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24 December 2008

A Merry Christmas to all!

HSK084 - Nestle Coffee and Milk in a TubeThis is my new favourite quirky Aussie thing: Coffee and milk as a toothpaste-like consistency, in a squeezy tube.  Oh the fun things!  Would I ever buy this?  There are standards, people.  This is a mockery.  An ultra-portable mockery.

funny pictures of cats with captions

Yup, it’s Christmas eve here, and I just woke up with a gorgeous little kitten on my bed.  Rob and I chose the name “Apollyon, destroyer of worlds” in honour of Oppenheimer (who worked on the Manhattan Project.  These are the first words that came to his mind when he saw the first atomic detonation: ‘I have become Apollyon, destroyer of worlds’)  It is like having my own furry bundle of ADHD in the house. Sleeping was not on her top priorities last night, so I guess we didn’t do much of that. She is a purebred Ragdoll (if you aren’t familiar with the breed, it’s Wikipedia time again!).  They are basically bred to be companionable above all else.  And she is a snuggler

Oh, and I have to take it back: I found a 500mL carton of eggnog yesterday.  So I bought it.
I am planning to watch some Christmas classics (ie Peanuts and the new classic, Shrek’s Christmas), take in midnight mass at the cathedral tonight, and then snooze with Apollyon (if she’ll let me) until the 9:30 Christmas day service.  Rob is off to spend Christmas with his family in Deadwood, AB.

A very Merry Christmas to all our friends and family.  Virtual hugs all around!

21 December 2008

Back in Canada

Well I've been back in Canada for a week now.  Australia seems quite a while ago.  Back at work now with all the regular winter photocopier problems.

My life just seems odd.  I have several "homes".  First there is the flat in Brisbane where Barb is living.  Second is the condo (which we are still trying to sell).  Next is Barbra Doiron's place where Barb & I have been living since late August.  Lastly is the basement suite I will be living in starting tomorrow.  None of them really home though. Although after coming back from Australia I realized I am such a prairie boy.  Three weeks in Australia with 30 degree days, sunshine, beaches and I get back to -30 Alberta and it feels right.  I missed the crispness in the air that only the praires bring.

While I was gone from work 2 of the sales people quit.  Coleen's last day is today and Astra's is Dec 30.  I guess I can't leave anymore.

Well got all the Christmas wrapping done. Was planning to get more done today, but that's how Saturdays go.
Went to church tonight.  It was the kids Christmas production.  Got to see Lorraine, Steve and Dave.

19 December 2008

37 degrees is still a cute angle

Yes, my friends, it is currently 37 degrees (Celcius) as I write this.  or 310.15 degrees Kelvin (don't you think Kelvin makes it sound just that much more extreme? I love it!). People are madly getting ready for Christmas- but the've got the weather entirely wrong.
Just in case anybody was wondering, they don't make eggnog in Australia for public sale. or pumkin pies.  I HAVE seen cranberry sauce; a least there is SOME civility here.  And TimTams, they make these cookies called TimTams. I have bought a package, and I'm sure they are laced with cocaine and heroin, because I am definitely going to buy more.  I can see them being part of a complete breakfast way too often.
I have to tell you the saga of the electric guy, or "the shock jockey" as my friend Barb calls him.  I moved into this flat on Nov 27th.  On Nov 28th, I called AGL to have the electricity put in my name.  They said that they needed a meter reading. No problem, I checked the meter, which was nestled in a closet with all of its friends.  But unfortunately, AGL will not accept my version of the story, as people in the past have had serious myopia when reading them and thus get "creative" with their numbers.  OK. So they tell me that they will send someone to read the meter, and I must be present in order to let him into the building. I waited for him for 2 days before calling to find out what was not happening. "Oh," the clerk replied, "it can take up to five business days to get around to it.  There is no set time."  This was not going to work, as we were heading for Sydney the next day.  So I asked her to reschedule for the 14th onward. She said she would.  I hung up the phone and bet Rob that the actual guy DOING the inspection will never get that information.  The morning of the 14th arrives.  I wait for 3 days, at home from 7:30 am to 6pm.  Then check my cell. AGL has left me a message, asking me to please call regarding access. Sure shooting, the poor sap showed up while we were gone.  You will all be proud of me, I did not take my frustration out on the operator.  She did, however, set up Friday the 19th as the date someone would show up.  So I went out and bought a vacume cleaner, got my drivers licence, and checked out the library.  Friday the 19th dawns. I am ready for this guy starting at 7:30.  At quarter to noon I get another text message from the electric company saying that they can't get access. I almost wailed, "But I'm RIGHT HERE!!!!"  So now, after hearing my tale of "woe in waiting", a very nice fellow is delagating this problem to the local company to deal with directly regarding schedules.  Within 10 business days, they will supposedly contact me and set up a fixed time to come and read the meter.  So it's still not over!  OMgoodness!  At least I am not working at the moment, and don't have to be at a class- I can sit here and wait for these bozos.  It's just a pain. On the bright side, though, I have found a million and one things you can do/sign up for/participate in via the internet.  I have filed for a taxation number, I have gotten my transit pass, creeped about on Facebook, learned everything there is to know about opals and MSN'd with Rob and my parents.  My apologies to those who have been trying to use the Vonage phone number.  The messages are getting through, but the phone itself is rather tempermental.
Another bright patch is St John's Cathedral, where I went to church last Sunday.  They were very welcoming, and I was even invited out for Christmas dinner with a family.  The building, liturgy and music are all very beautiful, but this community has a heart that shines through even this.  I am planning on attending here, and hopefully finding a volunteer position in the New Year.
So that's my week in a nutshell.  Rob is at home in Canada, and will be moving into a basement suite this weekend. the condo still hasn't sold, and funds are a little tight at the moment, with two rents and a mortgage to hold up.  Please pray for us- our finances, sanity and walk with God.  I was having a bit of a scaredy cat/pity party this morning when God smacked me upside the head this morning with Joshua: "Have I not told you? Be strong and very courageous...I will not fail you." So there. It's gonna be alright. Thanks for reading.

