Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pumpkins, Mohicans, and other Random Tuesday Thoughts

We went to a party last weekend that was basically a big Aussie style Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of July. Yes, it is winter here so the big heavy food is IN right now. However, the host ordered and deep fried 5 turkeys. There were only about 35 people total, so that ended up being about 2 ½ turkey's too many.

Aussies don't eat a lot of cooked turkeys and they are hard to come by. As a result, Eric was given the duties of carving the bird and people stood around and watched him.

Being the only American's, we were required to bring the pumpkin pies…

They don't DO pumpkin pie in Australia and they all think it sounds really weird. I guess it's a bit like trying to understand Vegemite sandwiches. Pumpkin for them is Squash and they put it on just about everything. I don't think there is a restaurant here that doesn't offer a pumpkin(squash) soup or a sandwich or pizza with pumpkin (squash).

Eric and I stood near the pies and watched as people cut little tiny slivers for themselves, then piled on the whipped cream, and tentatively brought a piece up to their lips. Most people looked surprised at the first taste and then proceeded to eat the whole miniscule piece on their plates. They were generally well received and a few folks even insisted it wasn't real pumpkin. Well, no, it's not butternut squash….it's real Halloween style jack-o-lantern pumpkin.

They don't do Halloween either, so that didn't really clear things up.


My car is in the shop right now and the shop gave me a loaner car. I made the booking for the loaner car for a specific day as they told me they would have a large car available that day. My job requires a lot of gear and I generally have so much stuff in my vehicle that I need to do some big moving around if I try to take any more than one passenger. It seems that my booking was missed and instead of the big car, they gave me the extra small compact called a Honda Jazz. I am packed to overflowing with a baby seat and tons of gear. To make matters even more humiliating, there are large decals all over the doors and back that advertise the repair shop.


It's junk day again. Got junk? Just leave it on the boulevard and it will be hauled away. About 3 times a year each neighborhood gets the opportunity to have their junk unloaded. We've never seen anything like it. There are couches, TV consoles, broken toasters, sewing machines, tupperware, kid's toys, lamps, printers, desks, computers – it's all out there on the lawn. And it's gone by nightfall.


On my way to Madden's daycare on Monday morning I drove through a neighborhood that must be having junk day. Set amongst the random pieces of furniture and household goods was a large framed movie poster for Last of the Mohicans.

Odd. Makes one wonder what precipitated the owners to finally remove that from their home.


Melbourne roadways are not built for large cars. In fact, they may not be built for cars at all. The small neighborhood streets often allow parking on both sides but only one car can travel down the road between those parked cars. The dilemma? These roads are two way traffic. The end result is that people come at you head on and dart in and out behind parked cars so that you can eventually pass each other. It usually happens at a normal rate of speed and looks like some sort of dance.


At a birthday party, Madden was introduced to vegemite. She loves it.


Australians are not complainers and they tend to act very civilized towards one another. When they do complain, it is usually done with such strong statements as "I am unhappy with this…" or "Since this is unacceptable, I'm wondering what you would be willing to offer as an alternative?"

I find I'm growing uncomfortable with any sort of shouting or strong language when I do hear it now. People listen when you voice yourself intelligently and they shut down if they feel insulted.

In the immigration office when I had to get M's Visa in her passport, I heard a Canadian guy really giving the officer a piece of his mind. Those of us waiting patiently were recoiling in our seats. Eventually the immigration officer told the guy he was moving his application to the bottom of the pile due to his bad behavior. When the guy shouted even louder, the Aussie told him, "Look, Mate, consider yourself lucky. I could have moved your application into the rubbish bin."

The Canadian finally bit his tongue and left the office.


Due to the lack of complaining in this society, whatever service does manage to come your way will cause you to be very grateful. If you are in a restaurant and you are the only one at your table without food, have no worries. In 5 minutes you will be able to flag over a server who will then go to the kitchen and in another 10 short minutes you will be given the dish that doesn't seem to look like what you ordered. It is appropriate to be grateful for the opportunity to try something new.


We are surrounded by accents. Who knew this place was so multicultural? And I actually thought they would think my American accent was cool. Silly me.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ad of the Month

Boag's Beer from Tasmania. Love the kid with the lightsaber.