Looking Forward to a Slow Year

Another year has whooshed by. I feel like I stepped out for intermission, and when I came back the show was over. As this new year begins, I’m contemplating how I can stretch the time out, engage fully and be present through the passage of days. I’ve been thinking about this idea of slow living a lot. We have slow food, slow stitching, even slow travel. I want to live slow. I wondered if like the other slow movements slow living was also a thing.

Lo and behold! It’s a hashtag, and apparently has been for quite some time. Since moving to Australia four years ago, I’ve seriously unplugged from the internet, as is evidenced by my infrequent blog posts. I do a quick morning scroll through Facebook to see what my US or traveling friends are up to, then a glance at Instagram for a dose of pretty pictures, and that’s pretty much it. Rarely, I will get sucked into Pinterest, and I almost never read blogs anymore, unless there is some particular subject I’m wanting to know more about, such as slow living.

I started poking around to see what others were saying about the subject. According to Wikipedia, “Slow living is a lifestyle emphasizing slower approaches to aspects of everyday life.” That sounds good. Then I started looking for those hashtags that I usually ignore. That’s where I found the insta-version of slow living. This version seems to be about arranging your life just so, in order to be instagramable and beautiful, having the hip products and accessories to place in those photos. It’s more consumerism. One more ideal to live up to. Another good impression to be made for a faceless internet world. Something else to stress over.

Although it’s become a fad, I do believe that on some level it is based on a longing for a simpler, quieter way of being. People just got waylaid again by that need for outside approval.

My own idea of slow living is about ridding my life of the distracting clutter, not just the physical clutter that the blog posts tell us to tackle, although that is definitely a part of it, but the mental noise. It’s about defining my priorities and values, focusing on them, and letting go of the pointless activities that don’t support my goals. It’s losing the “shoulds” nagging me in my brain to live up to the perceived expectations of others.

It’s about being still.

My lesson in stillness began last May, while I wiled away the quiet hours inhaling the scent of my newborn granddaughter.

And then I lost sight of it again.

Upon returning home from ten sedentary weeks in the US, I was over-eager to get back to my exercise routine. A lapse in judgement led me to think I should take up running as well. I was very aware that this choice to run was based on a desire to metaphorically run away. I didn’t really want to run away; I simply wanted that feeling of breaking free from whatever was holding me back in life.

But, no. There would be no running anywhere. The Universe, Fate, my arthritic hips – something – stepped in to say, “yeh neh, you’re not going anywhere, mate. Sit right down and have a think about life for the next few months.” (read this with an Aussie accent)

I found myself mostly housebound from late September through mid December. Unless my husband drove me somewhere, I was staying put. No more treks about town, no hopping on trains to go explore this suburb or that. I was angry and frustrated and scared. I had lots of FOMO. I was going stir crazy and had to make the most of this enforced stillness or else fall into a depression. I was quite surprised that didn’t happen.

My doting husband took exceptional care of me. It was a marvel to sit back and allow myself to be cared for, attended to. This unfortunate circumstance that hobbled me allowed him to fill the space that opened up when I sat quiet. Through these long months he has been there, patient, kind, loving. The stillness made room for a new intimacy to grow between us.

The quiet time has allowed me to see what is truly important to me. I have had to learn that it’s ok to be idle and do nothing. I tend to buy into the busyness and productivity model of what a successful life looks like. I feel lazy reading books, even though it’s an activity absolutely in alignment with my priorities. Through intensive reading I both expand my mind and I improve my writing skills. Spending time on the internet researching Slow Living induced feelings of guilt, of wasting time. Doing even less can make me nervous indeed. In his book The Importance of Living Lin Yutang tells us that great ideas are born from an idle state. He writes about the art of lying in bed doing nothing. He says to curl up with big soft pillows and to place your arms behind your head. “In this posture any poet can write immortal poetry, any philosopher can revolutionize human thought, and any scientist can make epoch-making discoveries.”

As the weeks pass, I am becoming aware that as well as being allowed to spend time doing nothing, I also don’t have to do everything. The world isn’t falling apart and I feel happy. My new goal for life has become to live it, to embrace joy and fully engage with life, not rush through it. As I regain my mobility, I want to be careful not to lose sight of this new goal. I have another tendency and that is to get all excited about an idea, and then forget to actualize it.

