Sunday, January 30, 2011

Interactive ----> Reactive Blog

In an effort to keep my blog interesting, entertaining and worth reading, I am asking for some participation from my readers.  What would you like to see more of?  What kind of posts are you enjoying the most?  Should the blog be all about my day-to-day life here in Australia with Michael?  Or, do you enjoy my rants and tangents about my extraordinary thoughts?  Do you want to hear about my past or future events?  Please, I am asking but not yet begging for some input from core audience.   It's as easy as adding in a comment below.  Now, I'll borrow a slogan from good ole' Nike, Just Do It!
Fill in your "thought bubble"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Everyday Inspirations and Daily Affirmations

How do you find your inspiration?
I want to take some time to give notice and appreciation to those who've inspired me to write this blog.  We are all inspired in different ways and by the different people in our lives.  But, do we always take the time to let these people know how they have shaped our lives in a positive manner?  I can remember a former co-worker letting me know that they found me as an inspiration to be a positive person everyday.  That conversation I had with her still gives me the "warm and fuzzies" to this day.  Thank you Yaya for paying me a compliment that will last a lifetime. 

First, I would like to thank my sister-in-law Jen for inspiring me to start and continue this blog.  I have been following her blog, Click-Clack Mafia, a family blog chronicling the adventures of my brother and their family, for as long as she has been writing it.  I've learned from her that blogging should be fun and easy.  It should give good insight into your daily life and not be treated as some form of work that you dread doing.  Thank you Jen for the inspiration and support....thanks for helping me:

Next, I would like to extend my appreciation to a near stranger; a girl I met while traveling last year.  We were flying from Chicago to Orlando, a flight that takes about 2.5 hours.  It wasn't until our initial dissent into Orlando that I began talking to my aisle mate, Caitlin.  After a few brief "get to know you" questions, I soon discovered that she was an author and inspirational speaker and it all began with her blogs.  Operation Beautiful is about believing in and sharing daily affirmations and Healthy Tipping Point is about eating healthy everyday.  I was amazed to hear how her success transpired from something as easy and simple as writing a daily blog.  Of course it was her good ideas that boosted her success, but it brought the idea "home" to me that success in writing isn't as far out of reach as I thought.  Although I will probably never see Caitlin again, I would like to say thank you for inspiring me.  
Now that due compliments have been paid, I would like to challenge all of you to do the same.  Tell someone how they've inspired you.  Let them know exactly how they have influenced your life in a positive way and how much you appreciate it.  Pay someone a compliment with a smile and let's hope that you inspire them to pay it forward.  Be an inspiration in this world, you never know how it will help someone to be a better person.  I want to leave you with a little surprise, one of my favorite songs of all time.  Please enjoy and live to inspire:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

These are a Few of My Favorite Things....

I thought it was time to switch things up and create a fun blog.  So here it goes, these are a few of my favorite things, in no particular order:
  • I absolutely love music and try to listen to it whenever I can.  Right now, I have tunes on my computer and tunes in the living room.  I have different types of music for my different moods.  I've seen countless concerts and will probably lose my hearing at an early age because of it.  When faced with a hard task, I feel like I can accomplish just about anything with the right play list.
  • I adore dogs and consider them to be my favorite type of pet.  I love most every kind of dog, but yellow labs are dearest to my heart.  I think that I have a sense to tell what dogs think & need.  I feel that I will always have a dog, even till the day I die.  As I write this, I am missing my dog like crazy.
  • I  love to travel, as most of you already know.  Planning a trip to discover new places is one of my most favorite past times.  I think that there are so many wonderful eye-opening places in this world and I wish that everyone could have these same worldly experiences.  There are hundreds of places that I still want to see and experience before I get too old to travel.

  • I love my friends.  I have learned numerous life lessons from them and think that I am a better person because of their love.  Proudly, I have friends all over the world and I miss all of them.
  • I love my family even more, especially my nieces and nephews.  I miss them dearly and think of them everyday.  I know that I wouldn't be the same person without their love and support.
  • I am in love with Michael Cameron Foote and consider this time in my life to be some the happiest times I've ever experienced.
  • I love my home state of Florida and for this, I consider myself to be a.........
  • I love the form of the written word and hope to be an author of my very own book one day.  I'm hoping that this blog will give me the confidence to pursue this dream.
  • I really love good food and enjoy a delicious dinner out at a fancy restaurant.  I especially miss all of the food choices of the US.  I'll include into the food category my love for milk and nearly any type of vegetable.
  • Some of my most favorite quotes include:  
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined."
"Follow your heart and you will never be lead astray."
"You are not old until regret replaces your dreams."
  • And finally, some words I live by:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Letting the Days Go By....

