Sunday, May 28, 2006


this afternoon we headed down to cyclovia-- the first of its kind in australia (several european countries do these regularly apparently). basically sydney rd (one of the busiest--and probably most stressful for cyclists--roads in our neighbourhood; one of the main arteries from the cbd to nothern suburbs) was closed off from 6am-2pm today to all vehicles (excluding trams). it was great. people were riding up all across the road only having to stop at major intersections to let traffic thru. we even saw a dad and his daughter kicking a footy on the road (technically the rule was that pedestrians still had to stay to the footpath but the few that were on the road weren't getting in anyone's way anyway). anywhere there was a cafe or pub bikes were locked up to every pole and bike rack in the vacinity (we stopped for a beer and chips after we road up to the top and back). it was especially great that this event took place only a few minutes bike ride from our house (although i'm sure a lot of people we saw riding, made the effort to come out from many different suburbs). it was great seeing riders of all ages and abilities and all types of bikes being able to go along the road without fear of being doored, cutoff or run over and parents able to safely let their small kids ride along on their own bikes on a major road. it was so nice and quiet too. the only sounds were people talking and cars off in the distance crossing intersections. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 25, 2006


i didn't get called into work today so i decided it was a perfect day to go to the zoo. it's only about a 10 min bike ride from our house but i haven't been there since i first arrived in melbourne and zac's mom took me (zac won't go-- he doesn't agree with animals in cages, especially when they live in climates different from melbourne). here are a few of the photos (more up on flikr)
i did feel pretty bad about most of the cats (except the lions). they were ALL pacing up and down inside pretty small enclosures (the lions had a bigger enclosure and were quite content laying around all day).
one of my favourite animals:
and orangutan family sharing a moment (they're actually all sharing some lettus but they look so cute when the baby came over and put his arm around mom and they all had they backs to us looking like they were looking at a book or something together)
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Saturday, May 20, 2006

ice hockey

i've been doing a bit of cleaning and i came across this. it's the front page of a vancouver free street press (the mx equivalent) from last summer when we were in canada. its the day the hockey strike that cancelled the 2004-05 season finally ended. i think the end of the hockey strike was headline news for every piece of media in canada that day. for australians to understand, it would be the equivalent of the afl being cancelled for a year. without footy it would be a long, cold winter in melbourne.
speaking of footy, melbourne had a great game last nite 8) they beat hawthorn 136-61. the last game i watched melbourne play was a couple weeks ago when we had a REALLY wet nite. it was such a different game then. the ground was wet, the ball was wet, everyone was slipping everywhere and fumbling. the stands were pretty empty too cuz it was such a wet nite. there's a great photo of the wet grounds and empty stands (i think it was taken a bit before the game started) at this site (click the image there to make it extra big to see the detail). i've also got a few photos up on that site

Friday, May 19, 2006

one less car

it's taken me a while to get used to the whole "car free" thing. since i was 16 i've almost always had use of a car or owned/leased a car, until i moved to australia. my last year in canada i tried to use my car as little as possible but i absolutely needed it to get to work-- it was 30km away and it was split shift so i was there 7-9 am then back 2:30-6pm (i checked the bus schedule and i would have had to take 2-3 buses and it would take 90-120 minutes instead of 30 by car, i didn't own a bike either but i think biking in freezing moring temp.s and rain would have put me off doing it anyway). inbetween i had to study for a correspondence course i was doing. my poor car put on 120km a day just going to and from work.
i was glad to let it go when i came to australia. once i realized i was staying here permanently i thought more about getting a car but zac has always been completely against it so i would have to save up on my own for the car. in the past several weeks though i've realized how much a car actually weighs people down even though most people buy it for freedom/convience. if we had a car, we wouldn't have been able to spend 5 weeks travelling to canada/alaska last year. if we had a car we would be really struggling while i was out of work for almost 2 months (and even now i'm only working casual, part time shifts) but instead we were able to go away for 4 1/2 days and not worry about money while we were away, eat out when we want to, go to gigs and movies and i booked tickets yesterday for us to go to brisbaine in july to visit friends there (and get away from melbourne's winter for a bit).
bikes are great for getting around-- its WAY cheaper than going by car, MUCH better for the environment, and its a lot faster when you're going through peak hour traffic (i love riding past cars lined up at lights for several blocks back--or more--with other bikes). we can always hire a car if we want to get away somewhere we can't get by public transport for a weekend (plus zac's mom is great at lending us her car once in a while to get away) and there's car shares like flo and goget that i've been looking into and waiting for a "pod" or cars to be located a bit closer to us
***anyone in the east brunswick area of melbourne looking for a car share, register your intrest with one or both of these cuz if they get enough intrest in this area they'll place a pod in the neighbourhood.
melbourne is a great city to be carfree in too. the weather isn't too bad (you just have to get good raingear for the winter months), its not to hilly, there's a good number of roads with bike lanes (although there's still room for lots of improvement there) and there's some good paths to ride on along creeks and rivers too.
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Thursday, May 18, 2006

