Thursday, September 22, 2011

our R's are not their R's

I know this language, really. So why am I translating it as I hear it?

As I explained to people about my e-mails, you don't have to read the whole e-mail or post.  I tried to put the most interesting stuff at the top.

It's not the phrases below are that difficult to figure out or remember.   The problem is that it takes an extra mental step compared to familiar phrases.  By the time you remember, even quickly, you have displayed a quizzical look or automatically asked, "Pardon?"  It makes you feel disconnected and reminded that you are a foreigner (far-nor as Sarah reminds me how I say it).  But sometimes it is fun, as you listen to completely different slang as a person tells a story.  And you hope context clues fill in the gaps.

We are so interconnected through entertainment and the Internet that you might think things would converge.  Germans say das T-shirt.  But still things are different, as any trip to Rhode Island will shake you silly and remind you that our R's are not their R's.  Some of these are certainly present in England and elsewhere.

no worries = your welcome (like de nada in Spanish).  As an anxious person, I sometimes feel indicted by this. "What do you mean?  There are millions of worries!"
no queuing across the intersection = don't block the box
speed limit = the speed the vast majority of people actually drive, as opposed to 5 to 9+ over in the US. This is to say that I haven't been tailgated as I drove at the posted speed.  They could have mobile speed cameras anywhere, so it pays to have cruise control.  I don't.
napkin = serviette. A napkin in Australia is a product that is featured in exciting commercials containing only women who are worrying about or empowered about not worrying about a product only women need. Ask the school nurse.  This one is difficult to change because I had never before said the word, "serviette."  For a man to ask for a napkin must be a little disturbing, even if they figure out what I actually mean.

present your card (displayed on credit card machines)= swipe your credit card. It does not mean you should actually immediately present the card to the cashier for signature verification, as you very often do because our credit cards don't have PINs.  There is an awkward pause as they wait for you to swipe your card and you wait for them to accept your card as you hold it there.  It would be even more awkward to explain to them what is going on in my head. I am slowly getting this one down.
mind the gap = don't trip into the space between the train and the platform. short but sweet.
torch = flashlight. This is distracting because it makes me envision the townspeople with torches aflame searching for Frankenstein and his monster.
sweet as = very sweet, ie, "That's sweet as," is not an incomplete sentence. Thanks to Lindsey for informing of this is in advance, so we didn't stare at people, waiting to hear the rest of what they were saying,  "Sweet as what?"
entree = appetizer .  We met Australians who reported a big surprise in the US when their entrees turned out to be huge.  This one needs to be worked out.
main = main dish (what we would call an entree)
hash sign = pound sign (#) Where do you usually use this?  On the phone to a call center, of course.  And after you enter your account number on your touch tone keypad and press #, as in America you often get transferred to a courteous but heavily accented representative in India, who is suspiciously named Dave.

give way sign = yield sign
runout = clearance sale
way out sign = exit sign
kilojoules = a different way of measuring calories. I'm not sure how it works.  We say Diet Coke has zero calories; they say it has a few kilojoules (rounding, I guess). Lara says kJ/4 = Calories.
drink driving = drunk driving.  I have been stopped twice for a breathalyzer test in random check points
whinging = whining as mothers tell their children no whinging, pronouced win-jing.  Personally, I constructively and emotionally criticize my current situation - it's not whinging, or something.

RSL club = VFW with a lot of money funded by in-house gambling and liquor stores. These are a big business with huge clubs all over.
trolley = cart. This distracts me because I'm thinking about antique buses instead of saying yes, I need a cart for my luggage
the states = America.  It's just so awkward to say.  People are polite and ask if you are from here (so as not to say, "you aren't from around here, are you?"), but they have to know immediately from the accent that we are part of a different English-speaking country. So I don't know if I should say North Carolina, or America, or maybe even Washington, DC (my birthplace, which is a place people would actually know of).  One person responded, "North Carolina, that where WWE [wrestling] is from." Another recognized Duke University because a lot of Methodist Filipino ministers went there for seminary.  So you never know what people will be familiar with. But at home, I have never said, "here in the States...."  It's America or 'Mer-ka.

