Monday, February 25, 2013

Okay, THIS is Hilarious! Hysterically Funny!

I, Phebe, am our blog admin.  No problem.  Just means I opened the blog, and I write the blog.  And post photos that usually are photos I've taken.  (Because my husband has a different writing style, and hasn't quite gotten around to expressing his viewpoint, despite encouragement from me and his adoring audience.)

Anyway, I get to see our statistics.  As of today, we have nearly 6100 hits - in 5 months of travel.  How cool is that?  BIG shout out to family and friends who are following our travels via the blog.  YAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!

We also have people all over the world viewing the blog - I don't know if these are one-time hits, or mistake hits, or random people who found the blog and are following us.  But I don't think we know anyone in Germany, or Malaysia, or Belarus, or Korea, or any number of countries - but we seem to have numerous hits all over the world.  Also cool!!

Another anyway - in amongst our statistics I can view how people found our blog.  As in what search engine or link they used to find us, as well as what search phrase they used.

Wait for it.......

You won't believe..........

Here it comes..........

People found us through: and  Seriously.  I kid you not.

So - have I posted ANYTHING pornographic??????  I was even circumspect when blogging about my possible breast cancer issue and subsequent surgery.  There hasn't been a word of nudity, not a naked photo, nada, zip, zilch, rien, shum devar, NOTHING!!!!

I'm here laughing and trying to figure out how two porn sites or searches for porn somehow found our blog.  And three people found us this way.

So to the porn searchers out there, welcome to the blog!!  No T&A here, you really don't want nude shots of the two of us, we're just tiki touring the world with our clothes on.

But welcome anyway!  And thanks for the laugh!

Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne

Feb. 25, 2013

We had a relaxing morning in our neighborhood - it's still very hot, and by mid-day only mad-dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.  (Or was that India?)  At any rate, we had a late and relaxing day.

By about 4 PM, things were cooling down - there was a breeze, the clouds were moving in, and it was no longer sweltering out there.  So it seemed like a good time to further explore the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne.

My real plan in going to the RBG was to see cockatoos - I figured they'd be finishing up their day and getting ready for a nice night in the trees, or wherever they roost.  And I swear, I could hear cockatoos, or parrots, or parakeets, or whatever - but no matter how much I looked up in the trees, I couldn't see any of them.

I did, however, see a kookaburra!!!  Funny bird, shaped like a giant kingfisher but the head way too big for its body - just a funny looking bird!!  I managed to get a few photos, but my computer (or the website) isn't cooperating and I can't seem to put the photo up on the 
blog.  So please, look up images of a kookaburra, they are uniquely Australian and just funny birds.  (This one looked dead at me for a few minutes, and since they have a wide beak that's a very funny view of it!  I told it I was quite excited to see my first kookaburra, but it didn't seem to be impressed at all.)

There were lovely great white herons, black swans, all kinds of birds warbling in the trees.  But the kookaburra was the most exciting find!

Oh, and a few rats running around furtively - ugh, I hate rats!

But the park was beautiful, huge, mysterious, with various lakes and bridges and ornamental ponds and thematic areas - you know, the bamboo gardens.  The rain forest.  The eucalyptus forest.  (I looked for koalas in all the eucalyptus trees - apparently koalas only eat and live in one kind of eucalyptus, and I guess there weren't any of that particular kind of eucalyptus in this forest.  I was hopeful, but the koalas weren't there.)

There was also a most bizarre "volcano" - in really was a tiered rock and succulent garden, with a filtration pond at the top - but it was labelled a volcano.  Pretty, but also kind of weird after seeing real volcanoes all over New Zealand.

All in all, a really pretty afternoon in the park - I only saw a fraction of the place, and I did manage to get quite lost - but it was a lovely afternoon anyway. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

They Aren't Penguins, But Cockatoos Are Cool Too!

 Feb. 24, 2013

NOT  MY  PHOTOS  - came from a variety of websites.  Credits to the photographers.  All that.

