Sunday, 27 April 2014

Sunday Morning Pina Coladas

This Sunday morning just seemed to say "Pina Coladas".  Maybe it's been the spectacular weather we've been having, the Frangiapani and Hibiscus still blooming wildly in this unusually warm Perth Fall.  Or maybe it's the plethora of tropical fruits available in this part of the world.  Whatever the reason, this morning just seemed right for a Pina Colada (virgin 'course).

We started by hacking into a young green coconut.  J's has been drinking them frequently.  We have an outdoor method now following several early efforts resulting in woody coconut bits flying everywhere.  Next pour the coconut milk into a jug before scooping out the ripe flesh.

Next mash the flesh with some of the coconut milk and unsweetened pineapple juice.

Finally, blend with the rest of the coconut milk, more unsweetened pineapple juice, a Western Australia banana (tiny and super sweet), passionfruit yogurt, and ice (the lego-shaped pieces work particularly well).

Add straws, sit in the sun, and dream of summer.

Yep, that's how we roll in Western Australia.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Perth - Week 1

Technically, it's week 2, about 10 days into this move but it has been a bit of a blur.  We are now about 80% unpacked and settled but this last 20% may take awhile, since it includes unpacking around 8,000 books, 9,000 MORE toys, finding and purchasing an outdoor dining table, a barbeque, and a living room sofa (sitting on the floor to type whilst charging my computing is getting soooo old), and fixing everything that has decided not to work in the new house.  The good news is that the few sticks of rental furniture have been collected so now I can actually reach the 7,000 remaining boxes.

Nothing says "Welcome to Perth" quite like a Shingle-Back Lizard the size of my arm, sunning himself on our steps!
In all seriousness, it has been as positive a first week as I could have hoped for.  J's first two days of the final week of Term 1 school passed really well.  He was such a trouper and it has paid dividends.  Do you remember from my last post that our next door neighbour/Vice-Principal introduced J to another boy in his year who had recently returned from  3 years in Calgary.  They seem to have hit it off and through his father, born in Kingston, Ontario (just like Murphy), J joined a week-long sailing school, albeit reluctantly.  However, off he has gone for 3 hours every day this week to the gorgeous little sailing club down the road - yes, they have gorgeous little sailing clubs down the road in Perth - and has LOVED it.  Apparently, if all goes to plan, they will each be indivually sailing in their little boats the breadth of the Swan River on Friday - SERIOUSLY???

He has been playing with the other kids at the club, and today spent the afternoon at 3-years-in-Calgary boy's house.  I'd say those two school days paid off!  The other significant dividend is no anxiety over this two-week school break before the start of Term 2.

Did I mention J's sailing instructor is French?

I have met two of J's sailing club/school mates' mums this week and we've had a couple of good chats, especially with 3-years-in-Calgary boy's mum so am looking forward to building on that.  In the meantime, I am e-mailing and texting my supportive Melbourne peeps and even had an evening at the beach and fish & chips back at our house with one Melbourne family who were holidaying in Perth.  That felt good.

Cottesloe Beach one fine evening

One handsome boy, one fine beach!

Sunset at Cottesloe

Selfie of us 3

 After several days of 30c+ days, it dropped back to mid-20s and, frankly, it was a nice break to fling the doors open all day, especially with furniture removalists, refrigerator delivery men and other maintenance people in and out all day.  Murphy thought we were moving again and tried several runners but I am on to her wily ways now.

J and across-the-street-boy with "River" the young Black Swam who befriended us on a walk along a stretch of the Swan River

"River" loved the wild grasses the boys fed him
One more day then C2 is off for 10 days.  Ten days of breaking the back of the final bit of unpacking, a little exploring of our new region, a little sleeping-in, and little cooking together and drinking wine...maybe even fit in a bit of binge-watching of "Orange is the New Black".  Can't come fast enough!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming....

We ended our glorious 3 and a half years in Melbourne with a fine weekend send-off.  Friday night, we spent with my most recent but instant great friends Katrina and Warwick and our mutual Franco-Australian friends, Caroline and Thierry for a superb gastronomic feast, many laughs, and much warmth.  I hope our friendship will continue, it is already cemented but under different circumstances it would continue to blossom organically; another price to pay for this nomadic life of ours.

Caroline, Thierry, me and Katrina


Losing this gang is part of the price of being nomadic

Thanks Caroline and Thierry for the French wine!