Oz = Australia.  It's in the blog, but still I have no experience saying that word this side of a house-smashed dead witch.
nappy = diaper  This term could be deemed racist in the US (remember that radio guy who got fired), so I'm glad I don't have kids. I would know what it means, but it could still feel uncomfortable.
tyre = spelling of tire.  No big deal, but why is this different?
kerb = spelling of curb

bell peppers = capsicums. Okay now it seems like they are just making stuff up.
raisins = sultanas
tomato sauce = ketchup.  You don't have to keep it in the fridge.
tax invoice = receipt
takeaway = takeout
tick = check mark
ground beef = beef mince
toilet=restroom. This is just a bit difficult because "toilet" in American conversation is certainly not vulgar, but it's not as polite as restroom or bathroom, which is what I usually ask for, and it confuses some people here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bridge Festival

This weekend we once again consulted our Fraser Coast Events website to see what was going on, and found a couple of events that looked promising.  There was a swap meet in one of the little burbs that we had seen before, which Daniel wanted to see and a festival celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Dickabram Bridge.  The swap meet was a bit underwhelming, but Daniel was excited to find a car stereo for sale.  I think I mentioned that the one in the car here was kaput, and Theresa said they'd pay for a new one if Daniel wanted to install it.  No radio can make our long car trips pretty boring, but like everything else here, all the stereos he's looked at are more than he thought was reasonable to spend.  He managed to get this one for $35, so he was pleased.  There wasn't much else to speak of, so we headed out to the sticks of Queensland.

The bridge festival was in Miva, which is known for it's bridge and for the old cattle station (what they call ranches).  We had to drive on some dirt and gravel roads to get there, but we finally made it to the festival.  There wasn't much out there, and without the ocean nearby, it got pretty hot with the sun beating down on you. Daniel and I had both worn flip flops and it was so dusty our feet were filthy by the end of it.  We much regretted not thinking to bring our sun hats, which it seemed everyone else remembered.

Here's a picture of the surroundings of Miva, so you can get an idea of what the country looks like:

It's very pretty, but not much out there.  Those bales I think were actually sugar cane stalks.  We finally got an up close picture of the sugar can fields, too.  They are much taller than I thought, as you can see with Daniel standing next to them:

The festival itself was focused more on the historic aspect than fun booths and vendors handing out free stuff (Daniel's favorite).  He commented that we are getting dangerously low on free pens.  I told him I just picked up 6 of them yesterday, and he said you need to have a least a dozen lying around.  They had instead blacksmith demonstrations, old engines, oil lamps, even several guys showing how to lay railroad tracks.  We got there late enough they had laid the tracks, but they were starting to tear it up again while we were there:

There was also a old machine for braiding ropes.  I thought this was sort of interesting.  They were braiding brightly colored ones to sell as souvenirs.  This is what the rope started out like, with several separate cords:


Then, on one side you turned a handle, while I guy went along with a thingie to keep it all straight.  Yeah, that's scientific, but they didn't say what it was called:

The other big entertainment was the live music, which happened to be a series of country musicians.  Daniel thought this was odd, but I explained that country music is big in Australia, too, and informed him that Keith Urban was Australian and Shania Twain was Canadian, so it's not just a US phenomenon.

We sat down near the river to eat a steak sandwich that the youth were selling, and someone came up and said hello to us.  He started with, "I don't know if you remember me. . ." I hadn't seen him before, so I thought he was probably confused.  I thought, "We don't know anybody."  But, in fact, Daniel did.  He was a friend of Richard's (our swapping partner) and neighbor in Hervey Bay, that helped Daniel with the lawn mower when it stopped working.  We got to meet his wife, as well, and explained that he was all the way out in Miva because he grew up here and was volunteering at the festival.  He was pretty surprised to see us, though.  He wanted to know how in the world we had heard about it.  After chatting with Ian, we went down to the river and the bridge they were all celebrating:

Daniel suggested we walk across, something I think he later regretted.  It has three lanes, one for cars, one for the railroad, and one for pedistrians.  You can see the three sections as Daniel walks down the railroad one:

