Catchup.com

Once upon a more productive time, I used to do a catch up blog every month. Ah, the days when life was simple, unencumbered by the wild throws of admiration and attention that sudden success and fame brings. Continue reading “Catchup.com”

Audrey vs. Australia: Chinese Garden of Friendship

As I mentioned in my last post – I’m doing Australia in a series of posts called Audrey vs. Australia. LOOK OUT! And my first stop was basically in my backyard – a 15 minute walk from our apartment took us to the gorgeous Chinese Garden of Friendship, right in Darling Harbour.

I’ve walked past the Garden more times than I count, but Saturday marked the first time I’ve been behind the walls. It’s $6 for adult admission, and it’s $6 of beauty, zen, and most importantly, big ass, majestic lizards. The garden is filled with peaceful rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and lagoons; is drowning in greenery; is glowing with flowers and lanterns; and dotted with intricately designed pavilions and secret pathways where you can have a sit or explore. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of traditional zen and bustling city, and I had a blast. Will definitely add “Chinese Garden of Zen” to my future dream house plans.

It was a bit cold, and too late into autumn to see the garden in bloom, but it was still absolutely lovely. I can only imagine how lush and beautiful it looks in spring and summer. Or when it’s raining. Ah man.

Let’s take a tour:

 

 

 

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The majestic Bin Chicken beckons you in
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The entrance to the garden – a fun bonsai farm.
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views through the pavilion
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I love red lanterns
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walk way of zen
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lagoon of zen
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Actual Photographer
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I am a rat. Zodia-graphically. The Garden had all the Chinese zodiac animals hidden around the place. I almost found them all.

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lily pads and sculptures and willow trees, oh my!
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waterfall!
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A stranger offered to take our photo. And she didn’t steal my camera. Friendship forever.
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Love Graffiti Bamboo Forest
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1 of 1 billion flower pics
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more zodiac sculptures
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2 of 1 billion flower pics
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SUN BERRIES
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I want this print on a dress.
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top of the falls, and the Rising Jade Pavilion
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I love this reflection
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It’s my faaavourite
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Fake Photographer
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raise the red lantern
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Rising Jade, for my mom – she had jade plants all around the house when I was growing up.
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3 of 1 billion flower pics
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my lily pads and sculptures and lagoon (featuring casino construction in the background)
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4 of 1 billion flower pics
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Twin Pavilion – named for it’s joined roof and benches
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There were SO MANY lizards. I took about 700 photos. In fact, this blog was almost called “Chinese Garden of LIZARDS”
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fantastic details inside the Twin Pavilion. I’m buying all the red lanterns this year.
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East views
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Willow trees = best trees
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baby falls

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I love a good stone stair case – and the Gardens did not disappoint. It’s basically the closest I’ll get to rock climbing.
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I also love this handsome face
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View of the aptly named Grand Pavilion
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More gorgeous details in the Grand Pavilion
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dat ceiling lantern
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Views to the west
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the red-pink flowers were the best
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Forest garden
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RABBIT
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LIZARD (seriously – I had to restrain myself from only posting lizard photos. Be thankful I stopped myself at 2.)
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no trolls were found
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babble babble
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more bamboo islands
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views to the west
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DUCK
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FEEEEESH – we got there right after feeding time, and it was literally a frenzy. These suckers were huuuuge.
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exit with zen
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good bye!

I had a pretty stressful Friday, which bled into Saturday morning, and I was surprised that wandering around the Garden all morning absolutely took my mind off of it. As we left, I felt happy, relaxed, and like I wanted to go right back in. I’m not one who is normally fixed by zen gardens, and I didn’t even realise it, but it actually worked. Triumph!

+10, would definitely venture again.

AudPodge vs. Australia

The building I work in has a balcony with a view of the ANZAC Bridge, and yesterday I spent my lunch break up there. It was one of those days where the sun was perfect, the humidity was perfect, the temperature was perfect, the breeze was perfect, and the pollen count was awful (can’t win ’em all). Continue reading “AudPodge vs. Australia”

On Visas and Anniversaries

Yesterday, we got the big news we’ve been waiting for since… basically the moment in 2013 that we decided to live together.

I GOT MY VISA!

