[Sunset over Glenelg Beach]

Sunset over Glenelg Beach (Glenelg, South Australia)

Australian Journal - March 2002

February 27-March 3, 2002 - Busy, busy: Tim went into the office on Monday, the 25th, dropping the girls off at Wilderness on the way (they had to show him the way to their classrooms, since Clara was in a new part of the school - then Lucy led him unerringly down to the Kindie area afterwards). Tuesday, his jet lag caught up with him, so he slept in, then went to Wilderness to pick up Lucy. They detoured to the Adelaide Zoo on the way home, and spent a couple hours wandering about, feeding the deer and sheep and having lunch. A highlight was watching the "Free Flight" of the Gold and Blue Macaws (the keepers let them out of their cages to fly about the zoo, visiting friends - every once in a while one of them "goes walkabout", but they always come home in the end.)

Wednesday night was another meeting of the EoZ scotch club, which Tim enjoyed in spite of his lingering cold. Thursday morning, Sandy went to the New Settlers group again, which she also enjoyed. Thursday evening, Clara got a surprise call from her best friend at Wilderness, Katarina, who invited her over for a sleepover. So, after school on Friday, Katarina's grandparents picked up Clara and Katarina, and took them home. Tim decided to come home a little early, so that Sandy, Lucy & Tim could go out to dinner, then into the city to visit Borders.

Saturday morning was hectic, since Sandy had to go pick up Clara by 9:15, Tim had a conference call with Seattle at 9 - and Sandy's two new bright red couches were arriving "sometime before 9." Everything worked out, and now we have a couch for reading and a couch for watching TV.

Something else that happened while Tim was away amused us greatly as well - the election for South Australian Premier occurred - and shades of the American Presidential election - a near-tie occurred! So, this week, while the Queen was visiting - she was introduced to TWO premieres - the current, "Caretaker" premiere Rob Kerin (who is holding on in the hopes that the state parliament will declare him the winner - and the premerie-in-waiting, Mike Rann, who was apparently elected, but is awaiting confirmation thereof.

One other interesting note - this has been officially declared the coldest summer on record in Adelaide (hot on the heels, so to speak, of the hottest summer on record last year!) We're not quite sure what to look forward to next summer!

March 4-9, 2002 - More trips: Sunday evening, Tim flew to Canberra for two days of work-related meetings. Sandy and the girls kept quite busy between school and other activities. A highlight of Clara's week was the visit by Helen Manthorpe to Clara's class. She is the author of a couple of children's books including Solo Bush Babies: Kangaroo. It so happens that when Tim made his first visit to Adelaide back in 2000, he brought back this very book for Clara! The story is about a little girl who lives next to a wildlife sanctuary and gets to take care of a baby kangaroo while the keeper is away. It turns out, the girl in the story was the author, and the story location was based on the Warrawong Sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills. When Ms. Manthorpe was talking to Clara's class, she told them that the kangaroo in the story still comes to visit her! Wednesday evening, Tim returned safely home, with a prize of 2 1/2 pounds of Starbucks coffee in hand. And the manager of one of the Starbucks stores in Canberra told him that Starbucks is in fact coming to Adelaide, to go into the Borders book store.

Thursday morning, Sandy was driving the girls to school, and while she was stopped at a red light, a bike rider pulled up beside her, tapped on the window, and told her that her left rear tire looked flat. Luckily, she was only a short distance from her usual petrol (gas) station, so she pulled in, and the mechanic on duty removed a large screw, repaired the hole, and they were on their way again. They made it in time for Clara's violin lesson and Lucy's excursion to the Botanical Gardens (adjacent to the Adelaide Zoo). At the gardens, Lucy and her class (plus the rest of the Wilderness Lower Junior School (Reception through Year 2) watched a performance of "Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men." This was part of the "Adelaide Fringe" festival, which is held concurrently with the Adelaide Festival every two years. Lucy drew a picture to commemorate the trip - her description was "This is me sitting on the mat. This is Bill and Ben the flowerpot men and Teresa Green." (Theresa Green was costumed as a tree; Bill and Ben were clowns who live in flowerpots.) From time to time, we notice that Lucy is still adjusting to the Aussie accent and vocabulary. She came home from the excursion telling us all about her trip to the "Titanic Gardens," and this week she also learned from one of her classmates that here panties are known as "knickers."

During the arts festival, Wilderness has also been hosting a group of Cambodian orphans who have come to do several dance performances around Adelaide. They have also been sharing information about their culture with the Wildy girls and put on special performance for them. Friday night, Tim & Sandy went to a pot luck dinner get-together with some of the Year 3 parents, as a "get to know each other" evening.

