Sunday, December 20, 2009
Where The Sidewalk Ends
The other day I started taking long walks around the neighborhood, and the first thing I noticed was that there were no sidewalks! Instead, I have to plod along on the grass, which of course is mildly sideways, as the area is hilly, and the grass, of course, is dead because it is summer and Australians are significantly less preoccupied with their garden aesthetics than we are. (They are also in an eternal drought).
Then, suddenly there was sidewalk! So I crossed the street, carefully as there are no crosswalks (can't expect those if there aren't even places to walk on the side of the road), and took the newly paved footpath. Then, suddenly, there was no sidewalk. It simply ended. So I crossed the road again. And again, the sidewalk ended. What kind of crackpot city planning is this?
You know what I say?
Can't stop progress.
I was ecstatic to eventually find a delightful auto mall road (complete with sidewalks that somehow didn't end) that led me to a big, comforting red sign: The Salvation Army. I knew that where there was Salvation Army, there was thrift store shopping, and sure enough, there was a giant "Salvos" hiding around the corner. I went to town, or should I say, browsed for a very long time without buying much. It was all I could do to keep away from the thirty year old bagged tinsel and souvenir Australia mugs, but unfortunately I'm on a budget since Australian thieves stole my handbag (true story. They actually stole my purse, but handbag sounds so much better, doesn't it?) Anyway, I walked away with a cake pan and a halter top for the grand expense of $6, and they even kept the store open for me past closing time so I could try things on. The Aussies are so friendly.
You know what other Aussies are friendly? The medical workers. Not only did I have a very successful clinical visit in Ipswich (for reasons that I would love to broadcast, but it's really not necessary) - complete with chat to the NICEST receptionist ever, who recommended I wait to go North to the GBR and Port Douglass until after March, when the "jellies" are out to sea - but I also gave blood. Yes, I gave blood to the Australian Red Cross. Walked right up and offered them my arm, practically, though they were incredibly busy ( I think Australians have a great sense of blood-giving responsibility).
One of the best compliments I have ever received: "Your iron levels are fantastic!"
Have you ever given blood when it's humid as a hot showered bathroom with no windows and nearly 100 degrees? Me either. So after I set off to walk to the train station, newly drained of a liter of my life juice, I had a bit of a hard time. !!! It should be mentioned that one of the snacks on offer by the Red Cross was snack sized Cadbury Hokey Pokey bars. I ate one and was so excited I saved the wrapper. Hokey Pokey is one of my childhood memories indulged by my parents that I haven't seen since I was about ten years old. Taste memories are the best.
The 2k walk from the train station to the house was mild agony. It was hot. I felt woozy. I had also neglected to reapply sunscreen and I wasn't sure if I was going to come out of this experience still healthily pale. I made it back safely, but was still determined to make a birthday cake (because what 25 year old guy doesn't like birthday cake?). This was also agony. I would whisk, whisk, whisk, then walk slowly to the couch and throw my legs up for five minutes, drink a glass of water, hobble back to the whisking, crack and egg, stumble back to the couch, and so on. This was truly a labor of love...and a freaking amazing cake! I used this recipe. You should use it too, for your upcoming birthday, especially the sour cream frosting: http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/07/best-birthday-cake/.
This is all for now. I am currently busy enjoying an early Christmas present of Australia guide books, getting ready for a ROAD TRIP...anywhere. Until soon!