lastly, this lovely bit from


Do you sip your coffee from a demitasse? Is your pinky extended? Gah! Coffee should be strong, black and chewy! It should strip paint and frighten small children. Finally, it should be drunk from a vessel that is worthy of the finest caffeinated beverage on the planet.

Any mug you dare drink coffee from should be big enough to hold 20 ounces of Joe, and be big and heavy enough to use as a melee weapon should the Zombie Apocalypse finally come. Your wish is our command. This mug's handle is shaped like a face-smashing set of brass-knuckles, and will put anyone around you on notice: I'm drinking my coffee, dammit. Interrupt me at your own physical peril.

12 December 2008

Canberra, Sydney, the Destroyer and I

    Well, it’s down to the Destroyer and me.  Rob and Barb D got off this morning, only a day late.  It turned out that the original flight had been cancelled a whole month and a half ago, and our agent failed to alert us of this before we left.  So Air Canada put us all up at the airport Holiday Inn.  I started to develop a cold in Canberra, and so spent most of the day sleeping on those heavenly beds.  In the evening we caught some local theatre, “You’re Nobody Until Sydney Loves You”.  We also explored King’s Cross area and drove across Harbour bridge, just to say we did. 

Back to Canberra.  It was one of our favourite cities in Aus.  It had the good fortune of being chosen as the national capital in 1908, and could be entirely planned, as there was nothing there to start with.  This makes it a dream to drive, and most good stuff is in walking distance of each other.  Also, the city has an emphasis on green space.  We decided to call on the Canadian High Commision to lodge my declaration (the Canadaian gov’t likes to know where it’s people end up).  The lady behind the desk had an expression which practically begged to “Please leave me alone and go away”.  That only made me more enthusiastic to make her do something to earn all you beautiful people’s tax money.  The irony arrived in my inbox later that day, informing me that the HIGH COMMISSION (The top representative of my country here) cannot process the paperwork, as Canadians living in Queensland must register with the Sydney consulate.  Our bureaucracy is alive and well abroad, available in both official languages.    We moved on and toured the Parliament buildings, most of which are under a hill.  Then we summitted Telstra tower on Black mountain, which gives a fabulous view. Later that night we hit King O’Malley’s (look him up, it’s a story of the scheister to end all scheisters), a late night pub.  Then we window shopped in the closed arcades and enjoyed the sculptures until midnight.  The next morning, Rob and I dropped off Barb at the National Art Gallery, and we went to geek out at the Canberra Space Centre.  One of their dishes produced the televised clip of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon.  The same antenna monitored Armstrong, Collins and Aldrich’ vital signs during the mission.  It was cool to see the original EKG of the three. A nerd’s paradise!!!  We reconnected for lunch and then shopped the stores we had scoped out the night before.  We then left for Sydney, arriving around 8 pm.  The next day we toured the Sydney Opera House, rode the ferries up and down the Harbour.  Several misconceptions were dissolved for me: The Opera House is not smooth and bright white, but rather shades of creamy and tiled in patterns.  Second, it is several buildings, not one.  Who knew?  Again, check out the story of building the Opera House (Wikipedia?) as it is an amazing tale of its own right. By that point, I had decided my cold finally deserved drugs, and spent the rest of the day snoozing off the congestion.

So, as I said, it’s down to me heading back to Brisbane along the Pacific Highway.  I drove from 9:45 am until 7pm, and landed in Woolgoolga for the night.  It’s been raining steady all day, and I have no desire to drive a highway I don’t know in a car almost as old as I am (even though he’s been a faithful old gent so far) in the dark and the rain.  So one more stop.

07 December 2008

Exploring the coast

So, we are now on our way to Canberra and Sydney in the HMS Destroyer.  We have managed to get things basically set up in the flat, and even had time to catch a bit of theatre, “Nunsense”.  My parking permit has come through already, thanks to the magnificent effort of Tony, from the city council.  He arrived in the morning to get the car’s registration details, and hand delivered the permit later that afternoon.  It restores my faith in humanity! Otherwise, we would have had to move the car every 2 hours and plug meters.

We took a day trip up the Sunshine Coast which included the Australia Zoo (of Steve Irwin fame, "Crikey!!") and a pineapple plantation with ice cream parfaits and tour.  Then we hit the beach for the first time in Australia.  The sand is powder fine and white.  We jumped around in the warm waves until nearly sunset.  The we drove back home into an amazing lightning display.