sunny days

its funny how much everyone seems to appreciate the nice weather we've had the past 3 days. after several days of "cold" (around 15C) gray, drizzly days everything is soo much nicer when it gets to 20C (which still isn't even tshirt weather for me) and the sky is blue. i've had to work the past 2 nice days (but working with the kids is sooooo much easier when its warmer-- they slow down a lot outside and we can stay out later in the afternoon) but today was my day off (i work again tomorrow). i've gotten really behind on everything (cleaning, ebaying, errands....) and i figured i'd get a lot done today. i didn't wake up until 11:30 which put me a bit behind in starting everyting (i must have needed the sleep if i slept that late cuz i haven't done that in a long time). i still managed to be pretty productive today. i gave my bike a long overdue degreasing and tune up, fixed up the garden a bit (i haven't touched it since we started getting regular rain about 1 1/2 months ago and the weeds were starting to get out of control), got some grocery shopping done, bought more stuff to put on ebay, laundry (although technically zac started that, but then he got called into work so i had to hang it out and wash the FNB tea towels-- they haven't made it out of the washer though).... unfortunately the stuff requiring me to stay inside the house (cleaning up the lounge room and spare room) didn't get done and i didn't want to sit inside the spare room and play on my keyboard either cuz it was too nice to be inside. saturday is supposed to be rainy and gray again so that'll be when i can do that stuff (if i don't find something else to procrastinate with) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

i made a kid cry

at the end of rest time we go around and pick the quietest kids to pack up their beds first (just so we don't have everyone moving around at once cuz there's always a few that are alseep). there were 3 boys in a small area at the back of the room. first i told one to get up and then i picked a couple people in other areas of the room. i came back and told the second one to get up (the other boy was still fooling around a bit so i figured it might be good for him to just sit or lay still for a couple minutes). i walked away and then turned around a few seconds later to see the 3rd boy packing up his stuff too. i walked over and said (in a very quiet voice so i didn't wake the girl sleeping right near him) "matt*, i haven't told you to get up yet. you just need to sit for another minute and then when i see that you're quiet i'll let you know you can pack up" (mostly i just didn't want all 3 boys packing up at once cuz it would get chaotic and loud and they'd wake the sleeping girl near them). he dropped down on his bed and started crying like he was in extreme pain. i tried to calm him for a few seconds but that just made him scream more. the other staff walked over and just said that he's a bit sensitive sometimes (i'd never seen him cry before-- especially like this. he's usually a very happy, friendly kid). she tried to get him to stop by telling him just to take a deep breath and relax for a minute and letting him know that his friend on the other side of the room wasn't packing up yet either. that didn't work. he just kept on screaming and crying. surprisingly, the girl near him slept through it. after a minute or so (seemed like forever) he got himself just to the point of sniffling. by this time the 2 other boys had packed up and were playing quietly in another part of the room so i quickly told him it was ok to pack up before he went back to crying.
*name has been changed to protect the sensitive

Monday, May 15, 2006

exploding head

this is how my head is feeling (and it just keeps getting bigger). what i thought was just hay fever or something has turned out to be a cold. my nose has been dripping on and off for about 2 weeks but it decided to get worse the last 2 nites and then throughout today my sinuses have gotten more and more congested. i hate feeling like this. now that i'm done procrastinating on the computer (editing photos, and ebay) i think i'm gonna go to bed (and hope for a miraculous recovery overnite and just go back to the random drippy nose thing-- or nothing at all would be even better).

