Thursday, November 21, 2013

                       Just spent two glorious weeks "down under" with my best friend and her family.  It was a whirlwind of a vacation spent cramming in as much as possible in a short period of time.  The day after I arrived, we took a trip along the Great Ocean Road going as far as the 12 Apostles.  Of course there are only about eight of them now, but they are magnificent sculptures that the water and wind have created over hundreds of thousands of years.  Most impressive!

We also took a drive to Maru where we spent much of the day petting Koalas and Roos, Dingos and Ostrich as well as sundry other animals indigenous to the area.  It was great fun for all, especially me and the kiddies!  From there we went to Phillip's Island were we went to the seal lookout (if they were there they were blending with the dark rocks).  I did see a penguin, or rather a penguin's feet...he was hiding under the board walk and wouldn't come out for viewing.  There were lots of gulls and the wind was swift with a real bite.

The big day was CUP DAY, a day in which all of Melbourne take off to attend the big Cup Races (horse races in case you didn't know).  Tezza and Barney had a big bbq in which all of Oz was invited (or so it seemed).  We spent the day eating and socializing and watching the big race.  Imagine my surprise when these people threw me a surprise birthday party right after the race.  I was awestruck, especially considering 1) it wasn't my birthday and 2) it wasn't my birthday!  Tezza etal said it was for all the birthday parties I didn't have growing up (Tezza knew I'd only had 4 birthday parties my whole life).  So it was a wonderful day for me.

Another day was spent walking around and about Melbourne with two very serious guides (Mark and Jeff).  It was a lovely day though by the time it ended (about 11 hours of walking) my legs were barely holding me up...and poor Leanne's heel spurs were giving her fits.  But we saw so much!  And the food was delicious, everything from the cakes in the morning to the italian pasta at night.  YUM!

Spent some pretty fabulous days with the sisters and Carol.  We went up into the Dandenongs and fed the wild birds (even though there were signs everywhere not to do it).  These birds were so tame they flew right to you and took the bird seed out of your hands.  Saw and heard Kookaburrahs the wild, which was wonderful.  Ate in a fun little pub and had ourselves a terrific time. 

Also spent time with friends of Tezza's, which was great.  We read cards and talked until we were blue in the face.

So many memories....the foreign birdsong that awakened me every morning, the upside down moon and the Southern Cross, the nights spent watching the stars and looking for possum in the trees, taking Beau for a walk, horsing around with Ashlee and Kate, everything so wonderful.  Hopefully one day I'll get back because I believe I made some good friends for life plus adopted another family.  It's too bad Australia is halfway around the world!

Friday, October 11, 2013

I spent the last week working in Angelo's office.  The desk is situated so that I can look out of the window at the beautiful fall foliage, see the neighbors walking their dogs, watch the cars drive by, or enjoy the frolicking of the squirrels as they gather nuts for winter.  Another little critter decided to make its appearance as well, a cute little chipmunk...but this guy was devious.

As the squirrel would gather an acorn, he would come to the garden and bury it.  Once he was off to look for another one, the chipmunk would scurry out from under the porch, dig up the nut, and escape.  The squirrel would return with another nut and bury it.  And, once again, the chipmunk would steal it.  This happened three or four more times before the squirrel realized that the nuts he'd buried were no longer there.  And, of course, I was snickering at the strange conundrum that the squirrel was facing.  You could see the confusion on his face....the "what the hell happened to my nuts?" question as he scurried around the garden looking for his stash.

And they say squirrels forget where they buried their nuts....well I have news for those who say that.  It's the chipmunks!  Yeah, these little devils sort of remind me of my children when they were younger.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

It amazes me to no end what driver's do when behind the wheel.  It's bad enough talking on the telephone....and using your hands for emphasis.  Texting instead of watching the road is extremely dangerous, and one of my pet peeves.  But in the last week, I have seen drivers doing the most unusual things.