Yesterday, we took off in search of the “Big Banana” at Coffs Harbour, but got distracted by Byron Bay.  They have the most powerful lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere, and can be seen 40 km away.  It is also the easternmost point of Australia- next stop, Chile.  Rob got some great photos, and we walked the path around the craggy coastline.  We then explored town, in which it is claimed the artists practically fall out of the macadamia trees. We did see some pretty artsy stuff, and Barb bought a beautiful top made of recycled saris.  We headed back to the vehicle around 4:30, and you could already smell the marijuana in the air.  We headed on, driving through rainforest highway.  We even saw wild kangaroos!  We finally landed in a town called Tyndale, and took up 2 rooms.  It turned out each room comes with its own friend in the shower.  Barb D had a big spider in hers, and ours had a wee lizard that popped out of the drain when I turned the water on.  The establishment had had definitely seen better days, too.  The next morning arrived cooler and sprinkling. We still have to get to Canberra tonight.

01 December 2008

Alive & Well in Brisbane

We are in Brisbane, Australia now.  We found an apartment.  It’s a one bedroom place in a heritage brick building.  It’s in Fortitude Valley which is a suburb of Brisbane just east of downtown (or CBD, central business district like the Ausies say).  It is right close to sort of trendy shopping area a lot like Whyte Avenue in Edmonton.  I’ll try to post some pictures soon at our website.
We also found a car for Barb, a 1986 Toyota Corona station wagon.  The funny thing is it only has 30,000km more than our 2005 Toyota Matrix.
The wagon came in handy as we went furniture shopping last week.  We got a hide-a-bed, table and 4 chairs, desk, a couple shelves and a air mattress.  A bit Spartan, but quite homey.
Today we got to be tourists for the first time in Australia.  We went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  We got to hand feed kangaroos and wallabies, see dingos, wombats, giant fruit bats and then we all hugged a koala.  They are adorably cute although they do smell bad.
Tomorrow we plan to head downtown to see the sights, and later this week is a pineapple farm, the Australia Zoo and some beach time.  It’s been in the high 20s all week. We got a couple days of rain, but the next few days should be sunny.
For all of those trying to get us by e-mail, or Vonage phone, we should be getting high-speed internet tomorrow.

30 November 2008

It’s been an expensive week….

Yup, so now we have a flat.  On a swank street, close to everything.  And it's a heritage building, so the ceilings are high with beautiful plaster mouldings and antique doorknobs.  And in spite of that, it has new windows, carpet, appliances and kitchen counters/cupboards.  So we're pretty happy with it.  Between damage deposit and prepaying 5 weeks rent, that dented the finances.  Then we turned in the rental car and bought a car.  Cash.  You can image what kind of car I can afford to pay cash for.  It's an old, battleship grey-blue Toyota stationwagon of a certain vintage.  I have named it the HMS Destroyer.  It is ugly as sin, but it runs very smoothly, and the A/C works well.  Good enough for now.  We hit all the Op-shops (Like Salvation Army) that we could, and ended up hitting Ikea for the last bits.  So we have settled in.  Today we basically stayed home and relaxed, as we have been shopping like fools all week.

I have also set up and registered for my courses today.  Not much choice so far, I'm afraid.  Everyone goes through the same cattle shute.   But at least things are in motion for the semester.

26 November 2008

On to Oz


We took our time around Wellington. We viewed a traveling exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci's machines, the Parliment grounds, and the Weta cave, where Weta workshop is set up to receive tourists. We also saw Old St Paul's, a totally wooden structure church from the 1800's, famous for its stained glass. Rob has uploaded some pics, I think.

Nov 24& 25

We had a tour of the inside of the NZ Parliment, and stopped along a beach to look around. The wind was gusting fast enough to knock us off our feet! We had lunch at "The Backbencher" a pub across from the government buildings, where each dish was named for a politician. Then we ran for the airport, and boarded the 4 hr flight to Brisbane. One of the inflight movies was "Black Sheep", one of the corniest horror movies ever! Aparently, it's a kiwi cult classic. After an uneventful flight, we landed in a hot country (28oC)! We picked up our car and a new mobile phone, and headed for our hotel. It was a Best Western, which we have gift cards for- but it was the cheapest looking expensive place I've ever stayed! For haf the price, we booked the next three nights at a backpacker hostel, called simply "Bunk". It's not bad, but it makes me feel a little old at the moment. The majority of people here are late teens and early 20's, and heavily into drinking and partying. Definitely NOT my scene. At least our room is quiet, and we have a private bathroom. And the other neat thing is that you have no idea what language you might hear around you next. People for all over the world are here!
We viewed a few places to rent, and one of them definitely stood out. It is designated a heritage building, and has beautiful plaster mouldings, antique doorknobs and 10 ft ceilings. And they will allow me to have a cat! We put in an application, and wait for approval. In the evening, we went to the movies and saw the new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. A very enjoyable evening. What is strange is that alcohol is everywhere, and many people took martinis into the theatre!

Nov 26
We found out that we are approved for the place!! So, the mailing address will be #2, 9 MacLauchlan Street, Fortitude Valley, QLD, Australia 4006.  We viewed 2 other places today as well, and one didn't allow pets, and the other had holes in the floor and hordes of ants roaming the place.  I think I'll stick with what we've got.  Thanks God!
We also began looking at furniture, and found the Brisbane Ikea.  Same stuff!  We are going to have to do some serious measuring, though, because this place is tiny!

