Friday, July 10, 2009

Boring Blog 'bout Beautiful Boulder- aka SUE & CARLA ROCK!

I had a few days between the conference in Vegas and my departure to Italy so it was time to visit my beloved Boulder. The last time I was in Boulder, I was in a full car, heading east (just after my very first blog post) getting ready for a leap of faith life change. At the time, I don't think I realised how much I'd miss the little hamlet...actually, I'm not sure I knew how much I missed it until I caught a glimpse of the mountains as my plane touched down.

It was a whirlwind trip, where I felt constantly like i was running late and out of time to see everyone I wanted to touch base with and eat at all my favourite spots.

Wendy met me at the airport and whisked me to the newest of the Mountain Sun Pbus, this one in Denver, where i had a delicious house-brewed root beer. YUMMY! She dropped me at Sue's (one of my maidens d'bride) where I spent my first night, staying up way too late having a good goss. Thursday, I went for a run in the cute highlands neighbourhood before seeing my friend Marily for lunch. Marilyn and I have known each other since my first job in Boulder, when I played the life-size DOLL and taught kids about conflict resolution. It was great to catch up. I rushed to boulder, did some shopping and had a quick hello to Linda @ the JCC before meeting Sarah for racquetball and a vague notion that something had happened to Michael Jackson. Little did I know, as I was rushing across town to see Jody and her daughter, that this is the topic that would dominate the airwaves for the next...welll, how long has it been?

Then it was time to go to Kim's and meet her beau, Brian, and we all went to a yummy southwestern meal at Zolo, delicious although they did change their menu on me. Mado and Josh met us for a drink and of course, the topic of conversation was Michael Jackson.

After crashing @ Kim's I hit the Y- now fully refurbished- where my old boss has left me a pass- so I could have a workout before i saw Carmel and Josh for brekkie. Drove downtown and parked at my old duplex which was the last holdout but now it too has fallen to the trophy home developer. Walked around pearl street, reminiscing until I met Karen, (my boss from the Y) for a burrito at Illegal Pete's. Then I caught up with Carla (my old housemate and current bridesmaiden) and we did a little hike before dinner. I was exhausted so after some more television devoted to speculating about MJ's death, I crashed.

Saturday was rushed with a quick run along the raging Boulder creek and a short stop on Edinboro drive to say hi to the neighbours (the tenants weren't around but the house is still standing) and then it was time for the highlight of the shower.

Carla and Sue throw a great party and I highly recommend them if you are in the market for attentive and generous bridesmaids! IT was at Sue's house and was a potluck brunch- as Carla knows, one of my favorutie meals. Everyoen brought the recipie they'd made so I can pass it along to Adi to recreate! There were folks from all different times in my life- a Brown friend who is now in CO, the girls from the JCC and Hebrew High (aka the Boulder Jew Crew), women I've travelled and walked with and more. Carla and Sue had organised a few knowledge of Adi is suprisingly lacking but I guess we have the rest of our lives to fix that...and it was a great day that made me feel extra special.

Spent the day hanging with Sue and Steph before heading out in Denver and meeting up with Falbo and Huttner, 2 boys from my Brown days. The best line of the week might have been Huttner, eyeing Falbos' thick locks after about 10 years of not seeing each other-- "it's been a long time dude. You have a lot of hair".

I know this isn't the most interesting of blog entries but for me it was a great, albeit far too short, visit back to a town that still holds a big place in my heart. From the sunny weather to the flatirons, gentrified pearl street to SOBO, it was good to be back. Below, some photos...and next blog I promise will be more substantive...for Florence here I come!!!

My cute little dumpy duplex, transformed

Boulder Creek was raging!

Amy, Nina, Shannon, Sue and Stacey enjoying shade @ the shower

Jojo and our littlest shower guests with Carla prepping for the games in the background

Steph, Malinda, Carol and Kim enjoying the shade

The furriest guest at the shower
The Boulder Jew Crew


The fabulous hostesses and bridesmaids, Sue and Carla!

Brown Boys Falbo and Huttner

Out with Sue and Steph

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Around the World Brings Me Back to Blogging

My new running shoes are getting spoiled. I know what you're thinking:Sheryl, you haven't posted in 5 months and you're talking about smelly sneakers? But these are brand new running shoes and so far, they have run alongside a raging Boulder creek up Boulder canyon and today, over cobblestoned streets and around the Duomo in Firenze.

