You know you’re from Warrnambool when…

You know you’re from Warrnambool when the conversation goes like this: 

Him: So, you haven’t seen much of Amanda this term.

Me: No. She hasn’t been to school, obviously, and she hasn’t been coming out for drinks. 

Him: Has she been going to Simon’s?

Me: No, we’ve been going to the Clovelly since it got cold. 

Me: Oh! That Simon’s! (Where Simon is Amanda’s fiancée who lives six hours’ drive away.)  Yeah. She has. 

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Spirit Animals. 

While perusing the Book of Face this morning, I saw a photo of a beautiful horse that has been turned into the closest thing  to a real-life rainbow unicorn that you’re ever going to see. It’s magnificent!

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“Hey!” I said to my office buddy, who is always cheerful, positive and full of energy, “I found your spirit animal!”

I showed her the picture and explained,  “I’m sure your spirit animal is a rainbow unicorn!”

She laughed and then asked, “What do you think yours is?”

“Probably a pissed-off squirrel,” I answered.

Then we laughed, because we both knew I was right.

Tonight’s public service announcement.

I would just like everyone to know that Sean is really, truly, great. 

He always listens. He cares about me and my life. He encourages and defends me. He is a truly great friend and brother.

He reminds me that being under-appreciated is worse than being overworked or underpaid, and then he shows that he appreciates me.

And then he makes me laugh with inappropriate humour.

How could I not love this guy? 

  

I’m so glad we adopted each other. I’m so glad he is as happy about that as I am. 

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.  

Charlottetown, PEI.

Oh my goodness. 
I don’t think I have ever seen a prettier city. Vintage brick buildings, gorgeously painted shop fronts, charming houses and a beautiful harbour combine to make Charlettetown absolutely picturesque. Every way you turn, it lookalike a postcard. 

City Hall is magnificent. This building tells you that the people of Charlottetown are proud of their city and the province of which it is the capital.  

   
Another noticeable feature is that it’s clean. Every corner has bins for recycle, waste, and food/organically for composting. There’s no litter, no mess, no smelly embarrassing places. Clean. 

The harbour is also a sight to behold. Boats bob gently, the water sparkles, and the lighthouse on the island in the middle of the harbour stands boldly, as if it were making sure all the boats were behaving themselves properly. 

As the sun sink slow in the sky, we leave the harbour and head to a restaurant nearby where we are meeting friends for dinner. I have been looking forward to meeting these wonderful people for a very long time. 

At this moment, my heart is so full of happiness. I have already seen such beauty on this island, and I’ve only been here a few hours. I know there is more beauty and more happiness to come. 

   
 

Toronto Zoo. 

Toronto Zoo is a wonderful place. I have really enjoyed both my visits there. Both times, I completely skipped the Australian section because I have most of those animals living in the wild around where I live, and I’ve seen them in Australian zoos and wildlife parks, too. 

I always try to visit a zoo if I have the opportunity. I love zoos for the diversity of animals they host, and for the breeding and conservation programs they maintain in order to protect and regenerate animals around the world. It’s always fun to see animals that I would not ever have the chance to without travelling internationally and going on some kind of wildlife safari which, to be honest, is a lot more work and far more expense than I can manage. 

My previous visit to Toronto Zoo was on a -2C day in April. 2014. In addition to the cold, it was raining on and off. We got cold and wet, and my companions were very nice about not complaining because they knew how much I wanted to see some Canadiam animals that I had only see in books or on the Internet. I think that this goes very close to provifing a real-life definition of true friendship. 

Yesterday was sunny with blue skies and a light breeze, with an expected top of 23C. Perfect zoo weather.  

We set off on our adventure with zoo map in hand and discussing where we would go first. We visited the monkeys of Indo-Malaya, the Sumatran tigers, and the wild beasts of Africa – the lazy hippo, the equally lazy rhinos, the giraffes, cheetahs, wildebeests, and lions. I had seen all of these before, but that did not dampen my enjoyment of these beautiful creatures. 

While we were watching the rhinos, we were surprised to see a very Canadian creature running around in the enclosure. It looked like a beaver but had a longer, furry tail rather than the flat, broad tail of a beaver. We had no idea what it was, but conferring between our photos and Google, we came to the conclusion that it was a marmot. It was exciting to see another Canadian animal that I had not even considered putting on my bucket list, and to get some photos of it, so that was a bit of a bonus. 

Then we got to the Canadian section. This is the part of the zoo that I was most excited about. Ironically, this is also the section with the steepest, most brutal hill in any zoo, anywhere on earth. I don’t know whose idea it was to make people go up and down this hill without any assistance,  but even the fit people were slowing down and panting a little. You can imagine someone with a walker or a cane struggling back up the hill, wondering who they could bribe to carry them or give them a ride. A sign at the top does say that it’s a steep hill which is not recommended for wheelchairs or strollers. No kidding, Sherlock. 

Regardless, Sean and I proceeded down the hill. We’ve been down and up it before, so we knew what we were in for. The same is probably not true of the lovely young lady we saw walking down the hill in stupidly high-heeled wedge sandals, or another in high-heeled boots. Try as I did, I couldn’t muster any sympathy for them. I was just glad I had opted to wear that most iconic Australian footwear: a pair of thongs. (That’s “flip-flops” for my American and Canadian readers. Don’t be naughty.)

Despite the climb required in order to return to civilisation, the Canadian section is totally worth it. Most of these animals, with the exception of the moose, the bald eagles, and one bear who had just woken after a 16 week long nap but stayed right at the back of the enclosure, were busy hibernating last time I was here. Today I met the lynx, the cougar, the raccoons and the grizzly bears for the first time, and reacquainted myself with the others. Most of them posed for photos, but there was one bald eagle who insisted on burying his head under his wing just as I took a picture, every single time. A brave little chipmunk darted through the bottom of the eagles’ enclosure, and then I was glad that the eagle was busy preening his wingpits, or whatever. I do love chipmunks. 