March 10-13, 2002 - This and that: Sunday, Clara had another in her continuing stream of birthday parties to attend - this one at the kiosk at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. Since it was a lovely day, and a weekend, the gardens were quite full and parking rather scarce, so Tim, Sandy and Lucy dropped Clara off, and then came to get her later.

Since Sandy had been accustomed to volunteering in the classroom before we moved, she talked to Clara's teacher about helping out here. It seems that it is not as common for parents to spend time in the classroom, and although Clara's teacher appreciated the offer, she really didn't seem to know what to have Sandy do. Then, just a week or so ago, she asked if Sandy would be able to do a needlework project with the girls. So Sandy has been searching pattern books for very simple designs, visiting needlework and craft stores for supplies, and stitching up a few samples. (All the while, Tim is growing ever more concerned that the taxes won't be done on time!) So this week, Sandy started out working with the girls in Clara's class in small groups of 4-6 at a time. The girls are all so excited to chose their design and their colors ---either a cat, a dog, a flower, or a heart. Sandy did find that getting them all started took a bit of doing and that even basic cross stitch provides many challenges for the typical seven or eight year old. However, sharing their enthusiasm and watching their eyes light up as they finished their first rows of stitching made it all seem worthwhile. Other girls in the class kept coming over to watch any chance they got, and one girl was so thrilled with her stitches that she told Sandy, "I'm going to tell my mom that I've just had the best day ever!" Another girl later in the week was having some bad luck with thread tangling and stitches in the wrong place, and Sandy worried that she might be getting discouraged, but when the girl saw Sandy after school, she came up and said, "I just love doing your cross stitches!" Quite a few girls even came to do more stitching with Sandy during their recess time. Now, we're trying to figure out just how many mornings it will take for all 20 girls to finish their projects...

We've been fortunate in the health department lately, although Lucy still has one very enlarged tonsil. At Wilderness, however, there has been quite an outbreak of chicken pox. Apparently some of the visiting Cambodian children picked it up and brought it along, and it spread to some of the boarding girls at Wilderness, and then to the rest of the population. Clara & Lucy have been vaccinated, but Allanah, the other American girl in Year 3 has come down with a case. In addition, over the weekend, Tim took Lucy for a bike ride around the neighborhood, and they stopped to talk to our German neighbor next door. Hermann told Tim that he had just brought Marianne home from the hospital--she had broken her hip (just turned 80 in December). So Sandy made another lemon cake (same recipe that worked so well for the Friday night Year 3 parents get together) and took some over to them.

The highpoint of Lucy's week has been the arrival of a dozen "ready to hatch" eggs in the Kindy classroom. The first one was starting to hatch (a crack appeared) Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday was calculated to be "hatching day." Wednesday is generally Lucy's day off, but she was desperate to be there when they hatched. Her teachers said she has been one of the most avid watchers, and has been extremely interested in the process - and that she was welcome to come on Wednesday to be there for the first hatchings. So, on Wednesday, three of the chicks hatched. Names are drawn from a hat for kids who are given the privilege of naming the chicks. The first three ended up being called Barbie, Briar Rose, and Yolk. Wednesday is also the day an outside music teacher comes to Kindy, and Lucy so enjoyed that that she talked about nothing else all afternoon - so we may be changing her day off to some other day!

As we go about all of our school activities, work, and errands, we have been delighting in the beautiful sunny weather and mild temperatures. However, it is going to warm up again by the end of this week. One other observation Tim made this week was a truck labeled "Vinnies", which he at first thought was for an Italian shop - but it turned out to be operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul - just another of the Aussie standard abbreviations (as at Christmas time, when the posters go up saying "Help the Salvos" - meaning "Help the Salvation Army.")

March 14-20, 2002 - Scotch and Cross Stitching: Sandy continued working with the girls in Year 3 this week, and they continued to have a great time. Since Sandy has been spending so much time at school, she got to hear the Year 3 girls playing their recorders together outside, and was quite impressed with the progress they've made in just a few weeks. Thursday, down at Kindie, five more chicks hatched, to Lucy's delight. By the end of the week, 9 out of 10 eggs had hatched. The kindies had all made guesses in advance as to how many of the 10 eggs would hatch. The largest group, including Lucy, guessed that all 10 would hatch - but some were extreme pessimists, predicting only 1 or 2 would make it!

