Sunday, August 28, 2011

For someone who is asleep, he has a lot of attitude.

This past weekend was my birthday, I am now 26.  I know, it came as kind of a surprise to me too.  Today in the car on the drive back from our country weekend, I was thinking about how it felt to be 27...several minutes later I realised that, um, I had turned 26 only the day before.  And then I put my shoes on the wrong the feet.

Anyway, I'll give a full birthday recap throughout the week, but today I want to talk about Inspector Climate.

Some of you gave him a bit of a hard time in the comments on the last post about getting married. And trust me I know he says the wrong things sometimes, but I know exactly where his heart is (with me).

In the middle of last week I had Return of the Cyst: Episode Two.  In the middle of the night I woke up with such intense pain that I wondered if I was getting killed by Gaddafi (which also holds an important lesson: don't watch the news before bedtime).  As I woke up more and realised that my ovaries and possible my uterus were trying to claw their way out of my stomach I knew I was in for a long night.  I didn't want to wake up Inspector Climate, so I just held on to my belly and practiced my moaning.

About an hour later, Inspector Climate rolled over - looked at me and asked if I was ok.

I grimaced and said no I wasn't and that my tummy hurt a little.

"Oh, because of the [Insert Name of the Report Here]?"

(Now let me back up a bit and say that Inspector Climate not only has had to deal with the whole visa thing, the cyst thing, but has been working insane hours to get this [Name of the Report Here] in on time....And we're back in).

"Um, no...I've been up for about an hour with really bad tummy pains...are you actually awake?"

"Yes, you just said that you're tummy hurts because you've been working on [Insert Name of the Report Here] for a month"

"Uh...Inspector Climate that's not what I said, but way to make this about you. You're not awake..."

"WhatEVER" he pouted.

Of course, when he did wake up fully and naturally didn't remember a single part of that conversation...he brought me some panadol (for you Americans that's Tylenol) and was careful not to touch me the rest of the night.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Waiting and seeing...(with a pinch of "How I Pictured It")

A couple of posts ago, I left you with a  bit of a cliff hanger.  I'd apologise for that except that is exactly how I feel.  I am hanging off the cliff hoping someone will tell me it's ok to jump.  Because I am ready.  I'd rather be jumping and making the mistake then hanging here waiting.

You see, I've been waiting for my visa to get approved for 18 months. It is only a 18 month visa and my further progress in immigrating here means that it needs to be approved AND I need to get a job in my 'field' for 12 of the 18 months of the visa.  Are we all clear on the details.

Well, the day before the hospital visit, I received an email from my lawyer which said that the process of them approving my visa is starting which means that I have to re-do all the tests that I've already done like the medical test where I need to get more chest xrays, tested for HIV, and a bunch of other stuff because the tests expire after one year. And I might have to get my English test retaken.

Has that sunk in. The English test.  The English test I already took (and passed with flying colours, one might add), and is the only language I speak. Yes, that English test.  Those results have potentially "expired".

It is the most ludicrous thing ever.  And of course, I have to pay for them all again.  When it's not my fault that apparently I'm a "low priority" and so it took them so long to process the stupid pieces of paper.

I also need to get an FBI test where I need to mail my fingerprints to the FBI and a police check here.  So that's hundreds of dollars in tests that I've already completed. Just talking about this makes my blood pressure rise and steam come out of my ears.

To add insult to injury, I went to have a meeting with my lawyer to see if there were better options.  Inspector Climate and I haven't been living together long enough for us to be "de facto" and we would have to wait until July 2012 to able to apply for that visa. What my lawyer did say was basically "I don't see you getting a job in your appointed field for 12 months."

That's heart warming isn't it? I am so glad he believes in me.  Of course part of his reservation is that the requirements are incredibly specific and most of the jobs I WANT to get wouldn't even comply.

