Thursday, October 01, 2015

Sometimes, you just have to will it into being.

A few months ago, I wrote that Inspector Climate had a job interview for a job in Tasmania.

He didn't get it.

He got a better job – in Tasmania – instead.

My boss has said I can transfer offices and so, we're moving to Tassie, bitches.

(Bitches was just for emphasis...)

In fact, as this (wildly boring) blog post gets published, we're flying down to Tasmania to look at houses... to buy. We're not messing around, ladies and gentlemen, I can almost feel the kitty and puppy cuddles, they're so close!

It's... a bit unreal. The houses that we're looking at have established fruit trees, and a little land, and room for a dog, and some of them even have space for me to teach yoga on the side (I KNOW, right?).

It feels so grown up to be talking about buying a house. But it also feels a bit overwhelming to be considering leaving the city I've called home for the majority of my 20s. How will I make new friends? Will I finally have to drive on the left side of the road... by myself? What if I never see some of my favourite Melburnians again (Kirsti! You'll come visit, right?). What if? What if? What if?

Look out, Tassie, we're coming soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Shall we vista?

In the last week of our trip back to the US, we did something that has been on my to do list (and life list) for a long time: road trip up/down the coast of California. So my parents and Inspector Climate and I flew into San Francisco and rented a car (a car is using the term loosely – it was a Yukon and the biggest thing in the entire world).

I have family in San Francisco and so we visited with them for two days and did a little sight seeing. One of the problems of being an expat is that when I go home, I really want to go home – to my parents farm to lie on the couch with dogs which means that Inspector Climate (or I) rarely gets to see somewhere new. Inspector Climate had never been to San Francisco, and my parents and I had never seen the Muir Woods and so off we went to frolic amongst the Red Woods.

And boy, did we frolic.

May I take this opportunity to give a travel tip: get there early or take a shuttle from San Francisco (no, just get there early). Because we arrived before 9am the park was free (not that I mind paying for National Parks, but you know), but more importantly, we had the place to ourselves. We took a walk and barely saw a single person for the first 1.5 hours and as we looped back around, the park was really starting to fill up.

Also keep an eye out for wildlife! We saw a deer just wondering about in the woods, and then saw two fawns drinking out of a creek.

I have a certain love – that my parents seem to have passed down to me – for big old trees. Trees that are thousands of years old and seen so much and experienced so much make me feel small and insignificant in all the best ways.

They remind me why I do what I do (nature conservation / climate change fighter). It's for the trees, ya'll.

What we soon called 'assuming the position':

After two blissful days in San Francisco, we repacked the Yukon and hit Rt 1. It was everything I thought it was going to be...and a little bit more. For all you Australians out there, driving down the California coast is like the Great Ocean Road, but on steroids.

It did get to the point where it was a bit like, 'Oh, another beautiful vista? I mean, I guess we'll stop...'

The trip not only fed my love of big trees, but also my love for cliffs (if one remembers my trip to Norfolk Island – one will also remember my love for cliffs...why am I talking like this?).

And also for incredible feats of engineering:

Right, like we get it? Enough with the beauty.

Oh, that's just a casual waterfall INTO THE OCEAN.

And once we had driven past the beauty and the cliffs we came to elephant seals. They used their fins to cover their bodies with sand. It was adorable.

But besides the absolute beauty that was the coast, I have to say it was the quality time with my parents that I most enjoyed. My parents last did the drive down the California coast in 1970 and as we drove along they were reminded of adventures that they had gone on. And I don't know if it because I just turned 30 (did I mentioned that I turned 30? Gulp) or if it is my parents approaching 70, but they're suddenly much more open with me about their past and there struggles as adults.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Spotting a Decoybetty in her natural habitat

This last trip back the US was four weeks of being with family, which hasn't happened since 2009! I got to spend two weeks in New Hampshire on my parents farm, a week in Cape Cod with my brothers, and a week in California (post to come soon!)

If I had my way, I probably would never leave my parents farm when I went back to the US to visit.  Sitting with two dogs on a couch? My idea of heaven.

My mom's garden was going into serious overdrive while we were there. I made a giant thing of fridge pickles and there were bags and bags of cucumbers that we also picked and made plates and plates of cucumber salad.

