Thursday, November 5, 2009

Movie Review 2

Last night's feature film at the Sullivan Home Theater was "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." Now, I realize that I may be the only person in the world not to have seen this movie. But just in case someone else is out there who hasn't seen it, it's wonderful! Just as a heads-up, it follows three transvestites on a cross-country trip from Sydney to Alice Springs. It was hilarious, it was sad, it was sweet, and did I say it was hilarious? It won at Cannes, and it won an Oscar (I assume for Best Foreign Film), and it won my heart. (Ha! Cheesy, I know. )

For those of you who know it, may I say that I really want that huge shoe on the top of the bus that you can sit on with flags and sing.

Americans in Canberra

I think I may have mentioned this before, but all Jim, Nancy and I could really walk to from our hotel in Canberra was the mall. So we went to the mall after our workshop, and what did we see right inside the front door? A Nativity! We all stopped dead in our tracks and gasped. A Nativity in a public place like the mall? We simply couldn't believe it! In a church yard, yes. In someone's personal yard, yes. But the mall? We were truly shocked. And so we took a picture, just in case anyone didn't believe us.
Now, just to add a few details, the woman we asked to take our picture thought we were hilarious, so she and her 11-year-old son talked to us for a while. They told us that instead of leaving milk and cookies for Santa, they leave BEER and cookies! In fact, the 11-year-old told us that one year they left out 10 beers, and Santra drank 9 of them (his Dad drank the last one on Christmas morning). I have a feeling that kids in Canberra get better presents from Santa than American kids.
Next up, a nod to the long-suffering Jim. Those of you who know Jim probably know that at story time, he prefers to be called Mr. Jim. Those of you who know him also probably know that Jim can be a bit of an Eeyore sometimes. So Nancy and I started calling Jim: Mr. Jim Grumblebum. Once we saw this, however, his name extended to Mr. Jim Grumblebum Sherpa. Tikki Tikki Tembo has nothing on Jim.
We saw this sign on a pole on a main road in the Belconnen suburb of Canberra. This is one of the best signs I've ever seen! Needless to say, Nancy and I felt compelled to practice.

Being caught unawares, I did not have a hat or an open umbrella. Therefore, I had to go with the basic "aaaarrrrgggghhh" while shielding myself with my hands. Note, however, that I am not running.

Nancy, however, is properly prepared with her hat. Bring on the swooping birds!
By the way, we never did get swooped, despite walking by this sign about 10 times.

Canberra Pictures

Okay, I know I'm way behind on pictures. I'm sorry about that! I'll try to catch up a bit now. A special apology to the Canberra folks who have been waiting to see their pictures!

This first picture is a group photo of our Canberra workshop participants. Everyone has their teddy bear that Jim requested they bring. However, you might notice that the woman in the lower left corner has the real thing! That's little Harry, and he loved doing story time with his Mom and Mr. Jim.

As you may know, the gentleman of "Unshelved" sent us with door prizes for Aussie librarians and anyone who works with children. Below are some of our thrilled winners showing off their comic books and t-shirts!

Here, the "What Would Dewey Do?" comic book.

Here, the Library t-shirt (I have one of those), and the "Pimp My Bookcart" t-shirt. Just FYI, "Pimp My Bookcart" is a real contest that "Unshelved" sponsers every year. So people, pimp those bookcarts and send your pictures to "Unshelved!" (

Here are comic book winners: one has the original, first volume of "Unshelved." The other has the "Book Club" volume (also available in a t-shirt).

Aha! Here's the "Book Club" t-shirt right now! Plus one of my favorites, the "Readers' Advisory" t-shirt.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Perth Mint

My day began in a beautiful way. Jane had made an appointment for me to get a facial at the International School of Beauty in Perth. I had a 90-minute facial that was so lovely that I was barely able to function afterward! All for $35!

Then Jane and her Mum picked me up, and we went to Fremantle to have fish and chips for lunch. We toured around a bit, but my favorite part of the day was visiting the Perth Mint. The Perth Mint doesn't make Australia's circulating money; they make collector coins and special edition coins. made the medals for the 2000 Sydney Olympics! We actually saw a gold pour. We learned all about how to melt gold, and then a gentleman pulled a crucible of pure liquid gold out of the furnace and poured it into a mold of a gold bar. The gold bar was solid in 20 seconds (!), then he put it in water to continue cooling, and in less than 2 minutes he could touch it with his bare hands. It was wild.

Movie Review

Last night Jane and I rented the movie "The Dish." Jane is introducting me to some classic Aussie films. I've only seen "Strictly Ballroom," so my repertoire of Aussie films was pretty small. "The Dish" was fantastic! I recommend that you watch it. If you like historical films, comedy, and/or a sweet undercurrent to your movies, you'll love it, too.