You'll note that he is barefoot.  While this seems to be strangely common out in public here, he has not gone native.  He was wearing flip flops, and for some reason he does not trust them when walking on odd surfaces or driving.  Any time he is uncertain of his footing while wearing them, he just takes them off.  The boards were sort of wobbly in places, and there were large gaps between the planks were you could see the river.  I told him he was not in any danger of falling in, but was in great danger of getting a splinter or contracting tetanus from the rusty nails.  He informed me that he got his tetanus shot right before we left and wanted to get his money's worth, thank you very much.  Cars still drive over it, including us on the way out.  Daniel felt this sign should have been on both sides, not just at the end:

I have walked on much less sturdy structures and told him he was a city boy.  Here's good long arm shot of Daniel's of the two of us on the bridge:

After the festival we went to Gympie to look around.  Daniel couldn't stop laughing at the name.  It was a gold rush town, but now looks pretty much like any other town in the area.  It had the biggest mall we've seen in the area, and we had a look around there and picked up a few things at Aldi since it closes on 5pm on Saturday and we knew we wouldn't get back to HB in time before ours closed.  It took us an hour and a half to get back.  

For those of you that have been praying for us to make some friends here, thank you.  I wanted to update you that we had our most social week yet.  We had church and small group as usual, but then Julie Ann from the Anglican church invited us for coffee on Thursday afternoon.  She also took this nice picture of us near the bay:  

On Friday night we had a couple from our Bible Study and their two kids over for dinner.  We ended up talking for hours as the kids fell asleep on our couch.  It was very interesting.  Paul works for the government, so he had all sorts of questions how things worked in the US, and was a wealth of information for all of our questions about the Australian way of doing things.  Rhonda brought over a fabulous cheesecake for us to eat for dessert.  I was so excited to meet someone besides me that makes their own cheesecakes.  She laughed and said that everyone makes there own cheesecake here.  They don't have near as many fast prepared foods in Oz, so cooking from scratch isn't the dying art form it is at home.  They also told us that our horror movie bird noises might actually be a gecko.  We also got another invite after church.  Katie, who I've mentioned before, who's on a working holiday from England is celebrating her birthday on Wednesday, so we are going to dinner with her and a few of her friends from work.  Another good week in Oz!  


On Tuesday we went to explore Maryborough, the biggest town in the area besides Hervey Bay.  It's known for its Colonial Architecture and as the birthplace of Pamela Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books.  There are books you say?  Yeah, I thought it was just the movie, but apparently first it was a whole series of books.  Maryborough is named for the Mary River, not the famous nanny, but I would guess Travers might have picked the name as a nod to her hometown.  In fact, that's not her real name, but a pen name made up of  parts of her father and mother's and her name.  The city even has a Mary Poppins festival every year, and of course this statue that Daniel posed with:

We went on a walking tour to see the historical buildings, but I admit after awhile all the old stuff started to blur together and it involved reading lots of factoids which was too much like reading all the little plaques at a museum.  I ended up just looking around the town and at shops and things.  It started at City Hall, which for some reason is not based on Aussie colonial architecture, but a nod to American colonial architecture, which is why it reminded me of Williamsburg, I guess.

We wound around what turned out to be a pretty sleepy town, eventually ending up at the river for which it is named:

My favorite structure turned out to not be colonial or Australian.  It was a bandstand that was a memorial bought by a sister to honor her fallen brother (a soldier in WWII, I believe, but again I was skimming the factoids at this point).  An agent found it for her in Glasgow, Scotland, and thought it would be a fitting memorial, so it was shipped and reassembled here.  I would have sworn it was Aussie, because they have so much ironwork in those colors even all over the place.  Here it is and a close up of the top:

I've been pretty good and not put all the pictures of birds and flowers I've taken on the blog, but the spring flowers are out right now, and there were several pretty ones in Maryborough.  Many of these are only in tropical areas, so I thought maybe you'd forgive me posting them since you might not have seen them before.

Bird of Paradise (I have seen these other places)

Hong Kong Orchid Tree

Yellow Trumpet Tree


While I found the flowers captivating, Daniel found something that caught his eye, too.  Hopefully, by now most of you know the Three Wolf Moon joke since it's made the rounds via email and facebook.  Daniel found one better at the Maryborough mall, a four wolf moon shirt:

The real prize of the trip, though, was the second hand food processor I found at the St. Vincent thrift store there for $20.  My cooking is so much easier now!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Big Weekend

We are starting to actually feel a bit more like locals and like we have a bit of a routine going.  We went to Bible Study again on Wednesday and there was a new person, so we got to feel like the old timers.  We also found out about a camping trip in October that some people from the Bible Study are going on, so we might join them for that.  Church seems like old hat now that we've been three times.  I'm even starting to remember some of the liturgy.