He strongly suggested that Inspector Climate and I consider getting married (of course, not for the visa).  This is not how Inspector Climate and I pictured getting married, in fact we picture getting married in my mom's garden with our immediate family and gluten free vegetarian organic food piled on plates (ok, maybe that's just my dream).  We want to get married in leaf peeper season when the leaves are orange and red and yellow and we want Kyle Hepp and Seba to take our pictures (wedding tentatively planned for 2013 or 2014...Kyle be prepared to be in New England in September - I jest...sort of).  This is, clearly, not the first time Inspector Climate and I have talked about marriage, in fact we talk about it quite a lot. But this is the first time we talked about marriage in that we'd be getting married in just a few months.

To be honest, I was kind of excited about it. I love him, I plan on spending the rest of my life with him. Why not get married here with his grandparents present and call it day and have our "real" ceremony later when we planned on it?  Inspector Climate is...less ready, and that's ok (and keeps saying the wrong things like "If I have to marry you, I will"  what every girl wants to hear).  He would much prefer for an impromptu courthouse wedding to be the last resort and would like the wedding that we pictured to be, you know, the real wedding.  And how can I argue with that?

To add confusion to this, there is no point in us getting married if this current approval process takes more than 7 months from now - because then we'd be nearly de facto anyway and applying for the new visa would take a while (which means that the current tests I am taking would expire and I'd have to pay for them again).  But if the current approval process happens quickly then it makes sense to get married in hopes that THAT visa will go through quickly enough for me to not have to get more chest xrays and take more English tests, potentially.

So basically, we're just waiting and seeing.  Waiting to see what hoops to jump through next and waiting on things we can't control (how quickly does the FBI turn around finger prints?).  We're waiting and seeing how my most recent email to my lawyer filled with questions and queries about the future state of my life in Australia, my relationship, and my job status will be answered.  The man takes days to respond to things, it's ok dude take your time, it's only questions about MARRIAGE (which by the way is not how I thought I would be getting proposed to via my lawyer. Romantic) and my very existence.  It's cool, take your time.

It is stressful and exhausting.

So basically, I have no more information to give you. I potentially might be getting married in the next few months or maybe the next few years. I guess we're engaged to be in engaged.  We're waiting and seeing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I've been avoiding writing this

It wasn't so long ago that I was writing a very similar post for another furry friend.  In that post, my friend Kim from Fill Your Well, wrote a comment about how in one native American culture they believe that animal friends stay around your feet once they've passed away which I find both incredibly comforting and heartbreaking.  As I walked home from yoga last night, I looked around my feet and saw them all and sobbed for all my friends lost.

About two weeks ago, my dad emailed me to say that our indoor/outdoor cat, Carlita, hadn't come home in about three days which is the longest she's ever been away.  Carlita is a food hound and so while in summer she'd go out at night to do some recreational hunting for squirrels, chipmunks, and mice, she'd always be meowing by the screen door in the morning to get her breakfast.

My parents have a flock of guinea hens which just hatched 18 chicks. The inability of the chicks to defend themselves means easy prey for predators like coyotes who have decided to lurk near our house in hopes to get some easy food.  In fact, they've killed the two mama guinea hens. The fact they've been hanging out and our precious kitty has now disappeared is more than just a coincidence me thinks.

I've found this death harder to come to terms with because I keep hoping that maybe she's just taking a little kitty vacation in a tree house somewhere on our property.  I emailed my dad daily asking if she had come home for days like a child unable to bear the news and the truth.  And she was so young, only 11, and so funny.  As a kitten she always used to walk around with a hook in her tail and we figured she just grow out of that, like kittens do, but she didn't.  She wore it proudly, as she sat on kitchen counters as if she was royalty and demanded to be loved.

She had a fantastic sense of humour, slightly sick, but good.  We had a dog that was completely blind, and she'd sit up on a chair and when the blind dog would walk by she'd swipe it with her paw with an evil smile on her face.

She was loving and cuddily.

When we adopted her, she was an abandoned by her mama, she stayed in my bedroom until she was old enough to handle being around the dogs.  She slept under the blankets of my bed occasionally attacking my feet.  She lazily chased string and as a wee kitten always got poop stuck in her paws, but strangely didn't seem to mind getting put in the bath to have it washed off. 

