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”

Thanksgiving

I’ve wanted to do a Friendsgiving style dinner since maybe before I moved to Sydney. But I’ve just never had the wherewithal or the space to get it together. I mean, my first Thanksgiving here literally snuck up on me the day before, and was thusly celebrated with little fan fare. The second one was better thought out, but as we were in a tiny heat box apartment with only 3 plates and 2 chairs, there wasn’t any space to entertain. But, as luck would have it, at Joel’s exhibition, Hugh (our master chef pal) and I started to loosely plan a big Thanksgiving dinner.

In mid-October we remembered we were planning a dinner (actually, Hugh remembered, because I’m absent minded professor), so we picked a date, set a menu, made a plan, and on Friday night, we made it happen. With Hugh at the ham helm and the grill station, and me with the mayonnaise and bacon salad (America) we fed 17 of our pals and killed many 3 for 1 bottles of wine. It was fan-damn-tastic.

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When I think of Thanksgiving food, I want cheesy green bean casserole, heaps of mashed potatoes and gravy, piles of turkey, stuffing, etc etc. But when I think of cooking and eating a meal of cream, cheese, starch and gravy in the air conditioner-less heat of an Australian November, it makes me want to curl up and die. So we adapted the traditional meals for something more light and summery — but still paid homage to the fat filled, cheese topped, heavy, heavy style traditional noshes. What we ate:

  • Ham with pineapple/lime/chipotle glaze with a chipotle apple sauce
  • Glazed and grilled carrots, and squash and broccolini (topped with pickled carrots)
  • Green beans tossed with almonds and pickled onions
  • Red Skin potato and bacon salad
  • Corn bread from scratch
  • Homemade pumpkin pie with spiced whipped cream
  • Mixed berry cobbler
  • Honorable mention but didn’t make it to the table – buttermilk rolls and mini bourboun pecan tarts.

The meal didn’t come together without its share of Audrey-style mayhem – I was meant to do a big shop on Wednesday night so my Thursday night would be totally free for baking, but Glued to My Phone Election Night Blues got the better of me.

I went to the store, but it was only to buy bacon for dinner and to cry in the aisles like a basket case. So on Thursday, I did my big shop. 90 minutes and 30lbs of groceries later, I was exhausted. At 8PM Joel took command and made most of the corn bread (ok, he really made all of it but I read the recipe to him and grated the cheese and pointed out that I forgot to add the creamed corn, so I’m taking credit, too). Around 9 PM I started boiling the potatoes and putting the pie together. By 10PM the pie corn bread was done, the pie was baking, and the potatoes were still hard, and I was counting how many hours of sleep I’d need to be up at 6:30AM and not feel like a zombie for work. By 10:45PM the potato salad was done, the pie was burnt to a crisp (fucking *F to *C), the buttermilk rolls were scratched, and I was all “fuck it.” and went to bed.

But, the meal was still a success! Hugh is a genius with food, and it’s a meal I wish I was still eating. Here are some moderately good pics – mostly blurry and mostly forgetting key elements like the green beans and the whipped cream gun, but some pics are better than none:

It really was a fantastic night – friends, wine, great food, laughs, and even some interpretive dancing. Thanksgiving is intended to be a day where you reflect on your good fortunes, and for showing gratitude for those good fortunes. I felt the gratitude. And I felt the love. It was a night to not dwell on the negatives (Trump), and it was a night of reassurance that not everything is dark and terrible. As I looked down the table filled with people and candles and conversation and food being passed around and everything just felt – good. If I were the Grinch, this is where my heart would break the frame.

I am incredibly thankful for my Sydney family, for Joel’s friends who have never treated me like a stranger and who I now consider to be my friends, too. I’m thankful for my life here. I’m even thankful for this year, even though it’s been so hard, it’s been so eye-opening and revelatory to support systems I didn’t realise I had.

I’m thankful for the life I live, and I am thankful for the people around me.

And I’m thankful for that ham. Seriously, it was damn delish.

Adventure Tuesday!

On Tuesday, Joel and I met up with his friends Hugh and Shaya, and their buddy Benny, and we took off for the beaches in Bundeena, a town in the Royal National Park— a park so big, it would take you 2 days to walk its entirety.

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hanging out with Joel and Benny in the backseat

Benny is Hugh and Shaya’s foster dog, and he’s 100% adorable. Except for when he got car sick and puked directly into my lap. It wasn’t just a little bit of vomit either. He unhinged his jaw and expelled the entire contents of his stomach, in an almost solid mass. It was like a demon had overtaken him. I felt so bad for the little guy. Not to be deterred by a car-sick pup, we pulled over, cleaned everything up, and made our way to the beach.

The weather was absolutely perfect for exploring. Bright, sunny, warm, and super breezy. We landed at Jibbon beach and took the trail through cliffs, rocks, and brush. Australia has some of the prettiest beaches ever, and I’m still reeling over the views. We saw way too many old men nude sunbathing on secluded cliffs, and a cranky old man who was taking pictures of the ocean scolded us and said he was going to report us to the authorities for having a dog, but apart from that, we had a really good time.