Inspector Climate was champion plum picker. With the help of a dog, of course!

We also picked pears, apples, zucchinis, pumpkins, and tomatoes. And green beans. And corn. And, and, and!

Pears are interesting because they ripen from the core outwards, you're supposed to pick them when they're not ripe and let them ripen off the tree.

One of my parents' dogs takes his job of protecting the farm very seriously. And most nights could be found sitting outside the kitchen door surveying his land. The other dog would be running down to the orchard for post-dinner snack and go pick himself an apple or plum off the ground and bring it back up to the house eat it. Hilarious.

Just a few apples. In fact, we took 30 pounds of apples and turned into apple butter and apple sauce (recipes 37 and 38 on my life list to cook 100 new things! Expect more of these coming soon). My mom and I (and Inspector Climate helped too with the peeling, coring, and slicing and dicing) spent hours in the kitchen preserving the abundance of produce.

I felt like I spent most of my time in New Hampshire with sticky hands from peeling so much fruit.

Just some of the bounty. We also made plum jam, which holy moly was good!

The green of New Hampshire seriously rejuvenates my soul – cheese alert! – but it is one of those things that I'm completely not aware of missing, needing, or craving until we start to drive north from Boston. And then, suddenly, the mountains come into view, and the green leaves on the miles of woods, and despite the jet lag and the exhaustion I feel a burst of energy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

When coming home isn't the same as going home.

This morning at 7:40 am, I arrived back in Melbourne after a four week visit with my family in the US. To say that I did some crying on the flight, and in the airport, and very nearly when going through customs is an understatement.

So yes, I'm jetlagged, I'm tired, I go back to work tomorrow, and although Monday didn't exist for me, it appears that while Inspector Climate and I flew over the pacific ocean Australia got a new Prime Minister! Big day, ya'll.

I have so many exciting adventures to share of our trip and also coming the upcoming weeks and months – Big News (I'm not pregnant) – in fact. But at the moment, I'm feeling... sad.

You'd think that after doing something for nearly a decade that one would become better at it – but every goodbye at the airport feels more permanent, more acute, and more painful then the ones before.

I don't handle jet lag well, and for the first time I think I'm putting the pieces together on why that is: I'm not just dealing with jet lag, but a cocktail of grief and exhaustion (most definitely on the rocks – I'm sorry for that, I couldn't help myself). And just maybe it is the grief that I'm the slowest at getting over. It isn't surprising that the symptoms of grief are similar to those of jet lag: tired well before any normal adult should be going to bed, lethargy, waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to sleep.

When I'm living my life here in Australia, I feel so – and I'm sorry for using this word, but it's true – blessed that I am able to do it. That I live in a place that for whatever reason inspires me to be the best version of myself (most days). That I have a job I love, and am married to truly saintly human being – who I never would have met if I had not been here. I can't really imagine not living here.

But when I go home, and I am surrounded by truly green things I feel so refreshed, rejuvenated, and whole.

I'm not sure if other expats feel this way as well, but homesickness is the hardest to bear the two weeks prior, during, and the two weeks post going back home.

I'll leave you with a picture of me fighting (and losing) jet lag once I'd gotten to the US – but it was much more bearable because I had my parents cat to keep me company in the wee hours of the morning.

Monday, June 08, 2015

My love for Tassie grows

I had to go to Tasmania for work last week, and coincidentally so did Inspector Climate (which by the way, I used to blog so much that sometimes I would almost introduced Inspector Climate as his pseudonym to people in the real world. Now I can barely type it). We decided to make a little weekend away, we spent one night in Hobart and then headed to Dover. 

I asked some colleagues at work where we should go out to eat and they suggested Ethos Eat Drink – you was delicious. What I didn't realise was that it was a set menu, six course meal, for $90 per person, which seemed a bit steep until they said that a. they could 100% cater for this gluten free vegetarian and b. all the food is locally sourced and they change their menu as to what they have available on a daily basis. I was in. It was divine. I did have one brief moment of panic when the first course they brought out was a single potato chip per person.