Okay - Saturday night, Feb. 23, was the White Nights event.  This seems to be an international event sponsored by businesses in whatever location.  It's a big arts and music and culture and shopping event, where the businesses stay open all night - trying to promote shopping post holidays and all that.  We met a young man (from New Zealand but grew up in LA, or something like that) who was promoting the White Nights event, and he told us about it.

It sounded like fun.  We used to go to the Miracle on Main Street in St. Thomas, always a fun event.  We'd just walk around, listen to music, run into friends, chat, eat, drink.  A fun evening.

So we met up with a man about our age that Richard had met at our guesthouse, and headed out.  (Guy's name is Axel, he's from Germany, has been a sportscaster on TV most of his career.  Interesting guy!)

We walked through the botanical garden and on into the city, a lovely evening walk of about 3 miles.  Melbourne has been having beautiful summer weather, days 
are about 30 degrees C (90 F) and evenings cool down but are still warm, with a slight breeze.  (Flies are weird, they seem to like faces - they don't bite, just get in one's way.  No idea why these flies aim for faces, but they are incredibly annoying.)  Anyway, we walked along, chatting, watching the crowds, and waving away the stupid flies.

We approached town, and could see lights, hear some music, I saw maybe a Brazilian dancer in a Carnival costume dancing over by some booths.  It looked like a fun time, but by now I was tired and in some pain and discomfort - so we talked and I agreed that I didn't think I was up for much more, and would just take the tram back to our guesthouse - and that Richard and Axel should explore a bit more, and I'd see them later.

Well, we were right by the National Gallery Victoria (where I had seen the Neo-Impressionist exhibit previously) - and I heard the unmistakable noise of parrots.  Or parrot-related birds.  I looked around, and across the street, right on the National Gallery building, up on the metal scaffolding type of extensions of the building, were a group of cockatoos!!!  Big huge white cockatoos, with crests and squawks and all the confusion that parrot-like birds seem to enjoy.  (They really are the drama queens of the bird world!) 

Up and down the metal bars they walked and squawked, arguing and chasing each other.  Then one would fly off, swooping along the side of the building, while another cockatoo swooped in to take its place.  Noisy, garrulous, argumentative, chattering, pushy birds gathering on top of the National Gallery.

I was entranced!

These birds are big - like really big seagulls, but, well, way way fancier!!!  Sort of like seagulls wearing costumes, dressed up for their own birdy Carnival!

And while I know cockatoos are wild, and I found out that they're native to Australia, somehow I didn't quite expect to see them gathering in downtown Melbourne!

So they were quite a treat!  I'm not sure if they live in the botanical gardens, I'll go over one afternoon and check them out.

But they are magnificent birds!

And they totally made my evening!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

No Lord Voldemort

Feb. 22, 2013
We got up early - well, Richard almost always gets up early, I tend to sleep as long as I can.  But up early, showered, and downstairs by 8:45 AM.  We had our guesthouse lady call for a cab.  And waited.  And waited.

Apparently the cab picked up someone else.  Since we were running late by now for the 9:30 AM appointment with Miss Doctor, I called - and Miss Doctor got on the line and said that everything was fine, found nothing sinister, just gunked up ducts, and that we could reschedule for next week when she'll check for infection and take off the waterproof dressing.  And that I could just skip today's appointment.

So YAAAAY!!!!  No malignant anythings, nothing to worry about, just the normal body parts getting old or used up (or in my case, having skipped the kid thing, not used at all).  
I'll continue to rest another day or so - there's still some pain and discomfort (and this seriously makes me wonder about women who get boob jobs, this is a very sensitive part of the body, it isn't like getting a knee worked on or something!!!) - and then we'll enjoy Melbourne.  And make plans to head out some time in March to explore other parts of Australia.

Just wanted to share the good news with everyone, as well as share how beautiful the Valentine's Day lilies have become, now that they've opened up - wish I could share the lovely fragrance that fills our drab little room, it really is amazing!  (I know, they look kind of Easter-y, but the pink ones were gone on the day after Valentine's, and this is all that was left.  They're gorgeous, but yes, a little Easter-y.)