In the midst of slowing down, I still have goals I wish to achieve. I still have a house to clean, a novel to finish editing. My challenge is to accomplish these things without driving myself crazy again. I want to be flexibly organized. I want rhythm, not routine. In her A-Z List of Simple Living, Brooke McAlary of Slow Your Home says of being organized, “You need to leave space for life to happen.” She also talks about the concept of “tilting.” This was a major takeaway for me. I’m always trying to achieve balance in my life, my days. “I’ll devote an hour to this and an hour to that and an hour to…” but there were never enough hours in a day or a week to do everything I thought I should be doing. McAlary says balance is a myth, that instead it’s ok to tilt toward one priority or another as the circumstances call for. Tilt the other way another day.

Right before my hips went out, I had jumped on the Bullet Journal bandwagon. I did see enough of the internet to hear of that particular thing. Mostly my entries in the journal have been about healing and pain levels. I’m ready now to delve a bit deeper into the process and use the method to stay on task and attain my goals. Sometimes I believe that the tools that are supposed to help us focus can become a distraction in themselves. Another bit of pop culture that has sifted through to my consciousness is the extreme decorating of Bullet Journal pages that people do. It seems like another time sink. Although, I can see how for some this could be a meditative practice and if that aligns with their values, then good for them. For me, there is the danger of it becoming another stress inducer as I buy into the belief that my BuJo needs to be pretty.

If I can follow the basic principles of the Bullet Journal method, I suspect it will be a great help. In his book The Bullet Journal Method Ryder Carroll says it is in the intersection of productivity and mindfulness where you find intentionality. Living with intention is what I believe slow living is about. Ryder says that “mindfulness is the process of waking up to see what’s right in front of us. It helps you become more aware of where you are, who you are and what you want.” The Bullet Journal is meant to be a method of bringing your actions into alignment with your values and priorities.

Both McAlary and Carroll talk about “knowing your why”. Why do I want to slow down and simplify my life? Because I want to be here now. I want to embrace life and live abundantly. I want to witness the small wonders, like watching videos over and over of my granddaughter laughing, or seeing the morning sun drifting through the kitchen window. I want to focus on my priorities of health, marriage, writing, family and friend relationships, and exploring this beautiful world.

As I move forward into this new year, I aim to take with me the lessons in stillness that I’ve been learning over the last few months. I’m going to make a card to hang where I see it often. It will list my values and priorities, and I will make a habit of reading it often and asking myself, “are my actions right now in alignment with these values and priorities?” I’m going to sit here at my desk, stare out the window at the swaying eucalypts, watching the antics of the butcher birds and magpies, and just be.

One Year’s Flown

kookaburra (1 of 1)The sidewalk was sprinkled with blossoms and the air redolent with frangipani. I was still shaking off the fog of jet lag, and absorbing the novelty of this new environment: exotic birds and flowers, new (and often incomprehensible) accents, streets filled with cafes and the delicious aroma of espresso, and the ubiquitous Vegemite, sausages, and beetroot.

As I walk along the city sidewalk, I look down and again see the frangipani blossoms. A year has passed. A year since we left everything and everyone behind to come to this strange land, to explore the world outside of what we knew.

It has been a year filled with highs and lows. Good things have happened, mostly in the form of wonderful new friendships. I’ve made good progress, both in forging a freelance career, and in immersing myself in the characters and events of the novel I’m writing. As 2015 came to a close, I finally saw my first kangaroo, and got to venture out away from Sydney somewhat, to see a little more of this country.

There were low points as well. I struggled to understand how systems work here, pulled out my hair at the lack of customer service, especially the terrors of renting. I’ve struggled with home sickness, watching from afar as my grown children faced struggles of their own, and me feeling so distant and useless to help them through. Depression, fueled by feelings of isolation, crept up on me and hit hard in October. With the support of my husband, I pulled through, counting each day I was still alive as a major success.

As summer unfurled, with explorations into this land and an influx of nature energy, along with the building of new friendships, at last I started to feel like this was a home. Over the past year, I’ve felt very transient, a feeling that began with four months of living in a practically empty house while waiting for our household goods shipment to arrive.

