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We’re off home for the next week, where there will likely be little internet or time for it, but much fun, laughter, food, family and love.

I hope you all enjoy the same in the next week!

My heart is aching a bit right now for two of my best friends, both of whom are suffering through some massive losses. Neither is my story to tell, but right now the world seems pretty cruel and unfair.

If I had to come up with one bad thing about love, it would be this feeling here: the feeling of utter helplessness when someone you love is hurting, and you wish so badly that you could take away their pain, give them what they needed to be whole, and make it all better. Instead, all you can do is be there for them. I know it counts for a lot–hell, when these people, and everyone else, were there for me throughout all the last two years, it meant the world to me–but at the same time it feels like so little in the face of so much pain.

I’ll try to be back tomorrow with happier thoughts.

Thing One:

John and I are constantly quoting random snippets of things–books, movies, shows–at one another. They’re usually things that are relevant to the situation, but also we like to test one another to see if we can name the source.

One thing we did already, but with extra frequency, was quote Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country” at one another CONSTANTLY while in Australia. Neither of us could quite believe we hadn’t brought the book to read, but miraculously, the lady next to us on our flight home was reading it!

This book was (a) the first book to ever make me laugh out loud while reading, and (b) one of the reasons I so desperately want to go (back) to Australia and see it properly. Some day!

Thing Two:

I’m constantly making up songs that I sing to pretty much no one buy John and our animals. I have all sorts of songs, usually set to the tune of nursery rhymes, that I sing to the cats, and and an even larger repertoire that I used to sing to my baby bunny boy.

But while in Australia, I came up with a brand new one. While feeding the kangaroos and wallabys, there was a certain amount of material that accumulated on our shoes. Eww. Luckily, the zoo had a shoe cleaning station right outside, which was certainly handy.

Not perfectly clean, but good enough to pass muster.

However, this resulted in the following exchange the next morning while we were waiting to get on the plane to Port Moresby, PNG. I was singing. John wasn’t.

Me: I have ‘roo poo… On my shoe…
John: You’re cute.
Me: …What shall I do?…
John: You’re strange.

Good thing he’s learned to love my strangeness!

It’s been two weeks since I’ve made it to the gym, which is out of the ordinary for me the last couple months.

Mostly it had to do with the massive cold I’ve been nursing the last week and a half.

Today, other than a slightly stuff nose, I finally felt well enough to head to the gym.

Which closes at 7:30pm.

I left work at 8pm.

Gah.

And now I’m heading out of town until Friday, so there goes another week!

Hope you all had a better, less hectic Monday.

We flew from San Francisco to Los Angles to Brisbane, leaving around 4pm local time on a Thursday and arriving around 6am in the morning local time on a Saturday. No Friday for us, sadly. We headed straight to the hotel, which we’d booked online.

Our hotel was sort of a cross between a Holiday Inn and a family-run business, but the proprietor, Tom, let us check in immediately, and even gave us rooms! I have to say, after 20 hours or so of travel, a shower was incredibly welcome. Tom also provided us with breakfast, which he cooked himself. He told us he did everything but clean the rooms at the place, and indeed we saw him running around quite a bit as we sat and ate. And let me tell you–the Australians do bacon properly! Mmm. And I highly recommend the Airport 85 Motel in Ascot if you’re passing through Brisbane!

Laura had posted several comments here about things to do in Brisbane, and the one that caught my eye first was the Koala Sanctuary, mostly because I wanted to see a bit of Australia in the one day we had, even if that bit was not in the wild. Along with two of the members of our group, V and D, and equipped with maps and directions and good cheer from Tom, we set out.

Now, Brisbane has a large river running through it, and the first step on our trip was to take the City Cat ferry–a very civilized way to travel. The day we were there was part of, or the first day of, the Riverfire Festival, so there were plenty of people headed into town with us. The ferry jetted along, and each time it stopped, swallows would alight on the two front guide poles, only to take off and ride the air currents in front of the boat as we moved. Along the way, we got some excellent views of the city skyline. Much more fun than a city bus!

From the downtown, we took a bus out to the suburb where the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary sat. We were expecting not much more than koalas, and were pleasantly surprised–it was very zoo-like, with many different animals. Lots of birds of all sorts, some huge fruit bats, wombats, wallabys, and of course, many, many koalas. We saw some very baby ones that could barely hold onto mom, and plenty of others. We even got to pet one (very wiry, not-quite soft hair) at one of the feeding demonstrations. We looked in vain for an echidna, which was supposed to be inside the wombat pen, but never saw one. As we were leaving, the guy at the exit told us that in the 10+ years he’d worked there, he’d never seen one of the echidnas either. Not to be, I guess.

