Monday, December 9, 2013

2nd Christmas Down Under

We didn't write a Christmas letter this year.  So I've decided to reward those who actually read my blog with a brief synopsis of our year (are you excited?!?)

Here's an awesome Aussie story for you ...  last year was the first year we were mailing Christmas cards from Australia.  After writing and printing all the letters and addressing the envelopes, I went to the post office to buy stamps.  There was a "special" price for overseas greeting cards:  AUD$1.60 per stamp.  There were a couple to choose from.  So this year after deciding that we didn't have enough interesting information to fill a letter (or perhaps I was just late getting started and lazy), I addressed all the envelopes and signed all the cards with nice silver and gold pens.  I went to the post office today to buy the stamps.  Boy, was I in for a huge surprise!  Apparently, sometime in October, the Australian government decided that they were going to do away with "greeting card" prices.  So the cost for EACH overseas stamp is now AUD$2.55.  Not only that, but they only have the most boring looking stamp you have ever seen in your life AND I have to lick them.  They are not even self-stick.  Needless to say, I guarded those ugly stamps with my life all the way back to work.

So what happened this year?  Well, it's been quite a year for me.  I'm just going to talk about me.  After all, this is MY blog and Mr. Smith is not interested in being involved with it.  :)

I don't recall having such a challenging job in my life.  A lot of my friends came and went (mostly went).  First there was Tracy.  Her visa expired.  Then there was Chris (the other American).  His visa expired.  Then Deanna left.  Marilyn left.  Frances left.  Bee left.  Andrew left.  Cherise left.  Nicki left.  I've never experienced anything quite like this.  Sure, there is a lot more that I could say about everything that has been going on, but I don't feel it's appropriate.  Let's just say that it's left me numb.

Mr. Smith and I made the trip back to Arizona and Louisiana together in April to visit family and to attend my brother's wedding.  We flew into Arizona first and spent time with Mr. Smith's parents and Aunt Mary.  We also caught up with some old friends from the U of A.

Then we flew to Louisiana for Jorge and Kristen's wedding.  It was beautiful.  We spent time with my family and I was able to catch up with friends.  Mr. Smith went home almost a week ahead of me.

Unfortunately, we had to make a return trip in July when Mr. Smith's Aunt Mary passed away after a long battle with cancer.

We are trying to do a bit of traveling around Australia when we can.  We made a day trip to Canberra, the capital of Australia.  We had a basic idea of what we wanted to do.  We got there and it was freezing.  We headed over to the Old Bus Depot Markets.  This ended up being the best thing we did. Next, we went to the Canberra Glassworks.  Also very interesting.  We wanted to see the government buildings.  It looked on the map like you could just walk over that way.  But, no.  You had to walk all the way around along a body of water.  And then you kept walking and walking and walking.  It was  a beautiful Saturday and there was hardly a soul on the streets.  I could've sworn that an alien ship had just come to Canberra and sucked up all the people except Mr. Smith and I.  Deserted.  We finally found the Parliament House of Canberra.  It was pretty neat to walk through.  Unfortunately, we could only see half of it before I had to run back to the train.

We took a long weekend trip to Grafton for the Jacaranda Festival.  Again, the festival itself was a bit disappointing.  There just didn't seem to be anything going on.  But the jacaranda trees were BEAUTIFUL.  GORGEOUS.  BREATHTAKING!  Okay, enough of that.  The worst part was the driving.  It was a 7-8 hour trip to Grafton.  It felt like a 17-18 hour trip.  So boring.  But we did pass the big banana and other interesting landmarks.

Anyhoo, those are the highlights of my year.  I'll post some of the most interesting photos.  I know that a lot of people want to see photos.  :)

Eating boiled crawfish at the rehearsal dinner

Jacaranda tree-lined streets in Grafton
I've commissioned this photo to be reproduced by Monika Kinner-Whalen
in fibre ... check out her stuff on My Sweet Prairie

Jorge waiting for his bride

Kristen and Jorge making vows  :)

Riley, the littlest flower girl

Chris, me and Frannie with a random strange guy

Tracy and Bee

Tracy's very thirsty - this was the hottest day I've ever spent in Sydney

Frannie, Chris, Bee and me

Thai restaurant in Newtown

Abigail and Riley

Brittany and me

Jorge and Kristen's wedding

Me and Tee

Frannie and me


Me and Cherise


The Big Banana

The Big Banana Gift Shop

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