22 November 2008

NZ part II

Nov 19

Today was a bit more low key.  Rob did the schweeb track, and ended up finishing as the 6th best Canadian ever.  After checking out the ostriches adjacent to the track, we meandered around the thermal pools in town and watched the bubbling mud.  There is a foot soak pool in the park, so we joined others from Colorado, France and Vancouver enjoying the warm water.  The weather is like mid-May in Canada, which can still be rather cool.  Barb D was short on warm clothes, so we stopped off and she picked up another pair of jeans.  After lunch and a siesta, we toured around the lake, watched the swans and ducks.  Then we window shopped downtown, after most things had closed.  It works out well this way, as there really isn’t room in the luggage for anything else.  After supper, we repacked our stuff and headed for bed. 


Nov 20

Rob woke up at 3 this morning, and had to tell himself to get back to sleep. He was just so excited about the helicopter experience we were about to have.  We got up and packed the car early and headed to the Helipro site at Te Puia.  We were picked up by our guides, Terry and Jay, and took off in a van through the countryside, with Terry explaining what we were looking at. He is a retired instructor from the Technical college at Rotorua, and does guiding for fun.  The best kind!  At the outskirts of  Mt. Tarawera, we met up with a group of 16 Americans to hike the crater.  The mountain had blown itself to bits in 1886, and left a huge hole, which we followed the scree  into.  It is somewhat like a controlled fall, with the rocks sliding around your feet up to the ankles.  Luckily, the brake is your butt.  If anything goes wrong, all you have to do is sit down.  Which we all did, repeatedly.  It was a perfect, sunny day- only a NZ hawk wheeling around to indicate any life in the crater beyond ourselves.  Rob, Barb and I climbed out of the crater to meet our helicopter and pilot, Luke (The Americans were jealous).  It flew around several peaks, and a few beautifully aquamarine lakes that steamed at 80oC.  How much energy must that take to boil a whole lake??!!  We then continued the flight over Rotorua, and then landed. A very cool experience.  Barb and I had never flown in a chopper before.  We then wandered back into town for Fish and Chips.  Then we hit the Gondola/Luge ride.  It was a blast to skid down the mountain.  After being chairlifted back to the summit with our rides, we just relaxed and watched the world go by.  Eventually we got back to the car and made tracks for Waitomo.  I got a chance to drive- making the same windshield wiper mistake, and doing my best to quit hugging the outside line.  This is important, as there are no shoulders in places.  We mad it to Waitomo, and found a lovely cottage/campsite.  We ordered a pizza, enough for supper and the next day’s breakfast.  We happened to catch some traditional Maori dancing in TV.  The girls are expert at looking fierce, which usually entails bugging out the eyes and jutting out the jaw.  Hmmm.


Nov 21

After breakfast, we went to tour the famous Waitomo caves.  They are limestone formations carved through by a river, with beautiful pillars and stalactites.  The highlight was the glowworms.  They use a luciferase based reaction to produce a bluish light.  They use the light to attract insects that have been brought in by the river.  The bugs are trapped in sticky lines the glowworms put down from their spun hammocks, and subsequently eaten.  The worms line the darkened cave like a galaxy, and you float underneath them in black silence.  Amazing!  We also explored the Aranui cave and were allowed to take pictures in this one.  They should be up in the photo site.  Again, it was time to hit the road, and we headed for Stratford.  They have the only Glockenspiel in NZ, which plays the story of Romeo and Juliet.  It seems funny, but we HAD to see Statford, NZ, because we had already been through Stratford, Ontario and Stratford, England.  This just adds to the list.  (By the way, there is also more than one Stratford, AU)  We are also in the shadow of Mt Taranaki, which serves as a movie stand in for Mt. Fuji on more than one occasion. We had a pub dinner and retired back to the motel.  We got some laundry done, and played a bit of pool.  Nice day!


Nov 22.

Today we started with watching a movie and packing.  Then we hunted down some pancakes and headed into the mists shrouding Mt Taranaki.  The wind  was high and cold.  We thought a hike would be impossible, but once we got into the bush, it was quite pleasant.  We walked to Dawson Falls, which was beautiful.  We then got back in the car and headed for Wellington.  On the way, Rob found an MR2 for us to sit in.  We like the car a lot, and now that we know that we fit in it, it’s definitely a possibility for our next car!  Once into our hotel for the night, we ACTUALLY got working internet, and called all sets of parents.  It was good to talk to them. 


Nov 23


18 November 2008

Now coming to you from New Zealand

Nov 16th

So far….so good. So GOOD!!
We had an uneventful flight, and thanks to a sleeping med, I missed about 10 hours of it.  Barb D and Rob watched movies all night. Who thought who was losing out is still up for debate.  After landing, we picked up our car, which can actually handle most of the luggage.  The funniest part is that the control stalks are on the opposite sides as in North America.  Every time Rob motioned to hit the turn signal, the wipers went off.  It just became more humorous with repetition. Then we began the exploration.  We drove to the top of Mt Eden and walked around the humongous crater that’s left from the last volcanic eruption.   We drove around in downtown Auckland, which actually bears a striking resemblance to downtown Vancouver.  By then, the lack of sleep was starting to slow down my comrades, so we found a parking lot (Burger King) and had a nap.  After waking, we decided to get out of the city and headed North, to Puhoi, where we found “the Art of Cheese”. It’s an artisan cheese factory and cafĂ©.  It had a beautiful garden to stroll, and the temperature was perfect for just hanging out among the daisies.  So we did. We also HAD to sample the pineapple and passionfruit cheesecakes, and take away a block of Havarti. A good decision!  On the way back to the hotel, we also stopped at a random beach to dip our toes in the water and enjoy the warm sand. The beach was smooth and practically pebble free.  It was instead practically paved with seashells of all descriptions.  By this time we could check into our room, so we headed back into town.  We all got cleaned up and teeth brushed (Hallelujah!  Teeth should not be fuzzy) and sank into our beds.  The evening alarm we set had no effect, and so we slept until the birds woke us the next morning.


