Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Aussie Day

In between actual Australia Day on Saturday and its public holiday on Monday, I tuckered myself out completely on my first ever mountain-bike ride on a real mountain.

We drove up to the hills of Paluma (just an hour’s drive north from here) to check out what it’s like to go mountain-biking in a World Heritage Listed Wet Tropical Rainforest. And guess what? It was ace! And it was wet. Driving to our biking departure point, I noticed that the grey clouds were swirling dramatically above us; then Hayden began to wonder out loud why all the cars coming towards us were all fogged up inside? And why their windows looked so wet? Up ahead the tropical rain was thundering down in the forest and on the dirt roads, but we didn’t let it stop us. Of course it wasn’t cold, it was warm and muggy as anything, and we weren’t about to wuss out on our first ever expedition.

Once on my bike, I had the best time hurtling down the slippery muddy road and I was not deterred by the heavy rain or the mosquitoes. In my adrenaline-pumped mind I was spending about as much time speeding downhill as I was pushing my way uphill – but when we finally decided to turn around and go back, I realised that my previous perceptions had been seriously out of whack. It was a long way uphill to get back to the car.

I don’t know if you have ever seen mountain bikers on the road, when you’re speeding past on a Sunday drive through the countryside? You wiz by a couple of bikers painfully inching their way uphill and you think “You poor bastards.” Well, I just want to let you know that it’s all completely worth it. All that adrenaline, and all that hardcore exercise makes you feel so tough – but only until the moment you get home, and then you fall to sleep like a baby.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cool Change

It’s a beautiful day today. Warm, but the humidity’s gone and there is a lovely fresh breeze instead. You have no idea how nice that is, I’m sorry but you really don’t. It’s civilised. It’s such a relief. It’s like the best summer you can imagine, all you people who live in places where you look forward to summer coming each year.

The good thing is that I don’t have much to do today, no work at the cafĂ© and I’ve heard not a peep out of the guy who was supposed to ring me about some extra writing work, so nothing for me to do but fill my new ipod up with songs, pay my poor potplants some attention, and wait for the Big News that might come later this afternoon.

But what to do in the meantime? Why not make myself an elaborate lunch? When it’s hot and humid, it’s hard enough to eat anything (quite often I just have a chocolate Breaka from the shop across the road and call that lunch) so today I took quite a lot of pleasure in cooking myself up a little something:

Fried up slices of eggplant and mushrooms, later add slices of tomato, and serve the whole lot up on toast with a dash of leftover nachos topping. Delish.

The Big News I mentioned is Hayden’s news – but it affects me, naturally. I might have told you that he applied for a job in Singapore a month or so ago. Finally this week he had an interview, and the word was that they’d get back to him today.
I’m waiting calmly, because my hopes are sort of down about this job. Not that I don’t want to go and live in Singapore, or even that I don’t think that Hayden is up to the job – of course he is! It’s just that we heard a rumour that if they say they’re going to get back to you within a couple of days of the interview, it’s a pretty good indication that they already had someone else lined up for the job.

So what if it’s not to be this time? The good part about that is that we won’t have to move away and then fly back for our wedding in April.

Plenty more jobs in the sea.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Caution: Wedding details discussion ahead

OK girls (boys this is optional for you), I need your help. It’s about shoes. I’m sitting here in my wedding dress - yes, I did find a dress to wear to our wedding, shopping in Brisbane on Christmas Eve, but no you can’t see a picture because we’re doing that thing where the wedding dress is a SECRET. And no it can’t just be a secret from Hayden, it has to be a secret from everyone, because my flippy floaty brain cannot handle any more duplicity than that. A secret that's secret sometimes and not other times? That would be way beyond my information-handling abilities. You know when you’re on the phone to someone, and one of you can talk freely because they’re alone but the other person has to talk in ‘code’ because they might be overheard? Well, in the midst of those kinds of conversations, I always forget which one I am. Am I the one who can talk freely or do I have to talk in code? I just can’t keep that stuff up. But anyway, know this: my secret dress is beautiful, demure, and even better, so much better, it’s not all that uncomfortable.