I know, I never told you about Palm Cove, Kangaroo Island or our engagement party. But to be fair, I did promise not to talk about wedding planning so that's kept me quiet for a while.

But since I'm being a nomad from my upside down life, it seemed appropriate to take the opportunity to say a quick hello.

My job is responsible for my first (I hope not last) around the world ticket, with stops in 3 continents in 3 weeks before I return to Melbourne on 12 July. Given my passion for travel, this is exciting to say the least. We (in addition to my boss Deb I'm travelling with her niece Abbie) left Melbourne on June 18 and after a brief stop through customs in LA, went onto Vegas.

Vegas, especially for those who don't drink or gamble, is kind of a stupid city. This was my first visit to Vegas without either Phish or the Dead (though my second time with someone named Abbie/y) and I had a very different perspective this time around. I will concede that it is an infinitely better spot for a conference than perhaps Cleaveland or Indianapolis, but it really is a silly place. With it being Deb's first time in the US, I was very conscious of how America must look. We stayed at Mandalay Bay and enjoyed the beaches and wave pools, all the while I was telling Deb that this is not what most of America is like!

A highlight was Blue Man group as well as the conference. The conference was the Association of Standardized Patient educators, with the term standardized patient being basically synonymous with simulated patient. My favorite part was a workshop on moulage techinuqes...which taught me how to make my SPs look battered, burned and bruised. I've included some photos!:

Ow, I cut my arm. Its bleeding.
It's oozing.
And I got punched in the face too.

Even if this isn't stuff I can use at work, I'm sure my nephew will love it!

Another great part of the conference was getting to see my former boss and collegaue Jen and Melissa, from CU. If nothing else, the nights we hung out and talked both shop and gossip (not to mention went to a great hole in the wall sushi place) were the most fun I had in Vegas- well, sober!

Jen, Melissa and Me.

After the conference, while Deb and Abbie went to NYC I had a stop in Colorado for the first time since my deaprture. Three days is not enough time to see 12 years worth of relationships but I had a great time! Those stories to come soon...ciao!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bush Fires (much sadder than when Bush got Fired!)

I posted the below last Friday, the day before temperatures in Melbourne soared to 118 (F) and, along with wind gusts of over 60 MPH, created the conditions that have led to Australia's most devastating natural disaster in history.

I've heard from many of you checking on me and want to assure all that the city of Melbourne is safe from the fires. The closest ones rage about 90 KM away. The wind is keeping the smoke out of town as well so if I never listened to the radio or watched TV, I might not know about the infernos all around.

But for the sadness. As I write this, the death toll has climbed to 181 and with dozens missing and many in hospital with severe burns, is expected to still rise. As Americans, we think of our recent tragedies like 9-11 and Katrina and the casualties were in the 1000's. But remember, Australia has less then 10% of the population of the US, so these are significant numbers. Over 1030 homes have been lost and entire towns wiped out. A small town near where Adi and I hiked just 2 weeks ago doesn't have single structure left standing. Another town of 200 lost over 30% of its population.

The people I know have been lucky. One woman I work with has been in a motel since Saturday evening but her house, as far as she can tell, has survived...but is still threatened. I have 2 friends who hail from "the country" and both of their families have been spared, though they know people who have lost property, and friends of friends who have lost their lives.

How did this happen? At first, my American view was that they must not understand forest fires the way we Americans do.But Australians have been dealing with bush fires forever, so that answer didn't really resonate with me. People living in the bush all have fire plans in place. Many homes have fire pumps that pull water from the ground to wet their house and property. The general rule of thumb is leave early or don't leave at all.

What made these fires unique was the unpredictability of the wind coupled with the fast movement of the fire. A wall of flames is reported to have travelled over 50KM(about 31 miles) in less then 15 minutes. So people didn't have the time to get out. Others who planned to stay and protect their homes panicked, especially when the heat from the fire caused many of the pumps to fail or was so intense that their well-protected homes exploded. Many who tried to flee got lost in the thick smoke and ended up driving over embankments and into other cars. Survivors are describing their ordeal with raining fire and comparing the sound to standing next to a jet engine, so loud was the roar of the firestorm.

A few days after the tragedy, the fires are starting to be politcizied...the Labor government warned that not enough proscribed buring was taking place, the state government is upset at the Federal government's bureacracy. It is refrershing, however, that relief efforts seem to be in place and both the Victorian Premier and Kevin Rudd, the PM, have been a regular presence.

