The Blogging Life: Catching Up.

Sometimes we need to just stop and catch our breath.

After an insanely busy term 3 at school, which included directing and producing  five shows of ‘Les Miserables’ over two weekends, I’ve really enjoyed the two week term break.
I’ve caught up on my rest, on grading papers, and on some writing that I really wanted to refine before I could consider it finished.

Today, I’m catching up on my photo blog at yeeehawimacountrychick! which features photos from various parts of Australia that I visit.

I started this blog because my friends and family overseas often wanted to see my pictures, but I wasn’t always available to show them. Since then, it’s gained a wider following, which is really encouraging for this very amateur-level hobby photographer!

Feel free to take a look, and follow that blog if you’re interested in seeing my part of the world from my point of view.

 

I don’t post there every day, or even every week, but I do try to keep it updated.
All the photos featured there are my own, and remain my intellectual property.

What a gas!

As a woman, I’m led to believe that I’m one of very few who think that farts are actually funny. I try to maintain decorum most of the time, but on the odd occasion, I can compete with the best of them.

I’m generally quite private about m such things but, when you’re holidaying in a caravan and in closer quarters than usual, such discretion is not always so achievable. 

So tonight, LMC heard me let a fart go for only the second time ever. 

She thought it was hysterical. Honestly, it was really nothing special, but she cracked up laughing until she had tears and her stomach hurt.  

   

  
It’s good to know she’s so easily and cheaply entertained. We can sell the TV. 

Thanksgiving.

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today. It’s nice to be here for it and to share in such a nice tradition.  

I’m looking forward to sharing a special meal with some friends who are very dear to me, although I confess to being slightly nervous about meeting some new people at the same time. 

Thanksgiving Day is clearly a Notth American thing, but I have been surprised at how many people here think the whole world does it. My hosts were quite shocked this morning when I told them we don’t have it in Australia.

Maybe we should. Giving thanks for our freedom and blessings cannot be a bad thing, and it might make some people less selfish and xenophobic.  

Stop… in the name of Ontario…

It’s not unusual in Ontario to see a cross intersection with four-way stop signs. 

That’s right.

Everyone has to stop, look at each other, smile, and say, “After you…” before proceeding on their way.

The first car to arrive gets to drive off first. In the rare event that you arrive in a dead heat, the driver to the left gets to go first.  This makes me wonder, though… if the drivers are across the intersection from one another, are they not technically on each other’s left?  I can just picture an “Ontario Stand Off”.

Driver A: “After you…”

Driver B: “No, after you…”

Driver A: “No, really, after you…” and so on. 

In theory, this could continue for some time, given how nice and polite Canadians generally are. 
On reflection, I can see why this has not been attempted in Australia. 

Driving on the right side of the road.

In Australia, we drive on the left hand side of the road. I know it send arse-backwards to most of the world, but it’s normal to me. 

Now that I’m in Canada, I’ve had to adjust to the other side of the road. It wasn’t an issue when I was just a passenger, but this morning I became designated driver for the next week or so because my friend Jenn is having some surgery this morning. 

I drove back from the hospital this morning, and again just now to take Zoey to school. I even got home successfully from the school, all by myself.

Phew! 

The Challenges of Aussie Cookery in Canada. 

Today Sean and Jenn are hosting a pot luck supper for their family and friends to “meet the Aussie”.  I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone. 

My contribution will be two classic Australian desserts: I’m making a pavlova and a chocolate ripple cake. 

Yesterday we went shopping for ingredients. 

Challenge #1: There are no chocolate ripple biscuits in Canadian stores.
Solution: I have substituted chocolate chip brownie cookies instead. They are a bit softer, but given the premise that the nature of the dessert is that tje biscuits soften in the cream, that should not be an issue.

Challenge #2: There are no Peppermint Crisp bars in Canadian stores. I always top my choc ripple cakes with a smashed up Peppermint Crisp.
Solution: Grated Aero Peppermint bar. It’s chocolate and mint. It works. All good.

  

Challenge #3: My pavlova recipe calls for cornstarch. I am corn sensitive, in a nasty coeliac/volcanic/cramping/wanting to die kind of way. At home, we use a wheaten cornstarch whicj solves that problem. BUT
Challenge #4: We have a gluten intolerant person also coming today.  Same coeliac/volcanic issues. 
Solution:  I found potato starch in the store, which has the same fine, silky texture as corn starch.
I was very relieved when beating the meringue mixture that it looked exactly like my pavlova meringue batter usually does with the wheaten or corn starch. The meringue stiffened up beautifully. So far, so good.

Once in the oven, it did exactly what it was meant to. It rose, it spread and it got all nice and crisp. 

  

How good does that look? It’s just about cooked. Almost there… 

  

Alright! It looks perfect. 

Challenge #4: You have no idea how hard it was to find passionfruit here. Seriously.
When I did find some, the checkout chick didnt know what they were and had to call for a code.
Somewhat incredulous, I smiled and waited patiently. At least the folks who are here today will get to try something iconically Australian, the way it’s meant to be.

Wins all round. Yay!

Melba Gully.

Driving through the Otway Ranges from Princetown to Cape Otway, the road snakes through lofty forests of mountain ash, often lined with tree ferns and vines.  In more than one place there is old growth forest on one side of the road and views of the Southern Ocean on the other. Pine plantations dot the landscape, sometimes prim and green, sometimes cut and messy.

We took an “unscheduled detour” down a dirt road that led to one of the plantation logging sites. The bush hugs the side of the road even more closely, enormous trees towering overhead. I have no idea how those enormous log trucks negotiate those tight bends on a narrow road, but the signs that warn one to “proceed with caution” should not be taken lightly.

As we took advantage of a clearing to turn around and head back to the main road, we saw a mob of kangaroos in their natural environment. There was a big male in the group who would have easily stood six feet tall. I think he is the biggest kangaroo I remember ever having seen.

We headed further east to our destination for the evening: Melba Gully.

Melba Gully is tucked into the Otway bushscape not far from Lavers Hill.  It offers beautiful scenery and some well-maintained tracks for walking.   During the day it is magnificent, but as the sun drops behind the forest the gums and ferns take on an other-worldly quality and one’s other senses become more alert. The chatter of the birds and the gurgle of the Johanna River at the bottom of the gully become more prominent. The smell of the eucalypts and the damp forest floor is refreshing  and clean.

At the end of the track is a section of boardwalk which keeps visitors on the track and out of the surrounding forest. All along this section of the walkway, glow worms twinkle like fairy lights. It’s a bit like looking at the stars in the night sky except that these tiny creatures are embedded in the bank about a meter away from where you stand.

It’s a beautiful, serene place to enjoy a little of nature’s magic.

If you ever have the chance to visit, wear good shoes for walking and take a torch so you can find your way back up the track in the dark.