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.

Weekends, and the struggle of Doing Things

I’ve become one of those people who wakes up on Monday mornings with actualised grief over the weekend that’s passed. Setting my alarm clock on Sunday night fills my heart with a palpable sadness. And getting out of bed and readying myself for work is like trying to walk through drying cement. Thank God for Joel. The man gets out of bed, like consciously leaves the one warm place in our apartment, and bares the frozen tundra of the kitchen to make coffee and bring it back to me. It’s seriously the best part of my morning. And I’ll gladly do every chore in the house without complaint* for that morning coffee service. That’s how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning.

I don’t know what I’m complaining about, really. I have a nice commute (in the mornings at least, when it takes just about 35 mins to get to work), a job that’s low stress and staffed with cool folks (even an American who occasionally slips into her Minnesota nice every now and then and I get all “doncha know” in my head). The heat has been broken and we’ve been working in an ice castle since I started, but it’s really not that bad. Today, I got to write social media posts about Nicky Hilton’s wedding. /dreams

I think I just really like being home. I like being home so much that I want to be here all the time. But, I’m starting to become a shut in. It’s almost at the point where I don’t want to leave the house if it means putting on a bra and real people clothes. Even if it’s to run “important” errands, like grocery shopping so we don’t eat butter and onions and mustard and 14 week old white wine for dinner (this might be the contents of our fridge right now).

Anytime I’m not at home, in sweatpants, working on some sort of project is kind of the worst thing ever. And that’s why weekends are beautiful: two and a half days of sweat pants and projects hang times. Weekend free time is like a precious commodity, like fossil fuels or pizza, and wasting it on traffic or crowds or errands is like setting barrels of oil on fire… a barrel full of oil and deep dish Meat Lovers pizza. /horror

Adding to the precious fragility of the weekend, Joel’s days off are Saturday and Tuesday, and Tuesdays are more often than not the days he works in the studio with his friend Aaron. So we only have one day off together, and it happens to be on the day we’re both trying to decompress from the week. So that makes wanting to Do Things even harder.

After all, Doing Things takes a lot of effort. You know, Doing Things – Things that you Do outside of your home that show everyone that you’re “living life to the fullest.” And by Friday, our effort is tapped and we’re ready to just not Do Things. So we stay in. Which isn’t to say that staying in is a bad thing, because I love hanging out with Joel. And the novelty of seeing him everyday is likely to never wear off — the side effect of other-side-of-the-world-distance dating. Staying in with him means good food, good movies, good conversation, laughing at shit on the internet, and staying pretty cozy. And it helps to stay in, because we’re trying to save as much money as possible. So apart from an occasional pizza or Chinese food picnic, there’s not a lot of money left to Do Things — things like going out to bars and dinners out and road trips and weekend holidays. We might not do much, but what we do do makes me so happy that I rarely ever want to leave home. And that says something.

But sometimes, I do miss Doing Things. And so does Joel. So we’ve been trying to get out more to Do Things, so that maybe we don’t start to mold over. This weekend, Doing Things meant waking up a bit early and heading out to the Rozelle Markets, which is a small flea market that’s about a 15 minute walk from our apartment. I love the Markets, because I love old junk, but it’s also torturous to me because my shopaholic sponsor Joel has to reign me in at every table. It’s a lot like how, as kids, I dragged behind my mom at antique stores and yard sales and thrift stores, saying “we don’t need that.” Wow, it’s exactly like that.

You are becoming your mother.

Anyway, we walked through the markets and browsed some good shit, and some not so good shit. I found a set of 6 Simpsons themed glass Nutella jars, but there was only one good cartoon and the glasses were caked with suspicious dirt and stains. I also found a pair of bright gold painted Doc Martens, a handmade desk cubby, a glass tray with a pressed flower design and wooden edging, antique silver and jewelry, old maps, and and and and… Needless to say, if I had been by myself, I would have been in trouble.

Good ol' Rod
Good ol’ Rod

Somewhere in the morning, while we were finishing a movie about a kid in art school, we decided we wanted to do a paint by numbers. So after the Markets, we walked to two different stores we thought would carry them, but came up nothing. But we did come up with the idea to buy fun straws and drink creaming soda floats, which we did find the supplies for. And we passed a lot of smug, fatty dogs, which makes any day better.