YAY and happy day!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Playing Catch-Up in Melbourne

Feb. 20, 2013

It has been a very busy five days since I last posted a blog, so I’ll catch everyone up.

First – we moved out of Clement House, and I wanted to give them a little space – it was a lovely guesthouse in the St. Kilda neighborhood or town (or suburb).  The house was built in the late 1800s (I think 1888, but maybe it was 1861, I’ve kind of lost track) – an old brick house with a decorative colored brick fa├žade and lacy ironwork.  Inside, each room has a beautiful marble fireplace, with gorgeous carved marble in the main rooms downstairs (including the kitchen).  The entrance hall and upstairs have lovely architectural details, just because that's the way houses were created at the time.  Colin and Chung were very helpful, and the place was very comfortable.  So – definitely think about Clement House if you go to Melbourne:

Okay, so we had a nice Valentine’s Day, and the upgraded white lilies are opening up and smelling fragrant.  Our room is nice, nothing special – the St. Arnaud Budget Accommodation is nice, bigger and a bit crowded, sometimes quiet and sometimes noisy.  Nothing special, although the price is right and it’s in a nice neighborhood.  But we kind of miss St. Kilda, and have gone back over there a few times.

We spent one day walking around an area known for shopping – not that we were doing much shopping.  But we discovered several amazing chocolate shops, all within a block of each other – OMG, each one was better than the previous.  (Of course, if we went in the other direction they’d probably seem better too.)  Apparently Melbourne has become the chocolate center of Australia.  If you are a chocolate person, definitely check out the various chocolate shops around the intersection of Toorak Road and Chapel – the first store is something like Theobroma Emporium, theobroma (drink of the gods) being Greek for chocolate.  Beautiful, but too much “white chocolate” to make us happy.  (It only has cocoa butter, no chocolate liqueur – and they use cocoa butter in skin lotion – and you don’t eat that, do you?  No.  I rest my case.)  Across the street, the store Burch and Purchese had incredible displays made of chocolate, getting ready for Easter – and they handed out samples as people entered the store.  In fact, they offered me a chocolate flower – when I declined, saying I preferred dark chocolate to the white they offered, they quickly gave me a piece of the mandarin chocolate caramel mousse cake – which was OMG to die for – dark chocolate ganache on top, a thick layer of chocolate and orange mousse which was fabulous, a thinner layer of caramel mousse (good but not chocolate), and a dark chocolate cake base.  AMAZING!  We met the owner and chatted a bit, and I ended up emailing him the recipe for Richard and Phebe’s Chocolate Decadence Wedding Cake.  And then, across the other street (across the intersection) is Ganache – what a name for a chocolate store!!!!  I had rich and dense gelato in Caffe Latte and Dark Chocolate (a half scoop of each, the way they do in Italy), and Richard had the Brownie Mousse cake, featured here.  Plus gorgeous displays of truffles left over from Valentine’s Day – we were good and only had our one item each.

Okay, enough about chocolate (did you ever think you’d hear me say that?).  Supermarkets in new countries always have fun items – we laughed about the kiwifruit imported from Italy – I mean, New Zealand has the kiwi bird.  They grow the kiwifruit.  They  CALL  THEMSELVES  KIWIS.  So why does Australia, the neighbor of the Kiwis, import kiwifruit from Italy?????  (I’m guessing it’s a seasonal thing – but is kiwifruit in season in Italy in February?????  Inquiring minds would like to know.)  We also were impressed by the durian – in the fruit department, a big round hard thing covered in spikes.  Absolutely no idea what is inside – melon?  Breadfruit?  What color?  Taste?  It just looked cool, so I took a photo.
 We wandered around the riverwalk along the Yarra River, which goes straight through Melbourne and the outlying suburbs.  There are walkways on both sides of the river, and a series of bridges that cross over – a few for trams and cars, a few that are only for pedestrians.  The old railway bridge has been converted into a pedestrian bridge, and has strange metal sculpture – sort of Keith Haring meets Gustave Eiffel.  Some are dancing people, some animals, one I swear is an overflowing wine glass, and some I can’t figure out.  Several of these sculptures have pale pink fans inside, which turn gently in the breeze.  And all are underlit, so at night they reflect and almost glow along the bridge.  Very cool.  The sides of this bridge have etched glass panels, each one dedicated to immigrants – each panel gives a country, major cities where immigrants came from, years of the immigration, pertinent facts (such as European immigrants during the two world wars), information like that.  It was very interesting.