Our rental had many problems, from moldy ceilings and walls, to a shower that delivered a nasty shock, and property management that completely disregarded our concerns. We didn’t know if we wanted to renew the lease on this place when the time came, or look for another.

While during most hours of the day I enjoy living in Australia, and have no burning desire to live in the U.S. again, especially under the current conditions, I do know now that I have to be nearer my family. I want my grandchildren, present and future, to be able to pop over when they want to. I need my children to come over for Sunday dinner.

Knowing we’d just be packing up again, I wasn’t invested in nesting and making the space between these walls into an actual home. I wasn’t motivated to decorate anything beyond the living room, and I didn’t want to purchase anything – like an expensive stand mixer or those beautiful celadon porcelain cups at the market – that would have to be left behind or stood the possibility of breaking on an ocean voyage.

We had come to the conclusion, from talking to other renters, that moving house would likely just trade one set of problems for another. The shower shock had resolved itself at the same time that a light in the bathroom burned out. I had gotten a handle on the mold, and armed with a dehumidifier, thought I’d be able to battle the wet, cold season to come.

Having finally come to the place of accepting this as home, even if only for a couple years more, I decided I was ready to nest. So we went to IKEA and bought bookshelves. I built one, put it in the kitchen, unpacked my cookbooks and styled the shelves. I was just choosing the perfect wall spot for a photographic calendar of Scotland sent across the pond from our new friends, when we got word that our lease would not be renewed. The owner requires the unit, probably to fix all the repairs we requested and then rent it for more. We are sorely tempted to replace that light bulb.

So now we’re out looking again. So much of what is on offer in the way of rentals is hideous, with dirty worn carpets that the agencies list as “as new”, to toilets in one room and the shower in another way down the hall.

Living without a car impacts our choice of area. Completely aside from the issue of public transport, we have set up our lives here in this suburb. It’s close to our friends, Craig’s work, our doctor, the pharmacist who compounds my thyroid medicine, our favorite farmers market, and the little family owned corner market and its proprietor, Joe.

I briefly entertained the idea of moving closer to the eastern beaches, but when I thought what that meant in terms of starting over from scratch, and how far it would be from my social network and support system, I couldn’t face it, ocean or no ocean.

We are waiting now, to hear if we’ve been approved for a lovely townhouse in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood, close to public transport. We should have heard by now and my mind is tempted to fill with negative thoughts. I’m trying to visualize us in that house, with the gleaming wooden floors and the (almost) normal size oven, and most of all, that little room upstairs with a window looking out on the leafy street, where I can sit and write. I’m ready to get started on our second year in this still strange land that I grow to love more and more every day.

Warning: Some viewers may find the following post long and winding

Over the course of the past 9 months, I’ve gone back and forth about what I want this blog to be. Is it merely a travelogue? Is it about the everyday reality of ex-patting, a word one of my American friends used the other day? (I looked it up on Urban Dictionary. It’s a verb. “v: Expatting, to expat. The act of moving to another country for the purpose of building a better life or a more fulfilling career.”)

When writing a blog, there is a fine line between telling one’s truth and over-disclosing. I find I’ve been going in the far opposite direction, only choosing to show the pretty bits. But that is not an authentic representation of what this experience is. Living in Australia is not all beautiful beaches and interesting flora and fauna. There is a danger, I believe, in thinking that when you move to another country, everything is going to be wonderful. Logic mind may tell you otherwise, but that magical thinking part of the brain thinks logic mind is full of shit.

First there is the issue of “wherever you are, there you are”. Any personal issues you had in your home country are going to be part of the baggage you check. My own issues with depression, while they remained unpacked for awhile, have made an appearance. Being so far away from everything and everyone familiar has made dealing with the depression more of a challenge.