I didn't know this, but when they sent men to the moon, NASA needed a satellite dish in the southern hemisphere. The only one big enough in the entire southern hemisphere was in a little Australian town called Parkes. The dish was literally in the middle of a sheep paddock (actually, the sheep have a fantastic supporting role). The movie is about the three people who monitor and care for the dish, and one American from NASA who comes over to supervise. I won't say anything more.

Two thumbs up!


So last night I tried a Cadbury Whip candy bar. It was okay. The wrapper says, "Lightly whipped Nougat with creamy caramel covered in Cadbury dairy milk chocolate." Sadly, the nougat tasted weird to me. The caramel and chocolate were delicious, but the nougat left a strange aftertaste.

Result? I won't be having another one.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Penguin Parade

Sorry this blog keeps jumping around. Since I got behind, I'm trying to catch up, but I also need to blog about what's happening currently before I forget.

After Tasmania, Jim, Nancy and I flew to Melbourne. The day before we left was completely free, so we booked a day tour to Churchill and Phillip Islands. First, a shout-out to Geoff (who probably won't see this)! He was our bus driver and tour guide all in one, and he was the nicest, more hilarious tour guide I've ever had. Nancy and I just cracked up the entire time.

Our first stop was Churchill Island. There is an historic farm there, and a huge fenced in enclosure filled with wallabies! We walked around inside the perimeter of the enclosure while our tour guide (not Geoff, but the wallaby tour guide) walked right down the middle of the enclosure. Wallabies were hopping everywhere! They are so cute! They are little kangaroos, and their noses are rounder and less pointy than kangaroos', and I am here to tell you that they are FAST! I wish we could have just walked around and around and around watching them.

Next, still on Churchill Island, we got to see some cattle dogs herd some -- are you ready? -- turkeys! Yes, they had been imported. Also, a man got a miniature horse to do all sorts of great tricks.

Okay, on to Phillip Island. First we stopped at the Koala Conservation Centre. I could have stayed there all day long. They had boardwalks that wound about the Centre, and were up on stilts so that they were about half-tree height. There were koalas everywhere. I can't believe they are real. They are just as sweet and darling as they are in pictures. And they were all sleepy and hanging out in trees. But the best part was that there were two babies. The first one we saw was still in the pouch. The Mom was sound asleep in a tree, but we saw this strange wiggling and what appreared to be an extra koala limb. And it was! It was a little koala arm, followed by the rest of the baby koala who was turning and jiggling and climbing all over his mother (who never moved except to breathe, by the way). He was a little piece of perfect. Later, when I figure out how, I will post a little video of him. We saw another baby, too. He was bigger and out of the pouch, and he was spread out over his mother's tummy, her arms were wrapped around him, and both were sound asleep in a tree.

After being torn away from the koalas (Nancy and I were the last people on the bus), we headed to the Penguin Parade! Phillip Island is home to thousands of Little Penguins, the smallest penguins in the world. Their burrows are on land, but they spend all day in the ocean hunting for fish. There is a boardwalk at the top of some sand dunes where you stand. Then, at twilight, the little penguins begin to come out of the ocean. They stand in the surf until there are a bunch of them for protection, then they quickly waddle across the sand and into the grass, on their way to their burrows. They are only 12-14 inches tall, and they've literally spent the entire day eating fish, so they are very full and fat. They waddle right by and under the boardwalks, not more than an arm's length away. When they get to their burrows, the chicks come out (if there are any), chirping and calling for their parents. The parents have eaten enough for themselves and their chicks and, just like many other birds, regurgitate food right into their mouths (Nancy and I actually saw this). It's kind of funny, because the chicks grow full size in only 8-10 weeks, and they are furry before they get their real feathers. So many of the chicks seems almost bigger than the parents! Also, these may be the littlest penguins in the world, but they have some serious lungs! Then again, thousands of anything hollering at the same time are probably pretty loud.

All in all, it was a magical animal day. Australia has the best animals EVER.

Lindt Cafe

Okay, this is a chocolate review that has nothing to do with Australia chocolate, but which must be included. While we were in Melbourne, we found out there was a Lindt Cafe, and I decided that I HAD to go. You see, I had been a bit teased by Alex in Sydney. During a lunch break during our presentation in Sydney we walked by one, but didn't have time to go in. Alex tried to make it easier on me by telling me that service was horrible, the food wasn't that great, and the chocolate was only okay. Sadly, Alex's plan was thwarted by the rest of humanity. As soon as everyone found out I love chocolate, they would immediately ask if I'd been to the Lindt Cafe, contradicting everything poor Alex tried to do. Alas, we had to leave Sydney immediately afterward.