So what I'm trying to do now is find some shoes that fit the same bill: beautiful, demure, but must must must be comfortable. With a heel. We decided that I would need to wear heels because my bridesmaid, my sister Louisa, is at least 15cm taller than me. When we stood in the dress shop, side by side reflected in the mirror, we looked to be the same height but I had the dress on plus some extremely tall shoes that the sales assistant lent me and in addition I was standing on a box. So it was decided then that I would wear heels and she would wear flats.

I have found a pair of beautiful, comfortable and relatively demure shoes in a shop here in Townsville. They have a smallish heel, just three inches, but that’s enough, don’t you think, for someone who has never in her life spent a whole day wearing heels? But the problem with them is that they don’t really match the dress perfectly. They are comfortable, and beautiful. AND, and here’s the clever part, if I leave the dress floor length and don’t take it up as I had planned, then it will cover up the not-quite-perfect shoes PLUS I’d be relieved of the odious task of finding a dressmaker I can trust. This thing could be double-done, right now, and that would be brilliant for me.

But what do you think? Do you think I should keep searching for the absolute perfect pair of shoes? Or should I be happy with my pretty-good shoes, and get on with more important things like deciding what I'm going to do with my hair?

Do you think done is better than perfect?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Big Wet 08

There's a fair amount of water here in Townsville at the moment. Not as much as Airlie Beach and Proserpine, two towns to the south of us which have been featured on the news but still, it most definitely counts as a Big Wet.

Conversation at the coffee shop where I work has turned from the usual "Hot enough for ya?" to how much water, and where, has come inside your house. So that's a nice change. And, thankfully, I don't have much to contribute to that conversation. So far so good. Now that we're into our third wet season I know just where to check for signs of leakage - especially in that corner of my office where I now know not to keep our passports, birth certificates, attempts at stories, precious old diaries and photos. With any luck we will not be flooded twice!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Surf Sup

You know all those photos I show you of palm trees blue sky and perfect flat calm ocean? Well it really is like that for about ten months of the year here.

But for the other two months, it can get grey and windy and a little bit wild. Cyclone season. Time to be battening down our hatches.

Yesterday I woke up wondering: "What's that crashing sound? Hang on, is it ... surf?". It was strange to think that if it was a surf beach we lived near, we would be hearing that crashing noise all day long.

Later, on our after-dinner stroll, we saw little kids swimming at the beach getting full-on dumped in the waves. Poor little tykes, they didn't have a clue what to do.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Little Corolla Goes Into the Forest

On the last day of last year (happy new year by the way) I got to go somewhere that I’d been wanting to go for ages.

On the morning of the 31st we were already in Port Douglas (just above Cairns) after spending a couple of days in Ravenshoe on Wedding Business. We knew that at the very least that night we were in for a good fireworks display and a delicious dinner the likes of which Townsville’s best restaurants um… strive for. Plus, we had a whole day to play before that, and I got really excited when I looked at the map and realised that we were not that far from the Daintree. We could cross the river and go up to Cape Tribulation.

Crossing the Daintree River to see the rainforest on the other side was one of those things that I’d been wanting to do ever since we first came to North Queensland. It was such an old wish that it had sort of got dusty, and to take it out again and realise that it was possible was just so good. The wet season has started early in a big way this year, so when we crossed the river it was looking good and wide and brown.

True, I love a wide brown slow-moving river. Just ask the Mekong.

When we got to the other side we were instantly in jungle paradise, and I was sort of glad that I had waited so long for this particular trip because I have had a chance to become all enthusiastic about rainforest plants.
Usually we see these plants all scraggly and sun-damaged in Townsville gardens, and I wonder what the person was thinking who planted them there. It was so amazing to see them all flourishing in their proper habitat, under a proper damp grey rainforest sky. The fan palms are my favourite. So retro.

Even though activities were kind of plant-centred, Hayden had a good day too. His favourite part was when we had to test our little ’94 Corolla in 200ml of water across the road. The couple in the car ahead of us, which was similarly low to the ground, decided to turn around at that point because it was, as they so rightly pointed out, a terrible place and a terrible time (what, 5pm on New Year's Eve?) to try and get help if they got into trouble. But they were not as adventurous as we.

She made it! But we each sighed a sigh of relief.

Hayden felt so much relief that he drove back and across again to allow me to get some better photos.

We’re thinking we might fit a snorkel to her before we take her up that way again.