Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Market Day

I read a blog recently where the author mused about how there's always a market going on somewhere and how happy the thought of that made her. I must agree. I love a good market. 

Our friends Dale and Aki told us about the Sydney Markets sometime shortly after I moved here and it's been on our list to make at least one trip while we live here. Dale and Aki have five kids, so they go pretty frequently to stock up on fruit. Early one wet Saturday morning, Dale was making just such a routine visit and invited us along. Since it's just me and Spencer and we have pretty limited fridge space, we had to keep ourselves to one or two of this or that compared to Dale's case or two of this or that. But our fridge was stuffed full of  some beautiful produce for a couple of weeks. We only wished we could have accommodated more.

I've never eaten so many mangoes in my whole life as I have in the year I've lived here. They are around all summer, they are cheap and they are so good.

The Aussies love their beetroot.

A quick lesson from the expert on picking the perfect mango.

My favorite sign of all. "Spinch," anyone?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Noodles of the Night

Every year, as part of the Sydney Food Festival (which, incidentally, was way back in October...that's how behind I am), they hold Night Noodle Markets for a week in Hyde Park. When we heard that this would be part of the month-long culinary celebration, we knew we must check it out and get our fill of dim sum and noodley deliciousness. Asian street food is definitely on our list of things we love to eat. (But then...that's a long list.)

When we could not eat even one more noodle, we walked around the city for a bit to take in the scenery.

St. James Station

The Sydney Tower

The Queen Victoria Building 
Built in 1898 to replace the Sydney markets on the same site, the QVB was later used for offices for the Sydney County Council. At one point it was in danger of being torn down, but was instead restored and returned to its original purpose as a shopping center--currently housing a very posh mall. It is one of our favorite buildings in the city. We love to walk around inside to admire the interior, although I can't say we make many (or any...) purchases. 

Sydney Town Hall

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Split Personality

We live on a little neck of land between the Sydney Harbour and the Pacific Ocean, which means that when we come out of our apartment, we can go right one block and hit water or we can go left one block and hit water.  The harbour side has a sort of East Coast feel--with ferries making their regularly-scheduled journeys and quaint little lighthouses in the distance and sailboats rocking back and forth in the water. The ocean side feels more West Coast--with surfers and bikini-clad sun worshipers and everything that comes with a beach culture.

I love both sides equally for their different personalities.

After living in Dallas my whole life, I struck out to the West Coast to try Los Angeles on for size. And I loved it. After a few years there, I decided to finally head to the East Coast, where I'd always envisioned myself landing. So, it was off to Washington, DC. I loved it there, too. LA and DC are completely different from one another in pretty much every way, and I have a deep love for both cities for totally different reasons. Each one awakens different parts of my soul. When I moved to DC, I missed LA terribly. But I knew that if I ever moved back to LA, I'd miss DC just as much. What do you do when you want to be in two places at the same time? Or, rather, when you want two places to be...the same place...?

Living in Manly is a little bit like living on the West Coast and the East Coast all at once. At last, my multiple personalities are able to find simultaneous fulfillment. 

Still...this place could really use a Georgetown Cupcake. Just sayin'.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reading Room

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."  So said Cicero.

It could be said that my and Spencer's relationship is based on a book. Well...books (plural), actually.

I moved many times as a single lady. Many. Times. In ten years, I lived in seven apartments. Four in Dallas, two in LA, and one in DC. Moving for me means boxes and boxes of books to be hauled down the stairs...only to have to be hauled back up the stairs again at my new place (because I almost always live on the third floor somehow).

Amidst one of my many moves as I was boxing up my books yet again, I remember wondering aloud to my mom, "What if I end up with a boy who doesn't like books?"  She said she didn't think that was possible.

Spencer and I met three weeks after I arrived in DC in July 2009 and had gone out six or eight times before he moved to Australia that October. When he left, there was no arrangement, no understanding between us. But we kept in touch and would chat here and there--just small talk, mostly. And then! And then we had a conversation about Atlas Shrugged. He'd never read it, I told him he must. He bought the book and started reading it within the week. He loved it. He couldn't stop talking about it. And, for the first time, I started to think things could get serious. When he came home for the holidays he gave me a bracelet that had reminded him of the one Hank gave Dagny, and I gave him...another book: Shop Class as Soulcraft.

I hadn't yet read that one, but I wanted to, and I hoped he would want to. He did. He read it on the plane on his way back to Australia. And he loved it.

Before we were engaged, I'd given him two more books. He began reading every book I gave him almost the minute he had it in his hands. I'd never had a boy show so much interest in what I cared about. I wasn't even sure it was possible.

And now, a pattern has officially developed. A few weeks ago, when he arrived home from work, he surprised me with a book he'd picked up for me. The best part about this constant book exchange is the conversation it fuels. We talk and talk about what we are learning and about how our world views are being affected. And we are more connected because of it.