It just doesn't seem quite real.  I had big plans for going home this Christmas and opening up the kitty door on my bedroom door (cut especially for her) and letting her snuggle with me at night while I slept.  For watching her enjoy playing with the decorations on the Christmas tree, and curling up on the green chair (a chair which is green...?) and reading Vanity Fair while she purred lovingly on my lap.  For the first time since before I was born, there is not a cat at my parents' house and I honestly cannot comprehend it.

When Inspector Climate came to my house last year, he sat down on a chair and was totally and utterly shocked when Carlita came to sit on his lap for a cuddle.  Having only grown up with a shy slightly mean kitty, Inspector Climate refused to move while Carlita was near him for fear that she would leave his lap.  Carlita was a sucker for love and wouldn't leave unless you literally forced her off your lap.  "take a picture, take a picture" Inspector Climate would insist when she'd cuddle with him made my heart bubble over that he was excited to be with one of my furry friends, but more importantly that she had given my love her furry stamp of approval.

And so, while I can't help but hold out a little bit of hope that perhaps now, weeks later, she'll somehow come home, I must finally say goodbye to the sweetest kitty.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

There has been too much 'living the content' for my liking.

Bitches, it's been quite the week.   It started off with an email from my lawyer to discuss the hell that is visas and immigration and ended with a job offer on a Saturday which only confused me more because seriously, what day of the week is it anyway? 

On Friday (a week ago), I received a call from a job being all "can you come in on Wednesday for an interview" which OF COURSE I can.  As I got on the train home from work, my stomach started to feel not so nice. Well, not so much my stomach but there was a stabbing pain in my side right next to my hip bone.  In fact it hurt so much, that it took me twenty three minutes to walk the 6 minutes home from the train station which included 4 stops to sit down on the side of the street.  I slumped against a wall holding my lower abdomen and grimacing, a young man carrying golf clubs stopped to ask if I was ok.  With tears streaming down my face, I forced a smile and nodded that I was fine and he kept walking.  I was touched that he'd even bother to ask but what could I tell him?

I curled up in bed, unable to stand up straight, and waited for Inspector Climate to come home.  We ate some food, and when 9 pm rolled around and the stabbing pain continued and the moaning was reaching an obscene level, Inspector Climate asked me to look on line to check my symptoms which I declared with a stead fast "no, google will say I have cancer of the abs and that death is imminent!" But Inspector Climate didn't heed my warnings and we googled.  It was then that we got a little bit terrified that I was suffering from a hernia and so, I crossed something off my list of things that I never wanted to do in a foreign country which was take a trip to the emergency room.

By 12, I'd seen the doctor and many a man who had been apart of some kind of drunken early Friday night brawl and had left the ER with a $140 bill and the diagnosis of cysts in my ovaries.  Fantastic. While I have to go get an ultra sound a various other tests before anything is known for sure, I've been putting it off because in a week I have to get another medical for my visa (including yet another chest x-ray to make sure I don't have TB).

As it's my first trip to the ER ever, I don't have much to compare it to.  But I did find it a little strange that I had to discuss my symptoms in detail in basically the waiting room. "oh yes, my last menstrual cycle was two weeks ago...does that guy who just got hit by a car need to know that too?" I also found it strange that there was no paperwork for me to fill out - and that I had to stand for like 15 minutes to talk through my issues when I was in quite a bit of pain, "no I'm not doubled over in pain, I am just inspecting the cleanliness of the floor..."

Anyway, I feel better now, thank you for your concerned tweets, tune in next time to hear my visa woes.

(Sneak preview: I might be donning a white dress sooner than expected).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Since you asked, yes, I am doing a happy dance.

A big thank you to the SITS girls for allowing thousands (literally thousands, ya'll) of women (and men? maybe?) to roll in the sauce, which isn't so much a secret recipe as a giant sprinkling of comments and support spread thickly over blogs.  Yum.

Welcome My SITStahs.  I am a 25 year old American who has found her self a home in Melbourne, Australia.  Yeah, I am not really sure how that happened either, but I am loving it!

I just moved in with my boyfriend, Inspector Climate (spoiler not his real name) and our lemon tree.

If there are three things you should know about me it's this:

1. I dance when I am happy
2. I am a gluten free vegetarian...which basically means I don't eat out much. But I bake a lot.
3. I share an uncanny resemblance to Shirley Temple...