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When we got home, it was still early in the afternoon, but the day felt empty. I started to clean the kitchen, but neither of us could get the thought of paint by numbers out of our head. I knew the craft store in the city carried them. And the craft store was right by the bus stop. So the whole trip could take me 45 minutes if I was quick. But, going to the city on my day off, for an errand, is No. 1 on Things to Not Do on Weekends. I go to the city and deal with crowds 5x a week, I’m over it. But, the more I cleaned, the more the want for paint by numbers turned into a need. And before I knew it, it went from need to if I don’t get this my weekend will be ruined. And once I get into that obsessive state of mind, all rules and plans and schedules are thrown to the side.

Joel tried to assure me that we didn’t need Paint by numbers, but he’s only slowly getting introduced to my sporadic bursts of obsession- like that time I drove for over an hour and went to 4 different stores looking for a copy of Twilight because I just needed to have it for my lazy day (no judgement, I was sad). Or when I did the same thing, except looking for salmon colored sheets and season 3 of The Hills (I said no judging – I like shitty TV) that I couldn’t live or finish cleaning my house without. Or how in 3 hours, I had a shelf system designed and customized, supplies to build said shelf purchased, and my dad pulled away from one of his master’s thesis study days to install it. It’s this kind of dogged determinedness that makes me think I could actually be successful one day. But that’s a story for another blog.

So off I went to get Paint by Numbers. And I was successful.

I got back to the bus stop, and realised I was going to finish this trip up in an hour, which is what I wanted. My bus wasn’t due to arrive for 15 minutes, and in that 15 minutes I got wrapped up in a text rant to my mom. When the bus came up, I got on, texting away, being that person I hate. And when the bus started moving and I finally looked up, I realized I was on the wrong bus. Aw crap. Auto pilot fail.

A $21 dollar cab ride later (I confused the driver and we went the long way, another auto pilot fail), I was home, a little bitter at myself, but still victorious. We had our paint by numbers. And we had pulled chicken sandwiches, and Ben Affleck in The Town. And later we had our creaming soda floats with the fun straws. And we had a good afternoon, after our morning of Doing Things.

Joel wanted something "with a house, a river, preferably a mountain." Congrats, because you got the hardest PB# ever, Joel.
Joel wanted something “with a house, a river, preferably with a mountain.” Congrats, because you got the hardest PB# ever, Joel.
I wanted a PB# that I could mount on a sheet of black velvet. So I chose a majestic lion.
I wanted a PB# that I could mount on a sheet of black velvet. So I chose a majestic lion.
An artist prepares
An artist prepares
mine, two hours later. WHY DO THEY TAKE SO LONG
mine, two hours later. WHY DO THEY TAKE SO LONG
2 ish hours later. Did you know how detailed paint by numbers are? We forgot.
2 ish hours later. Did you know how detailed paint by numbers are? We forgot.
yummm. Creaming soda tastes like vanilla + tarot root and looks like cherry ginger ale and is my new favorite.
yummm. Creaming soda tastes like vanilla + tarot root and looks like cherry ginger ale and is my new favorite. Also, totes hip with the straws and the vintage glassware and our paint by numbers. We’re really cool here. 
And then... There was the final review of my visa. insert wide eye emoji here.
And after our backs and eyes gave out over the PB#… there was the final review of my visa.     insert wide eye emoji here.
And there was more painting while we waited for dinner. PB# - addictive.
But some of us couldn’t stop painting. PB# – addictive.
And then there was demolishing of the cookie cake I made for Joel to celebrate him making his bonus this year. Hooray!
And then there was demolishing of the cookie cake I made for Joel to celebrate him making his bonus this year. Hooray!

It was a good Saturday, with the right amount of Doing Things and Not Doing Things and unintentional cabbie adventures. It even inspired me to go back to the city so I could get a couple of things to finish of the boxes I’m sending to my family.

Oh you know, just 2014's Christmas presents and 2015's birthday/anniversary presents. July is better than never, right? I think Santa Amazon will do the delivering this year.
Oh you know, just 2014’s Christmas presents and 2015’s birthday/anniversary presents. July is better than never, right? I think Santa Amazon will do the delivering this year.

And before I knew it, it was time to get in bed and set my alarm for work, again. My life. The eternal struggle of Wanting to Do Things and Wanting to Not Do Things.

I’ll just keep reminding myself that in 2 weeks, I have a 3 day weekend. There should be a 3 day weekend every 2 weeks. Jus sayin.

I hope your weekends are so good you also don’t want to leave home!