It seems my mom was right. It could never have been otherwise. Books have to be a significant part of my life with Spencer, else there would be no life with Spencer.

In every room a stack of books and in our bodies, souls.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Manly: Up Darley Road

Every time I leave our apartment without a camera I regret it. There is so much to capture--so many endearing things about Manly, so many details I've grown to love. I love the sidewalk cafes and little boutiques. I love the architectural stylings of all the old buildings. I love the traditional Aussie houses with their red tile roofs and swoopy waves on the peaks. I love the chimneys. I love the doors. I love the fences. I love the gates. I love the tiled front porches and the ornate overhangs. And I think I'll never forget what life looks like here. 

But then I remember. Time moves quickly and images fade and your memory is all too soon only able to offer up very vague renderings of what life was before it became what it is.

So. New goal. Take the camera with me everywhere I go more often. Even if I'm just walking up Darley Road to visit a friend in the hospital. Which, incidentally, is where these shots came from. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Great Barrier Reef: Check

An anniversary is a good excuse for a little trip, don't you think? We thought it the perfect occasion to check the Great Barrier Reef off our list.


We flew into Cairns on Thursday evening and drove north on a dark, winding, 2-lane road for what felt like forever, but what was really only about an hour. We arrived at our hotel in Port Douglas at almost midnight and headed straight to bed, as  we were scheduled to meet our shuttle for our snorkel tour first thing in the morning.

We spent Friday on the open seas. The Great Barrier Reef is 50 kilometers off shore (which takes about an hour and a half by boat).  It was a beautiful day, so we headed to the top level of the boat and claimed a couple of lounge chairs and thought we'd get some sun since we had some time to kill.

The water was a mite rough, and we were getting tossed around pretty good up on the third level of the boat...but we thought, eh, we can take it! The further we got from shore, however, the less sun we seemed to have. Dark clouds were on the horizon, and the wind was blowing something fierce. (For a second I wondered if we'd boarded the USS Minnow.) We kept getting pounded by huge waves of icy water, which is fine when there's sun to dry you off and warm you up. Less so when it's just cloudy and windy and cold. Needless to say, we didn't last long "lounging in the sun" and ran for cover down below.

The sun didn't really come out all day, but luckily, our snorkel guides were fully prepared and provided wetsuits to help make our adventures in the water a little less chilly.

The Great Barrier Reef is amazing. Its sheer size alone is almost unfathomable. The water is crystal clear and there is plenty of sea life to hang out with, of course. Our favorite sightings of the day would have to be the reef shark and the giant clam. (Oh, and Angus--the huge blue groper who was hanging out under the boat at every stop. How did he know where to find us every time?) The red, blue, orange and yellow coral just goes on forever. We didn't have an underwater camera, but our snorkel tour peeps had a photographer in the water with us so we got this amazing shot of us in action. Christmas card material? Hmmmm, perhaps not.

Other than adventuring "way far away from the dock" to see the reef, we spent the rest of our time totally relaxing and enjoying the scenery of Port Douglas. Oh, and eating. Lots of eating.

We loved getting to see such different terrain from what we're used to in our 
neck of the woods. Much more tropical and mountainous in that part of the country.

Rock oysters and a bottle of Pellegrino equals one happy husband.

 The view from our table for our anniversary breakfast.

 Mmmm.... A delicious brekkie. Please, could someone 
make me stuffed french toast for breakfast every morning? Thank you.
I may or may not have snagged some protein off the 
mister's plate. Really. Who needs that much meat in one meal? 
And the most interesting part of breakfast was this guy hanging out in the water. Spencer was
less intrigued than I.  He forged ahead with his meatlover's special while I grabbed the camera every time 
the croc came close and went running to the edge of the dock trying to get a shot.

I sang, "Don't ever smile at a crocodile," the rest of the day. 
Obviously. I mean, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

As the Shadows Fall

I took this picture from my window as we flew back from Cairns last Sunday night. I had become rather involved with my book as we flew, but looked up just in time to see this golden ribbon of sunlight momentarily resting on Australia before the indigo sky gently pressed it down into the shadows.

In that moment, I became very aware of the space our silver airplane occupied as it moved through the sky in what suddenly felt like slow motion. I thought about all the life that was being lived on the ground below as the darkness gathered--life that is rich and satisfying at times, cruel and heartbreaking at others--and how none of it ends just because night comes. I wondered at what God must see from above that ribbon of light. How many individual circumstances and struggles. How many tragedies, how many triumphs. How many loves and hurts and joys and fears. And how He knows them all. And feels them all. And holds them all in His hands.

"And [my] heart swelled wide as eternity." Because I have a part in that great scene playing out below. And, tiny as my role may be, I am tied to the whole of it.

As the shadows fall, O Savior,
Turn our thoughts and minds to thee.
Help us, Lord, that we may strive for 
Peace, and find our rest in thee.