Friday, April 3, 2009

Day which we meet one of my most favorite people in the world

I dreamed about blogging friends.

I dreamed about going to Fe's house. There she told me she does a lot of international travel. She had just come back from a holiday.

I dreamed about taking a class with Anja. The class was in America.

I woke up and had Nutella again for breakfast.

Our plan for the day was to meet Gina at the Glebe markets. Gina was someone who commented on my blog every so often. She seemed very friendly and I liked her comments. But I didn't really know much about her. She doesn't have her own active blog so there wasn't that mutual connection you get when two people read each other's blog. All I really knew about her was she works for a football team, knows a lot about books and music, doesn't like Vegemite, and lives somewhere in Sydney.

Despite not knowing her or considering her a friend, I did have a soft spot in my heart for her. I always felt this little twinge of happiness every time I saw a comment from her.

I don't think I was too nervous about meeting Gina...maybe more curious. I think the lack of nervousness came from my positive experience with Tracey. I figured if that went well, maybe the Gina thing would go well too. And if not, it's not like I was sleeping at her house.

We were supposed to meet at 11:00 in the market. I think we left our apartment at around 10:00. I figured you never know how public transportation will work out, and I'd rather be early than late.

I was hoping to be early actually because I wanted to go to the bookstores as well.

On the bus, there were very friendly people. I made eye contact with some woman. You know, how that happens. And usually those things end with an awkward smile and a quick avert of the eyes. Well, this woman smiled and actually said something. I forgot exactly what. Maybe Hi. How are you? It was so lovely. I don't know. It kind of upped my mood a bit. Not that I was in a down mood or anything. But that one friendly greeting made me feel good about myself. It made me happy.

It's funny how we can effect each other's moods like that. A genuinely friendly smile towards a stranger might make them feel happy enough to smile at the next stranger they meet. They might feel giddy enough to go home and play silly happy games with their child. You give a stranger a dirty look, or criticize their unruly children, and you might lead a whole family into having an awful day.

We did end up in Glebe early. We went to the bookstores. I think we went to Glebe Books and then over to the used bookstore. I'm pretty sure it was Sappho Books. I think I bought one or two books there. I'm pretty sure one of the books I bought was The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmel. Although I could have bought it later. I can't remember.

Then we went over to the market. We walked around together. We bought this cool multi-flavored licorice. There was a guy selling used books. I bought one or two more books from him.

By this time, Tim had taken Jack. They walked around while I looked at books. I was by myself when I got the message from Gina. She said she was waiting outside the market, across from the 7-Eleven, I think. I probably was hoping there wouldn't be too many people out there. I had no idea what she looked like. I didn't want to have to approach multiple strangers. Hi! Are you Gina?
Fortunately, Gina was the only one sitting in that area who looked like she was waiting for someone.

We met.

We talked.

We walked around.

I think I liked her immediately. I don't remember feeling awkward. I don't remember wishing that the time would speed by so I could rid myself of her.

I don't really remember much of what we saw together at the market. She came with me to buy my new nephew a little Aussie shirt. I think it was then that she told me she has a nephew too.

In terms of shopping, everything is kind of in my memory as an overwhelming blur. We were looking for Tim and Jack, and while we did that we gave the merchandise quick glances.

Then I got a text from Tim. They were at the playground. Tim had been very nice and told me to take my time. We really didn't though. I think we went over to them pretty fast.

Gina had a gift for Jack...all this fun football stuff from where she works. We all thought that was incredibly sweet of her.

I think the four of us walked around a little bit. Jack wanted a drink. According to his memory, we bought him a limeade, but it had been too sour for him. So, then we got a watermelon juice. I think I sort of remember the watermelon juice.

We then wanted to eat lunch. Actually, I think Jack wanted to eat. That child ALWAYS wants to eat. I remember feeling torn because I didn't want to ignore Jack's pleas for food. Yet, I worried Gina wouldn't want to eat lunch with us. I didn't want to lose her yet.

Lucky for me....she accepted our invitation to join us for lunch.