Aside from the personal baggage you bring, there are minor inconveniences and adjustments, things no one tells you about before you arrive. For instance, I really wish I’d gotten in better shape before coming. While I actually love not having to worry about a car or driving, the amount of walking I do in a day quadrupled upon arrival here. While the rest of my body adapted fairly quickly, my feet struggled with it, and still do occasionally. I had severe pain in my feet for the first couple months. I learned that a quality walking shoe was imperative, even if it wasn’t fashionable. As I watch the fashion plates that are young Aussie women running around the city center in their towering heels, I lament the probability that I’ll never again be able to wear heels. My feet have also increased in size since arriving. I don’t know if that’s all the walking made them spread, or they’re just always swollen.

Depending on public transport is, for the most part, a relief from driving and the costs and tedium involved in owning a car. It’s fairly dependable; still it’s always good to allow extra time for busses that never show up if you have an appointment. We can walk out our front door and get most anywhere we want to go. While it takes only a few minutes to get into the city center, whether by bus or ferry, it does take quite awhile to get to any other area. That’s mostly because of where we chose to live. If we were closer to a train station, it would be different. So that has been an adjustment. When I start to fret, I just remember that when I lived in Dallas a million years ago, it would take an hour to travel what should have taken twenty minutes without traffic. There are some places that public transport doesn’t go to, like the Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, and we can’t very well go looking for kangaroo from a bus.

The whole issue surrounding material objects has been a learning experience. Letting go of most of our belongings was hard. Still, now that I look around at what we brought, I wish we’d stored more of it at home. When we came, we didn’t have a good idea of how long we’d be here. Then, we were open to the idea of extending our visa, staying longer than three years, and so brought what we thought we might need. Now, when I contemplate replacing items we didn’t bring, I think of how I don’t want to pay to ship it back (because now I intend to go back sooner rather than later), and if it’s anything that runs on current, it will have to stay here.

Not having what I need at my fingertips has been a frustration. There are so many little things like gardening gloves or a box to mail something, that I used to have lying around. Now it’s not only an effort to go source these items, everything costs so much more than I expect. When we first arrived, and I had only had a quick look around, I thought prices were comparable. That was before I started trying to replace necessary items.

Quality is also hard to find. I went to the local craft store to find a plastic, compartmented box to hold my crafty supplies. They had one style and it cost $45 on sale. The lid wouldn’t stay on long enough to get to the bus stop. I debated taking it back, but knew that was about as good as I was going to find for less than $100, so decided to make do. That kind of sucks.

Language issues also pop up when I’m on the hunt for stuff. I went out the other day, looking for index cards. I’m in the process of writing a novel and want cards to keep track of notes and research. They aren’t called index cards here and I had no idea what they were called. Trying to explain what I wanted and why was an exercise in not losing my cool. You can’t just go to a grocery store and pick up a pack like you can in the U.S. The office supply store I went to didn’t even sell them. I had to go to a news agency, the place you buy magazines and newspapers.

Language can be fun, too. An electrician is a sparky. That just makes me happy for some reason. Tall, good looking sparkies make me happy too, but I can’t write that here in case my husband reads this.

Another adjustment comes in the form of customer service. The idea we have in the U.S. of “the customer is always right” doesn’t exist here. In most of the smaller shops I’ve had a wonderful experience; the people are lovely and so happy to have you in their shop. It’s in the bigger institutions that the trouble starts, specifically with rentals. Housing is so competitive here, that the property managers and owners pretty much have you over a barrel.

Since moving into our place, we’ve struggled with rain pouring down the walls, a horrific mold infestation, a random man that shows up in our locked courtyard once a week, and an ongoing, really frightening problem of experiencing an electric shock while showering. The property management’s response to all of this is, “it’s not happening. We’ve managed this property for twenty years and this has never been a problem before, therefore it must not be a problem now.”

When we first signed up for internet, the provider decided to change my husband’s name to Neil. They refused to change it to his correct name unless he brought his passport to the “customer service” department. After spending over an hour with them, trying to prove he was Craig, not Neil, they still didn’t change it. They kept mailing equipment to our house, but delivery required Neil’s signature and it had to be checked against his I.D.

The biggest issue I’ve faced in coming here has been isolation. Being a writer means I spend a lot of time alone, without the benefit of workmates, and making Aussie friends has proven to be difficult. When we first came, I purposely did not join any ex-pat groups. I didn’t want to isolate myself within the American ex-pat community; I wanted to assimilate. That’s a lot harder to do than you’d think. From what I’ve observed and from what I hear from the ex-pats I have gravitated to, it seems to be an issue of both culture and my age group.