The sadness permeates everyone here, especially as the police continue to believe arson caused at least some of the fires. Proves you don't need to have guns to have sociopaths.
The Age, the Melbourne paper, has a gallery where people have posted photos of people missing and presumed dead. It is difficult to scroll through without being reminded of the flyers from 9-11. I feel much the same way I did after those aforementioned tragedies in my old country, wanting to help but feeling powerless to do much good. I could donate money (I have) and give blood (I've registered to do so), and of course, I'll do my weekly grocery shopping on Friday, when Coles says they'll donate all profits to the relief effort. I want to do more and suddenly, the $1000's of dollars of education floating around my head seems not particularly useful.

On the radio, I heard the "Sparkies" union- as we call electricians- have over 80 volunteers to help connect generators for people who are living in affected areas. That's just one example of what the community is doing to help. Because of the relative smallness of the community, such efforts can be spearheaded and actually do some good. Individual communities are making specialized pleas for goods they needs torches (don't panic, they don't want to start more fires, they mean flashlights) and batteries, another,towels and wash cloths. Perhaps the most heart wrenching was the appeal I heard this morning. A request for donated suits, which the radio announcer was confused by, until the need was clarified. Men in these communities want suits, not to go to work in, but to attend funerals.

I'll leave you with my more tongue in cheek commentary on the heat we've had lately. Keep OZ in your thoughts.

Forget the blogosphere, it's hot in here!
Where have I been, you ask? I know, I left you stranded in Sydney after telling you it wasn't as good as Melbourne. Apologies all around but I have been hot. Not your run of the mill "its so humid you feel like you're in a sweaty towel all day" kind of south eastern heat. Not your "it's so sticky and disgusting I might throw myself in front of the subway in order to get off this platform" kind of NYC August heat. Not even "how is it this hot in Colorado when it never used to get above 90?" kind of hot. No, I've experienced all of those kinds of hot. As well as the equatorial tropics and the Negev desert, African Savannah's and Boston and RI summers. All unpleasant enough, sure, in their own right. But those kinds of hot are nothing compared to what I lived through last week.

I hesitate to share the experience, fearful that it could cause nightmares in small children and the faint of heart. Last week, Melbourne experienced a record heat wave. We had not one, not two, but over 3 days where the temperatures soared above 40 degrees. Not bad for February, you might think, its been much colder here. Yes, but you have your C's and F's mixed up. 44 degrees, which it hit all three days, is perfectly pleasant in Fahrenheit. A nice day for spring skiing, not a bad winter's evening walking around town if you're rugged up properly. But traipse back 3 letters in the alphabet and suddenly 44 is a whole different hemisphere. It equals approximately 111.

Now, its been a while since I wrote about my little May-Z car, which is doing just fine. The only problem is this little hand-me-down lacks air conditioning. Pair that with a hot car park at my office with nary a tree in sight and the end of the day is excruciating. I found myself seeking out trucks so their exhaust could blow a refreshing breeze through my hair. Our flat, also a/c free, is on the top floor of a brick building and thus, retains heat more effectively than the broken oven I lived with for 2 years at Edinboro Dr. Our fruit basket became a living homage to time-lapse photography as bananas, onions and potatoes ripened and rotted in minutes.

True, it wasn't overly humid. But for all those who think its not the heat its the humidity I say, why not plan your next holiday for your oven. That's a dry heat too, but you wouldn't want to hang out in it!

There was one shining spot (be careful the shine can get hot!) during this half week from, literal, hell. Our friends Maria and Jeremy happened to be away at a conference in Canberra. Before leaving, Maria, unsolicited no less, offered us their keys, "just in case it gets hot" because they have a/c in their bedroom. We thanked them and I figured we would probably not take them up on their kind offer. Turns out they couldn't have picked a better week to be gone and we did our part to raise their electric bills. (And PLEASE don't direct me back to the blog about not using the a/c. I meant not using it when it's 75. At 111, all bets are off and clearly it is us vs. Mother Nature (who can be a bitch)!

So, that is why you haven't yet read about Palm Cove. But that post is being crafted now. I'll get you out of Sydney soon, I promise. Tomorrow is threatening to be another scorcher but the famed "cool change" we've heard so much about it due on Sunday.

Enjoy your snow!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Go Climb a Bridge

Happy new year! I'm excited about lots of things in '09, starting with a new President and including a new dress and eventually a new husband! The next few posts will take you along on the journey Adi and I just had travelling around Oz with my parents. It was a great trip and it will be hard to remember all the highlights but I'll do my best.