Saturday was a bit of a blur.  We checked out of our sweet temporary accommodations late morning, and J and I drove C2 and Murphy to the airport.  We found Qantas cargo and got Murphy sorted, J and I in tears for most of it, C2 doing his best 'in charge' gig.  Then J and I sent C2 on his way and with hearts in throats, we drove to Kerry and Andrew's for the rest of the weekend.  It was just what we needed, open arms, open hearts, and a collective whoop of relief when several hours later, C2 sent a text with a picture of him loading a happy and healthy Murphy into the rental car in Perth.

Early the next day, Kerry and Z (J's great mate) drove us to the airport where with tears in eyes and lumps in throats, we hugged and went our separate ways.  A few hours later, C2 picked us up in Perth.   We went to our new house but it seemed empty, our new neighbourhood with its majestic views beautiful but meaningless.  J and I both felt bereft.

However, by the next day, things began to improve, the movers arrived earlier than expected and a 18-hour crazy day left us surrounded by our things, in our own beds, utterly exhausted body and soul, but delighting in our small community of neighbours racing each other to say hello,  to chat, to give us warm scones with butter and jam, and to extend welcome.  Somehow, J's new deputy Principal is our next door neighbour.  Somehow, there is another 10-year old boy living across the street, somehow, we can take Murphy off-leash from our house to the adjacent park.  We spotted this gorgeous pair on a recent stroll.

Rainbow Lorikeets
In the few days that have subsequently passed and following C2 tireless pace, we are about 70% unpacked and setup.  Murphy is loving exploring and roaming and keeps making 'runners' from the back of the house to the grass in the front of the house.  Note to self: this weekend buy a doggie gate!   J started school this morning and was an utter trooper.  The neighbour/deputy Principal escorted him to class and during the day introduced him to another boy who lived for a time in Calgary where J was born.  What are the odds?  When C2 and I collected him at the end of the day, we scrutinized his face for signs of distress but all was well.  Queue second collective whoop of relief!

So really all has gone remarkably smoothly during this move.  The leaving was painful but the logistics surprisingly painless.  The next few weeks will be consumed with the minutia of moving.  A hundred more boxes to unpack, all the little things to rebuild - doctors, dentists, piano teachers, tennis programs, organising programs at the Alliance Francaise, figuring out where everything is.  I remember when we moved to Melbourne that one of my earlier thoughts was wishing I could fast-forward 3 months where everything made sense.  I'm kinda there again.  On the other hand, the forecast is for 30c and sunny for the next several days.  The beach beckons...I guess the rest can wait a few more days.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Farewell Melbourne Part 2

I'm already missing:

1.  St. Kilda Road, this elegant, broad boulevard is reminiscent of Europe's finest.
2.  Chapel Street, its vibe, its music, its eateries, its crazy people weaving and yelling at no one in particular.
3.  Melbourne's alleys.  From Banksy-esque graffiti'd walls come the best cafes, pop-up shops, and overheard snippets of conversation.
4.  Melbourne's trains. "Next stop South Yarra, change here for the Belgrave line" in the poshest of voices.  No "G'day maties, get off 'ere for Belgrave too right!" here.
5.  High Street Armadale.  My third favorite high street.
6.  My peoples...still...

This past weekend, my generous friends Kelly and Kathy threw a farewell party for us.  I must say, as (1) I hate good-bye's and (2) I hate being the centre of anyone's attention, I was looking forward and dreading it at the same time.  I treasure the friendships I have made in Melbourne, but am better at telling them how much I treasure them one person at a time.

Still, all of our friends were there and it was a wonderful party, the kids played hard for about 6 hours.  Everyone's generosity of spirit was overwhelming, and I pretty much cried from start to finish.  It wasn't pretty.

How do you tell people that in the absence of family, they have filled that void without sounding maudlin?  How do you tell them how much they have enriched your lives without sounding disingenuous?  How do you tell them how desperately you will miss them without sounding pithy?  I couldn't, so I just cried.  Fortunately, C2 did a pretty good job.

 Emilie, Kerry and me....doing my best to keep it together

 Nick helps J with a water balloon

J's great pal and Ruby to his Kirk

 Mel, Kelly and Majella

 Patrick and Emilie

 Kathy, Olivia, me and Marie-Pierre

 With Brigette

 J and his one of his best mates

 With Severine and Stephane

 Mel starts the presentation.  I'm barely holding my composure....

Losing it....

Still losing it...

And....lost it!

 A handful of the kids


Patrick, Marco, Severine,  Majella, and Steph

Kerry and Mel and their gorgeous littlies

My beautiful yoga partner and friend Ursula, Em, and Patrick

Nothing says friendship like a good noogie!

Clearly I am holding forth with something utterly fascinating...well at least I'm not weeping and wailing!  
With Kerry, Jean-Marc, and Ursula