[Emily Gap (East MacDonnell Range)] [Fun in the park] [Cradle Mountain National Park] [Clara and Lucy at Helicopter Park]

Australian Journal - November 2002

November 4-10, 2002 - Concert Time: Clara has been practicing up a storm on the violin, and this Wednesday was her big night. The Year 2 and Year 3 violin and cello students put on a concert for the parents. Clara played some songs in "Ensemble" with the rest of the Year 3 violins, then each year 3 student got to play a solo. Clara's was Westminster Abbey, and it went very well. She put a lot of work into her practicing, and it really showed.

Sandy has been continuing to put in a lot of time on the current quilting project she has underway with the Year 3 girls. This week she demonstrated the use of a sewing machine to the girls, and for many of them, it was the first time they had seen a sewing machine in operation. Now that they have spent a couple of weeks hand stitching, they had a real appreciation for the tiny, even, and FAST stitches made by the machine--and everyone felt that it was a pretty cool invention.

On Wednesday, Lucy's class made an "excursion" to the Adelaide Zoo, primarily to observe the bears since the class has been studying bears this term. However, there was plenty of time to explore and enjoy lots of other creatures as well. Sandy accompanied the class, and as on every other excursion (of which there are many!), she feels spoiled by the comfortable big white bus that collects the girls, parents, and teachers at the school gate and delivers them to their destination and then brings them back again.

Clara's class also had another excursion on Friday (the third excursion in as many weeks). This time the Year 3 girls had been invited to a nearby park by the Year 6 girls to do nature activities relating to caring for our environment, and Clara and her classmates had a blast with the older girls. Just another example of the frequent multi-age activities at the school that our girls always seem to particularly enjoy--and one of the benefits of having girls from preschool up right up through Year 12 all on the same campus together.

Otherwise, we've mostly been continuing with Christmas preparations - this weekend was the big Christmas Pageant (parade), as well as the annual Mitsubishi Adelaide International Horse Trials in the parklands (the only equestrian event in the southern hemisphere to be rated four stars by the Federation Equestre Internationale - meaning it is a world championship event with Olympic Games level ranking.) However, we were so busy with other things, we had to miss both - hopefully next year we'll make it. We did make it to the family breakfast picnic with Lucy's class at the helicopter park in the northern parklands on Sunday morning. Quite a few Reception girls, their parents, and their siblings showed up for pancakes, croissants, fresh fruit, and lots of play. Afterwards, Clara and Lucy went for a bike ride around the northern parklands with Tim.

November 11-December 1, 2002 - Traveling and Thanksgiving: It's been a while between updates since Tim had to travel back to the States for business, and only just got back in time for our delayed Thanksgiving on Saturday. While Tim was gone, Sandy was very busy - continuing to quilt with Clara's class, keeping up with the the girls and their activities, trying to get Lucy's illness diagnosed, and organizing our Thanksgiving dinner with a couple other families (although ordering a turkey at the butcher DID go more easily than ordering a brisket had a few months ago!) The menu is looking like turkey, stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, relishes, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls, pumpkin pie and apple pie.

One thing Tim missed was Wilderness Sports Day, which was on Friday, the 15th. Both girls participated for their house, Sparaxis, and despite being sick, Lucy was a little speedy Gonzales, winning a race. The girls spent much of Saturday playing school. For the past week or so, they have been working on the school roster in the car - deciding on names of students (coed), what year each one is in, and alphabetizing the list, sometimes needing to go to the second and third letter in the name. There are 29 students in their school. Saturday morning they were making work books for everyone for different subjects: spelling, reading, maths, and of course decorating the covers of each one. They also were going through all the books on Clara's shelves and pulling out all the paperbacks for "silent reading." Then they had to decide which books were for the year 1s, year 2s, and on up through year 5.

Meanwhile, Tim got to visit our old house, delivering a copy of the Australian Women's Weekly magazine that Sandy sent to share with the neighborhood Ladies. He also found time to have lunch with some friends, as well as do the usual shopping for things that are hard-to-find or unavailable in Australia.

Lucy has unfortunately been sick for quite a while. She's been to see our usual GP, who thought she needed to see a specialist. So, it was off to the ENT, who wanted more tests done. These were accomplished, with great patience on Lucy's part, but they were not particularly conclusive - it seems to be largely allergy-based, with clogged sinuses, and occasional infections. Lucy is quite unhappy about the inability of all these doctors to come up with a cure, but she remains in good spirits much of the time.

Sandy has also continued quilting with the Year 3 class at Wilderness, and all the girls have finished the actual quilting, and are now working on "decorating" their quilts, sewing on things such as buttons, bells, ribbons, etc., as decorations on the Christmas Tree that they first painted on the quilt, then quilted around. Sandy has been amazed at some of the things the girls have brought in to attach to their quilts - quite a creative bunch!

The girls have also started up swimming lessons again at the Burnside Pool. The pool is outdoors, located in beautiful Hazelwood Park, full of huge old gum trees, and a creek through the middle. Very much the place to be on a warm Adelaide summer day!

Lucy was VIP in her class again, and got to bring Alisa Bear home for a long weekend. So, before bed she read one of the Magic Tree House books to Alisa Bear, and you can just really tell that she is thrilled with the story - and she is understanding it. She asked Sandy some of the words - but about half of them, she didn't really need to ask. And Clara finished up Harry Potter #4. She has already announced what she wants for Christmas: "I know what I want for Christmas--but it won't be ready in time. The fifth Harry Potter book. It's coming out next year."