Do you ever hear a song and know that it just "speaks" to you?  Whether it be your current life situation or mood, music has a way of helping process emotions and least it does for me.  I recently read a novel by Ian Rankin in which he used the technique of incorporating song titles throughout the book to express a character's current state of mind.  I thought it was a good idea therefore, I'm borrowing this technique for some of my blogs, beginning now!

Click on the above picture to watch & listen to "Once in a Lifetime"
Here are some lyrics from The Talking Heads, "Once in a Lifetime" song that I thought were relevant for this post:
..........You may find yourself living in another part of the world..........
..........You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here..........
..........Letting the days go by, water flowing underground..........
..........Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground..........

I'm finding myself quite bored during these long summer days, living here in Australia and not being able to work.  I do have a job prospect on the horizon that would allow me to stay in Australia for as long as I am employed, however, it is at the mercy of whether the government will grant the visa.  Until that time, this is how I am letting the days go by:

Reading novels, where at home I was not the avid reader that I am now.  Recently, I have read authors such as Kathy Reichs, Ian Rankin and Jeffery DeaverThese are mostly murder mystery novels, the kind that I find very intriguing.

Doing jigsaw puzzlesMichael and I have completed two 500 piece puzzles and have started a third one that admittedly looks very difficult.  We will finish this off with the a 748 piece puzzle of The Twelve Apostles, the giant rock stacks that rise out of the Southern Ocean on the shore of Victoria, AUS.

This is the puzzle that we started even glows in the dark!

Puzzle #2, ain't it pretty?

I must admit that I also spend a good portion of my time watching my "fishpuppies".  You may be asking yourself what in the heck are "fishpuppies"?  This name is purely the invention of a girl who misses her dog really bad.  The current pet that we have, ie a cat, doesn't even show me the love and excitement that these fish do.  Whenever I go to the tank, they swim up and actually seem happy to see me like a dog would be.   And hence, the name "fishpuppies" was born. 
Presenting The Fishpuppies!
By the way, if the water appears to be green there is no need to adjust your screen because it is.  We've had one fish that brought in some bacteria to the tank and the medicine to treat it turns everything green.  Can you find the fish I've nicknamed Sicko?  The yellowish-gray guy in the bottom left hand corner.  What about the orange one just above and to the right of him, I will nickname him Lover since it looks like he is blowing me a kiss.  And I can't leave out the bluish-gray one at the top the is screaming "Feed ME!", we'll give him the name of Chubbo.

Can you tell just how bored I am?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Australian English to American English Dictionary

 I thought it was time to post a funny blog about some of the differences in language I have encountered during my time here in Australia.  You wouldn't think there would be a whole lot different since English is the primary language, but think again.  Australians have a language of their own and I still find myself lost in conversation even though I can understand what words are being said.  However, I've gotten to the point where I don't hear an accent in certain commercials anymore.  Assimilation here I come!  Therefore for your enjoyment and amusement, please enjoy a few of the new "Aussie English" words that I have learned.  And for all of my Aussie readers out there, please feel free to add any words I may have missed. 

  • Arvo:  afternoon
  • Barbie:  bbq.  Yes, Aussies do cook on the barbie, but no, they do not cook shrimp on the barbie.  If anything, they cook prawns on the barbie, not shrimp.
  • Bickkies or biscuits:  cookies
  • Bloke:  man.  Anyone that has been to Outback Steakhouse has learned this one.
  • Bottle shop:  liquor store.  Alcohol is extremely expensive Down Under.  A case of the domestic beer we drink, Pure Blonde, costs around $49.  A bottle of domestic Yellow Tail wine costs around $13.  You can buy the same bottle of wine for $6 in the US.
  • Brekkie:  breakfast
  • Buggered:  tired or worn out
  • Chook:  chicken
  • Crook:  sick, not feeling well
  • Dag:  goofy or an idiot.  Surprisingly enough, Michael has called me dag a few times before now.
  • Dear or dearer:  expensive or pricey
  • Dinner:  lunch.  You see where I would get extremely confused with this one.
  • Dunny or brick shitter:  outhouse.  Although, I have yet to come across one still in use.
  • Entree:  appetizer.  Again, see where I would be very confused by this one.
  • Esky:  cooler or igloo
  • Fair Dinkum:  true and genuine.  One of my favorite phrases to say even though I haven't quite mastered the context of when to say it.
  • Fairy Floss:  cotton candy.  Upon discovering this one, I proceeded to ask Michael if he truly believed that fairies flossed their teeth with the stuff.  He said yes.
  • Fart Sack:  bed.  I'll let your imagination ponder this one.
  • Footy:  National Rugby League
  • Fortnight:  2 weeks
  • G'day:  hello 
  • Good on ya:  good job, well done.  Also one of my most favorite Aussie expressions.
  • Grog:  alcohol
  • Heaps:  a lot or a bunch.  Believe me, Aussies use this word heaps too!
  • Jumper:  jacket
  • Lollies:  candy or sweets
  • Mate:  friend or buddy and can be used for a male or female.
  • Mozzie:  mosquito.  These buggers are everywhere and they bite!
  • No dramas:  no worries mate...I think this one is self explanatory.
  • Pissed:  to be drunk or getting drunk.  Can also mean to be mad in which case I think this is universal.
  • Reckon:  best guess or to ask a question.  "Do you reckon...." or in response, "I reckon...."
  • Rubbish:  trash or waste
  • Shelia:  woman.  Again, anyone who has ever been to Outback Steakhouse knows this one.
  • Smoko:  morning tea or break.  Aussies are religious about this morning break.  Promptly at 10am people gather to have a small snack and cup of tea or coffee.
  • Stubby:  beer bottle
  • Stubby cooler:  beer koozie
  • Tea:  dinner
  • Thongs:  flip-flops
  • Wog:  to have the flu or illness
I know that there are a bunch that I have forgotten but thought this would at least be a good start.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Aerogard is My New Favorite Scent