Nov 17th

I got up first and went for a coffee.  I accidentally had some of the more complete buffet. Ooops. Rob and Barb were a bit slower to rise.  We grabbed some crackers to go with the cheese acquired the day before for their breakfast, and then we went to Kelly Tarleton’s Antarctic Adventure and Underwater World.  Undoubtedly, the best animals were the stingrays and the penguins.  The rays were huge and you could watch them from above or below the water.  They also had tunnels for people to walk under the aquarium with the sharks.  After this, we cruised around Mission Bay and on to Parnell Road (it resembles Whyte Ave).   After this, we made tracks for Rotorua.  The GPS took us on an unexpected but scenic tour.  The rain continued to phase in and out.  At Katikati, we stopped to view the murals and buy fruit at a fruit stand (avocados, kiwifruit and asparagus are in season right now).  As we got closer to Rotorua,  we began to search out a place to stay the night.  One very lovely B&B wanted $180.00 per night, per two people!  We backed down the driveway and kept looking.  Further along, we found a quaint place called Hideaway Lodge that only charged $65 per night, with $5 for breakfast.  Good deal.  Karen, the owner, gave lots of good advice and snagged us some discounts on the things we wanted to see.  A very satisfying day.


Nov 18

We had breakfast early and headed to Kiwi Experience.  This is a conservation program helping the Brown Kiwi battle back from extinction.  The workers remove the egg from the nest (where it has been incubated by the male), and artificially finish incubating it.  The egg is about the size of an emu egg, and actually weighs more than the mother does! When the eggs hatch, the Kiwi chicks are raised on a high nutrient diet and microchipped for later tracking.  They are taught to forage for themselves, and eventually released at the same site that their egg had been laid.  The program has resulted in a jump in survival rates from 5% to 85% for chicks.  We got to see a chick being weighed (so adorable), and 3 adults in separate enclosures.  The handlers have reversed the day/night cycle for these 3, so that they are active while people are visiting (they are normally nocturnal). Unfortunately, no pics are allowed, you’ll just have to visit there yourself.  They are so cute, and a lot bigger than I had pictured them.  They are about the size of a fuzzy football with a head. Hits a 10 on my Neat-O scale.

            We then headed to the Agrodome to see the Sheep Show.  A very humorous fellow described all the breeds found in NZ, and then sheared a sheep to show how it’s done.  Once the sheep was on its back with a leg held between the shearer’s knee, it didn’t make a peep of protest or struggle.  Apparently the average shearer makes $1.50 per sheep, and the record is over 700 sheep shaved in 9 hrs.  Yikes!  They went on to do a milking demonstration.  Rob tried to volunteer Barb D, and instead got picked himself!  Needless to say, he milked like a pro and received a “certificate of Udderance”.  Lastly, they put on a herding demonstration with NZ sheep dogs and ducks, and then taught more volunteers to feed lambs.
            This display was followed by Zorbing.  In this case, you enter a 5 foot space inside an 11 foot hamster ball along with 20 L of water.  You then go rolling down a zig zag course down the hillside until you hit a slope with a fence.  Only in NZ!!  It’s described as a cross between a waterslide and a rollercoaster.  What a hoot!  Barb D did it in her jeans, as she hadn’t brought her suit along today.  Rob declined, preferring to wait for the “Schweeb”, a bike powered monorail.  We returned to the motel exhilarated and soggy.  After cleaning up, we headed back into town to collect supper from the grocery store and relax for the evening. 
         The only problem with this whole trip has been definite lack of internet, or not strong enough signal to be of any use.  That means no Vonage so far, and my parents are likely to be ready to kill me due to lack of letting them know I’m OK.  Sorry, mom.
OK, the other issue is being mistaken for Americans.  The Kiwis can’t tell our accents apart, and just assume.  However, they all apologize when we mention we’re from Canada, as they are often mistaken for Aussies abroad, and feel a similar resentment for it.  No offence to any Aussies or Americans.  We just know that we are distinct even though we’re similar.


14 November 2008

Time to blow this pop stand!

It's 5:30 in the morning, and I can't sleep.  Today is the day!!!!!
We are all packed, 350 lbs of luggage.  Gah.  If one of us doen't develop a hernia or at least bulging biceps, I would be surprised.  The flight from Edmonton leaves at 2:20 this afternoon, and the flight fromVancouver leaves at 6:30 pm.  Then it's 14 hours of flying time to Auckland, NZ.  I'm hoping the sleeping meds will provide the necessary leave of absence from consciousness.  Last night we had one last farewell with some friends at the Outback steakhouse.  Last chance for Alberta beef. Yum.
The next post will be from the other side of the planet.  Sayonara!