Saturday, Tim hosted another scotch tasting, attended by five other friends. They tasted nine different scotches from the Glenfarclas distillery. They tasted the scotches "blind" (i.e., Sandy poured samples of each scotch into a plain bottle, marked only by a letter A, B, C, etc.) Then, after everyone had tasted and discussed the scotches for about 1 1/2 hours, the true identities were revealed. It turned out that the highest rated scotch was the 1961 bottling Clara gave Tim for Christmas.

This past weekend was the culmination of the Adelaide Fringe Festival and the Clipsal 500 road race through town. Traffic has been relatively bad (for Adelaide) through town, as several streets were closed off, both to make space for the festivals, and to allow setting up of the race course. Part of the festivities involved aerobatic displays over town, including low passes by jets. We had a good view (and hearing!) of a RAAF F/A 18 hornet which made several high speed, low altitude passes over Glenunga while it went about its routine! Tim, Clara & Lucy went to their favorite Adventure Park on Sunday morning, and had a good view of the aerobatics by the Australian Defence Force Roulettes, flying in six PC9 Pilatus turbo-prop aircraft. Interestingly, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority banned performances by civilian pilots (even those which had appeared last year) due to concerns of safety over a built-up area - but, since the Australian Defence Force is not subject to civilian authority in this case, they could go ahead with their portion of the show...

Tuesday Sandy cross stitched with the Clara's class in the morning, and then in the afternoon she accompanied Lucy's class on another excursion--this time to a special children's performance by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. It was such a treat to see the eyes of all these four and five year olds grow wide when the instruments started to play and the sound filled the room. It was also obvious that the musicians were having a great deal of fun introducing their instruments to the children and sharing their beautiful music. Lucy especially loved the sound of the violins, but couldn't help but commenting that the musicians in the orchestra played better than Clara! After the performance, the children and the chaperones all took a short walk down the street and had ice cream sundaes--a lovely way to end a very special afternoon.

Wednesday was "twilight evening" at Wilderness. This is a day when the girls in Reception and higher start school at 2:30 pm (instead of the usual 8:30 am) and go until 7:00 pm. This is so the public can visit to "see the school in action", and also so parents can see part or all of a "typical day." At the same time, there were information booths to provide more information for interested people, and a "sausage sizzle" to raise funds for the Parents and Friends association (like the PTA in the states). The last half hour of the day for the Year 3 girls was to visit the Year 6 classroom, and listen to the Year 6 girls read stories they had written for the occasion.

March 21-24, 2002 - Indian Summer: We've had another week of cooler days, warming up to more summer temperatures for the weekend (mid-30s C - that's mid 90s F). Friday, we decided that Lucy had been clearing her throat more frequently, coughing at night, and making enough noise breathing that we should take her back to her doctor. He said that one tonsil is bigger than any he has ever seen in a child her age, and he is of the opinion that a tonsillectomy is warranted. So, he has referred us to an ear, nose and throat specialist whom we will see on Wednesday. Since Sandy and Lucy had to go to the doctor, Sandy couldn't do her morning cross-stitching with the Year 3 girls at Wilderness - and they were so disappointed, the Year 3 teacher sent squads of girls off to search for enough needles at various places in the school - and they tackled the cross-stiching on their own!

One of the things we've been meaning to mention are the Australian shopping carts. We don't know if this is universal, or merely peculiar to the stores we frequent (mostly Coles and Foodland) - but the shopping carts tend to have "all wheel steering." The carts we are used to in the states have front wheels that swivel but the rear wheels are fixed (like your average car or wagon). Here, all four wheels can swivel. Now, that allows you to maneuver more - but you also have to be careful not to fishtail around a corner and wipe out a display - or another shopper! Just another interesting difference from the states.

Friday evening, we ate out at one of the local Fasta Pasta restaurants. They are a chain of "medium-fast food" restaurants which started in Adelaide, and spread across Australia. They feature their own fresh pasta, which is cooked and delivered very quickly (unless someone at the table orders some of the non-pasta items on the menu, such as chicken parmesan or pizza!) The girls love it - both for the food (including the gelati cone for dessert) and for the speed of service! Afterwards, we headed up to Waterfall Gully, which is only a few minutes from our house, but which we've never visited - unfortunately, the park closed at 6 pm, so all we could do was take a quick look at the falls from the parking lot, and make a mental note to return again soon. Click here for an official picture.

Saturday, we had dinner with our neighbors Dave & Tene who had thrown the driveway party while Tim was in the states. Dave works for Qantas (up until recently, he had worked for Ansett.) Ansett had been having severe difficulties (essentially in bankruptcy) before September 11, and effectively stopped flying the week of September 11. The bankruptcy administrators have been trying to keep some aircraft flying, and trying to find buyers, but that finally fell through in the last couple weeks, and the assets are being sold off. That leaves Australian air travel as essentially a one carrier game - although there are several small "regional" airlines, plus Richard Branson's Virgin Blue. Virgin Blue had been giving Qantas and Ansett a run for their money in some Australian markets, but they have a very limited level of service compared to Qantas and Ansett, which were committed to serving rural as well as urban Australia.