The next day we drove south to Hastings Caves – unfortunately due to my poor photography skills none of the photos do the cave the justice it deserves. I often feel like this when I travel, that I just want Kyle Hepp with me all the time. Not only so that she can teach me how to take stunning photographs as we go, but also because I can only imagine she is divine travel companion. Anyway, the cave is massive and the stalactites and stalagmites are simple beautiful.

Descending into the cave feels like entering Middle Earth with otherworldly creatures just around the bend.

We stayed at a delightful (seriously, Beryl was just so lovely) not-quite-bed-and-breakfast called Thelma Retreat. It was the off season while we were there, but normally there is a tea house where they mill their own flour (read as perhaps my version of hell) and serve morning and afternoon tea. She did bring us some homemade gluten free scones and some home-milled flour muffins upon our arrival. Delish!

The next day, we drove to Cockle Creek and did the walk to the southern most of Australia.  It's about 4 hours round trip. We had just been talking about how we hadn't really seen any wildlife, just a few birds, when we came across Mr. Pademelon. So cute!

Stop being so cute!

The wind was hollowing by the time we reached the southern most tip (where, it turns out, one is closer to Antarctica from that point that s/he is to Cairns which is pretty crazy! Australia is a very big place). We have all the fashion sense in the world.

We packed so many warm clothes for this walk: fleece, down jackets, rain gear, extra pairs of socks, hats and fingerless gloves and we actually got too hot. Like, way too hot.

I even practiced my left-side-of-road driving skills – I don't know if everyone is as afraid as I am of driving on the other side of the road (I'd imagine not), but I still cringe when a car is coming the other way. You'd think I'd be used to that by now!

It was so nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of The Everyday. I read books and we watched Mad Men (we're only just starting to watch - a bit behind the times, per usual). While we were away, we were talking about how we use my blog as our memory bank of all the trips we've taken and all the fun adventures we've had, so after landing back in Melbourne this morning I promised myself I'd make sure I posted this right smart.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Let's keep this Strictly Ballroom

Over the past weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of being given ticket to see Strictly Ballroom: the Musical by Nuffnang (thank you Nuffnang!).

I have always loved Strictly Ballroom the movie. I remember watching it as a kid and just wishing I could dance like that (listen to the rhythm), that I would meet some cute Australian who would sweep me off my feet (Oh, hey, wait a minute...).

Well, that last part is true, but only when I realised that they were Australian. It just never occurred to me, I just figured they were from some other part of the US that talked a bit funny compared to me. Whoops.

Anyway, like the truly terrible blogger I've become I didn't take a single picture of the theatre (which was dazzling-ly sparkly as one would imagine) or of Inspector Climate and me dressed up for a rare night out on the town (I wore make up ya'll!).

But the show was so much fun! The singing, the dancing, the enthusiasm – I came home tapping my feet and singing 'Time after Time' – as you do.

Anyway, if you're in Melbourne and get a chance to see Strictly Ballroom, do it!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Be careful, you might just get what you want...

Inspector Climate and I have a dream to one day move to Tassie have a house on a bit of land with a chicken coop, small possum proof garden, a cat, a dog (or three), a lion cub, and some established fruit trees.

We talk about it a lot. It's the answer to my 'I want a puppy now' and Inspector Climate says 'someday, when we have a house in Tassie.'

But when I start thinking of life beyond the house in Tassie that's when things start getting ... unsettling. My parents are getting old, they live on a big property in the United States and I love their house and farm. I used to tell people that when I grew up I was going to kick my parents out of their house and live there instead.

And the truth is. I would. I really would. But there are no jobs where my parents live. So I can never really reconcile how we could possibly live there. But I would like to go and help my parents out when the time comes that they can't take care of the farm on their own.

The other unreconcilable part of the equation is once we buy a house in Tasmania (ok, ok...IF we buy a house in Tasmania) and we get the puppy, the kitty, the garden and the chooks how can we just up and leave it? We maybe could rent it out and then go live in the US – could we take the animals? But if I live in my parents' place could I ever leave it to come back to our house here in Australia? WHY AREN'T THERE ANY ANSWERS, LIFE?