First I saw a woman plucking her eyebrows.  Now tell me this, would you feel comfortable driving down the street with a very sharp object near your eye?  The other morning I watched as a man ate his breakfast....cereal and milk in a bowl.  Then there was the woman who had the dog strapped into the front seat while the children, not in car seats, were not using a safety belt at all.  Of course the mother was strapped in....probably didn't like the incessant dinging of the seat belt alarm.  Then there was the guy who was so intent on shaving his face, he sat through the green light, even with the horns honking all around him.

But what I saw today took the cake.  She was driving a Lexus, one of the smaller, sporty models.  Her hair was perfectly coiffed and she had manicured fingers (her toes probably matched but I couldn't see them).  She was a very attractive woman who was watching the road and shuffling through, what I can only assume was her bag.  She pulls out a magnified mirror.  I know this because, while we were at a stop she flashed it at me, almost blinding me with the sunlight.  She was scrambling in her bag for something else.  Well, she pulls out these rather large shears like sewing scissors.  The light turns green and she eases forward then proceeds to trim her nose hair.  Of course she's only going 2 miles an hour.  I passed her and she never looked up from her mirror, intent on cleaning the forest from her proboscis.  For all I know she's still on the Princeton/Hightstown Road mowing the nasal lawn.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Watch this video     I cannot help but wonder about the leadership of this country.  I feel, personally, that this administration is leading us down the wrong path.  Here we are trying to get backing to go into Syria when those major countries (who are far better off economically than us) are threatening retaliation if we should get involved in this civil war.

First of all, why would we send troops there in the first place?  We are in debt so deep, in large part due to the last two wars in which we were engaged, that we can't possible afford to enter a new conflict.  How can a man who closed the White House to tourists, put a wage freeze on White House staff (he should've put a wage freeze on Congress!!!), signed an order banning gifts from lobbyists and banning anyone from working in an agency they had lobbied in previous years (he promptly made the order toothless by immediately granting a waiver to a former defense lobbyist), passed a stimulus package that is creating no jobs across the country, (this bill has given more to the rich than every previous President combined!), did not support and protect our people in Benghazi who ended up being tortured to death!, took a very expensive vacation to Africa (spending millions of dollars) at a time when we are trying to cut back government spending, and more, possibly think that we should involve ourselves in another middle eastern war supporting the terrorists who bombed us on 9/11?  It makes no sense to me!

I know it isn't just Obama's fault.  We have a group of Americans that we voted into office that do not know the meaning of compromise and would rather see American's suffer than allow this President to succeed in anything.  And these same leaders are agreeing to send troops to Syria?  I believe they just want to put another major FAIL under the belt of Obama.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I was up early this morning to talk to Tezza, but since she had to have coffee with her sister causing our together time to be cut, I chose to read the news.  Of course the Syria crisis and Putin v. Obama held the front page, as did the suicide of Ariel Castro.  But what really caught my eye was the spike in the number of Americans choosing to give up their citizenship.  CNN is saying that some of the rush could be caused by the new disclosure requirements in our tax laws.  But I cannot help but wonder if that's the whole story.  I believe many things are influencing this decision, besides tax laws.  Maybe our government's inability to balance a budget for the many years?  Maybe it's the huge deficit or the shadow of another war.  Then again, maybe it's because we are slowly losing our world leader status in the global view.

I did notice that most of the people giving up their citizenship "for tax purposes" were not just the wealthy few (like one of the founders of Facebook) but ordinary, run-of-the-mill citizens who have tried to save for retirement in offshore accounts or have retirement funds that will be taxed under the new laws.  Some of these people are ex-patriots who have to file in both America and the country in which they find themselves living.  The cost of filing in both countries is dear, and with these new tax laws, they are losing the "breaks" that having these overseas accounts first rendered.  

But this has got to be a real emotional break for some, or I would imagine it would be.  You still sound American, you have the American culture ingrained in you, especially if you were born and raised here.  How can you not be considered American?  I surely don't know if I could do it, though in this day and age with the government as corrupt as it appears to be, with big business running things, where the rich get richer and the poor increase in volume yearly, where we seem to have lost sight of what is important (the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few), where our government doesn't seem to be working for the people anymore....maybe jumping the American ship isn't such a bad option and the only thing some of us can do to survive.