On Friday we finally fired up the barbie.  The ignition switch was broken, so we had to remember to buy a lighter in town before we could get it going.  For it's inaugural run, we cooked kangaroo--which I felt was very appropriate.  Here's me grilling while drinking the Lemon Lime and Bitters we got at Bundaberg soda.  I wasn't sure how we could get any more Aussie than that.  For those of you who haven't eaten roo, it tastes just like steak to me.  Daniel says it tastes leaner, which it is.

Saturday we actually got ourselves out of bed at a reasonable hour and went the the Rotary Big Weekend.  It's a two day festival with entertainment, classic cars, local vendors, arts and crafts, food stalls, even the BMX club doing demonstrations.  I was surprised to see that the BMX club was about 85% girls.  We even saw part of a netball game.  Daniel did some research on the sport, and might post his findings later.

My favorite part was probably the petting zoo.  It was supposed to be for kids, but I so no reason I shouldn't go in and join the fun.  The owner picked out particularly soft friendly animals, and they were almost all babies.  There were alpacas, lambs, a couple different kinds of goats, chickens, ducks, a calf, and even a piglet that had a red bow around it's neck.  I tried to convince a couple kids to pet his snout, but they were a little too nervous.  Daniel tried to make friends with the alpacas:

They had the most ridiculous chickens I've ever seen called Silkies.  They were so soft, though:

I had to post this pic of the adorable 2 week old goat, too.  It made me want goats again.

We enjoyed looking at all the campers and Daniel spent some time doing cost analysis of solar panels.  The classic cars were mostly all old American cars.  I had to laugh at the I-ROC though.  That didn't really seem like a classic to me.  Finally, Daniel spied what was probably his favorite part of the festival:  the stall selling German Sausages.  They had real brats with German mustard and kraut on crusty rolls.  He was in heaven, although didn't think the guy put enough kraut on.  When asked how much he wanted, Daniel said, "As much as humanly possible."

I really enjoyed the inside, too.  There were a bunch of quilts, and I had a long conversation with a woman who did lampwork beads.  I'm actually going to go visit her and her husband, who does metal working.  We might do a swap of knowledge.  I've wanted to learn lampwork for awhile, and she was curious about enameling.  I also found a craft store while Daniel was watching the netball game.  They do scrapbooking and card making sessions that are pretty popular, so I might try one of those in the near future, too.  We even took in a fashion show put on by the local boutique Banana Benders (a nickname for people from Queensland).  I would like to point out that Daniel was the one that made note of the fashion show time and made sure we went.  

Afterwards I walked a bit and went into a store here called BCF, Boating, Camping, Fishing.  I thought our friend Brett would probably have a stroke in there he'd be so overcome with excitement.  I nearly had a stroke when we got home and then I had my first stick shift lesson driving on the other side of the road.  Actually, it wasn't near as bad as I thought it would be.  I didn't have any trouble remembering to be on the left side.  Downshifting was more trouble.  I actually think the stick shift on the Kia is a bit easier than on Daniel's Saturn.  Daniel headed out to catch the sunset while I cooked dinner.  The ocean view back behind the house is such that the sun sets in this fiery ball right into the water each night.  Living on the East Coast, we are not used to being able to see the sun set over the ocean.  He got a good pic:

This morning we got up an unbelievable two mornings in a row to go to the local market.  It's sort of a farmer's market and flea market combined, so it was pretty big.  I had to rush around and get all my veg before people closed up.  I was pleased to find the first real bargins I've found in Australia.  Usually every thing is more expensive, but I actually think I got more for less money than I would have in the States today. For $23 I got all of this:

That's a pumpkin (a sort of squash), a pound of green beans, 3 English cucumbers, a turnip, 5 courgettes (zucchini), 4 red capsicums (bell peppers), a bag of avocados, a tub of Aussie honey fresh from the hive, and a flat of strawberries.  I particularly liked the mutant strawberries you can see in this pic:

We took a good Sunday afternoon nap, went to church, and then even discovered a new place to eat we like called Noodle Box.  I got Singapore noodles, my favorite dish at the now defunct Pao Lim in Durham.  Whew, we're pooped.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bundaberg-Sweet As!