We had a bit of a challenge finding where we wanted to eat. There were many restaurants, so I don't know why we had a hard time. Maybe some of them weren't open? Maybe we were too picky? It could have been a matter of trying to find something that appealed to all of us. You know, I think mostly it was a matter of us simply being indecisive.

We ended up at a cafe.

I remember Gina and I both got the same salad. It has pumpkin it it. Pumpkin is quite common in Australian food. You find it in salads, pastas, pizzas, etc. I think Australians use pumpkins in the same way Americans use butternut squash. What I'm still confused about is whether the pumpkin Australians use is the same type of pumpkin Americans use. I've heard conflicting things. I guess one of you Aussie readers can tell me. When you guys use a pumpkin for cooking, is it orange and roundish?

Wait! I'll find a photo. This cooking website has this picture.

If we're not using canned pumpkin, this is the pumpkin we'd use for cooking. Does this look like the type of pumpkins used in Australian cooking as well?

I really want to know!

After lunch, we all walked around a bit.

I wanted to go to the other GleeBooks--the one that had used books. Gina was nice enough to come with us. I loved having her there to help me because she's very knowledgeable when it comes to Aussie literature.

I can't really remember though which book I bought where. I'll list all the books I bought that day though.

1. Stand by Your Man by Susan Mitchell
2. Leviathan by John Birmingham (I wanted He Died with a Falafel in his Hand, but we couldn't find it)
3. The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay
4. Uncanny by Paul Jennings
5. Christmas Island by Julietta Jameson
6. Summer at Mount Hope by Rosalie Ham
7. The Truth of the Matter by Gough Whitlam
8. The Bride Stripped Bare
Jack bought a big heavy joke book for kids.

Either before or after the bookstore, we walked around looking for more sugar. Yes, we're bad!

Jack wanted to buy a whole bag of candy bananas. I think we saw some in a bin, but I felt a little weary about getting it that way. I go back and forth with those things. Sometimes, I can ignore the germ possibilities. Other times, I get paranoid.

We eventually found him some bananas in a regular little sealed bag.

We also went to British Sweets and Treats. Maybe this is where we found the bananas. I can't remember. Anyway, they didn't just have British candy. They had American stuff as well.

I have no idea why this is, but for some reason Tim, Jack, and I would get so excited when we'd see American food. It's not like we WANTED American candy. I think we were just amused by it, and also curious about how America would be represented.

Gina told us about one of her favorite cookies. Arnott's Iced VoVo. Then she was so sweet. She actually ran into a store to buy us some.

We soon said our good-byes. There was talk of getting together again. I was happy about that.

We took the bus back.

I think we all hung out at the apartment for awhile. Jack explored the gifts Gina had given him.

Tim left us to do something. I think he needed to use the Internet; work related stuff. Jack and I read some of his joke book together. It ended up the book was Australian. I was glad about that. So far, it seemed most of the stuff Jack had bought with his allowance wasn't uniquely Australian. This book definitely was. Whenever Jack and I didn't get a joke we'd say oh, it must be an Australian thing. In our defense though, most of the jokes we DID understand.

I think I started reading my Gough Whitlam book. Then I wanted to get out. I have a thing about being in big cities. I want to constantly be out doing something. I can stay inside for short periods, but then I want to go out and explore.

In Texas, Tim goes out a lot. There's always something he needs or someone he needs to see. I stay home with Jack often feeling like one of those married single moms. At home, it doesn't matter too much, because I don't really like going out much in Texas. I'm fine being at home. But I gave Tim many lectures before we left about how this can NOT happen in Australia. Australia is MY time. I think Tim interpreted this to mean that I want time alone, and that I want to have time alone with my friends. This really wasn't the case though. It was more about me not wanting to be stuck in the apartment. On previous trips, Jack has sometimes shown reluctance to go out. He has liked spending time in our hotel and apartment. What I didn't want to happen is Tim going out for several hours and then I'm stuck in the apartment with Jack who doesn't want to go anywhere. I told Tim that if Jack and I went somewhere together, he's welcome to use that time to go out and explore on his own.

Things worked out fairly well this trip. Tim pretty much limited his solitary excursions to running and work-related stuff. But what really made things work is that this time Jack seemed as eager to go out as I did. For all the times, Tim left us in the apartment, I can't think of a time that I wanted to go out and Jack didn't want to.