07 November 2008

The Farewell tour begins

As I write this, there are only 8 days left in Canada.  We arranged for Friday October 31 as our last day of work.  Julie, Brian and Kaylee flew in from Victoria so the Klassen clan could spend a few days together.  There was lots of baby time, beef eating and good memories.  We had family portraits done, and didn't even want to kill each other by the end.  Tuesday we left Stony Plain to go to Pambrun, SK, where our friends the Greens live.  We attended CBC together, and have stuck close as family ever since.  Jorin is a prof at Miller College there, and we were able to sit in one of his classes- and even able to tell our story.  We were also able to accompany Kathy and Dorothy to Swift Current hospital for another set of bloodwork.  Kathy is 6 and has been battling Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) for most of this year. If you would like the full story from their perspective, check out   It has snowed!!! I was sincerely hoping that we would get some of the white stuff before we left.  It may be the last I see for quite some time! Tomorrow we turn north and drive 15 hrs to Deadwood (1 hr north of Peace River, AB) to spend some time with the Bradshaw bunch.  We should be returning to Edmonton on the 11th, and then there are only a million things to get done.  There is a showing happening this weekend with the condo, and my parents have been gracious enough to show it for us. So feel free to pray about it!

30 October 2008

Condo is SOLD!!!!

Hallelujah!!! The Condo Sold on Sunday night, to a local investor who plans on flipping it.  I personally don't care what he does with it.  The close should be before we leave, and the weight is off our necks.  Thanks God!!  Rob and I cleaned the last remnant of things out last night. 
We also have gotten into a new habit- 80's movies night with a gang of friends.  Our choice was also on Sunday night, and so we went with "The Last Starfighter".  Unbelievably, they rented a CRAY for 6 months to do the computer rendering- which was incredible for the day, but laughable cheezy now. It's come a long way, baby.
Another new addiction- The Big Bang Theory. It's a sitcom about 4 geeks. The really, really sad part is that there hasn't been a scientific reference yet that I'm not familiar with in some way. My mind has been obviously warped by too much education. Si hoc legere scis, nimium eruditionis habes. And if you too are a sucker for fun, dead languages, check out:
Rob also had good news this week: Panasonic is recinding his resignation. Which is fancy talk for "we are pretending we didn't see that". However, the office is still throwing him a party- only it's been changed from a going away party to a "Yay, you're staying" party. This is also my last week of work, and we are having a going away fete for me. Indian food. Yum.

25 October 2008

Things are going sideways….

Yup, it's official.  The folks in Adelaide, where visa decisions are made, let us know that Rob will not even recieve a case worker until April-ish.  Phooey.  At least they said he  could get a visitor's visa without screwing up his Permanent Resident visa application.  Good news is, he may be able to stay at Panasonic, even though he has already given his notice.   And I managaed to get him on the same flight home as Barb Doiron.  Then I have to get used to the idea of being married but apart for up to a year after that.  I may need to get a cat, just to have someone to come home to.
Aaaaaaand, nope, the condo still hasn't sold.  The bank has also let us know that they cannot squeeze any equity out of the mortgage.  Soooooo.....we may be leaving with no money to explore or get established.  A tad stressful, I must say.
And lastly, we have already been scammed out of $1000 when we attempted to put down a damage deposit on an apartment in Brisbane.
I am currently doing "believing God", a bible study with some ladies from my church.  I must say, the faith element is being tested in every-which-way this week.   Good thing God's in control and He loves us, 'cuz I would hate to see what God's hostility might look like.

Talking about hostility, check out this link:
Just a little happy thought for your day!!!!

14 October 2008

More Government Red Tape

  I just found out from Australian Immigration that they are currently processing applications from December 2007. That means at least 6 more months until I get my working visa. I will be going to Brisbane with Barb to help set up a house and such, but then I will be travelling back to Canada to work for a few more months.
I haven't decided what I will be doing for that time; maybe keep my old job at Panasonic, maybe go work up north for the winter, who knows.
I will be able to haul one extra load of luggage down :-)

10 October 2008

Travelin’ fools

This weekend is a big traveling weekend.  I took today off work and we are driving down to Innisfail to visit my (Rob's) mom.  For years now she has been going to the Odd & Unusual Auction every Easter and Thanksgiving to sell off a few birds and a few crafts.  Everytime we go down there it is always freezing, so I'm wearing long johns, wool socks and my nice warm Roots sweatshirt.

Tomorrow we are driving to Saskatoon for Gramma Harm's 90th birthday party.  Most of the Harms clan should be there.

We may also have sort sold our condo.  We have a guy that will lease the condo from us, rent it to someone else, who would then buy it then they get mortgage approval.  It is a bit convuluted but it may be a way to get out of the condo.  We are still gonna try to sell it too.  It would be quite nice to get it over and done with.

We may also be having some fun with our Australian visas.  I have to contact Oz immigrantion to make sure going down to visit in November won't mess up my work visa application.

04 October 2008

Last month of work…

Well it's now official, my last day of work is October 31. I gave my resignation letter this week. I've never quit a job without another one to go to. It's a bit wierd.
  Still haven't got my visa from Australia, which means I can't work when we get there. That sounds pretty good; hanging out at the beach, etc., but that paycheck thing comes in really handy.
  In other news, Barb's mom broke her foot yesterday. It's supposed to take about 6 weeks to heal. Luckily she isn't in much pain.

26 September 2008

The tickets are bought!!!

YAY!! We have an actual departure date of Friday, November 14th.  We did some online looking as well as visiting a few travel agencies, and ended up working with Greg Loveday at Aussie Travel.  He was excellent, and from Adelaide, so he knew about the places he was recommending.  He also go us a sweet deal- flights for both of us for $3000.00.  So things are a little more concrete.
We are still waiting for someone...anyone to have a look at the condo.  Must be patient.
Barb's cat has decided his new favorite peeing spot is right next to Rob's shoes.  This is the 3rd day I've cleaned up a mess.  Let's just say he is NOT endearing himself to me.