First I should probably explain the "sweet as!"  It's an Aussie expression of something good, short for sweet as sugar, but they usually just say the sweet as, and all run together so it sounds like one word.  North of Hervey Bay about an hour is the "big city" of Bundaberg.  It is still considerably smaller than Durham (about 70,000) and, of course, is shortened to "Bundy."  The Aussies certainly like their long "e" sound.  Most of the surrounding area is sugar cane fields.  I took a picture while we were driving of the fields and a truck hauling the harvested stalks.  Sorry for the blurry nature, but it was the best I could in the car.  As a former farm girl, agricultural workings still fascinate me and I had never seen sugar cane before.

Sugar is Australian's second largest agricultural export, although really it's sort of a four way tie for first with cotton, sugar, wool, and wheat.  Beef and Lamb are lower down only because they consume a lot of it in country before exporting.  All but 6% of the sugar is grown in Queensland.  Not surprisingly, Bundaberg is the home of Bundaberg Sugar, a factory that was releasing large amounts of steam:

We were already well acquainted with the Bundaberg Sugar product line as it is all over the grocery stores in Australia and is known for it's bright yellow packaging:  

We didn't tour the mill, but we did get plenty of touring of the other businesses that make use of all of Bundy's nearby sugar.  First stop was Bundaberg Rum, THE rum of Oz.  Every home I've been in so far has a bottle hanging around.  At the front of the distillery is the legendary giant rum bottle:

We were hoping to tour the distillery, as I had found the Jack Daniel's tour in Tennessee fascinating even if I don't like the product.  Most distilleries, wineries, and breweries I have been to have free tours because they want you to buy the product.  I can occasionally be snookered into buying a bottle of wine, but usually I don't like the product and it's fun cheap entertainment to tour the places.  It's a combination of both food and agriculture, which clearly both are interesting to me.  Well, the Bundy Rum tour was $25 a pop.  I was not that interested.  I did buy a piece of rum fudge, though, which was quite tasty and somewhat similar to Kentucky Bourbon Balls I have tried in Lexington.  We decided if we were going to pay for a brewing tour, we would instead spring for the Bundaberg Barrel, home of home brewed sodas, most famously their Ginger Beer.  Thirteen flavors of soda made with real sugar instead of corn syrup we could get behind.  Besides, the building was just fun:


Inside they had a very kid friendly and slightly corny exhibit on how they make ginger beer in particular.  I had discovered from Trigger actually right before we left that you can brew ginger beer at home pretty easily as it is just water, ginger, sugar, lemon juice, and yeast left to ferment for while.  The fermentation gives it the carbonation, and as long as you don't let it sit too long, the alcohol it produces is fairly minimal.  Again, this makes Bundaberg a great spot for a ginger beer maker.   In addition to sugar cane, they grow a lot of citrus in the area, and actually ginger, too.  It also has the Bundaberg River, a good source of fresh water in what is the world's driest inhabited country.  For those who would like to learn a little less, and just like to see some fun pictures, I included a picture of me making bubbles in an exhibit about how the yeast works in ginger beer:

At the end of all the educational stuff, you got to try every flavor they make which included everything from Peachee (there's that "e" again) to Gauva flavored soda.  Our favorites were the Sarsaparilla (root beer), Burgandee Creaming Soda (a red cream soda), and the Lemon Lime and Bitters (Lemon juice, lime juice, bitters--from bark, and clove).  I was really surprised that I liked the last one.  They came in fun bottles:   

Lest you think that the sugar only goes in beverages around there, on the way home, we stopped at Mammino Gourmet Ice Cream in Childers on the way home.  They combine the sugar with the plentiful dairy from all those cows and macadamia nuts, which are also grown in Queensland.  They make a very creamy dense ice cream that showcases the macadamias.  Daniel got the vanilla macadamia and I got the chocolate macadamia.  They were very yummy.  As you can see, it was consumed with enthusiasm.