All the stress, all the worry, all the paperwork, all the days off from work to stand in line at various government agencies and all the thousands of dollars spent, and it all came through. And in possibly a year (not the 2 years I originally thought) I’ll be granted a Permanent Residency – and we’ll never have to worry about my visa status EVER. AGAIN. The fact that we don’t have to worry about it anymore has brought so much relief – but the idea that now we have more security, it makes planning for the future so much easier.

Like, it’s not insane to think about buying a car, now. And I can arrange for my books to be shipped here. And maybe we can get a pet. You know – the important things in life.

I thought that there would be a lot more pomp and circumstance when I found out – with all the effort that went into getting the visa, I was at least hoping for a kangaroo holding to deliver the visa in the form of a bronzed plaque and a hand full of balloons saying WELCOME!! Instead, it arrived in an innocuous email that I at first thought was asking me for more information. Ah well, however it happened, I’m glad that it did. We thought we were going to have to wait until July at least – if not December, before we found out. And that we found out Monday when our third anniversary was on Saturday – that’s just sweet timing.

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Also it gave us another excuse to celebrate with cake. And that’s basically why I do everything in life – for the possibility of cake.

So happy days – happy visa-ing, and happy anniversaring. Joel, there’s no one I could ever imagine doing this with… every day, you show me that I made the right decision. Thank you for always going above and beyond, for listening, for counselling, for making the best punch drunk chicken this side of the meridian, for always knowing. I love you more than I love sweatpants. Even if you do love Suspect Zero more than you love me.

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Sunrise Adventures

This morning, Joel and I woke up at 4:45 (what) to catch the sunrise at Bronte Beach. The forecast had been telling us all week that it would rain on Saturday morning, and I’ve kept my fingers crossed for so long that I basically have arthritis now. But, crippled granny hands are worth it, because the sunrise was be-a-u-ti-ful.

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There are few things I love more than seeing a sunrise or sunset over the water. Seeing that golden orb sizzle along the horizon fills me with… I’m not sure. It’s a combination of inspiration and awe. Add in the smell of sea salt, the sound of crashing waves, and the cold breeze coming off the water, and it makes me feel so fantastic.

The beaches in Australia are just next level. The water is clear and the most perfect shade of aqua-marine, and the sand is almost white, and most of them have these craggy cliffs that catch and pool water and it’s like walking on another world. And when the rose and gold tones of the sunrise reflect off the water – it’s un real. I like Bronte because there’s a little rock pool to the side that’s very calm, and it’s where whusses like me can get in and splash around and pretend to be cool. Ok ok, insert anecdotes about sharks and dangerous Australian sea creatures here and everything – but you can’t deny just how drop dead gorgeous it all is.

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Yesssss
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The colours – trust me, I’ve only slightly edited this photo.
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Prawns! In a tidal pool. There were also tiny fish and about 600 crabs. I think I took more photos of crabs than I did of the sunrise.
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While I was spazzing over crabs and prawns, Joel was Working Man
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ohhh clouds…
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Intrepid Explorer Man
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I tried to follow Joel down the rocks, but this crab army prevented my crossing. And maybe because my sneakers kept slipping against the rocks. I am the most graceful.
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beep beep, I am a ship.
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those waves…
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Corny and no fucks given. 
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lurrrrrrve

I’m so happy we dragged ourselves out of bed and made the trip happen. It was a beautiful way to wrap up a particularly less than stellar month.

It’s very well known that I didn’t grow up at the beach or near the shore, and I don’t always keep my cool in the beach, but I love being at the beach. It’s very centering, very calming. I think being on the edge of the world makes my other problems feel very small. And being in the presence of such an incredible force helps me put things into perspective… just watching everything wash away with the waves is a good reminder that “this too shall pass.” Maybe it’s the visceral experience – sights, smells, textures, emotions – but the beach is one of the few places where I can go and my mind just clears. I could sit at the beach and do nothing for hours. And it feels good, man.

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Thanks for a good morning, universe.

xox

April Thus Far

So who is waiting to wrap a big fat DONE ribbon around April, quietly put it on the shelf and just pretend it didn’t happen? *raises hand*

I can’t remember a month where I’ve felt more – fragile – I guess is the best word. Hence the sporadic appearances here and everywhere else in the social spectrum. It’s been a tough few weeks. I’ve been on the receiving end of more pep talks than I have in years. But I’m happy to say that being more proactive and attentive to what I need has been helping immensely, so I’m just taking it day by day.