Culturally, Australians tend toward a very friendly, gregarious personality, and socializing is a major past-time. They’ll strike up a conversation at the bus stop, and when we see familiar faces at the farmers market, they’re keen to chat, but more formal socializing is generally kept within an established group that they’ve known all their lives, and seems to be centered around family groups.

Age-wise, I’ve looked into various meet-up groups and they tend to be geared to or dominated by young people. There is a local community center that I thought might be an option. All the programming is for senior citizens. I feel lost and invisible in the middle of all this. I think it’s important to associate with people of all age groups, but I do want all the age groups represented. I think the young people would be just as uncomfortable with me there as I would be, and I don’t have the proper card yet to join the senior citizen groups.

The cost of everything adds to the isolation. It makes it hard to go places and see things. I end up feeling trapped at home, which in turn contributes to the depression. If I go back to that Urban dictionary definition – “The act of moving to another country for the purpose of building a better life” – from a financial aspect, our quality of life has decreased, especially since the Aussie dollar has dropped 30% since we came (it’s not our fault!)

If I look at life quality from a non-material point of view, it’s improved. I’m more active, partly out of necessity (no car) and also because there is so much to see and do. In the U.S. I didn’t feel an urgency to do touristy things, and as a result, I left there not ever having seen the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone Park, even though each were less than a nine hour drive away. Because I have a timeline here, I’m out exploring as much as I can on the budget. When we do go out to eat, there is more ready access to good food, and we have quick and easy access to natural places.

The second part of the definition, about building a more fulfilling career, definitely rings true. If not for this complete upset of the status quo, I don’t know if I would have been able to focus enough to build my writing career. Back in Utah, I was too distracted by my zillions of craft projects and the upkeep of house and garden; add in the bone deep inertia I’d cultivated, and I wasn’t ever going to succeed. Since being here, I’ve made great strides forward in both my freelance business and in my fiction writing.

Even through the tough parts, I do not regret coming here, and I am definitely not ready to go back just yet. Friend and family connections will eventually take me back to the U.S. and when I go, I’ll miss Australia and the friends I’ve made here. This place, for all its frustrating bits, is a beautiful and wild country, full of beautiful people, and I’m told there are even kangaroos.

At Long Last

shipment arrival (1 of 5)I was awake this morning before the sun. As I opened my eyes and adjusted to consciousness, I was filled with the absolute joy of a child who knows that this day really is Christmas. You know that magic feeling, as you slowly start to remember your name and where you exist in the world. Then, the realization dawns that downstairs there is an evergreen tree covered in tiny, twinkling colored lights.

shipment arrival (5 of 5)Beneath that tree are presents wrapped in gorgeous paper. Surprises! Because you have no idea what’s inside.

shipment arrival (3 of 5)Being reunited with familiar friends brings me a feeling of home that I have not felt in so very long.  It was fun to see what was in those boxes.  There are many things that I’d forgotten about.  And to be completely honest, as I unwrapped handful after handful of cutlery and serving utensils, I realized it’s more than I need.  But hey!  Next time I need a big spoon or a spatula, I have one!

shipment arrival (4 of 5)The house back in Salt Lake had a very particular musty odor that we only noticed upon returning from travels.  As I dig through these boxes, that smell comes wafting out.  While not the most pleasant of aromas, it does bring back many fond memories.  Also, it occurs to me that if the stuff in these boxes smells like that house, then we probably smelled like that too when we lived there!  Our clothes, anyway.

I’m exhausted after unpacking and washing a kitchen full of dishes (and caressing and speaking to each piece).  I know it’s time to quit, if not for the night, at least long enough to eat some dinner, but there are still boxes to open!  Treasures to discover.  I still need to find the bathroom scales and my boots and……

 

A Mother’s Day Excursion

Palm Beach(12 of 13)Continuing in my effort to visit every single beach in the Sydney area, and to document each and every wave, we set off on Mother’s Day to visit our primordial mother, the Sea.

bus tripOur adventure began with a ferry ride to Manly, where we picked up a bus going north, with one quick transfer.  It was about an hour’s ride along the coast, with gorgeous water views along the way, interspersed with woodsy areas and homes surrounded by trees and gardens.  I noticed the air change as we traveled north; it took on a woody aroma.