Tene was telling us about how lucky we were to be in a new house, since we don't suffer from a lot of the pests which cause problems in old houses. For instance, possums are a problem - they go up the "stobies*" (i.e. electrical/telephone poles) at the street (which, by the way, are made of concrete cast between a pair of steel I-beams, rather than from wood), then walk across the wires to the house. Once there, they dig around on the roof, and can even disrupt the ceramic / clay tiles (and these are large, heavy tiles) enough to sneak inside, where they cause even more problems. She had barely finished telling us about it, when a possum appeared on the wires about 15 feet behind Dave's head, scurrying toward the house! However, our voices made it pause, and eventually it turned around and headed back. Possums are a protected species, and therefore controlling them is difficult.

* "Stobies" or "Stobie Poles" are named after J. C. Stobie, design engineer with the Adelaide Electric Supply Company. They were invented in 1924, to compensate for the shortage of useful timber in South Australia.

March 25-29, 2002 - Rain!: We forgot to mention last time that our neighbor Tene is an artist, specializing in portraits. She primarily does oils, but also likes "mixed media" (oils, crayons, etc., all mixed together in one piece). She says she's terrible at names, but is good at remembering faces, and spends much of her time in public studying faces.

We've gone nearly two months without rain - so it was quite a change when we actually received a pretty good soaking on Monday. Sandy spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at Wilderness - and all 20 girls in Year 3 finished their cross-stich projects, and they were SO happy! We have all 20 ornaments lined up on the spare table, so that Sandy can wash and mount them for the girls. We'll try to get a picture of them for this website. Looking at the backs of the ornaments, you can really see the progress some of them made over the course of a project - from a real rat's nest of thread at the start, to nice tidy stitches by the end.

Thursday morning, the Junior School girls put on an Easter service, with songs and readings about the story of Easter. Later in the morning, the Kindies had an Easter Egg hunt about the lower junior school. The Easter Bilby* left the Kindies a map, which told them the eggs were NOT near the Kindy building, and which dragged them all over the school grounds. Along the way, they found bits of "fluff" left behind from the bilby. The map eventually led them back to the Kindie playyard where they found eggs hidden about, including in the classroom - and came to the conclusion that the Easter Bilby / Bunny was pretty tricky. Meanwhile, Clara came home with a large chocolate rabbit, plus lots of eggs - including a batch for Sandy, as thank yous from some of the girls for the cross stitching. Both Clara and Lucy are now anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Easter Bilby at our house on Sunday morning!

* Bilbies are a native Australian creature, whereas rabbits are essentially an introduced plague, which have destroyed tremendous amounts of native habitat, which in turn has driven several Aussie species to near-extinction. So, the Easter Bunny is not as well-loved in recent times as the Easter Bilby! There have been various efforts to rid Australia of rabbits, but none have been completely successfuly yet.

Thursday also saw great excitement - when Tim returned from dropping the girls at school, a moving van was parked next door. Our new neighbors from Melbourne had arrived. They have two little girls as well, although younger than ours - a 3 year old and a one year old. Thursday afternoon, we made the trip to the doctor, as everyone was "crook" (sick, in Australian - for other Aussie slang click here.) Sandy, Clara & Lucy came out with antibiotics for pharyngitis, a sinus infection, and tonsillitis respectively.

After confirming everyone was sick, Sandy called our German next door neighbors, who had invited the girls over to see all of their Easter decorations on Friday. However, in spite of the illness rampant in our family, they wouldn't hear of skipping the visit. So, Friday morning, the girls got dressed up in fancy dresses, and made Easter cards for them, and went visiting. They had a good time, looking at all the decorations and bunnies scattered about, and came home with still more candy.

Note: the current time difference from the west coast of the US to South Australia is plus 18 1/2 hours or minus 5 1/2 hours plus a day, depending on how you prefer to think of it - that will change on Sunday, March 31, when Daylight Savings time ends in South Australia. The difference will then be plus 17 1/2 hours or minus 6 1/2 hours plus a day. Then, when Daylight Savings Time starts in the US, on April 6, the difference changes to plus 16 1/2 hours or minus 7 1/2 hours plus a day. You'll still be able to click on the "current time in Adelaide" link below for the correct time. For more than you may care to know about the origins of Daylight Savings Time, click here.

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