I work myself up into a state of panic about this about once a year. I end up sitting up in bed sobbing unable to conceive of any possible solutions and Inspector Climate rubs my back and asks me repeatedly if I want a hankie. Which 'No I don't ok. I feel miserable and I want the full snot filled miserable experience, thank you very much'. (Ahem, my yearly panic may have happened last night and is feeling particular fresh in my mind).

The rest of the time, I'm able to compartmentalise that feeling of panic into 'future Decoybetty's problem'. The future is adventure, it'll be fine – just stop thinking about it. STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. No, really. Stop it.


Inspector Climate is about six months away from finishing his PhD. AND he just had a job interview for job in Tasmania. Which is like the most exciting thing EVER. I asked my work place if there was any possibility that I could transfer to Tasmania and they said 'why yes, that is possible, hypothetically.' By Christmas I could be getting the best present in all the land... A KITTEN and a PUPPY.

So what exactly happens when that future you've been planning for, pining for, working toward starts to solidify and becomes well, reality?

I don't know. But the good news is maybe I'll finally have something to blog about!

How are you?

Monday, February 09, 2015

Where are the butterflies, yo.

So...I'm about to write about work without really writing about work. So, consider this fair warning: vagueness lies ahead.

One of the benefits of being incredibly passionate about my job is that when we start a new project or new campaign (one which will help to protect animals, prevent environmental degradation, and limit CO2 emissions, by the way!) I tend to get goose bumps. I get so excited and so inspired that I'm convinced that we'll win. Even though we're up against the biggest of the baddies and everything is against us – I'm so excited to get started, to get it into it. I get butterflies in my stomach.

It's like starting a new relationship, sure there will be some rough patches (like when your boyfriend laughs at you when you're crying - why, no! I haven't let that go, thanks for asking), but over all it's all possibility, anticipation, and excitement.

Well, at work we've been starting a new project. And it's a big, ya'll.

No butterflies. No excitement. Today, after a 9-5 meeting about this project – strategising and planning – I left feeling frustrated and frankly, constrained. Where was that sense of overwhelming possibility and more importantly, hope!

Someone once told me that it's basically impossible to know if we're solving the big problems, like climate change, when we're in them. But studies have shown that if you're having fun while doing it, and enjoying the work, that means progress is being made. Obviously, not every moment is fun, but overall, the process is enjoyable. That really resonated with me, because it is so hard to know if I'm making any progress at all. Do more people think that climate change is a thing? Are more people worried? Are we closer to solutions? I don't know. But 80% of the time, I'm having fun figuring it out!

Except today. Today, I'm banging my head against the wall.

After feeling quite badly about how I acted at the end of my meeting (frustrated, people, really frustrated. Someone asked me what I thought and I literally said "no thoughts, am thoughtless" As a PSA, I wouldn't recommend this response!), I had to ask myself why. WHY! Where are my butterflies? Where's the hope?

And what it all boils down to was this: This project is filled with a lot of challenges, and some of them aren't coming from external factors, they're coming from inside the house. Basically what it all comes to is that I don't feel like I can do my best work, and I hate not doing my best work. It makes me feel terrible, I feel like I'm letting my team down, my work place down, and worst of all the animals and environment I'm trying to protect.

On the plus side, I made nutella stuffed cookies.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sometimes giving up is ok

I'm one of those people who just can't give up on a book. I just have this compulsive need to finish it. FINISH THE BOOK.

Everyone once and a while I'll be talking to my mom about my dislike of a book and she'll say "you're not in school anymore, you don't have to read it."


This brings me to a book that's on my life listlessly book list The Plague by Albert Camus...I just can't.

I got it out of the library in September or October of last year and renewed in the three times and only read about 100 pages of it. Then I couldn't renew it anymore, so I returned it telling myself that I was just too stressed to read it at the time.

Then I got the book out of the library again right before Christmas and started to read it makes me not like reading.

I don't know why – I'm actually kind of interested in the story, but I don't find the characters that enticing.

One of my favourite Oscar Wilde quotes is "life is too short to dance with ugly men" I think I'm going to adapt that to "life is too short to read books that make you hate reading."

Do you force yourself to finish books that you're not that into? What books have you read lately that you've hated?