Palm Beach5 of 13)We took the bus as far as it would go and landed at Palm Beach.

Palm Beach13 of 13)Our original plan had been to hike up to Barren Joey Lighthouse,

Palm Beach(11 of 13)but there were no waves up there!

Palm Beach (9 of 13)I’m pretty sure between the two of us, we took about seventy-five million photos.

Palm Beach(7 of 13)Don’t get your camera wet!

Palm Beach (2 of 13)While a little chilly for swimming, it was still a beautiful day for the beach.  In contrast to Bondi and other more popular beaches, this one was mostly deserted.  There were a few families there picnicking and playing in the sand.  I got overly nervous about little kiddos too close to that surf.

Palm Beach(3 of 13)This sneaky fellow was pretending he wasn’t just snooping through our bags!

Palm Beach (10 of 13)It was one of those perfect, peaceful days when you can just feel the serotonin whooshing through your brain and you thank the Universe for putting you here.

Are you tired of beaches yet?

Three Month Mile-marker and Another Beach

It’s hard to believe, but we have been in Sydney for just over three months.  It feels both like we just got here and like we’ve been here forever.  Our shipment has still not arrived.  Well, let me rephrase that; it hasn’t been delivered to us.  Our bed and my kitchen is in Sydney.  In quarantine.  They do that.  It should be released soon and I’ll be doing a happy Christmas-in-May dance while I unpack the boxes and discover just what I put in there besides a bed and cooking utensils.

It’s been weeks since I’ve posted here, I know.  I’ve been up to something I’m sure.  Let me see…. we’ve been visiting and been visited by fun friends.  We had our first American sort-of-guests.  Our Utah friends’ son and his girlfriend borrowed our floor.  Unfortunately for them, they arrived the week of the worst storm in a decade here.  For three days we had gale force winds and rain falling in sheets from the sky.  I’ve seen Texas rainstorms, Iowa rainstorms, and blizzards from Utah to Wisconsin, but I’ve never seen a storm like this one.  We are still trying to dry out in here.  I had to wipe the walls down, it was that wet.  Thankfully the sun came out again.  At last.

I’ve been in a really good writing zone, finished two short stories.  The rain helped with that!  Nothing like being shut up for days to get you in the writing mood.

It’s been over a month now since I’ve been to a beach!  This Sunday is looking promising.  I do hope so, because I’m having withdrawals something fierce.  So, on that note, I’ll share more of March’s beach visits with you!

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (9 of 13)I set out one day to visit the McIver’s Baths at Coogee (I love the names of places here!), the only remaining women and children only ocean pool.  Wouldn’t you know, I went on the day they were revamping the pool.  So, I trekked on down a ways to Wylie’s Baths.  I did have to pay $4.80 to get in, but it was worth it.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (7 of 13)The pool is located just south of Coogee beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.  It sits in the rocks overlooking the open sea.  There is plenty of room to sun yourself, and there are also shady spots with rocks, benches, and even chairs to lounge upon.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (1 of 13)It was a warm day and the water was perfect.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (5 of 13)It fit my specifications because I could swim laps (ha ha!) and watch the waves.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (4 of 13)The bottom of the pool was a bit rough.  I discovered I’d drifted into more shallow water when I scraped the top of my foot across the rocks.  Oh and apparently a sea urchin.  I found the tiny tip of a spine sticking out of my toe when I got home.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (11 of 13)You can’t deny it’s a beautiful setting, though.  As I was walking back to the bus, I kept having to stop for one more peek at the views.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (12 of 13)A smaller ocean bath is situated just off of Coogee Beach.  This one appears to be free admission.  It is a lot smaller.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (13 of 13)Having a tough time tearing myself away from the water, I stopped to watch the surfers and swimmers at Coogee Beach before I left.  (Shh!  Don’t tell anyone, but I have a secret fantasy of being an old lady surfer one day.)