Friday, May 12, 2006

ben harper

we saw ben harper at the rod laver arena last nite. it was really good. that was the 4th time i've seen him (every other time was in america). it was a little weird seeing him sitting in a chair in an indoor arena but still really good (every other time has been an outdoor concert or music festival). he did a set of mostly stuff of the new album and then left. then just ben came back on and did some solo stuff-- it reminded me a lot of his (very long) encore he did when we saw him in san diego. it was some of the more mellow stuff. when he did the mellow stuff in s.d. it was at an outdoor gig on the football field at the university. it got dead silent during the slower songs (just like last nite). we were sitting and standing near the back of the field where people were more spread out. while we were all very focused on the music someone walking through the area accedently stepped on a plastic cup on the ground. the crack it made sounded soooo loud since everyone was being so quiet listening to the music-- it was almost as if someone had just yelled out during a very quiet moment in a church service or something.for the encore he did some of his very popular, well known songs like "steal my kisses" "burn one down"the gig was really good--other than the few stupid people at EVERY ben harper gig i've gone to who feel its an absolute necessity to bring a joint and save it for the moment when he starts the song "burn one down". i like the song myself (even if i've never smoked one) and it does kinda make a good point in a way but people who feel that they are sooooo cool because while he's singing about it, they're doing it don't realize how dumb it actually looks (especially when we're sitting in row s and we can see a couple dozen puffs of yellow smoke going up within seconds after that song starts).i don't think i'll go see ben harper at an indoor concert anymore but i will definately see him again if he comes out here and does an outdoor gig in summer or back in canada or the u.s.(we just missed seeing him last year in canada cuz we didn't check his website in time-- he was playing in vancouver the nite we arrived but we didn't find out til it was sold out).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"fish", creamy mashed potatoes and veggies with "cheese" sauce

i didn't intend to make a "fancy" dinner last nite (90% of our dinners consist of everything ending up in one pot-- pasta, stir fry... rarely do we have a meal that is better if you don't eat everything all mixed together). the best part about this meal is that its entirely vegan so zac could eat it (a bit deceptive at first glance at the picture). the cheese sauce on the steamed veggies is "chreeze mix"-- a vegan powdered, just-add-water mix (and it was actually pretty descent tasting considering i just added hot water to a packet). the extra creamy mashed potatoes were made with a bit of soy milk and put in the food processor to get them extra smooth (even with the peels and fried onions) with little effort. the "fish stick" looking piece is actually a vegan veggie fish fillet that tasted surprising like the real thing (frozen fish fingers). i think that's gonna be the nicest looking meal we have for a few days(other than eating out). i'm having fnb gray slop brought to me tonite (its the taste that counts, not the colour. its always good even if its always gray). tomorrow we both work late so its gonna be veggie dogs and maybe some chips or a salad with them. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 05, 2006

we're all part of nature

so we were having group time at kinder today and one of the kids brought in a great book of australian nature so one of the other teachers was going though the book with the kids. the first part was the alphabet and each letter was a picture of a different animal found in australia. i was quite amazed as they went through each letter and the teacher would say "a is for.... b is for...." and the kids would all say what the animal in the picture was together. some of them were a bit tricky but even those ones there was a few kids who knew the answer. we got to L (for lyrebird) and one boy knew the answer right away (because the have one at "his" zoo-- i don't think he realizes yet that we all live right near the melbourne zoo). while he's busy explaining the right answer a little girl in the back kept saying "L is for lesley" (her name). finally the teacher acknowledged her answer by saying "yes, L is for lesley but you're not part of australian nature are you?" before she could even respond another little boy piped up "well, actually we're all part of nature..." he's right but it would be very difficult to explain that concept to the majority of 4 and 5 year olds so the teacher had to just delicately explain he was right but at the same time move away from a whole big explaintion for kids who just think of wild animals and plants as nature cuz we still had half the alphabet to cover plus skimming through the rest of the book (numbers/counting, opposits, times of was a big book, but really neat).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