Saturday again, and Clara and Sandy practiced violin, getting her ready for the Christmas concert at Wilderness. Sandy thought Clara had the idea of rhythm down pretty well, but they were trying to do "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and Clara's violin teacher had said to sing and count it first. So, Sandy was singing and counting while Clara played, and they just were never together. Clara said to Sandy, "You're going too slow on the ta ta's." So Sandy sped up a bit, and Clara said, "You're going too fast on the ti ti's!." Clara really just wanted them all the same! But they had some good laughs.

Sandy and the girls also made a batch of cinnamon Christmas ornaments like they had made in the past. They came out well, and dried quickly in the warm Australian weather, much faster than in the Pacific Northwest winter. This Saturday night was Lucy's turn sleeping with Sandy (last Saturday had been Clara's turn.) It has also been warmer this weekend - mid 90s. There was lots of wind as well - many large tree branches down, but none on or near our house.

Then it was back to school, and another busy week underway in Adelaide. Back in Seattle, Tim was trying to finish up a last few things at work so he could leave on schedule to make it back for Thanksgiving. One evening, he had an experience out of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." As he walked out of the Boeing office at dusk, it was like walking into the middle of the set for the movie, as there were literally hundreds of crows perched on and around this building - filling the trees, fences, lining the roof, etc - no where else, just right around the exit! Plus many other smaller birds (sparrows, etc.) swarming. Very strange, and he wished he had a camera.

Then on the night before he was due to leave, he walked into his hotel room, and it was like walking into a sauna - they had cleaned the carpets! All the furniture was stacked up, and the heat was cranked - but there was nowhere for the moisture to go but into the air. He was very glad he had mostly packed the night before, so he could call and request another room. The next room also had damp carpets, so he called again and finally got a non-cleaned room. It seems bizarre that they would clean an occupied room - and especially considering he was leaving the next morning!

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and traditionally the busiest day of the year, Tim left Seattle for Adelaide. He went to the airport three hours early, just in case. He was glad to have gotten there early, as he went through the complete screening loop - both suitcases opened and inspected, then the usual security screen of carryons, and then the complete body screening. He had also allowed more than the usual amount of time between flights in LA - and was surprised to find absolutely no lines at either check-in or security! However, closer to flight time, the lines were starting to build, so once again he was glad to have made it early. The flight to Australia was uneventful, including the last leg from Melbourne to Adelaide, and he arrived on schedule, early on Friday afternoon.

Saturday dawned a nice day - forecast for about 80 degrees F, so good barbecue weather (although still a bit cool in the shade for native Adelaideans!) Sandy made an apple pie Friday night, and started in on the rest of the prep Saturday morning (discovering that Australian turkeys apparently come without neck or giblets, making it a little more challenging to create gravy!) Tim and the girls headed to the market to pick up a few last things and some fresh flowers for the table. As they parked, there was a clunk from under the hood, but a quick inspection revealed no apparent problem. After their errands in the shopping centre, they discovered that the clunk had been the Tribute throwing its power steering belt. They made it home ok and immediately called the dealer to arrange a repair.

This was a day of experimentation, since we had never cooked a turkey on a barbecue before. About noontime, Sandy fired up the grill and put the bird in. An hour later, we checked it, and found the turkey still cold, even though the grill was on. So, at that point, we abandoned the directions in Australian Woman's Weekly, and cranked up the flames. A bit later, the turkey started looking better, and was beginning to smell as if it were cooking. In the meantime, our guests had arrived, and the five girls were off and running. First activity they chose was to go camping, so they packed up their backpacks, added water bottles, and set off to hike around our tiny yard, courtyards, and walkways! Meanwhile, the adults relaxed in one of the courtyards, enjoying the 80 degree weather, and our new table and chairs, along with some Tasmanian beer and South Australian wine and champagne. Eventually, the logistics of cooking / warming up all the dishes in our one small oven and microwave (one of the reasons the turkey was cooking on the grill!) were managed, and the turkey reached temperature. It turned out to not be completely cooked through, but enough was well-cooked to allow us to eat dinner. Then, while the adults were again relaxing, the girls took off to set up a concert - they were working with piano, violin, tambourine, maracas, accordion, digiridoo, rain stick, rhythm sticks, and voice, for over an hour. Then it was time for dessert (pumpkin and apple pie, which both tasted fine, in spite of Donna's and Sandy's worries!), followed by the concert. All in all, a different, but nice Thanksgiving--with all of us having much for which we are thankful!

Sunday, it was time for the girls to finish their Christmas cards to classmates, and for the tree to go up (a little late, since Tim had been traveling). But first, all four of us went for a walk / bike ride around the neighborhood, before the heat of the day (expecting 90+ degrees) kicked in. Then more violin practice for Clara, and the girls and Sandy finished decorating the cinnamon Christmas ornaments they had made the weekend before (and Tim even snuck in to decorate one.) And Sandy was sewing away on some Christmas socks for the girls to wear to their concernt - these are like the bead socks she makes for them, but instead of beads around the ankles, they have tiny Christmas ornaments (light bulbs). Hard to believe that Christmas is barely three weeks away!

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