I only have one more beach up my sleeve to share with you.  I should do that before Sunday, because I have every intention of taking advantage of the $2.50 travel cap and adding another beach to my collection.  I seriously doubt we’ll be swimming!

A Trip to Shelly Beach

manly and shelly beach (1 of 12)Our journey to Shelly Beach began with a ferry ride, another perk of visiting the northern beaches.  I fully support adding as much water to the day as possible and the views from Sydney Harbour are enchanting.

sailboats (1 of 1)Does this look like work or fun to you?

manly and shelly beach (3 of 12)Shelly Beach is a short walk south of Manly Beach, with some interesting views along the way.  This fellow was doing push ups.

manly and shelly beach (4 of 12)I was curious and concerned about these padlocks and especially the pacifiers we saw attached to the fence along the way.  A Google search after returning home allayed my fears.  The locks are love locks, a tradition, according to Wikipedia, dating back to WWI in Serbia.  Today, young lovers (or old, I suppose) attach the padlocks as both a proclamation of and a talisman to protect their love.  The pacifiers seem to be from couples hoping for babies.

manly and shelly beach (5 of 12)All kinds of folk visit Shelly Beach.   Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve is there along the walk.

manly and shelly beach (7 of 12)While Manly Beach has its surf, Shelly’s waters are more calm.  It’s a protected cove with mellow waves.  (Lisa, it’s good for families and others who don’t want to drown.)

manly and shelly beach (6 of 12)There is a lot of interesting stuff going on at both Shelly and Manly beaches.  This guy and his mate were showing off for their female companions.  They raised their bodies into the air using only their upper body muscles.  They didn’t jump into this position; they slowly lifted themselves up.

manly and shelly beach (9 of 12)This area is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers.

manly and shelly beach (8 of 12)The Fairy Bower pool is situated between Manly and Shelly beaches.  We didn’t go in here, but it looked fun.

manly and shelly beach (10 of 12)These young naturalists were having an exploration.

manly and shelly beach (11 of 12)Now I have to say, this fellow wasn’t displaying very manly behavior to those cold waves.  Ok, I’m just mean, but really, if you’re gonna wear a suit like that (excuse me, bathing costume) you need to live up to the hype.

manly and shelly beach (12 of 12)Another one to be filed under “only in Australia”.  This lady managed to completely change out of her clothes and into her swimming costume all underneath that blue wrap, without flashing anyone.  I was impressed.

manly and shelly beach (2 of 12)I still have photos from Bondi Beach and Coogee, and there are so many more beaches to visit!  It’s starting to get a bit cool for swimming, but whale watching season is coming and we have our whale cruise tickets ready.

More Sydney Beaches – Bronte Beach

Bronte Beach (15 of 20)After being landlocked for so many years, I find I cannot get enough of the sea. Craig calls me obsessed as the weekend rolls around and I say, “oh guess where we’re going, honey!”  You can travel all over the damn place here on a Sunday for no more than $2.50 for the entire day. That’s a lot of beaches to visit, and I’m working on seeing them all.

Bronte Beach (13 of 20)A few weeks ago, we went to Bronte Beach, one of the beaches of the eastern suburbs.

Bronte Beach (19 of 20)It was a windy day, with lots of surf.  We thought we’d just dip our toes in.  After being slammed into the sand a few times, I insisted I’d had enough!  As much as I wanted to swim, I knew that was beyond my abilities.

Bronte Beach (10 of 20)Those waves belonged to the surfers.

bronte calm (1 of 1)After getting ourselves settled in the sand, we noticed that further south down the beach was this more sheltered area.  There is a rock break that helps create the larger waves to the north of it, while holding back the surf to the south end of the beach.  It was perfect for floating and bobbing in smaller, more manageable waves, great for families with children and others who would rather not drown.

Just on the other side of this is a salt water lap pool built into the rocks.  We didn’t swim there, and for some odd reason I didn’t even take a photo of it.  I was too busy watching the waves from a safe vantage point!

Up next – Shelly Beach:)

 

 

Checking In

Balmain (4 of 12)I seem to have gone missing from the page.  It’s amazing how time can slip away when you’re not looking.  It’s a good thing though.  I’ve been busy writing, getting to know our new home, and nesting as best one can do in an empty space.