BUT – April hasn’t been all bad! For one thing, we watched so many episodes of My 600lb Life that I think I’m *thiiiiiis* close to cutting out all processed foods from my life. Joel has become Head Chef around here and we’ve never eaten better. I’ve been able to skype/Facetime/phone date with many of my nearest and dearest. And my most favourite person had a birthday. We celebrated with a doughnut cake, Game of Thrones, and a night with friends… and a resulting Friday night of pizza and sweatpants recovery.

Annnnd we just had an awesome three day weekend of good food, good movies (ok, and some terrible movies), and relax times (and let’s face it, obsessive cleaning and rearranging #stressed) in honour of ANZAC Day.

 

So here’s to the last few days of April – fingers crossed that it all starts to shape up.

xoxo

Biennale

Biennale! Bee-n-olly. Or, as I can only remember it – Beabolly, Banomamolly, or Bananamaalla. Or, big ass art fair spanning across Sydney that happens every two years.

It’s a huge to-do, with events happening at different venues all over the city. Since I successfully missed Sculpture by the Sea each year that I’ve been here, I was hoping I’d make it to at least one venue for Biennale. And yesterday, we met up with our friends Kat and Matt for a tour of Cockatoo Island (two birds/one stone, it’s also my goal to visit all the “animal” islands around Sydney – there’s also Goat Island and Shark Island, and I will visit them.)

Among other things, Cockatoo Island was a holding area for prisoners in the 1800’s, and then a pretty major shipbuilding and dockyard facility, until 2001 when it was closed down and most of it demolished. But now it’s a heritage site, and most of its buildings have been re-opened as museums of Sydney’s industrial history.

We left the house prepared for rain, as the weather report suggested. However, 10 minutes before we got on the ferry, the rain let out, and the brightest sun came out and stayed out. Needless to say, we are both sunburned now.

Mostly the installations left me kinda meh, and I found myself more interested in the buildings and the machinery that’s been left behind than the actual installations (sometimes I am 100% my father’s daughter). But we had a really good time being out and about, seeing some amazing drawings and mind blowing texture work, some really off the wall pretentious video installations, and listening to self-important people explain art to the people they were with. Here you go, enjoy a smattering of photos!

 

 

I’ll be off putting aloe on my sizzled forehead.

xox

Summmmmmer

We’ve been tip-toeing up to summer all through September, but every warm day we had was immediately followed by coats and boots or frozen rainy weather. Friday, though, brought the sunshine, and we’ve had 28-35*C days since. I’ve been reaching for flip flops and shorts, not boots and jeans. It’s still light outside at 7 PM. And at midnight, with the windows closed and the fan off, it still gets so warm that I sweat on my upper lip.

And with that, I’m calling it: summer is officially here. And I’m not dreading it like I did last year!

This optimism is mostly because I’m not having back to back summers this year. Or maybe I’m excited to not freeze every day when I’m at work (where the heater was functioning maybe 5 days out of the entire winter). Regardless of where this summer excitement is coming from, it’s a welcome change. Maybe I’ve just been glued to my couch for too long in grey, rainy weather (see: last post regarding funks), but I stepped outside in the warm sunshine on Friday morning and I just felt glad to be alive – warm weather AND a three day weekend? Heck yes.

Despite First Day of Flip Flops sore feet (why is the first day just terrible), and killing myself trying to walk up a hill (frighteningly out of shape) it was a banner weekend. And I’m 100% sad to go back to work tomorrow.

