Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Gee, but it's good to be back home.
Our vacation was wonderful.  I feel relaxed and refreshed, but it is always nice to return home once again.  Home to your own bed, your favorite reading chair & favorite coffee mug with the coffee prepared just the way you like it.  No more planes to catch or airport bathrooms to use :).  On Sunday we had two flights to catch and they were both delayed.  The second one was delayed due to a mechanical problem with the plane.  They had to decide whether to use that plane or switch to another.  May I just say my prayers were answered when they put us on a different one.  All this made for a looooong day.  I don't think I was ever so glad to lay my head on my comfy, cozy pillow at 2:00 Monday morning.  

When we left for our trip it seemed as though Fall was just beginning.  Although I knew the date on the calendar, these past two weeks in tropical climates just didn't feel at all like Thanksgiving time.  Now that I'm home it feels like Christmas.  The tv commercials, the carols on the radio, the decorations.  Yikes, I'm still getting over jet lag and wish I could hit the pause button for a week or so.  But, since that isn't possible, it's time to jump into fast forward mode and get busy. 
While we were gone my oldest son was in charge of plant watering.  I wasn't sure I had his full attention when I was giving instructions, but as you can see by the Christmas cactus above, he must have been paying more attention than he appeared to be.  It was an awesome sight to behold when we walked in the door late Sunday night.

As I was running errands today the topic of conversation everywhere I went was "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?"  As I listened to the different answers to this question I noticed there was a variety of ways that people would be celebrating.  Some were having a houseful.  They talked of many generations getting together.  This reminded me of the Thanksgiving celebrations of my childhood.  Every year my family of five would gather with my mom's five siblings and all of their spouses and children.  There were so many of us that we sat around a ping pong table and every seat was full.  Before dinner the men went to watch the Detroit Lions play football.  You can guess what the women were doing.  My job in those days was to make the placecards and fill the relish tray.  The bonus was sticking black olives on my little fingers and then eating them.

One person talked of going to grandma's house.  Even though grandma is 85 she insists on having the holiday because that is tradition.  This same grandma just bowled a 200 game.  Dang, I want to be doing that at 85 :).  Hmm, I've never bowled even close to 200 so that's not too likely, but maybe I can still bake pies at that age. 

One lady I spoke to told me that her children were going out of state to be with their dad.  She was going to go out for dinner with her daughter's friend and her young daughter.  Afterwards they were going to make pie together.

Several people talked of getting together with their immediate family or neighbors.

One lady said "just the two of us this year."

When our family celebrated Thanksgiving around that big ping pong table I thought that would be our tradition for ever and ever.  Now I know that circumstances change and it's best to create new traditions to suit those circumstances.  This year there will be eight of us around the table.  While it is a much smaller gathering than the ping pong table days, there are a lot less dishes to be done, a lot more leftovers to be had, but still many things to be thankful for.

This year I am particularly thankful for:

  • my sister-in-law offering to host Thanksgiving dinner.
  • receiving a Thanksgiving card written by my sister.  She has sent a few cards since her stroke, but on this one she was able to write several sentences.  I am always so thankful to see any amount of improvement in her abilities as I know recovery from a stroke is a long process.
  • you.  yes, each and every one of you who take the time to visit me here.  My life has changed in so many ways since I entered the land of blog and you all have added so very much to this experience. 
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Boarding the Plane Back to Reality

 This is what I see as I sit at the computer composing this post today.  Aaah ... this wouldn't be too hard to get used to, but I realize that tomorrow reality will begin to set in. 

Last Monday we turned in the rental car and bid farewell to Australia.  We enjoyed every moment of our time spent there.  The people were friendly, the food was good (although I couldn't bring myself to try Vegemite :) and the scenery was beautiful. 

Since leaving home we have been on six different flights.  With all of the controversy currently going on regarding "pat down searches", I'd like to say that during all of these flights only once did I receive this type of search and I wouldn't consider it to be at all intrusive.  I am glad that our nation's transportation security chief is standing firm on this policy. 

When we were making our travel plans, my husband asked if I'd like to stop in Hawaii for a few days on the way home. After the long flight from Australia, it seemed like a good way to break up the trip a bit.  Not to mention I love Hawaii. 

Three years ago we came to this very same place (the north shore of Oahu) with our boys.  That trip was packed from morning to night with sightseeing adventures.

This trip has been much more laid back.  Our biggest decision today was whether to swim in the ocean or the pool. 

In this tropical paradise it's easy to forget that Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  If I were home I'd be busily making plans for the big day.

But since I'm not home, I guess I'll continue to watch the pineapples grow...