My favorite bird was big black parrot–when he saw me, he came scurrying out of the back corner of his cage, all the way to the front. Once there, he started head-bobbing and displaying the red feathers on the underside of his tail for me. I think he liked me! Or maybe just the pink shirt I was wearing. Either way, he followed me across the front of the cage and back, and head-bobbed back at me when I did it to him. All with the constant red tail flashes. It was pretty cool. I had a new boyfriend for the day!

There were huge iguana-like lizards running around, and wild turkeys and peacocks wandering the grounds. Check out the Australian wild turkey–they have their tails on the wrong way! One turkey was dragging dead leaves and other plant material across several paths and down some stairs to his large bird pile of nesting material. He lost most of the material along the way, thereby just leaving a long tail, but that didn’t deter him from trying!

They had a reptile house which I braved, clutching John all the while. The people who designed the reptile house were very thoughtful–it was U-shaped, with snakes along the outer walls and frogs and lizards on the inner walls. This meant that I never, ever had to turn my back on a snake-for which I am very grateful. They had desert death adders, some tree snakes, and a taipan, the most deadly snake in the world. Now, cobras look mean to me, but the taipan looks truly evil. (You can google your own damn snakes–I’m not linking to them!) And while most reptile houses I’ve been in (which, I’ll admit, are few and far between) don’t have much in them that moves, nearly every snake in that place was in the process of moving somewhere else in it’s cage! Not a happy set of moments for me! But I made it in and out with little fuss, no tears, and only a few whimpers. Although after we exited, one of the big iguana-like lizards rustled the underbrush and about gave me a heart attack!

We also saw Tasmanian devils, dingos (very dog-like), cassowaries (those suckers have big front claws and can be mean!) and turtles along the way to and among all the koala enclosures. Our favorite part, by far, though, was the kangaroos–for a $1AUS or so, we bought some kangaroo feed and fed them for about an hour. We even had some moms with little joeys sticking out of their pouches! One mom had a tiny baby, with only three feet and a head sticking out. I managed to feed her some before the bigger males crowded her out. The baby pulled his head back in and she was left with just three legs sticking out of her pouch–very comical! There were also emus, which John was able to get close to but I wasn’t. We found a wallaby that must have been very old–he moved incredibly slowly and it took probably over five minutes for him to eat just a couple pieces of food out of John’s hand, but he was very stately about it all.

We ended up spending nearly the entire day at the LPKS, loving every minute of it. What with the festival, our plan had been to then take a bus back towards the South Bank, where Laura had suggested good food and shopping, but when we returned to downtown later than our initial plan, we found millions of people all converging on the riverbank. Part of the Riverfire festival was F18 and stunt plane theatrics followed by fireworks, and people were lining up for the show. We were all pretty tired and a bit jetlagged, and the huge crowds were very off-putting. Instead of South Bank, we took the City Cat (very empty going upriver away from the show) back to our area of town. While underway, we actually got an amazing view of some of the stunt plane acrobatics, so we did enjoy a bit of the festival!

We happened to have picked a hotel nearby some famous horse racetrack, and as we headed towards the hotel, many people were heading the opposite direction, most of them dressed up as if they were leaving the Kentucky derby–hats and all! And most of the women were barefoot, carrying their shoes. I can’t walk in heels all day, and apparently the average Brisbane woman who attends horse races can’t either! We thought they were heading for the festival, or a wedding or something (we’d passed a reception at a restaurant just after getting off the ferry), but our waitress, when we did find a restaurant, told us they were all coming from the races.

After a great dinner, it was back to the hotel to collapse, since we’d been walking all day and had more traveling to do. John, in true boy fashion, turned on the TV for a bit and we were entertained by both some Australian-rules football and some cricket. Neither made much sense to me, but I’ll admit my brain was pretty fuzzy at that point! I have no idea if he ever made sense of it, but I passed out fast asleep pretty soon after getting in bed!

All in all, I think we barely scratched the surface of Brisbane, let alone Australia, but I loved it and I can’t wait to go back someday. Thanks again, Laura, for those suggestions–we had a fan-tabulous day!!

The thing is, I haven’t felt like writing much lately. Over the last several months, really.

I don’t know why–good things are happening, bad things are happening, mediocre things are happening–but my first instinct isn’t to write them up any more. Maybe because my first instinct now is to say or do things with the people around me. The truth is, I’m far more comfortable in my own skin, with my own life, right here, right now, than I think I ever have been before. That’s a good thing, a very good thing. But I wonder if it’s part of the reason I’m not feeling the need to blog–to bitch, to complain, to lament, to celebrate, or to just say whatever is on my mind.

I dunno, but I do sort of miss it occasionally. I meant to start writing during NaNoBloPoMo, but November 1st came and went, with only a fleeting thought of “if I’m going to do this, I need to start today”.

But the lovely Laura posted a comment awhile ago asking how I was and said she was waiting to hear travel stories. And I did promise travel stories, didn’t I? So I’m going to try. I hope some of you are still out there to read them!

So, starting tomorrow (hopefully), get ready for Australia and Papua New Guinea!

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