Back to this day. Tim was still gone. I decided I wanted to go out. Jack agreed that this would be a fun idea. We both wanted to explore.

We went north on Riley and found a little shopping center. They had a grocery store. Duffy's. Or maybe it was Duffy Bros. I forget. Anyway, It looked clean and the prices looked fine. And it was closer to us than Cole's.

While we were at the store, I got a text from Tim asking us where we were. I told him we were at Duffy's supermarket. I wasn't sure if that would be enough information, and how long it would take him to get there. We walked around the grocery store for several minutes. I tried to keep us there as long as possible, hoping Tim would appear. He didn't.

We started walking again. I think I had wanted to go south, but it's hard for me to figure out directions. We ended up going more north towards Liverpool.

I got more texts from Tim.

And life here got pretty annoying.

I felt instead of walking and exploring, we were texting and waiting. It's mostly my fault. I should have just sent Tim a text that said we'd meet up with him in an hour or so. It's too hard to try and meet up with someone when you don't have a specific destination in mind. If we were actually heading somewhere, I could have said meet us at the bookstore or meet us at this cafe. But we really had no destination. We were just walking. It's hard to meet someone in this situation because then it ends up you have to stand somewhere random and just wait.

Oh! I just remembered. On top of all that, my phone sent me a message saying my prepaid balance was low. I tried recharging and couldn't manage to do it.

Finally, Tim and I decided we'd meet at Hyde Park. It's not where I wanted to go. I really had wanted to turn around and go south. But I was frustrated at this point. And Jack was very happy with the Hyde Park idea.

Even finding each other at Hyde Park was challenging. That place is kind of big. Tim finally sent me a message and told us to meet him near the Anzac Memorial.

I guess we hung out there a bit. I can't remember.

Later, I went grocery shopping alone. I guess Jack had been tired and decided to stay with Tim. I returned to the Duffy place. I don't remember what I bought. Well, I do remember I bought some kind of diet fruit soda.

I can't remember what we had for dinner. But later we all decided we needed even more sugar. We went walking around the neighborhood looking for a cute place to eat dessert. Since I hadn't gotten to walk south earlier, I insisted we do this now. We walked south on Riley and ended up in an area that was mostly residential. We didn't find anything that appealed to us so we went home. I wish I could say we had decided our bodies had enough sugar for the day anyway. But I ended up drinking a hot chocolate.


  1. Our pumpkin is orange on the inside and roundish, but the varieties we use look different to the ones in the picture. Ours usually have a greenish skin although our butternut pumpkin is a longer shape with a pale creamy skin. Actually, without a size comparison and because there are so many, I think what is in your photo we might call squash. If I was to go to the supermarket to buy a pumpkin, it would probably be green, round, heavy, hard to cut up and about ten inches in diameter. To further complicate things, some foods have different names in our different states.

  2. Andrew,

    Thank you for helping to clear that up. I'm wondering if we have your pumpkins and just call it something different. Our fruit/veggie guidebook has something called a Queensland pumpkin. Have you heard of that? I wonder if it's the same thing?

    We have exotic stuff at our grocery store. I'll have to look out for it....

  3. Jack,

    I was trying to figure out the difference between American and Australian pumpkins.

  4. We've got Queensland Blue, Jarrahdale, Jap, Kent, Butternut, etc, etc, etc!
    Here's a photo of some of our varieties, your pumpkin looks like a Golden Nugget/squash - much smaller than the run-of-the-mill types we usually cook ;)
    Sounds like it was a fun day out for you all :)

  5. Jayne,

    Thanks for the website! I bookmarked it. Yeah. I think our pumpkin is the golden nugget one. It's fairly small. Then we have bigger ones that look like that, but we use them more for decoration.

    I'm wondering if we use your other pumpkins and just call them by a different name. As you can tell, I don't spend much time in the kitchen.....

    Anyway, I'm going to go look it up now. The first pumpkin looks familiar to me.