Afterwards we went home and lapsed into a sugar coma.   Yeah, Bundaberg!  We intend to return sometime in November as the beach there is also home to sea turtles and they give night tours on the beach during hatching season.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Touring the 'burbs

Once we arrived in Hervey Bay we discovered that it doesn't really exist.  No one actually lives in Hervey Bay.    I'm not sure whether the way Australia is divided up was because of the postal service, or what, but it is interesting.  Australia is divided into all these little suburbs (that's what they call them, but don't envision US burbs).  If you are in a dense area the suburb can only be a few kilometers square.  If you are in the country, sometimes they are larger areas.  The city of Hervey Bay is actually made up of over a dozen suburbs even though it only has about 30,000 people.  When people ask where you are from in other parts of Australia or even just the next town over they say Hervey Bay, or sometimes just The Bay.  It's only if you actually live in Hervey Bay that someone wants to know your suburb, but it's really just asking, "So what part of town do you live in?"  So while everyone will tell you they live in HB, their mailing address will be Point Vernon (our burb) or Scarness or Piabla, etc.  Katie suggested this would be sort of like saying you live in your county, but it's still not quite the same, but probably the best analogy.

Once discovering this tidbit, we decided to take a day and visit most of the suburbs of the Bay.  Here's a map so you can get a better idea of what I'm trying to describe:

Hopefully you can still read some of the tiny print.  You'll notice that the biggest type says Hervey Bay, and this picture is pretty much all HB.  We live in Point Vernon, which is the the leftmost peninsula that juts out into the water.  The rightmost peninsula is Urangan.  The suburbs stretch from Burrum Heads (top left corner) to River Heads (bottom right).  I tried to zoom in enough you can get an idea of how many suburbs there were, but they still don't list all of them.  I'd have to zoom in even more, and then the print would be even tinier.  

We went north first, and stopped in the happening (sarcastic) town of Toogoom.  It turned out to be pretty typical of most of the suburbs.  There was a park, a fish and chips takeaway, and a boat ramp.  Still, it was pretty.  

We continued north through lots of cows grazing by the ocean, which is still bizarre to us.  If you are near the ocean, there should be hotels and high rise condos, not livestock.  Burrum Heads was the biggest town north of Point Vernon and boasted a small grocery store, bakery, fish and chips takeaway, and even a couple of shops.  We stopped for some caffeine, and then drove back south.  Most of the town is located in the burbs Pialba, Scarness, Torquay, and Urangan.  The first three I just listed we had already explored pretty extensively since that's where all the grocery stores, restaurants, and good beach parks are located.  We hadn't gotten as far as Urangan yet though.  They are famous for their pier, which stretches a full kilometer into the bay.  We walked the length of it even though it was rather windy.  

The Bay is interesting in that it is full of sandbars--very large ones.  Some of the beaches you can go straight to the water, but many of them you have to navigate through the sandbars.  Here's an example of a particularly long one along the pier.

After the pier we got back in the car and went all the way down to River Heads where you can take the barge to Fraser Island.  It also was not a big town, mostly just the jumping off point to Fraser.  Fraser is so close there, you feel like you could just swim over.  Here it is:

It is not advisable to swim, however.  That's actually putting it mildly.  While swimming in the bay by where we live is perfectly safe, Fraser is surrounded by crocodiles, box jellyfish (the kind that if they don't kill you, you continue to scream even while unconscious), and if that were not enough, the side of Fraser that faces the ocean instead of the bay is also shark infested.  The only swimming on Fraser is in the lakes or resort pools.  

After River Heads, we went back to Urangan because they were having a "Rock the Marina" event where there were supposed to be market stalls, a jumping castle, and live music.  The local paper pumped it as a spectacular event the the community was rallying behind.  Apparently the community did not get the memo.  We found no music, 8 stalls selling crap, and I don't think they were allowing adults in the jumping castle, which was the one thing that interested me.  So we went snorkeling instead.  See:

Just kidding.  I'll show you the wider shot here, and you'll be able to tell I'm lying.  

Unless Australia has installed poker machines in the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef, that is.  We were investigating the Boat Club, which happened to be on the marina and had a lovely fish tank.  Our host had suggested it to us for good dining and live music.  They have lots of clubs here.  The RSL (veterans based), Golf Clubs, Bowling Clubs, we even went to one in South Australia called the Working Man's Club.  They all have a couple of things in common:  a room dedicated to gambling and reasonably priced food.  They are all generally open to visitors.  It's not like Vegas or Reno, though, with their giant sprawling casinos.  It's one room that if you don't go into, you might not know that it is there as it doesn't generate a lot of noise.  It would seem to me that a lot more people come to take advantage of the food.  We weren't there to eat this time, though, so we headed back home.