10 September 2008

Garage Sale Aftermath

The garage sale was a success, I think. When we started, we had enough stuff in there that no one could maneuver from the front to the back of the garage.  In the end, we still had some stuff left, but you could probably park a car in there again.  It is slightly strange to watch your life walk out the door, little bit by haggled down bit.  Three weeks in, the three of us are all still friends.  Barb has two cats as well, and the male has decided to make his mark on anything that belongs to Rob.  So far I've caught him right away, and he has only marked stuff that can be washed with bleach.  He's also diabetic, and requires insulin injections  morning and evening.  I have to say that I have a certain sadistic glee in stabbing him when it's my turn to do so.  The other cat is a beautiful siamese, who, aside from the breed specific neediness, is a gem.
Still waiting for the condo to sell......We've dropped the price by ten thousand.  Soon would be good.....
The Glenrose has continued to fill my days with shifts, so that is positive!

24 August 2008

First move

Well, we have now pretty much completed the first of our two moves this year.  We have moved our our stuff to our friend Barbra's house.  We will be living in her spare room until the big move to Australia in November.  Her garage is now full of our stuff and the big garage sale is coming up this weekend.

It is a bit wierd owning a condo but not living in it.  This week we have to sort out everything for the garage sale. Fun, fun, fun.

We went and saw a play at the Edmonton Fringe Fesitval.  It was called Aloha Pinifore.  Sort of a Love Boat meets Gilbert & Sullivan.  It was pretty good.

Tomorrow we are going down to Rimbey to visit Mom B at the Corn Festival.

22 August 2008

Baby, you MOVE me…..

Yup, we're about to move house.  The condo got posted on MLS last Thursday, and so far 1 no show is all that's happened.  However, the place looks and smells wonderful!! On Saturday, Rob, Barb D, Pete M and myself will be attempting to move everything to Barb's place.  This is in anticipation of our Mondo Garage sale happening next weekend.  (No really, if you need stuff, we GOT stuff).  We've already sold a few pieces of furniture, and will be delivering them tomorrow as well.  I've hauled off a ton of stuff to the ECO station, and bequeathed all my spices and frozen raspberries to the Martins (use them in good health!) Yes, we realize an empty place makes you look desperate to potential buyers.... but I guess you could say that's only too true.  We just don't want to drag out the pain... ya know what I'm sayin'?
So, I think we'll have a quiet last supper at the condo, and keep packing!

Rob has finally submitted the last (of many)documentation necessary for his visa.  Please pray it arrives soon after this.  My visa is slightly cheaper and faster, since it's a student visa, and I already have an enrollment number with UQ.  So, I guess more paperwork awaits.  Theoretically, though, the hard part is over!

17 August 2008

Fun in the Sun

Rob and I spent a week on holiday with our good friend, Barb D.  We took the long way through the mountains to Vancouver, and visited with Amy V, Sherry H, Dawn and Stew C, and Neil and Wendy K.  godd times and excellent weather was had by all. The MAIN reason, however, was the Abbottsford International Airshow.  We watched planes for 9 hours, including the Snowbirds and a crazy dude who landed his plane on a runway the length of a pickup truck.  Rob has posted the photos for those that want the condensed version of the day (Pics Here).  despite the use of 60spf sunscreen, we both burnt a lovely radioactive red.  But good times, nonetheless.
Our condo is now listed on mls.  Here's hoping someone wants it, and soon.  We are moving all our stuff to Barb's garage next weekend to get ready for the garage sale, so it will be ready for immediate possession.  We will then be living with Barb D for the remainder of our time here in Edmonton, which is actually a hair over 3 months. Eeek!

11 August 2008

Back from BC

We just got back from vacation in BC.  Tomorrow I'll blog about what we did, but for now their is some photos up at our website.

29 July 2008

Watching paint dry

coffee-thumb.gifYAY!!!! the painting is finished, and the house almost looks pre-hurricane again.  I just got back in from SK, where I went to see my 89 yr old grandma Harms.  She still has a sharp sense of humour, and a not so sharp sense of spatial relations.  Her 90th birthday party is scheduled for October, so my aunt Anita, my mom and I went shopping for an outfit for her.  Then the debate was whether to give it to her now, or wait until just before the party.  The motivator for the conversation was the fact that she had worn the pajamas that Anita had bought for Mother's day 24/7 for a week.  There's gratitude, and then there's Grandma H.  All in all, we had a lovely time.  Also had a chance to watch the chick-flick Mama-Mia with the gals.  Fun and goofy to the max.  What floors me is how many songs they actually shoehorned into the movie!
I have also placed our imminent garage sale on Kijiji for the  September long weekend.  it will be the Gramma of all garage sales. All the junk is basically weeded out already.  And monster cookies.  They are a Klassen garage sale tradition- we must sell cookies (and coffee- cookies are nothing without coffee- see above graphic)!!!
Now we need to list the place.
Rob showed me the stats- people are actually reading the blog- mental note: must write with some regularity.
Thanks for checking it out!

16 July 2008

Camping in a garage sale….