Enjoy some of the finest coffee in the world ...

Get acquainted with some of the local birds ...

As well as the birds of paradise.

For my remaining hours in America's 50th state, I plan to soak up every bit of it's beauty. 

Tomorrow morning we'll be boarding another plane ...
a plane headed for home ...
a plane headed back to reality.

The colors in Hawaii are so vibrant and pretty.  I did a double take as I passed this tree.  At first I thought that it was painted, but on closer inspection I see that it is the natural coloring of the bark.

Thanks to all of you who have commented while I've been travelling.  Special thanks to the comments from Australian bloggers.  Your thoughts and insights have added much to my first experience in your beautiful country.  Once I am back to reality, I plan to stop by and visit with all of you.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Making Friends Down Under

Since no trip to Australia would be complete without seeing a Koala or two, we set out yesterday to do just that.

We found several hanging out in the trees.

They are sleepy little guys who can sleep up to 19 hours per day.

Fortunately, we were able to find one of them who was awake for a bite to eat.  We learned that they don't drink water.  Although they are known as Koala Bears, they aren't bears at all.  They are considered marsupials and are related to wombats and kangaroos.

Speaking of kangaroos, we met a few of them yesterday too.

Apparently they like to lounge around in the afternoon.  As evening comes, they get more active.  We got a kick out of this guy using his friend as a foot rest.

Jeremy gained a new friend after feeding this little fella.

Not all of our new friends were as cute and friendly as the Koalas and Kangaroos.

This is a dingo looking rather harmless. 
Thinking about a movie I saw many years ago I know that looks can be deceiving.  Do you remember that movie from probably the 80s where Meryl Streep went camping with her family and there were dingos involved?  My husband doesn't remember the movie and I don't remember what it was called, but I do remember that was the first time I'd heard of a dingo.  Any help with the name of that movie would be appreciated.  Anybody?? :-).
We laughed as we watched this Tasmanian Devil doing laps around his habitat.  Eventually he wore himself out and climbed up on the rock for a break.  He is rather plump and quite homely looking.

As it is nearly midnight here, I am going to take a cue from my koala friend and head to the nearest tree bed to catch a few zzzz's.

I look forward to being able to catch up with all of you soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

G'Day Mates

G'Day from the Gold Coast of Australia where the local time is 1:50 p.m. on November 11th.  That's 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. 

Last weekend was spent boarding and changing flights a few times until our Qantas flight departed from Los Angeles.  Over 13 hours later we landed in Brisbane, Australia.  It was a long flight to be sure, but we were well taken care of by the Qantas staff.  We were served 2 meals, several snacks, free drinks, choice of several movies, music or the opportunity to keep track of the flight pattern on our own personal screen.

While our son is doing his Study Abroad semester here, we thought it was a perfect time to schedule a vacation to the land down under.
In fact, we're currently waiting for him to come over so we can head out for a bit of sightseeing. He just got through with classes, has to eat and talk to his girlfriend via Skype for a bit.  That could take awhile, so in the meantime I've just finished lunch on the balcony and thought I'd give you a few glimpses of the views we have from our little perch.

To the left there are many high rise apartments and hotels.  This is a tourist area complete with casino and a Surfer's Paradise.  My son has been surfing a few times and says he took quite a beating as the waves are big.  I guess we won't be trying that (not that we were planning to :).

Also to the left is the pool and jacuzzi.  We have been in there and found it to be more our speed.

Straight across the balcony lies the Coral Sea.  If you look closely you can see a wonderful walking path that runs along the beach.  All along the path are little parks and play areas for children. 

We enjoyed a walk along the beach last night at dusk.

To the right we see a school.  I wouldn't mind attending school here just for the location alone :).  Currently it is springtime here.  The students dress in uniforms consisting of shorts, shirts and knee socks. 

The students seem to spend a good share of the day outside for recess or gym classes.  The happy sounds of kids at play coupled with the soothing sounds of the surf are a winning combination in my book.  

Jeremy doesn't have classes for the next few days, so we hope to be out sightseeing.  I'd like to see a few kangaroos, wombats, tasmanian devils and platypuses.  My husband did order a kangaroo salad the other night.  It seemed a bit strange, but didn't taste too bad.  Jeremy said during his orientation he was told not to feel bad about eating them as they are overpopulated here.  

Until next time, I wish you all a G'Day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Day in November

After a few rainy days, the sun is shining on my happy home on this  early November day.  Is it shining on you too?

The sky is the most beautiful shade of blue and the leaves on the trees are turning such pretty colors.

On this day in November ...
In this month of Thanksgiving ...
There is so much to be thankful for.