Thank you for stopping by, I'm so excited to visit your blogs!

Also, I'm in the middle of getting my blog redesigned, so until there are pretty buttons on the sidebar, if you're interested in following me on twitter here's the link!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I cook other things besides lemon desserts - No, really, it's true!

Come on over and check out my new shiny about me page.  Fancy!

Last weekend, after slaving over some Whole Lemon Muffins, I made some lentil burgers for dinner.  Having been a vegetarian for more than half my life, burgers make me really skeptical. I HATE when they try to make veggie burgers taste like meat - I don't eat meat, why would I want some artificial substitute.  Ew.  Anyway, the point is these lentil burgers from Four Leaf Clover, seemed like the perfect veggie-tastic lentil mix.

You'll need:

1 cup red lentils
4 Carrots
3 Celery Ribs
2 small onions or one jumbo onion
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon of chopped herb (I used Coriander because it is what I had - and I used more than a teaspoon).
1 cup bread crumbs (I used gluten free corn crumb)
olive oil.

Boil some water and dump your lentils in, cook for 10-13ish minutes or until lentils are soft. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Meanwhile, in food processor chop onion, carrot, celery together:

Dump into bowl and add the bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and spices.  Once lentils are cooked, drain them and add them to the bowl.  Mix together.  Form into small patties and place on a baking tray.  Take a truly terrible, slightly blurry, low light photo of said burgers.  Now the recipe calls for lightly brushing the burgers with some olive oil on both sides. I only brushed the top of the burgers and they totally stuck on the bottom (lessen learned, brush the bottom too).  However, the tops never really got super crispy or lightly browned like I expected them too which was kind of disappointing. So I might have to experiment a little on how to get them crisp and brown better. Also I think chopping some garlic with the rest of the veggies might be yummy as well.

These are absolutely delicious with ketchup!

We made a full recipe and got 15 burgers or so. And they were super yummy for lunches.  Do you have any ideas on how to make them crisp and brown better? They were starting to burn on the edges because I'd left them in for so long, but still no browning on top! Grr!

This makes recipe 11 for my life list!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How I pictured it: What I was going to do (Spoiler unemployment was not considered)

I am amazed and thankful for the outpouring of comments on my last "How I pictured it" post.  I had the post in my draft folder for months and almost deleted it because I thought no one would care, and then I remembered I write this blog for me and hit publish because I like to live on the edge.  And who woulda thunk it, but ya'll had childhood dreams too - CRAZY.

Anyway, so again, this is a post about the dreams I had as a kid and what my life has now turned out like as well, still a kid I guess.  I know some kids have many dreams "I am going to be a pilot" "An Astronaut" "a professional princess", but I only had one dream as a kid, well in fact right up until my first year of college.  I had pretty strong convictions about what being a grown up was going to look like and how I would turn what I love into making money. (Tune in next week for who I thought I would be spending my life with).

I've always loved animals.  I mean love to the point where I've never seen Bambi because (spoiler) a baby animal loses its parent.  Lassie is probably the most heart wrenching thing ever, and don't even THINK you can get me to watch an episode. Who cares about Timmy? It's his own damn fault for falling in the well.  And don't get me started on Homeward Bound. That movie has SCARRED ME.

Ahem, particularly, and I may have mentioned this, I love puppies. I have a special connection with dogs - I draw them to me and we cuddle. It's just what I do.  In fact just the another night I came back to our apartment from yoga and announced to Inspector Climate "I got puppy kisses today!"  I just was walking down the street and a dog just had to stop and lick my hand.
I remember being 6 or 7 and people asking what I was going to be when I grew up and the answer was always a vet. Always.  Through high school I always wanted to be vet. I even did an equine massage class and a 3 month internship with a vet.  I decided that I didn't really want to be a normal vet, I wanted to do acupuncture, massage, and chiropractics on horses, dogs and cats.  I pictured living on a farm (ie the one in New England with the view that I'd kick my parents out of) and having animals and living my life like James Harriot saving animals and forming connections with them. Loving them.

