacier but now we were back quite a ways and up on top. All the layers were quickly added again and we put on our clampons. You have to walk very flat-footed across the ice because the clampons are in your instep so walking with your normal heel to toe gait won’t help you. You must also stomp your feet to be sure that you have a sufficient grip on the ice. Our guide earned her money swinging a pick axe reforming the steps up and over the glacier. There were lots of gaps in the ice that we were warned not to get close to. At first it I thought the glacier was dirty looking with all the debris that would fall on it from the mountains but in the gaps you could see the clean blue ice that dipped way down, sometimes farther than you could see. We moved around up on the ice taking pictures and getting generally frozen until it was time to go. We made our way back down carefully and then went thru the same routine of getting hot in the rainforest and removing all layers to only put them back on again when we got down the face. We had a wonderful time and I recommend as an experience not to be missed!

The next morning we made our way back to Christchurch with just mild whimpering about our calves. We stopped at the Bushman Centre so I could get a roadkill sandwich (venison salami = heaven) and view a few wonders such as the rare giant sandfly (Pteradactyl Legpullus)(see photos). Apparently they had hunted down this poor creature who now graces the front of their establishment. I guess it just wouldn’t be a proper vacation without a classic tourist trap.

After we got back to Christchurch, we wandered around for more souvenir shops, grabbed a bite to eat, and listened to music of the Maoris, the native New Zealanders. We got up very very early to allow for plenty of time for a 7am flight which had us back into Sydney by 8:30am Australian time. Worn out and bodies aching we were back home. We left to renew my visa but in the end needed a day to renew ourselves and I’m now ready for the next three months of G’Days and Cheers.

Stay classy America!

Hello my friends,

There never seems to be a dull moment around here, but that is how my life goes. I enjoy every minute of it.

A couple of weeks ago I made a new friend, Anna, who is involved in the same positive thinking lifestyle that I strive for and reads the same material that I do. We met for lunch the other day at a small place called Funky Cafe.

I really like eating at cafes and people watching from the outdoor tables. This was no exception and it being in one of the more eclectic parts of town there were plenty of people to watch. Anna is a “Kiwi” meaning from New Zealand and has been here for the last 10 years. Since JD and I are visiting New Zealand at the end of the this month, she has been an invaluable source of information. I had a “Dipper Plate” which was all sorts of humus, garlic spreads, spiced spreads, and something made out of minced beets. It came with a bowl over flowing with sliced breads and I ate every last bite. So good and on a hot day, the perfect light lunch.  Anna had the roast beef salad which she said was delicious as well. Say hi Anna!

Anna, Kiwi Extraordinaire!

On Wednesday, the world celebrated St Patrick’s Day and just to say it with style, Sydney lit up the Opera House in green lights. JD had heard on the radio that they were planning to do this so of course we trucked on down there! I read that the architect cut pieces out of a globe to get the right shape for each section. It is a beautiful, fascinating structure that is immediately recognizable and the green light doesn’t change that.

The Sydney Opera House

I have recently started a garden club in Sydney to help surround myself with other green thumbs and have a way to gather plant tips for this harsh growing environment. While doing some research I read over and over about how every self-respecting gardener owes it to themselves to have a composting system. Since we don’t own the place and there really isn’t a good place to start a compost heap, I thought it would be great for us have a worm farm. Sounds easy enough, you get this plastic thing with a few levels, throw in your scraps, water once a week, use the drainage for fertilizing and voila! You now have plants that everyone envies. I looked around online at what worm housing units cost and look like. I found that they have a wide range of sizes, shapes and costs. The most popular one for this area is the Can-O-Worms which I knew they had down at Bunnings (Aussie Home Depot).