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Top 10 things I didn't write about from 2014

One of my favourite things about blogging is that I get to look back of over (gulp) 10 years of my life and see what I was up to, what I was feeling. Just reading a post can instantly bring me back to that time and place.

But, of course I haven't written a blog post in a long time and thus - I have no evidence of the adventures that 2014 brought along.

Here are the top 10 highlights from 2014 that I haven't written about before (obviously, the dingo puppies and becoming a permanent resident were BIG highlights).

These are in no particular order:

1. I'm a yoga teacher now! I graduated in November and have been teaching two classes a week at my work place. I really enjoy teaching, but am glad I'm not doing more than two classes a week, I think I'd get bored. Before every class while I wait for my "students" (I feel like a tool just saying it!) to arrive, I wonder "what am I doing. I don't know anything about yoga - this is a terrible mistake!" And then they arrive and I open my mouth and before I know it an hour has gone by and it's time for savasana and class is over.

2. I visited a new country! I went back to the US this year to visit my parents and grandmother. And the timing worked out just perfectly to meet my brother in the Cook Islands on our flight back to Australia (strangely, it was cheaper to fly back via the Cook Islands than to fly directly back to Australia). My favourite thing about the Cook Islands was there were dogs and cats just everywhere. Normally, this is not my favourite thing in strange places. But these dogs were kind of domesticated. They happily followed us down to the beach and would sit with us for a while before finding a new family to spend some time with.

We particularly made friends with a dog who we dubbed 'brown-y black-y' (original, yes?), as you'd imagine she had brown and black fur. Our resort had a friendly cat who every morning was sunbathing by the pool.

3. I went to Once! One of the most amazing things that blogging has done for me is let me meet new people and hop on opportunities. So when Nuffnang (thanks Nuffnang!) asked if I wanted to go see the opening night of Once the musical I LEAPT at the chance. If you haven't seen the movie Once – do The music is stupendous and the movie is wonderful. And the musical – fantastic! Inspector Climate and I had the best time. This also coincided with that time I got my hair straightened – It's odd and blurry. You've been warned.

4. I read books. A lot of books. I read books from my "Life List" such as:

The House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
Time's Arrow by Martin Amis (Highly recommend this one!)
Bullet Park by John Cheever
A Summer Birdcage by Margaret Drabble (loved it!)
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Amazing)

I also read a lot of YA books which has been really fun. Perhaps the books I loved the most were Lev Grossman's trilogy The Magicians - so good! Particularly the third one.

5. For my birthday, Inspector Climate gave me a voucher for a fermentation cooking class. It was fascinating learning about all the things one can ferment and now I help Inspector Climate make his own kumbucha. The unfortunate thing is that I cannot seem to handle fermented foods – I don't want to go into too much, but my stomach gets very sad. Anyway, I enjoyed the class a lot but came out of it so angry with the instructors, they basically said that if one's stomach can't handle fermented foods the only way to fix it would be to eat beef marrow stew – which for this vegetarian is NEVER going to happen.

6. I cooked a lot! I mastered gluten free pastry (well, I mastered it at least once) which can be showcased here with a pumpkin gallette from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook:

7. I embraced silly yoga pants. Why yes, those do have stars on them. Inspector Climate decided that when I graduated from yoga school that he wanted me to be known as the teacher with the most awesome pants. These are Dharma Bums – I can't recommend them enough. They're made in Australia and all the prints are funky and fantastic. This is not sponsored, but I'm open to it.

8. I learned how to crochet! One of Inspector Climate's best friends is having a baby and I decided I was going to crochet an owl for it – seems like the most obvious baby gift amirite? Look at those feet!

9. My nephew honoured me with his flat stanley project: he drew a picture of himself and sent it to me. So I took Flat Nephew all around Melbourne showing him the sites. I wrote a story to go with it and then mailed Flat Nephew back to my nephew in the US. Some of the highlights were the huge lego statues in Myer, taking Flat Nephew to yoga with me, and catching the view from Brighton of Melbourne.

10. Work. I work a lot and I still love my job. I was promoted in the middle of 2014 some where and was made a permanent staff member which basically means I'm not on a contract anymore. This is...well, a giant relief. It just feels...Good. Real good.