hepburn springs

we had a great, relaxing weekend (4 nites) in hepburn springs. we stayed at the continental house. it was a great place. its kinda like a hostel but without the noise (they ask that guests keep it a quiet relaxing sanctuary). the rooms are hostel style but you can get private rooms (gotta walk to the showers and toilets though). the property is vegan, drug, smoke and alcohol free so all meals you prepare in the guest kitchen have to be vegan. on saturday nite they do a vegan banquet which is an amazing buffet of food. they also have a fireplace that we spent every evening (and one afternoon) infront of (the first 2 times we tried to light it we failed-- mostly due to lack of dry kindling but we got 3 good fires going after that)
i was so amazed by the colours of all the leaves in the area-- it reminded me of home (only better cuz we don't have a lot of maples in western canada). i now have dozens of pictures of red, yellow and orange leaves. it was amazing. this was my favourite maple leaf that i found (i brought it home). i picked it up the first afternoon and zac thought it was funny that i was carrying it around with me cuz there were thousands and i could get some any time i wanted but that was my favourite with autumn leaves around it.

friday afternoon we spent at a spa (cuz we were in spa country and it would be weird to spend 4 1/2 days there and not try out a spa). this one was great cuz it offered a public deal with use of mineral water spa, hydro therapy pool, mineral salt water floatation pool, spa couches (my favourite) and zenoxy massagers for only $30 so we spent a few hours moving from one area to another just relaxing.

hepburn springs is known for all of the springs around it (not just a clever name). there are water pumps where you can drink the water all over town and on short walks. each one tastes different. the name of this one makes you think it would have a pretty bad taste but it actually wasn't the worst-- one a 20min walk from this one tasted (and smelled) WAY more like sulphur than this one.

we did a lot of walks/hikes around the area too. there were soooo many different communities of plants in the forest. a lot of maple and oaks (weeds in australia but they are really pretty this time of year). we also ended up walking through large areas of gum trees. these are some of the saplings of gum trees that had been through a fire in the recent past.

thats the cool thing about a lot of native australian plants-- they NEED fire or extreme heat to regenerate Posted by Picasa
on sunday we ended up hiking over 20km. we didn't really intend to. it started out as just a short walk to test out some more of the spring water and see how far it was from hepburn springs to daylesford (the next town). it was 4km by road but i knew there was a trail that weaved its way along a gorge and a river. we got lost a couple times (due to lack of signs when the trail forked several times) and then we ended up a couple kms west of hepburn springs. we started to walk back into town and we saw a sign pointing down a side street saying "1.4 km to blowhole historic site". i knew that was along the trail to daylesford so we decided to check out the blowhole and look at the maps there to daylesford. we got there and it said 90 min to daylesford so we decided to go for it. we made it to the trail exit we wanted to get into daylesford and started walking up the road we knew would take us into town. the maps were horrible that we looked at, we got lost (again), got bad/vague directions from a couple people but we eventually ended up in daylesford. we added up the distances along the trail and it was 16.8km (not including the fact we deviated from that and got lost a couple times). there are no buses on weekends between the 2 towns so we decided after getting a snack and a couple drinks that we would walk back to hepburn springs to try some food at a thai place i had my eye on all weekend. its definately a much shorter walk back along the road. the hike was pretty amazing though with all the different trees and lots of birds and a few other random animals

this bird (fancy pigeon of some sort?) was on the side of the road at some point on our walk. we think they were domestic cuz they couldn't fly very well. they were walking around looking like that (looks uncomfortable)

this sheep was in someones front yard just chowing down on some grass. we're not sure if he is their sheep (there was no fence keeping him in and he wasn't tied up either) or if he escaped from a neighbours farm. looked pretty funny though.

more pretty leaves.

waiting for the bus to take us to daylesford (they only run every couple hours or so and only on weekdays) Posted by Picasa

i put some more photos from heburn springs on my flikr site (click link on sidebar) for those that are interested
it was the swiss/italian festival in hepburn springs on the weekend. if you look closely you can see this dog has a couple small swiss flags around its neck.

there was some kind of art display different works created with cds. this one was my favourite

this pump had a hole in the top of the pipe so if you pump really hard the water shoots out of the top. Posted by Picasa