Casa de Worms

I only found one guy who was selling worms over the internet here in Australia and he wanted an arm and a leg for them. The good thing was that he guaranteed live delivery and a generous over count. I noticed that Bunnings also carried his worms and although he was the more expensive of the two brands I thought it was more important to have that guarantee. So after signing over my rights to my first born, I went home, gleefully, with my Can-O-Worms worm farm and a bucket of 1000 worms. I set up my worm farm and had to wait for the bedding to hydrate before I could add the worms. I thought maybe I should check on my new charges and opened the lid. It seems that the seal had been broken and the bucket was only half full! After a thorough search thru the bucket including dumping the whole mess out on a piece of newspaper I realized that I had just purchased very expensive dirt. Not one worm. I rang Bunnings and they told me to bring the bucket back and they would swap it out.

Thank goodness for my new flip-flops because any extra walking doesn’t affect my feet in the least. Bunnings is a good 15 min walk so off I go again. I arrive and explain that yes I was the woman who called about the worms. I gathered my new sealed bucket and left the premises. When I got home, JD and I had to scamper off to somewhere so I didn’t look at my bucket again until the next morning. I opened it up and found that it was also only half full. Perhaps I was mistaken! However when I dumped it out, I only found 5 or so worms. I was thinking that perhaps I had gotten the before mentioned over count and someone else got the 1000 worms. I emailed the supplier directly and didn’t get a response.

Today I visited Bunnings today with the bucket of worms.  The lady at the counter thought it was pretty funny that I was complaining about worms and she and the manger had a good chuckle about it. The manager thought I wanted her to count out 1000 worms and seemed confused when I said I was looking for a general mass at the very least. However 5 more buckets later of the three of us dumping them out in the store with not a worm in sight, they were a big more understanding. I finally asked to check the other brand who has theirs in a cardboard box with a plastic bag liner. As soon as you moved even a little of the compost you could see worms galore! They are now home and stretching their little wriggling bodies out in my worm farm that has properly hydrated and drained bedding and wet newspaper on top. Just heaven! I already have some zuchini and cooked rice for them to have for breakfast tomorrow! I would take it out to them tonight but in my efforts to stay away from any poisonous night creepies I’m staying indoors till morning.

Friday night we had pizza night with some other couples from America. Two of them were also Navy couples and one was a gentleman who works for one of the local papers and his wife. We all had a lot of fun and the pizza was great. They had several very different types of pizzas and JD and I wanting to try different things, we each ordered a small pizza. JD got something called L’Inferno which he didn’t read had anchovies on it and was over all not excited. He does want to go back and try some others as he could see it was a really good place, he just didn’t make the wisest choice. I think he just thought it would be super hot and spicy which he is always up for. He never mentioned if it was hot enough. I got the Champignon pizza that had pesto, walnuts, button mushrooms, and feta cheese on it. Wow! What a different pizza and I would definitely order it again. Not for the traditionalist though.

While we were eating pizza and gabbing about adventures in Australia living, I saw my first Hari Chrisna. I realize that this isn’t exactly a momentous occasion but since there was a bunch of them, men and women I thought it was picture worthy. They came skipping and dancing down the sidewalk, singing at the tops of their lungs. They all seemed very happy to make general fools of themselves and my hat goes off to them. They certainly have more brass than I do. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera the first time but when they started coming up the other side of the street I managed to get one that was almost in focus. It was getting dark and I had to use a setting that let in more light. They of course kept dancing and bobbing around so most of the pictures they are just smudges. Fine. Be that way. See if I care.

Celebrating the Hindu god Krishna!

On another note I am saddened to hear about the passing of the Health Care Bill that we know so little about except for the parallels to socialism. None of this feels to have the spirit of America that I was brought up to know, but what does anymore? I know I know, something had to be done, I just wish it wasn’t so darn expensive. Too bad we couldn’t force the health care system we did have to stop paying $30 per aspirin and $45 for a kleenex.  Just seemed like logic to me. We didn’t need socialized medicine, we needed affordable health care and medicine. If it gets too bad, maybe I will just run away and join the Hari Krishnas. They seem welcoming.

Stay classy America. And healthy too.

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