It all started as my boat came into port, me wearing a powder blue knit suit circa 1939. My eyes scanned the crowd, seeking the handsome bloke who was to meet me upon arrival. Meanwhile, Adi was doing shots in an all-white bar and shouting out "crikey" at regular intervals, while regaling the crowd with tales of his most recent cattle drive across the outback. A short while later, Adi stood in a large bucket and used a pail to shower and I couldn't help but notice how his muscles rippled against the water. Oh, wait. That's not my story. It's Baz Lurhman's. My photos won't be as good and some might not see Adi's resemblance to Hugh Jackman (I do though) but hopefully the stories will be less trite- and it shouldn't take you 3 hours to read them!

I met mom and dad in Sydney on Saturday, 20 December. I snuck into their hotel room where they were fast asleep, recovering from a longer plane ride than I had. We hung out until we went to dinner at the famous Rockpool's which was very good. My highlight was my entrée (in the everywhere but American sense of the word, meaning appetizer). Goat cheese tortellini with prawns in a sweet and savory sauce finished with pine nuts. Yum. We spent the next day on a private tour with Glenn, who, incidentally, really liked to use the word incidentally. We drove around greater Sydney and got a feel for some of the suburbs. Personally, I would have preferred to wander on foot but I was just along for the ride. We saw a number of perspectives of Sydney's beautiful harbour, with the bridge and opera house in the skyline. Afternoon tea watching the surfers at Manly beach was fun but we didn't make it to Bondi, so that's on deck for my next trip to Sydney. We saw where Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and the prime minister reside when in Sydney but couldn't secure an invitation to any of their spots. I'm sure when they all come to Melbourne, they'll be driven by Goathlands st. to check out our abode.

On Monday we rose earlier in an effort to catch Hugh at his favourite brekky spot. (Mum watched the Oprah special and took careful notes- unfortunately, she lost her notes) She remembered one place was called Bill's and we went and enjoyed their great ricotta hotcakes. She realised after the fact that this was Nicole's spot not Hugh's, but we didn't see either of them. Then we walked from Darlinghurst up the rolling hills of Sydney, through Hyde Park (which, if it is in need of private sponsorship, should contact Hewlett Packard, as their shared initials are inset into the ground at frequent intervals). It was a nice breezy day and we continued our walk down through the Royal Botanical gardens all the way to the Opera house. We grabbed take away lunch and sat by the water in Circular Quay, watching a mean mother force her unwilling daughters to busk for their Christmas presents with their violins and a 3 Christmas song repertoire.

In spite of this lovely morning, the best was yet to come, at least for two of us. Mom returned to the hotel to relax while Dad and I participated in Sydney's famous Harbour Bridge climb. The three hour journey begins with the issuing of Star Trek like space suits and a safety briefing. Then us, joined by our group of 12 and our guide, set off to climb the over 1500 steps to the top of the arch of the bridge. Other than 4 ladders which get the heart beat up it was suprisingly less scary than anticipated. The views of the city standing above 8 roaring lanes of traffic, were magnificent, and it was a fun afternoon. I brainstormed that Dad's next job can be BBCC- the Brooklyn Bridge Climb Commissioner. He scoffed at my idea until he heard from teh guide that Giuliani had been in discussions with the owner of the operations until 9-11. ONce he heard Rudy liked the idea, he suddenly thought it might actually work. Those of you who know how my dad feels about Giuliani will understand why I was a bit insulted. Nevertheless, we're currently seeking volunteers for the first BBCC, perhaps to be completed in 2011....Adi and I have decided we'll wait to be the 5th or 6th group to do it!

We finished our stay in Sydney with our best meal yet, at Altitude, above the Shangri-la hotel. The chef himself came out to chat with mum about her needs and the views were even more spectacular than on the bridge.

Having heard many disparaging comments about our neighbor to the north, I was expecting the worst in Sydney. Instead, I found a beautiful city with people who were friendly than I anticipated. At the same time, however, it all felt a bit hollow and showy...lacking the substance that we have here in Melbourne. I am now more convinced than ever that Sydney is a good place to be a tourist but Melbourne is a better city to live! (And being a tourist here is fun too...but you'll have to wait a few blogs for details of that!)

Until the next blog- which will follow us up to Queensland- enjoy some pics of Sydney and Happy New Year!

The iconic views of Sydney harbour

Dad and me on top of the bottom of the world