A couple photos by Erin. You can visit her in Lansing and see about 400 of them.
Today's weather in Melbourne
If you look at that weather map, I'm on the southern tip of the eastern half of the country. Above that sheild-looking island (Tasmania).
(Wednesday, December 18)
Erin has been back for several weeks. I only have three more days of work. Rob's last day is today; he's flying to Detroit in the morning. It's getting hot. All the plans for when mom, Jill and gramma come are pretty well set. We had an office Christmas lunch yesterday. I got a "good luck" card and a Victoria University coffee mug. It's exactly what I wanted.
Click pictures to go somewhere.
The trip here was pretty monumental. We got to the airport in Detroit at 3 or 4pm Wednesday July 10, and landed in Melbourne Friday July 12 at 10am. We were delerious. Steve and Ossie picked us up from the airport and drove us to the community. Everyone was there to meet us and there was much rejoicing. They had vegan pancakes and coffee ready! We were totally floored when we saw the guest house, aka our new home. It's a little two bedroom cottage. It doesn't have water inside. There is a sink on the back porch and a shower in another little hut in the yard. It's very cool. It's been cold so our little pot-bellied stove has been running round the clock. There are electric blankets under the sheets in the beds too. This is all in Breakwater, a neighborhood on the south end of Geelong. Geelong is about the size of Lansing, but nothing like it really.
That first night we tried to have dinner and watch a movie with everyone but almost feel asleep sitting up, plopping our heads in our food. That was at about 7:30pm. I had been up for 45 hours. I slept about a total of 1.5 hours on the plane in 5-15 minute increments. I would describe it as driving straight through from Michigan to Florida, only you get to watch movies and walk to the bathroom anytime you want. The amazing thing about the plane ride is the stars. You can see five times as many stars as you can on the ground. We saw the milky way galaxy super clear and thick. It was amazing. I sat and watched shooting stars for hours. The worst part is the hour flight from Sydney to Melbourne. You're almost there but you have to do it all again and wait again and land again and wait for customs when you get there. I was waking up at 3:30am for the first 5 or 6 days. (I would go back to sleep and get up for the day about 5-6.) I'm still finding it easy to wake up at 6, but I need an alarm.
Over that first weekend we went to beaches and drove down the coast a ways and had a picnic lunch. We stopped at a golf course and saw hundreds of kangaroos lounging about on the lawns. We saw two wallabees too. The hardest thing to get used to is the vegetation. Wildlife, too, but it was more the trees for me. People talk about culture shock, but my problem adjusting was that nothing I looked at that was growing had ever been processed by my brain before. It might as well have been another planet. The smell and the sky are a lot different, too. The air feels thin. Dry, too. I'm used to great lakes humidity, so this is totally weird. There isn't a real winter. It never ever freezes. So the trees don't lose their leaves. There are truly deciduous trees in Melbourne that don't have leaves right now, but they're not native, and there are none where we live. The landscape in our part of Victoria is dominated by dead-looking brown grass paddocks (pastures). There are tons & tons of sheep, and they live wild in the pastures. So do cows. I saw hundreds of baby sheep running around with their moms today (Mon, 7/29). About all I see on the train ride to work are sheep grazing.
Pictures of the house & community
This is the view from the back yard. The dining room is on the left. The sink is to the right on the porch, with the 2nd bedroom on the other side of that wall. The main part of the house is a living room with two bedrooms on either side of it. The bedroom floors are raised floors, while the living, dining rooms and kitchen are brick laid right on the ground. It doesn't freeze! The kitchen and dining room have been added on. That part is what you see the the left in this picture. You can see the blue bucket our sink drains into on the porch there. We just dump it down 3" pipes that water the tree roots. On the left of the house you see our propane tank that runs our stove and hot water for sink. We have no oven. We bake in other buildings. To the extreme left of the photo you see our wood pile, with the bath hut right behind that.
Our shower hut. If you ask where the bathroom is in Australia you'll be taken to where the tub & shower are. If you ask for the toilet you'll be taken to where the toilet is. Two separate things.
The dining room from the corner of the kitchen. Behind the table is a completely windowed wall facing the back yard.
our sink. That white box above it is the water heater. Our shower runs the same way. A gas tank feeds into these heaters and water is heated instantaneously before it comes out the spout. It rules.
Weeding & tilling the vegetable garden; Saturday, July 20.
This is Graeme on the left and Erin's uncle Steve on the right
Emma (14) and Melanie (20) whose mom Anna is a sister in the community
Miriam, Diane and Oz hard at rest
Who's this joker?
["Yes, we really live here"]