Aerogard is my new favorite scent and I don't leave home without it.  Honestly, as soon as I step outside of the house I hose myself down in this lovely spray.  I even carry a full size bottle of it in my purse at all times.  You may be wondering to yourself what this new aromatic pleasure smells like?  Think Off! or Cutter brand bug repellent.  Lovely, right?  Except here in Australia, we don't have those brands, we have Aerogard and Bushman.  However, any where in the world you travel ALL bug repellent smells the same.  Gross!

Summertime is here in Australia and that means a few things:  heat, humidity, rain and the proliferation of bugs.  These aren't just ordinary bugs, these insects are mean and as soon as you step outside they are literally all over you.  During the day the minuscule sand flies attack you but you don't even know it till it's too late.  And when the sun goes down, it's time for the mozzies (mosquitoes) to come out and they do so in droves.  Just like Florida, these little buggers carry diseases such as Dengue Fever and Encephalitis.  Therefore, it is most important to wear your Aerogard at all times and tropical strength at that!  Before I wised up to this realization my legs were attacked and now they look like a game of connect the red dots. 

We don't however let these bugs spoil our outdoor summer fun though.  Yesterday we went to the shooting range about an hour's drive East of Emerald to Blackwater.  It's the coal mining capital of Queensland ya know!  There's not a whole lot going on  here but Michael is a gun enthusiast and has a shooting match  coming up that he needs to practice for.  For the people who know me really well, you know that I don't like loud noises.  They actually scare the crap out of me, but there I found myself at the gun range with ear plugs and noise canceling ear muffs on.  You think that would have been enough but I still wanted to hide like a dog under a table on the 4th of July.  Apparently they didn't even have the "loud" guns at the range yesterday but I still jumped at every loud bang that echoed through the air.

Finally it was my turn to shoot the "not so loud" guns.  To be the good sport I am (and  a supporting girlfriend at that) I got up there and took my turn.  All in all, I shot 4 different guns.  A .22 caliber rifle that I liked the best.  Michael's very loud rifle that kicked back and made my shoulder sore and 2 hand pistols which I think were .22 calibers .  I probably have this all wrong but since Michael isn't here to ask, you will just have to take my word on it.  

I have to admit that I was very nervous about firing these guns and it did scare the crap out of me.  However, there was also a part of me that enjoyed it ever so slightly.  Seems I need the practice since Michael is going to enter me into the upcoming shooting match "just for fun"!  Here are some pictures for your amusement, enjoy!

There was a holster belt and cowboy hat available.  How could I not take a picture with these?
Here I am shooting the revolver.  This is what they used to use in the Wild, Wild, West!

Here I am with the other hand gun and of course with Michael onlooking so proudly.  By the way, it's not near as easy as they make it look in the movies.

These were my target shots from the .22 caliber rifle.  Not too bad for a beginner, huh?  Can you guess which class I will be shooting in for the upcoming Australia Day match?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Community Service

Today I worked at a friend's house on the corner of Riverview St and Gray St.  Their house stands on stilts about 5 feet off the ground.  There was nearly  2 feet of water that went through their house.  We worked all day scouring, scrubbing and mopping mud from the floor and walls of their house, and we still aren't done.  I will go back there tomorrow to help them with the efforts so they can hopefully move back in within a week.  It is absolutely incredible how much mud and muck there is everywhere in that area.  Actually, it's sad really.  I helped them drain the pool of the murky mud water.  Granted, a pump did most of the work except for about the 15 buckets at the end that we did by hand.  There were numerous fish and crawfish dead and alive.  Let's just say that after a hard days work like that, I am completely exhausted.  Or, as the Aussies would say, I'm buggered.