  6. This is what I've found what we call squash they call pumpkin, the varieties are generally the same. It was confusing to me too at first, like "ew I don't really want to eat pumpkin in my salad!" but then its just american squash. Le sigh. CONFUSING.

    I just actually wrote a post about confusing difference in Australian language/slang (spaz...seriously NO ONE SAW THAT COMING). and bludger.

  7. Deirdre,

    It's confusing, but I think I'm finally getting it. Thanks for helping.

    I quickly glanced at your post before, but I was in a hurry and didn't read it carefully enough. I'm going to go back and read now....

  8. I love pumpkin! queensland blue, jap & butternut are my favourite, I've never heard of canned pumpkin before though. Iced vo-vos are yummy, we used to make home made ones with butter biscuit base, pink icing sugar, jam and coconut.

  9. Louise,

    We just had some canned pumpkin today : )

    It's pretty good.

    Homemade vo-vos....that sounds fun.

  10. Jayne did the work. Queenland Blue is probably the one we would mostly eat. We had some cheap no name brand iced vo vos last week. Normally no name brand biscuits aren't much, but these were good.

  11. Andrew,

    You never know with the no-name stuff. Sometimes it's really difference. And sometimes there's a huge difference.

    Glad the Vo Vo's worked out for you.

  12. Personally, I will go for butternut pumpkin every time. Although the Queensland blue is a bit of a fave as well! There, so now you know something else about me!

  13. Gina,

    Which type of pumpkin was in the salad? I'm guessing butternut?

  14. No, I think it was just your standard old Queensland blue - not sweet enough for butternut. The only thing I ever cook (I HATE cooking) involves butternut pumpkin, so it's possibly the one foodstuff I feel qualified to comment on!

  15. Gina,

    I hate cooking too! Well, at least I'm pretty bad at it.

    Pumpkin seems like it would be hard to cook. I mean cooking it is probably easy. But how do you cut the damn thing??? That's my biggest challenge in cooking. I hate cutting stuff. If I don't have to cut anything, I don't hate it so much.

    Oh and you remember how you said you wouldn't blame me if I decided to get ahead of you in Lost? Uh yeah. I hope you still feel that way.

    Love ya!

  16. No, I can never forgive you.... Joking, I absolutely don't blame you. I still haven't watched last week's - no time on the weekend, so it will be Wednesday now, we'll watch that one and the new one.

    Cutting pumpkin can be a struggle, I agree. Which is another reason butternut is the go - it's easier all round.

  17. Gina,

    Once you finally get to see will especially not blame me. Well, at least I think so?

    It's getting REALLY good.

    Thanks for forgiving me. I owe you one.

  18. I haven't seen it, and I still especially don't blame you.

    My sister told me it was a good episode too....doubtless I will have many a (probably wrong) theory for you on Thursday!

  19. Gina,

    See. That's why I didn't want to get ahead of you in the first place. I'm afraid if you tell me your theories, it will be too tempting to fill you in with what has happened...or tell you if I think you're right or wrong.

    SO....let's wait until you catch up to me and then we'll talk theories.

    It's easier (and more safe)to discuss it then. I don't want to accidentally reveal anything.

    I guess you could write to me and I'll just read...not say anything back.

  20. Maybe best we don't discuss it then! I certainly don't want to know anything I shouldn't....

    I'll just keep you posted on what episode I've just seen, and then when we're at the same point, you can say, "okay, we can talk now!!".

  21. Cutting pumpkin up is fine - so long as you have a decent knife and a strong arm - it's peeling the stuff that's a bugger. Which is why I go for butternut too, smooth thin skin that can be peeled off with a veggie peeler. My mum has a regrettable habit of buying thick skinned bumpy varieties like Jap or Queensland Blue, deciding she can't be bothered peeling it and baking the pieces with the skin still on. Completely ruins a baked dinner that does. I still love her though :)

    The more of these meet-up stories I read the more irritated I am with my child having the teremity to get sick and stuffing up our plans to get together :( Terribly inconsiderate of him.

  22. Mim,

    I can totally imagine me doing something like your mom!

    I hope you properly punished your child for getting sick!!!

    Seriously though. We regret not being able to see you guys! We'll get together next time!!!