And there are little artistic touches all over – someone's backyard garden that features giant metal sunflowers along the curving gates.  A gate to a no-longer-there building, featuring migrating geese (or ravens?  crows?) wrought in lovely three-dimensional metal, flying across the gate and perching a few birds on the neighboring building.

And a few decorative light posts, in traditional Aborigine style – curling organic shapes in earth tones with the dotted decorative shapes inside, and the base of the light posts in similar earthy colors.  In the background, knitted and crocheted tree covers.  Don't ask me why, they just are.  Decorative tree cozies.  I don't know who makes them, or puts them on the trees, or why there are there.  They just are.  Little amusing touches, the tree cozies.

We spent Sunday back in the St. Kilda area, at an art fair – artisans set up booths and tables all along the Esplanade, which basically runs parallel to the beach.  It was a gorgeous summer day, about 90 degrees, with blue blue sky and breezes off the Tasman Sea.  We chatted with vendors, looked at items, watched the air show – you know, the small jets flying in formation and zooming around and leaving con trails to create loops and hearts and such – beautiful but nerve-wracking, because they appear to fly just inches from each other and always look about ready to crash.  We had a nice afternoon of this, and eventually made our way back to our guest house to cool off.

Not much else new.  Tuesday I had my surgery – the hospital was very efficient and essentially very similar to surgery in the States.  Or, at least, surgery in Puerto Rico and the USVI – I haven’t had anything but dental surgery and tonsils in the US.  The one thing that struck me, though, was that they didn’t give me anything prior to rolling me into the operating theatre (as it’s called here) – previously, I’ve always been given just a little hit of something (Valium or whatever) to relax prior to surgery.  Here, the anesthesiologist (called an anaesthetist here) put in the IV, someone gave me oxygen, Dr Anesthesiologist put something in the IV, I breathed three times, and then I woke up in recovery.  Also, Miss Dr Surgeon came by to see me as I was awaiting surgery – also not something I’ve had previously, except with another woman doctor.  (So I don’t know if that’s usual here, or just something that women doctors tend to do, be more patient maintenance oriented, rather than task oriented.)  Anyway, surgery went fine, I woke up, they gave me pain meds, I fell asleep, they rolled me into another room and gave me tea and biscuits (cookies), and eventually I was allowed to leave with Richard, who was there through it all.  So I’m back in the guesthouse, buzzed on pain meds (well, not buzzed, woozy is more like it) and hoping I’m relatively lucid in this blog.  Enjoying our lovely Valentine’s lilies, more and more are blooming.  Taking meds on schedule, reading and relaxing and blogging.  I’ll see the doctor on Friday to see what the pathologist said about the ducts, and then we go from there.

A few moments of humor – the intake nurse was from Zambia, so we had a nice time chatting with her about Africa in general, and she was very impressed with our travel without a plan.  The anesthesiologist was an older gentleman, white-haired, very doctorly – but he wore a bright red tie covered in small black cats with white whiskers, which I found quite amusing.  Richard didn’t notice it, from a distance it just looked like a red foulard tie (sixth grade English word) – but I was closer and the kitties just amused me.  And best part – the hospital had lovely starched and ironed hospital gowns to wear, and they gave us nice cozy bathrobes (which they called dressing gowns, white terry cloth dressing gowns) – so much nicer than the bleah green or washed out print gowns so many hospitals use.  Plus they had me wear a bright red cap to signify I have allergies.  (I guess other people wear blue.)

That’s it for the excitement in Melbourne.  I hope to be up and about tomorrow, the weather continues to be beautiful.  It has cooled down a bit, and even though there were brush fires at the beginning of the week and we had quite a bit of smoke down here, the fires seem to have abated with the rain and cooler weather of Tuesday, and things are okay right now.