It became pretty obvious to me when I started college that the courses I selected would determine what I could do in regards to graduate school.  It also became clear that I wasn't up for years and years of schooling for a job that wasn't perfect for me anyway.  Vet programs are seriously competitive, more so than med school, and in the end, I wouldn't be doing what I wanted.  And while there are courses that offer animal acupuncture and chiropractics few people take you seriously if you aren't a vet first.  And maybe these sound like excuses to you, they sound like excuses to me now too.  But one December day in my first semester, after looking up vet schools in Canada and the US to find out the requirements to their programs and picturing being 30 before I was doing what I wanted - I decided that maybe it wasn't for me after all.

It sounds callous now, but the pain of working nights at some vet clinic when I am so obviously a morning person, and the stress of competing for spots in programs that didn't 100 per cent fit my dreams, I couldn't do it. So I let it go.

So what I am doing now? Now I am fighting to get a job in protecting the environment so animals will have a place to live.  If direct hands on animal action wasn't for me, then I was going to go to the biggest problem that we all face: Climate Change.

And what I pictured, with the idyllic James Harriot farm land, I still envision for myself.  And if I move back to the states, it will still be on my parents farm.  And if I stay in Australia, Tassie watch out - there's an American coming. The puppies, the kitties, a cow, horses and some chickens, all living together interconnected and interdependent and sustaining me (mostly with kisses). Breathing their animal joy into me so I can go fight other battles - like getting you to stop buying water bottles (no really, stop).

I guess the real difference is I am perfectly happy to pay someone else to neuter my dog, but I'll still give my horses shots thank you very much.

Are you doing what you thought you'd be doing as a kid?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

When you spend the weekend baking, you better have something to show for it. And I do.

Besides making lemon curd on a weekly  basis (you should see my arms, whisking makes you ripped), our lemon stash is slowly slowly shrinking due to baking adventures.  This week, the baking adventure was whole lemon muffins. I used this recipe from the blog Smells like Home. I have a secret to tell you, I've found the secret to gluten-free baking and that secret is sour cream. Shhh. It makes everything delicious.

So you'll need.

1 whole lemon cut into quarters with the seeds removed (remember because you're using a WHOLE lemon, I really must insist you use an organic one).
1 cup walnuts (although if you're allergic substituting poppy seeds looks yummy!).
1 cup butter softened
1.5 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 2/3 cups flour (I used all purpose white wings gluten free flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sour cream or plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  And lightly grease or line your muffin tin.  This recipe made 12 jumbo muffins for me and 5 petite muffins.  Which all in all is a LOT of muffins.

First in a food processor grind up the lemon and remove from bowl. Without cleaning the food processor grind up walnuts and add to the lemon it should look something like this (although it probably won't have my shadow):
The recipe calls for fitting your food processor with a paddle attachment, but I just used a big bowl and a handmixer for the following steps. Before you get to that though measure your flour and rising agents and set them aside and measure out your sour cream and set that aside.

Then, cream the butter.  Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add all the eggs, all at once - I know, it's wild. Then beat until well combined. Then add the vanilla and beat again.  Next begin adding 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Then add 1/2 of the sour cream. And beat again. Continue in this way, ending with flour, until it has all been incorporated.   Then gently mix in the lemon and nut mixture.

Gently spoon the mixture into the muffin tin until it comes just to the top of tray and bake for 18-25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out crumb free.

I serve mine with a dollop of lemon curd because I can't help myself and we have tubs of it in the fridge! Not shown because I can never remember to take a picture when the lemon curd is near, I am too busy spooning it into my mouth with a ladle.

Updated this is number 10 on my life list to cook 100 new recipes.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

How I Pictured It: The Setting

In recent days I've been thinking a lot about what I imagined my life would like when I was a tween - you know when teen angst was just setting in - to how it's turned out now.  Like most people, I had a picture what I thought I was going to turn out like, where I was going to live, what I was going to be doing, who I was going to be in love with (John Cusack) and how that relationship would unfold.

And to be clear, it isn't that I had some calendar with dates marked for when stuff would be accomplished or how I'd feel at what age, but there are certainly some things that I pictured that certainly aren't my reality and now.  Some are clear choices I made a long the way.  Decisions had to be made and I chose one thing over another for whatever reason and that doesn't mean that they're wrong choices or right ones, but they have certainly led the way to different.  I thought maybe I'd take some time to reflect on those childhood aspirations and projections.