So as you can see, once I found out there was a Lindt Cafe in Melbourne, visiting became a priority. I dragged Nancy along, which was very nice of her, because we went for breakfast, and Nancy usually eats nice, healthy breakfasts. We both ordered croissants with chocolate dipping sauce. I would just like to say that it was on the breakfast menu, so I felt perfectly legit ordering it. Unsurprisingly, it was pure heaven. The croissants were just out of the over and all buttery, and the chocolate dipping sauce was perfect: not quite milk, not quite dark, just in between, and perfectly smooth. It felt like velvet on my tongue. My croissant didn't use all of the dipping sauce, so I asked for a spoon and ate all of the rest of it like soup. It was unbelieveable.

Result? Two thumbs up for the Lindt Cafe in Melbourne. And I'd give it more if I had more thumbs.


Sorry I've been lax on my chocolate reviews. Even though I've not been blogging, trust me, I have been eating.

Today's topic is Jaffas. Some of you may recall from an earlier post that I was eating a Jaffa muffin on the Central Coast while men in budgie smugglers walked by. That muffin is based on a candy called Jaffas. They are candy-covered orange chocolate, but the pieces are big, not small like M&Ms. Each Jaffa is just smaller than a gum ball. They are very delicious, but you can't eat a bag of them. I love orange chocolate, but for me at least, it's a type of chocolate I can only eat in small doses.

Result? I love them, but eating only a few at a time.

Jane's Job Interview

Okay, everyone, I need your positive vibes! My friend Jane, with whom I'm staying here in Perth, has an interview for a great job on Thursday morning at 10:00am. So, for all of you in the States, at 6:00am PST (9:00am EST) send very positive interview vibes to Jane in Perth.

Melbourne Cup

This morning, Jane and I dressed up a little bit and went to a restaurant to watch the Melbourne Cup, one of the biggest horse races in the world. I entered into the sweepstakes, where I pay $5, randomly draw a horse's name from a bucket, and wait to see what happens. What happened is that the horse I drew, Shocking, won! I won $75! Without having a single clue what was going on! It was very exciting. On the television, when Shocking won, his trainer went nuts. It was really sweet, actually. He was hugging everyone and looked like he was going to pass out. I guess it's the same as if your child became President or something. Anyway, it was a lovely time!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Catch Up

Sorry, everyone! I am still alive and well. I didn't have much internet access in Tasmania, and I was busy and exhausted in Melbourne. Now I am in Perth on actual vacation, so I'll be able to catch up.

The rest of our stay in Tasmania was fantastic. Our workshop in Launceston went very well, and we loved everyone we met. Jim was thrilled to be able to do his workshop in the children's area of the Launceston Library, and attracted quite a group of people wondering what on earth was going on!

The day after our workshop, we each actually did a small story time/concert at the Launceston Teddy Bears' Picnic. 2,000 people attended (!), and we had a wonderful time sharing songs and stories with them! We didn't have 2,000 people at our story times, let me make clear. The Teddy Bears' Picnic was spread throughout an entire park, and there were different activities all over the park. Our story times and concerts were one activity the kids could choose. We had a nice group each time. It was truly amazing how many people came out, though. Launceston is not a large city, and this event was on a Tuesday morning. Given that, 2,000 people is a LOT!

We were also in Tasmania for a very special, but sad event. Nella, our hostess and children's librarian at the Launceston Library, has resigned. She is going to start a new life working in a bookstore! We visited her bookstore (and I went crazy buying books), Fuller's, and I think she is going to love her new job! The bookstore doesn't currently cater much to children. The children's area is quite small, and they do almost no programming. Nella has been brought in to change all of that. How fun, to build a children's area almost from the ground up! Anyway, Nella's retirement luncheon occurred after the Teddy Bears' picnic, and we were lucky enough to attend. Nancy Stewart added to it by singing Nella her children's librarian song. If you haven't heard it, and you work with children, you will be in tears by the end of the song. I'll see if that song is on Nancy's website, and include a link to it later.

Basically, we loved Launceston, Tasmania, and Nella and Richard. I'll add a few more details later, but now I am off to explore the city of Perth and go to the zoo with Jane! Believe it or not, I haven't seen a kangaroo yet. Seriously, aren't they supposed to be hopping all over Australia? :) Just kidding, Aussies.

Oh! And more pictures soon. I left my laptop power cord in Launceston, but lovely Nella is mailing it to Jane's, so I should have it tomorrow and be able to rescue my pictures.