Rob and my best bud Barb Doiron worked like crazy while I was in BC, and now the entire house worth of stuff is in the living room, including the bed.  it sort of reminds me of a sleepover, but in you crazy aunt's attic, filled to the rafters with stuff. It's actually not bad, and it hasn't driven me crazy yet.
I can see clearly now, my astigmatism's gone.... Apparently, I now have 20/20 vision, as does Rob. However, I keep reaching for my glasses in the morning(which aren't there), or thinking that I've forgot them somewhere and I had better find them.  I wonder how long that will take to wear off, since I've worn glasses since grade one. we had our surgeries done at LasikMD (  It was much less traumatic than I expected, seeing as they're almost slicing your cornea off, and then resurfacing it with burning lasers. Hooray for Ativan!!!! It's actually kind of cool, the glasses are collected as the patients leave surgery, and then donated to relief organizations that help people who otherwise have no access to an optometrist, or couldn't afford glasses, even if they could get someone to check their eyes.  So hopefully my old glasses will help someone else!
Rob and I had the chance to have coffee with a couple from Beulah Alliance that had lived a year in Ipswich, about 1/2 hour out of Brisbane.  Thanks Trix and Jake!!!  The biggest thing I take away from the information: It DOES actually get cold!  Trix had wished she had brought her gloves along!  Mmmmkay.  don't ditch ALL the sweaters when we pack! They also had many recommendations of stuff to see and do, besides the obvious tourist stuff. Apparently they explored so much that they both lost a ton of weight!  So there's always hope for me!

14 July 2008

Weekends over

Well here it is Sunday night.  It's been a fairly productive few days.

Barb went to visit her new niece in BC this week (and her sister Julie and her husband Brian).  She flew down Sunday and back Friday. We've got a bunch of pictures up at the website

On Wednesday & Thursday,  Barbra Doiron came over and helped me clear out my study and move all the furniture in to the living room.  So now the bed is in the living room with sofas and chairs stacked around it.  Peter Martin is coming over later this week to pain the bedroom, study, bathroom & hallway.  Next week we get to then move all the furniture to the back of the condo.

On Saturday, Barb got her eyes burned out with lasers.   The Lasik surgery seems to have gone quite well.

I also have been able to get a few more pictures up on the website.  It's now after 10 and time to go to bed.

04 July 2008

Happy Canada Day (a day late)

Kathy and Barb chillin at the Greens
This past weekend we had a chance to visit our dear friends from CBC days, Jorin and Dorothy Green.  They are pretty much family!  Unfortunately, things went a little sideways while Kathy (their 5 year old, who has been diagnosed with leukemia) spiked a fever. In normal people, this isn't a serious thing. You go to bed, get some rest, and feel better tomorrow. But Kathy has no innate immune function, so even a cold could be fatal. She and her dad ran for Saskatoon's pediatric oncology department, and Rob and I took Michael and Dorothy home. We then drove the 9 hours back to Edmonton from Pambrun on the 1st of July. Please pray for this family. The whole story is at This site gets enough internet traffic to actually be rated!! Jorin very kindly offered to use the exposure to help advertise our condo for sale.
Ahhh.... yes. the condo. We are attempting to have it painted. This is NOT an easy thing while all your stuff is still in it. So all the paintings, curtains, etc have to come down, and we will be moving all the stuff from one side to the place and back again to accommodate the process.
Our Schro has successfully left the building, and the city. She is finding a new home in Calgary, if Scott can convince her to come out of hiding. I guess she's still in shock. I almost though I heard her meow this morning.
I guess this was our last Canada Day in Canada for a while. We did manage to have a pint of Molson Canadian in honour. It'll be funny to think that by next Canada Day, drinking the same thing will probably be an expensive import!

28 June 2008

Saskatchewan bound

Saturday morning we are heading to Pambrun, SK to visit Jorin & Dorothy.  We were planning to go down the May long weekend, but things just didn't workout that way.

Scott is taking Schro back to Calgary with him tommorrow.  It'll be wierd not having a cat around.   I sort of married into having an indoor cat, and we've had one for our whole married life.

Tonight we went to Hawrelak Park and had a weenie roast with Scott & Lisa.  Ate to  much and wandered around the lake.  Last night was "Iron Man" with Scott.

We haven't got much done in the way of packing the last few days.  I guess next week we'll really have to get our butts in gear.

Some of Barb's grad photos are up at

24 June 2008

So much to do…oo…ooo…….

Yup, we're moving.  So really, if you wanna condo, I'm your gal!

I graduated from the University of Alberta on June 9th.  Rob should be linking up some photos soon, if you want to see!
We are busy people at the moment: packing/sorting/storing/junking stuff as we prepare to sell our place (where DID all this stuff come from???)  We will also be saying goodbye to Schrodinger, our cat, next week, as a friend (Thanks, Scott!) has generously offered her a new home.  You would not believe the rigamarole that the Aussie gov't wants to put you and your unfortunate pet through to bring an animal into the country.  So, to save the $3000.00 and unspeakable grief to the cat (who must spend 24-36 hours in a sealed cage with her own waste!) We decided to leave her here. *Sniff* :(
The bank just approved our student line of credit (YAY!!!) and so I guess this is really happening.
If anyone knows a cheap way to ship small amounts of stuff, we'd love to hear about it.

Hello everybody.

Welcome to our blog.  Just got it up and running and now the typing begins.  For those who may not know, Barb got accepted to study medicine at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.  Her classes begin Jan 14, 2008, but we are planning to head down in about November.  In order to keep in touch with everybody, we have set up this blog and an accompanying website  (  The website is still a bit rough, but it will come together eventually.