We are enjoying our little village where we live, right across the harbor from the city center.  A couple weekends ago, Balmain had two events scheduled that we wanted to attend.  One was an open artist studio tour, and the other was Second Hand Saturday, a group of garage sales all over town.  We looked at the maps for both the events and plotted out where we wanted to go: a few art studios, and along the way maybe we’d find a couple more dining room chairs to carry home.

Balmain (1 of 12)The open studio tour was aptly named LOST (Leichhardt Open Studio Tour) because get lost is pretty much what we did.  Not exactly lost, but distracted like we do.  We did have a great time wandering around, discovering gorgeous parks just steps away from where we live.

Balmain (2 of 12)I was having a grand time exploring all the plant life.

Balmain (5 of 12)I was trying to get artistic with this fern when Craig said, “um..Bobbi…um…step away slowly.” So of course I whipped around to see….

Balmain (6 of 12)this monster.

Balmain (7 of 12)He’s actually quite pretty.  And that web was ginormous.

Balmain  (1 of 1)We kept walking and pretty soon we found this one.  I couldn’t get it to show up in the photo, but he looked like he had a golden clasp right there in the middle of him.  He resembled an expensive gold and enamel brooch.

Balmain (10 of 12)This is where we want to live next.  Or not.  I can just imagine how many spiders are in there!

Balmain (11 of 12)We saw the most insane dog ever in the world.

Balmain (12 of 12)The only thing on the L.O.S.T. list we got to was this demonstration of street art in the making.  I’m sure these three are future spray can enthusiasts.  We never did find a garage sale.  We spent too much time with the spiders!

our shipMore good news; our ship finally sailed, and I figured out how to track it.  This was its last recorded position yesterday.  Our bed and my kitchen are headed to Taiwan, apparently.  That’s progress!

Top Ten Things I Miss (that are still in a port in California)

These are the objects I find myself missing the most:

1. My cookbooks
2. My salad spinner
3. My bed

Oh! Wait! No, bed is #1.

Start over.

1. My bed
2. Salad spinner
3. Cookbooks

Oh, no. Hold on. I miss my cookbooks more than I miss the salad spinner, but I NEED the salad spinner more than the cookbooks.

I’ll try again.

bed1. A really comfortable bed

cookbooks12. All my cookbooks, even the ones I left at my son’s house, and the ones I gave away or sold in the yard sale. I want to sit and look at pictures of pretty pastries and cakes and other things I shouldn’t be eating.

3. My salad spinner. Wow, I just realized that I was imagining in my head my old red and white salad spinner instead of my newer, bright green, and better salad spinner. It’s been so long, I am forgetting what I own.

4. The rest of my knitting needles so I can start more WIPs. I brought my best yarn with me.

bowls5. Pretty bowls, so I can make giant salads, mix bread, and even set one on the counter with fruit in it. Oh yes! That really pretty blue pottery bowl that Craig bought for me at the SLC farmers market!  I miss that one!

6. All the books I was in the middle of reading, since I am incapable of reading one book at a time or actually finishing a book before I start another.

linens7. Kitchen, bath, and bed linens. I really need more than one hand towel, and some placemats would be fabulous. Here they have a store called Bed, Bath, and Table. They forgot the Beyond.

vase

typewriter8. umm…. well…. oh I know! That pretty turquoise vase, and my Underwood typewriter, because I like to look at it. The ribbon needs re-inked, then I could use it.

9. I guess that’s it. Eight things.

The top eight things I miss, that are still in a port in California (and tentatively scheduled to sail on March 14. Of this year.  I hope. God, I hope they meant this year!)

****

This blog post was a bad idea.  As I was searching through my photo archives for appropriate pics, I realized that what I miss isn’t these things, (well sorta) but what I really miss is my home and my family and my friends, my friends who are my family, and Utah, yes, I even miss Utah.

This act of giving up so much to get some other thing you really want is hard.  The conflicting emotions stretch me across the world.  I want to be here in Sydney; I love it here.  AND I miss everything and everybody I left behind.  AND I love the new people we’ve found here.  And the sea, and the shops, and the coffee, and the birds, and the cafes.