Christmas Morning

The view on Christmas morning

The view on Christmas morning

Every Sunday we drive by this view on our way to church, and every Sunday I think, “We should stop so I can take a picture.” On Christmas morning, I had Dan stop at the scenic outlook overlooking the subdivision and the hills. The view wasn’t nearly as lovely as it usually is. There were more clouds than usual and it was a bit hazy, but it’s lovely nevertheless. Whenever I see this view, I’m reminded that there are hills surrounding our suburb. And because there was no snow and no windchill, it made for a rather disorienting Christmas for me.

I don’t usually get that excited about Christmas. (Lent has always been my favourite “holiday” season.) Perhaps it’s because the semester is always finishing around Christmas, and I’m always so focused on getting those final papers graded and grades submitted on time. Or perhaps it’s because of how busy the Christmas season tends to get. This year was even harder, however, because of the climate. Despite my bah-humbug and Scrooge-like attitude, it was a wonderful Christmas with our new Australian friends in our new locale. The children’s service was fantastic, our live nativity was fun, singing carols at the nursing home made for a special time, and playing some of my favourite songs on the piano for the Christmas day service all reminded me that it’s okay to like Christmas not because of the presents you get but because of the presence of those I spend my days with and what we are doing together.

Happy Christmas to you all!


Boxing Day

On Boxing Day, we drove to Toowoomba for lunch with some friends from church and their extended family. I’ve visited Toowoomba before, and it really is a lovely drive once you get past the city and out into the country. The farm fields remind me a bit of Iowa, actually.

Boxing Day involved eating some wonderful foods (pavlova – yum!), singing some Christmas songs, chatting with new friends, and pulling crackers so we could all wear our crowns, read the jokes inside, and laugh at the silly toys that were in the crackers. As I recall, Dan got a little, pink hair bauble – one that a 5 year old girl might enjoy.

On the way home we avoided the city altogether and took the very scenic route. We stopped at a river just to take a break and watch the sun set a bit. The highlight, however, of our drive home was the Random Breath Test we were stopped for as we drove through a small town. People have been talking about this since the day we arrived, but we had never experienced it before. The cops were set up as people entered the town from both sides. They pulled every car over and gave the driver a breath test. Dan passed, but the driver 3 cars ahead of us did not. He was sitting on the curb waiting to be taken away, I assume. Next time, Dan said he will encourage the cop to test me, too, just for good measure.


Outdoor Shower

In May I took a trip with my family to Folly Beach just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. We stayed in a fantastic beach house, slept with ocean breezes wafting in through the windows, and walked on the beach at sunrise. Aside from getting the chance to spend time with my family, one of the things I enjoyed the most about the beach house was the outdoor shower. In the morning or after swimming in the ocean, it was wonderful to hop in the shower and get those same breezes while washing your hair. It was only a tad disconcerting when people walked by outside on the street, but they really could only see the top of your head if they were looking.

I was telling someone just this morning at church that I would really love an outdoor shower here. I would put it on the patio downstairs and use it just to cool off on hot days. We had an extensive conversation about the logistics of an outdoor shower and the drawbacks (snakes, spiders, cold water), but in the back of my mind, I still kind of wanted one.

Well, I no longer want one.

When Dan and I arrived home from church, he put some stuff away downstairs and I went upstairs to change and get a glass of water. I also wanted to open some windows to catch the breeze. I went from room to room opening windows. My last stop was the dining room. As I unlatched the window and pushed on the bottom to open it, something caught my eye in the backyard of the apartment building (units) next door.

A naked guy. No, wait. Two, maybe, three naked guys. Showering with a garden hose in the backyard of the unit.

Unfortunately, I had to look twice to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing.

It was a giant, naked butt. And the guy was turning around…..slowly. I ducked to the left to a) avoid being seen and b) to avoid seeing what I knew I would see when he finally turned around.

And then I did what any good, human would do: I ran down the stairs and said, “Dan, you have got to go and look out the dining room window.”

Dan did and said, “There’s a guy with shorts on hosing himself down with the garden hose. So?”

He either missed the naked guy and was looking at a totally different guy-who-showers-in-the-backyard or the naked guy put some shorts on because he knew people could see him.

This apartment unit is one of 4 just over our fence, and this particular unit is quite sketchy. And by sketchy I mean I saw one of the occupants arrested the other day and put in the back of what I can only describe as a paddy wagon. Sketchy as in visitors at odd hours of the night. Sketchy as in lots of shouting at weird times. Sketchy as in the other three units don’t like this one unit because the occupants, allegedly, sell drugs.

And sketchy as in visitors to the unit have to shower naked in the backyard with the garden hose.


Monday Trip to Kawana Beach

Almost empty beach

Almost empty beach

I fully expected a crowded beach now that summer holidays have started in Queensland, but we were rewarded with a nearly empty beach, excellent waves, temperatures around 26 or 27, and a light breeze. It was a perfect day for swimming and finishing a good book on a blanket in the sand.


Monday trip to Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay

On Monday, we ventured further north to Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay. We were celebrating Dan’s birthday by doing what Dan loves the most: swimming in the ocean. On the way, however, we stopped in the town of Gympie so Dan could make a visit for work. While he was working, I sat at a park, walked around some ponds, avoided the thousands of birds that were nesting in the trees, and tried grading a paper or two. When Dan picked me up, we headed up through the Great Sandy National Park to the beach.

Rainbow Beach gets its name from the sand dunes that collect multicoloured sand just east of the town. And these dunes are huge. We could see them from the beach. We spent a couple hours swimming and sunning, as usual. Then we headed back through the national park for Tin Can Bay. This town is small, quaint, and pretty quiet. We had a lunch of fish and chips, and then we headed back to Brisbane.

We were talking on the way home (in between listening to This American Life and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me podcasts) and I mentioned that we both now had spring and summer birthdays instead of fall and winter birthdays. Odd.

Things I learned on this trip:

  1. Start looking for petrol before you see that it’s close to E
  2. Always get ice cream at the petrol station – you won’t regret it
  3. Bring cash when heading out for lunch in a small town
  4. Bring a book to the beach even when you think you won’t want to read
  5. Always wear a large sun hat on the beach so you can read if you want to
  6. Beware of wild horses (and kangaroos, of course,) when driving down the road


The first week of December

Will it help if I tell you that this is only the beginning of summer here, and temperatures will most definitely climb into the upper 30s?

If converting from Celsius to Fahrenheit isn’t your thing, I’ll tell you that 29 degrees C = 84 degrees F. This means that upper 30s = upper 90s and 38 C = 100 F. So I’m going to enjoy these temperatures while they last.