Growing up if anyone asked me where I was going to live when I was an adult I only had one answer -- I was going to kick my parents out of our house and live there.  Clearly.  I could never imagine "home" being somewhere else besides that house on a hill in New England. What would waking up look like if I didn't have this view:

I mean seriously.

My mom brings up these stories of my explaining to family members how I would kick them out and live in our house a lot now.  She shakes her head sadly and wonders where things went wrong, how instead of never leaving home, I ended up, literally, on the opposite side of the world.  In some ways it's easy to chronicle how I came to live in Australia. It was a three part move

1.  I hated college so much that I really needed to escape it.

2. I've always been obsessed with Australia - kind of inexplicably.

3. Once I did a semester abroad in Australia, and was so happy, I had to come back.

In other ways, it still boggles the mind that when I open my door I walk outside into Melbourne. Where my August birthday is a winter event and my view isn't various shades of green but a suburban street. To say this isn't how I pictured it is the biggest understatement.  I think it goes without saying that I wouldn't have it any other way.

When I picture the future though, things haven't changed all that much. In fact that when I think about moving back to the US (which I do often and Inspector Climate and I talk about a lot too), there is only one place I can ever imagine living.  Home.

Are you where you pictured you'd be?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Taking the plunge - metaphorically and literally.

While things have continued to be angsty over in Decoybettyland, they've also continued in the domestic bliss and even in the "make things happen for yourself" realms of my life.

I hate to stoop to potty talk, but let me tell you something I've observed about Australian 'toilets'.  I can't think of one domestic toilet that I've been to in Australia that comes with a trash can.  I don't know why Australians are against trash cans in their bathrooms, but it means that I have to carry around tampon wrappers and used floss which doesn't make me a happy girl.  Secondly, I've never seen a bathroom with a plunger in it.  This is particularly concerning for me because I have a history (and I am not proud of it) of backing up toilets, and yet no where has a plunger NO WHERE.  What is up with that? Are Australian toilets impervious to getting backed up (what's their secret?)?  Does it have something to do with being upside down, water spinning the other way down the drain, and down under?  So many questions.

First, let's talk domestic bliss, over the weekend Inspector Climate put in a load of washing while I sat on our bed and worked on a job application.  Soon, he was running from the kitchen through the bedroom to the bathroom with tupperware containers full of water.

"Do I want to know what is happening?" I asked.

"The sinks backed up and the washing machine is draining right into the sink and it's about to overflow"

"Would you like some help?"

"No, I think I got it"... Until 15 minutes later...

"D, get a tupperware container!"

And so we bailed out the sink as the washing machine continued to drain (yay! it drains).  Our first thought was perhaps that the drain was clogged so we poured down some vicious life killing drain cleaner which only seemed to make matters worse.  We were afraid we'd have to call the land lord for the THIRD time to send someone to fix something in our apartment (we've lived here for month).  But Inspector Climate decided that a plunger would fix everything and so he went out and bought one.  And who woulda thunk it, but plungers DO fix everything.  Our sink (and washing machine! Inspector Climate 2 - house 0) both drain. MAGIC.

In more metaphorical plunging terms, I am planning a vacation (and ya'll I am excited) to Vanuatu in November.  I wondered, if just maybe, I could leverage this blog to produce some discounts/upgrades on hotels and tours.  And you guys would not believe it, but it did!  I can't wait to share them with you in a few short months! 

After my last post, full of the sad song of "why oh why's" it's rejuvenating knowing that I can achieve, albeit small, change. I can make it happen. And so why stop there?  In the next few months, I am going to try and diversify my earnings (is that a thing if you're unemployed?) and put advertising on this blog.  If you're interested please send me an email (my address is on the side bar under "did you know") and I'll send you my stats and prices (suggestions?), and anything else you'd like know...

And with this new found motivation I am going to start the job hunt again (although, I technically still have a job, I think).  I want to thank you for all the comments from the last post, bitches you made my day.

So, are you ready to take the plunge?