Jibbon beach
Jibbon beach
The Shaya, Hugh, and Benny gang
The Shaya, Hugh, and Benny gang
Benny the beach dog
Benny the beach dog

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Joel the intrepid explorer, reaching for crabs.
Joel the intrepid explorer, reaching for crabs.
Some of the pools that collected in the rocks.
Some of the pools that collected in the rocks.
No matter how much we persuaded, begged, and pleaded, Benny was all "fuck that" when it came to going in the water
No matter how much we persuaded, begged, and pleaded, Benny was all “fuck that” when it came to going in the water.
Toward the end of the beach, the waves calmed down to nearly nothing. If the water wasn't freezing and I wasn't terrified of sharks, I would have gone swimming.
Toward the end of the beach, the waves calmed down to nearly nothing. If the water wasn’t freezing and I wasn’t terrified of sharks, I would have gone swimming.
"NUUUUUUPE"
“NUUUUUUPE”
But then, out of nowhere, he just went balls deep into the water. Only that one time though. haha, oh Benny.
But then, out of nowhere, he just went balls deep into the water. Only that one time though. haha, oh Benny.
You can see through the water at every step.
You can see through the water at every step.
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Beach gang
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Kelp Forest
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Then we found a cuttlefish in the kelp forest! #nature
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It was dead. Joel fished him out so we could examine him. I can now say I touched a cuttlefish. It was slimy.
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At the end of the beach, the rocks and cliffs started
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the ground was pretty, but creepy, with all these little fish filled pools. It looked like something off the set of Star Trek.
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mini-pool-sea-forest

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We climbed a staircase that looked like it was under construction and then abandoned. The staircase led us to a rock plank with Aboriginal carvings. This one is a kangaroo.
We climbed a staircase that looked like it was under construction and then abandoned. The staircase led us to a rock plank with Aboriginal carvings. This one is a kangaroo. My other carving shots didn’t turn out because the sun was too bright and I couldn’t see what I was taking pictures of. But I was taking pictures of rock. /wompwomp
Oh this one turned out. Have a turtle, folks. It was really cool to stumble upon the carvings with no one else around. They're over 1,000 years old. Pretty moving.
Oh this one turned out. Have a turtle, folks. It was really cool to stumble upon the carvings with no one else around. They’re over 1,000 years old. Pretty moving.
We left the carvings, traveled through some brush and mud, and found an impressive cliff.
We left the carvings, traveled through some brush and mud, and found an impressive cliff.

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After the cliff, we entered the brush! More mud, some red water, and some more mud, we came to a lovely little rocky beach.
After the cliff, we entered the brush! More mud, some red water, and some more mud, we came to a lovely little rocky beach.
All these Blue Bottles had washed up on the shore.
All these Blue Bottles had washed up on the shore.
Blue Bottles are like jelly fish, but aren't. They do pack an irritating sting though, if you step on them or if they brush up against you. But you can pick them off with your fingers. So, cool? I'm staying out of the water.
Blue Bottles are like jelly fish, but aren’t. They do pack an irritating sting though, if you step on them or if they brush up against you. But you can pick them off with your fingers. So, cool? I’m staying out of the water.

As I was taking pictures of the Blue Bottles, the cranky old man tried to have us arrested for having a leashed, calm dog with us. Which was funny, because we were about 10 minutes away from our car, and he was at least a 20 minute walk away from the authorities. So we decided to leave. And we made our way to Bare Island.

There was an Aboriginal museum on the other side of the bridge, but we didn't make it in time. Oh well.
There was an Aboriginal museum on the other side of the bridge, but we didn’t make it in time. Oh well.

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Bare Island was intended to be a defense island, but it’s now one of the most popular locations in Sydney to scuba dive. Even though there are sharks and eels and lots of venomous/teeth filled creatures living there. It was damn beautiful, though. Joel is determined to get me to scuba, but I’m not sure. Scuba is like sky diving to me. I’m incredibly down for it, but I’m also beyond terrified of it. I’m sure I’d be fascinated once I’m down under the water, but it would probably take me 2 hours to get into the water, like I’m sure I’d have the best time falling through the air, but I’d have a crippling anxiety attack in the plane.

ANYWAY. Bare Island is a lovely place to visit, filled with rocky, craggy surfaces that I couldn’t get photos of because I was too busy trying not to slip and fall to my death. I am a graceful giraffe, after all. There were also gorge-like walls that surrounded the water. I got chills when I stood in front of them and thought how where I was standing used to be under water. With megalodons. And other sea monsters. /yikes

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Joel, the explorer. He pushed on the sponge/coral creatures and they squirted water. This went on for a while, with everyone making the sponge/corals sponge. hehe
Joel, the explorer. He pushed on the sponge/coral creatures and they squirted water. This went on for a while, with everyone making the sponge/corals spooge. We all laughed, except Benny, who freaked out when he stepped on one.

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Joel touches everything. That day, he found sea crabs, the cuttle fish, a hermit crab, a nautilus shell, and spooging sponge/coral among others.
Joel touches everything. That day, he found sea crabs, the cuttlefish, a hermit crab, a nautilus shell, and spooging sponge/coral among others.

After Bare Island, it was getting late and cold, so we grabbed a late lunch/early dinner of fish and chips at Coogee Beach, and watched as the seagulls vied for our attention. Benny took turns falling asleep on both of us as Hugh drove us home.

Benny tuckered out after a big day out.
Benny tuckered out after a big day out.

And I got home to some unruly Adventure Hair, and a surprisingly little amount of sunburn.

Post Adventure Day. Not pictured: sweaty salt smells.
Post Adventure Day. Not pictured: sweaty salt smells.

Australia is a beautiful country. And I’m floored that I have so much of that beauty basically in my backyard.

1 adventure day down, 8 million to go.