Other than this little trip we haven't done much in the past week.  Our internet went out, so we spent a bit of energy trying to get that fixed.  We did go to the Baptist small group on Wednesday, which we we enjoyed a lot.  The study was good, and the people were very friendly.  It was a wonderful mix of singles, married with and without kids, and even a good age range.  We also met a woman at the Anglican church this week from the UK that is visiting for 6 weeks.  We invited her to join us at McDonald's after the service for dinner, so we had a nice long chat with her and exchanged emails so hopefully we can hang out again.  

This week we hope to explore the cities of Maryborough and Bundaberg, both about 45 minutes away.  I also finally found a couple of tents in the carport, and are airing them out.  We might use them to explore some of the national parks within a couple hours drive of here.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Is that sound coming from inside the house?

Hervey Bay. Australia.  By the beach.

It's a beautiful living room with a large TV with 50 channels (that's the Australian version of a lot of channels) (1)
Out one set of windows is the ocean view.
On the other wall is the stove, fridge, and pantry.

A relaxing place.

Every few hours, a shriek comes from this wall.  Like a loud, shrill, punctuated scream from a squirrel or a dolphin who found a brick of cocaine that fell off a smuggler's ship.

Which side of the wall is it on?  Is it in the middle?  Is it making its way in like a raccoon?
What do you do if such a shrieking animal finds its way in?

We had a squirrel eat its way through the screen door in Chicago.   I guided it with a broom back to the door.
We only have a push broom here.  I don't think that it is going to work.

In an Adelaide magazine, a college student described how a friend's house had a stench to it while his own had no smell.  He eventually realized that he was accustomed to his own family's "stench" and even the "stench" of his hometown (3).

Back in America, we are accustomed to the strange noises of Durham.  In South Durham , we lived on the very edge of the city.  Walk across the road, and you are in the county. Walk a few minutes further, and you are in Lake Jordan game preserve lands, where hunting is allowed.  So you hear gun shots every once in a while.  You get used to it.

These new Australian noises can be unnerving when you are not used to them.

So the push broom sits in the corner, ready for defensive action.  But then it falls on the floor, creating another hair-rising sound.

After a couple of weeks, we have gotten a little used to the many birds.  However, there is still of them are horror movie birds.

There are certain sounds before people die in a horror B-movie on late night basic cable.  Someone saying, "Let's split up."  The empty sound of a deserted house or forest.
Then very often, the caterwauling, laugh-like shriek of some bird that is everywhere but nowhere.  You never see the sources of the warning sounds.  But you know what is going to happen next.

Someone is going to die. Pass the popcorn.

Here in Australia, I don't think I am going to die, but the sound still brings on an uneasy state of mind. Sounds evoke feelings, like when hearing a song meaningful to a romance.  The words or melody don't have to be any good per se - they just evoke a feeling.  We saw the Spice Girls movie on our honeymoon (it was raining a lot, so the beach didn't work), so hearing a bad song from the Spice Girls can still make me happy.  Speaking of shrieking noises, the Australian bird noise puts me in a place of elevated tension.  

But some day the lion will lie down with the lamb.
I hope to identify and approach the caterwauler. Then he will alight on my hand and sing his shrieking song.  Instead on feeling unease, I will smile, thinking of our proximity to the beach.   And Lara will throw some extra poultry on the barbie (4).

(1) There's still nothing on (2).
(2) Except Conan, which comes on channel 80 a few nights a week.  Craig Ferguson is not too bad either.  He hosts the late late show in America (after Letterman), but here he is on earlier than Letterman or Conan.  And some subtitled foreign films. And some American sitcoms.  Okay, maybe there are a few things.
(3) Of Adelaide, he said it "is not the place to spend the springtime of one's existence".  Hey, we liked it.
(4) Or tofurkey if that works better for your sensibilities, but I think it distracts a little from the story.  There's no sound coming from soy.  Peace and love, regardless. And a shout out to the whole world.