Throughout the day, we had complete strangers come to the house to offer their help.  One lady brought freshly baked cookies.  Another guy helped remove all of the wet carpet and padding from the front yard.  We even had a guy come by offering to pressure wash the house with the water tank he had on the back of his truck.  The fire department stopped by, as well as some people from the city council to give us info about where to go for cleaning supplies and insurance info.  This out pour of help just shows the generous and resilient spirit of the Australian people. 

I didn't take any pictures today because I don't think it is right to publicize someone else's misfortune.  However, here is a link from the paper that shows updated photos.  Here is a picture that I took the other day.
Emerald is famous for a huge Vincent van Gogh picture that is in the center of the town's park.

Can you see where the van Gogh is in this photo?  Kinda puts it all into perspective, huh?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

When the Waters Recede......

An aerial view of Emerald on December 31, 2010
To view more flood pics, click here.

Now that the flood waters have started to recede, the cleanup begins.  Where there once was a few feet of water, now lies mud & dead fish.  The stench is horrible.  Worse then the cleanup and the smell is the absolute devastation that some families now face.  Some people weren't prepared and there were a lot of people that were out of town for the holidays that couldn't prepare at all.  There are some families that have lost everything.   The sadness of this is nearly overwhelming. It was impossible to predict exactly where the water would go and how bad it would get.  Overall, 80% of our town was covered by water.  The flood waters covered a portion of Queensland equivalent to an area the size of Germany & France put together.

Michael and I were some of the lucky ones to be spared by the ravaging flood waters.  The water made it as far as lapping at the sand bags at our front door. I was finally able to walk down the street to our house, a task that was impossible just yesterday.  The only signs of the flood outside of our house is the mud in the grass and driveway.  Inside of our house is a mess of a different kind.  When you only have a day to prepare for a flood, you do whatever you can to raise your possessions as high off the floor as possible.  In our case, we even moved some of our furniture out to higher ground.  When the waters recede, the clean up begins.....however our cleanup involves putting our house back together again.

Our kitchen table raised and stacked high

Tomorrow I will go to a friend's house that didn't have the same luck as us.  They live across the street from the river and probably got a few feet of water into their newly raised home.  Surprisingly enough, they still have a great attitude about cleaning and rebuilding.  After all, they are expecting a new baby later this month.  Some things that I have learned about the Australian people from this unfortunate event is that they have an incredible perseverance of character and an unlimited willingness to help out other people in need.  It is amazing to see the generosity of people's time and resources during a catastrophe like this.  It seems as if the flood has brought this small community closer together.  I have to say, It feels good to be apart of such a community.

Some irony I've found along the way:
  • Proof of our once water front home:  see the dead silver fish in the above picture.

  • There was vacancy at the Overflow Motor-Inn during the flood.  Could it be because it was only accessible by water?
  • There are so many helicopters flying around including a blackhawk helicopter, our town sounds like a military zone.  I guess that happens when we are only accessible by the air.  Many roads have been washed away by the water.
  • There are storms on the horizon.  We are only half way into the rainy season.
  • The next town down stream to be hit by the flood water was Rockhampton.  Last night they featured the movie Waterworld.  Was this a strange coincidence or poor taste in pre-programming?
  • And finally, I watched as much of the movie as I could but couldn't stay up to finish it.  When I got into bed the clock read 11:11pm.  I finished the first day of 1/1/11 at 11:11pm.  Happy New Year 2011!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I did it. I've finally created my blog.

Ok, so here it is.  Here is my blog:  Following the Adventure of My Extraordinary Dreams.  Pretty good title, huh?  At least I think it is.  It's been nearly a year of suggestive encouragement from my friends and family to put all of my adventures on paper (or in this case cyberspace, yikes!).  Finally I have done it, partly because of my 2011 New Year's Resolution but mostly because I always want to remember these days.  Better yet, I want to share these adventures with my loved ones that are literally all over the world.  You know who you are.

I'm not too sure what all of my apprehension was.  Now that I am sitting here writing, it doesn't seem all that bad or difficult. Mostly, I think I wasn't sure where to start.  But here I am, diving head first into my blog.  So let me start by saying, I hope you find my blog entertaining and interesting.  I genuinely hope that it  will show a glimpse into the ordinary days of my otherwise extraordinary life.  A life that I believe is worth sharing.

Currently, I am confined to a hotel room in our little flooded out town of Emerald, QLD. The media is calling this a "100 year flood" and it has covered 80% of our town. We were evacuated from our house on Wednesday and moved into this hotel temporarily. We are unsure of when we can move back home which was spared by the water.  Michael is the Operations Manager of the electrical company and has been working non-stop during this emergency.  Therefore, I'm left alone here to entertain myself.  Cabin fever is beginning to set in and it has only been 3 days.  I have a feeling that I will be blogging a lot as long as I am here with Internet.  Stay tuned for more to come and thanks for reading.