  

My favourites of the day were the grizzly bears. They are such powerful, strong beasts despite their fuzzy-wuzzy appearance. They are amazing. 

  

I could have watched the bears for hours, but then we would have seen even less of the rest of the zoo before we were unceremoniously evicted just after 4.30pm because the zoo had closed. 

Who the hell closes a zoo at 4.30pm on a beautiful sunny day when there are still people in there who have paid almost $30 each plus parking to get in? It may well have been “the first day of fall” but the sign at the entrance still clearly said it closed at 6.30pm because Jenn and I both checked on our way in. Boooo.

I didn’t get to see the otters, the beavers or the polar bears, even though we were right near their enclosures. I saw the polar bears last time, of which I am very glad, but I sure don’t have much luck concerning the otters or the beavers. 

Maybe next time I will do the zoo backwards and start with them, just to make sure. 

Not even close.

Yesterday at the zoo, we were watching the hippo swim and push a log around with her nose when this conversation happened. 

Jenn: “That’s how I swim.”

Zoey: “What??”

Jenn: “Front feet only…”

Me: “Those are hands, Jenn…”

Jenn: “Same thing!”
Oh, Jenn. You’re awesome. 
If you would like to see a video of the hippo in question at Toronto Zoo, you can see it at http://youtu.be/rG_XIkITe6Y

“Meet the Aussie”.

This afternoon a bunch of people came to Sean and Jenn’s for the “Meet the Aussie” pot luck supper.

It was a really great time. Everyone just chilled and chatted and ate – holy Toledo, did we eat. There was so much good food, and a number of things I hadn’t tried before. 

Pumpkin tarts. Oh. My. Goodness.  

 
Those are amazing. I only had one, mainly because I was minding my manners. I could have eaten ten without any trouble. 

Butter tarts: these would be more aptly named ‘Caramelised buttery fruity deliciousness tarts’. 

  
These are really good, but the pumpkin tarts were better. 

In return, I made two classic Australian desserts: a pavlova and a chocolate ripple cake. 

 
Both were a huge hit. I think I scored a million brownie points with the pavlova.  It was pretty darned spectacular, even if I do say so myself. 

And, in a ‘karma smiling on me’ kind of way, we had an extra guest visiting in the yard with us.  This little guy sat on the fence for some time, and kindly did not run away when I wanted to take his picture. 

 
 All the Canadians thought it was funny that I was so excited about a squirrel, until Sean explained that we don’t have them in Australia. 
The following conversation was all about Australian wildlife and all the dangerous critters we have. That’s more  fun than telling ghost stories around a camp fire because it’s all true. 

As the sun went down and the temperature dropped, people went home and we finished the day very well fed and very tired. 

Ear buds in-nuendo.

Today, one of my office buddies said to me, “You know what I wonder about myself? If I’m listening to music with ear buds in, do I breathe louder?”

I had no idea what to say to that, except to comment that the thought had honestly never crossed my mind. 

She continued, “There was a kid in class and he had ear buds in, and he was breathing really heavy. But you don’t do it when you’re listening to music. I’ve never heard you doing any heavy breathing at all.”

“That’s probably a good thing!” I said. 

And there I was, dying laughing at my own double entendre. 

Thankfully, she was laughing, too.  That’s probably also a good thing, really. 

Birthday blessings.

It’s my birthday today. I am happy to put it on the record that I have had a fabulous day.

Many people who share my life in one way or another have sent me birthday wishes via Facebook, Twitter and Skype.
Even more than their birthday wishes, I am very thankful for the friendship and the love and encouragement each of them give me every other day of the year. Each of them is a blessing to me and i am very thankful for them.

I have also been able to spend time talking with my special Canadians. That time I spend with them is precious to me every day. Today is no different in that regard, but it was very special that they wished me love and happiness when they are so involved in giving me both.

My birthday started with bacon, eggs and hollandaise on toast, cooked by the resident Masterchef, Fred. It was sensational. 

I was blessed with a number of gifts that were not only very beautiful but incredibly meaningful to me. I am so thankful for the love and thoughtfulness that went into the selection and giving of each of them.

I have three bouquets of beautiful flowers – roses on the dining table, and two mixed bouquets on my desk. They are all so sweet and lovely, yet not so highly fragrant that they will give me a headache.

I had an afternoon sleep. Not just a quick nap to keep me going. Two hours of completely zonked-out sleep, and no feelings of guilt when I woke up because all my school work was finished on Friday afternoon.

My house smelled SO freakin’ good leading up to dinner.
In our house, you get to request whatever you want for dinner. I asked for Indian food. Fred and Lynne-Maree cooked butter chicken, garlic naan, and onion bajhi. I can’t describe how good it tasted. Divine, in fact.

For dessert, there was lemon meringue pie from my favourite bakery.  I was so excited about this. It is by far the best LMP to ever exist,  It should come with a warning, though – it will spoil you for every other LMP that you will have the privilege to enjoy.
The velvety, tangy-sweet pie melted in my mouth, its rich lemony-goodness delivering the most delightful foodgasmic pleasure.

Tonight it’s time to relax: chatting with friends, spending time with my man, enjoying one of my few favourite TV shows.

It’s wonderful to be loved, spoilt with gifts and special treats. It’s so good be able to enjoy the rest and relaxation I’ve earned in the crazy-busy rush to meet all my work deadlines of the past few weeks.

It has definitely been a special day for Princess Me.