I ran out of all my toiletries in September. New Toiletry Day = Best Day.
I ran out of all my toiletries in September. New Toiletry Day = Best Day.
so much cobbler yum.
so much cobbler yum.
Cheers!
Cheers!
I was told that "shrimp" or prawns, as they're called here, never go on the barbie. And these are called "skewers" not kebabs/kebobs. It was like everything I thought I knew was wrong.
I was told that “shrimp” or prawns, as they’re called here, never go on the barbie. And these are called “skewers” not kebabs/kebobs. It was like everything I thought I knew was wrong.
Joel's Nan always brings articles and clippings to show him. It's adorable.
Joel’s Nan always brings articles and clippings to show him. It’s adorable.
And she showed us this pic of her in the 80's holding a snake. FIERCE.
And she showed us this pic of her in the 80’s holding a snake, while wearing a gold turban. FIERCE.
Joel at the meat helm
Joel at the meat helm
MEAT FIRE! Joel showed me the continuous shooting function, and I got amazing shots of the grill catching fire (the meat was unharmed)
MEAT FIRE! Joel showed me the continuous shooting function, and I got amazing shots of the grill catching fire (the meat was unharmed)
and bubbles
and bubbles
and more bubbles
and more bubbles
all the bubbles
all the bubbles
lazy Sunday cookie baking
lazy Sunday cookie baking (and maybe the last day until March where it’s not too hot to turn on the oven)
I ate raw berries for the first time this weekend, and it didn't kill me. If I'm not careful, I might start eating better.
I ate raw berries for the first time this weekend, and they didn’t kill me. If I’m not careful, I might start eating better.
lazy Sunday obsessive drawer re-ordering and kitchen clean out.
lazy Sunday obsessive drawer re-ordering and kitchen clean out.
Labour Day Beach Day! We checked out Balmoral Beach, which is in the harbour, so no scary waves.   Just calm, clear water. This meant no panic attacks for Audrey. /victory
Labour Day Beach Day! We checked out Balmoral Beach, which is in the harbour, so no scary waves. Just calm, clear water. This meant no panic attacks for Audrey. /victory
The remains of an antique shark net. We swam on the side that doesn't have a net. Whhhoooops
The remains of an antique shark net. We swam on the side that doesn’t have a net. Whhhoooops
the water was perfect, if a little cold. We would have stayed all day if there was a way to not get fried in the sun.
the water was perfect, if a little cold. And there’s rocks and cliffs for exploring. It’s perfect, and one day I’ll be able to walk up the extra steep hill leading to the beach without having a heart attack.
First Neenish Tart. Must have more.
First Neenish Tart. Must have more.

Three day weekends never seem long enough. But at least we got a kick ass summer kick off.

Here’s to more time outside! Here’s to sweating profusely 24/7! Here’s to towels drying without a weird smell on them! Here’s to the return of Spider Watch! And more importantly, here’s to not having to blow dry my hair until April.

Hello, summer. I’ve been surprisingly excited for you to get here*.

*check back in one month, when I’ll be willing to sell a kidney for air conditioning.

“I punched a shark!”

No, not me.

But Mick Fanning did. And it’s on every news channel in Australia. Seriously. At work, my desk is under three flat screen TVs. And at lunch time yesterday, all three were showing footage of Fanning going from the airport to his first press event.

Must be a slow news week. 

Also, Australians are badass.

And #allsharklivesmatter

3df084d7c71a2e44633145f4f27dc4b3But, can Mick Fanning eat 36 oz of oatmeal and survive?

Heeeey Sunday

It’s been so quiet today.

I had a quick phone chat with my sister, I did the washing, I bought milk, I took a shower, I had a Skype date with my friend Daron, and I started my budget for the next couple months.

STOP. STOP THE EXCITEMENT.

But seriously. It’s really good here. There are few things I love more than a good, quiet Sunday. And today is especially quiet because Joel and I cleaned our apartment within an inch of its life yesterday, so I didn’t really have chores to do. I don’t even have to start dinner soon, because we are still chipping away at the red beans and rice I made on Thursday.

I’m just sitting here watching the sun set and cast light through our kitchen.

photo 2(1)and enjoying the company of our new kitchen buddy:

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RARRRR! Yes, he is leaning against a bottle. Maybe he’s an alcoholic. Or maybe he’s a bit top heavy and his hollow tail doesn’t balance him out. His life, his choice.

I love these days.

One of my greatest feelings is when I look around and think, “I love my life.” Even when all the looming uncertainty and separation from my friends and family makes it hard. Even when I blow off my to-do list for the second weekend in a row. I love it here. I love the life we are working toward. And I’ve never been happier.

photo 1(1)Nope, no real point to this post. I’m just feeling gushy.