Saturday, June 02, 2007

Australia: arrival and grumps

I'm in! Blogger set up a series of dastardly roadblocks, refusing to acknowledge my signing in. Happily, I was able to sign in via the comment feature (on dw's blog, no less), so virtue is rewarded. Take that, o evil bug in the Bloggerly system. A pox on your programming.

Here are some notes, no photos - yet - thanks to a niggardly internet connection. I promise, oh I promise to add photos once I can... Until then, here we go!

Part One: gasp and arrival

I’ve wanted to take so many photos thus far: of me, standing bewildered and slightly resentful, in a room piled high with stuff, waiting to be sorted into packable and SOL, or left behind. Of the boys playing so nicely in their seats on the airplane, of the Toddles insisting on sleeping on me, only, of me freaking out because I couldn’t sleep with the child on top of me, ready to slide off at any moment. Of the moment of touchdown and the end of the long, long plane ride, of the moment when the wrap earned its keep, as I chased Toddles through serpentine lines of tired travelers at Passport Control, of me wrapping and holding a tired, wired Toddles on my back (nine out of nine, luv! said a random woman when I had the Toddles secured) while I worked our way through customs and quarantine (a sort of Australian dept. of agriculture meets paranoia, fueled by a dungheap of honest-to-deity of choice’s worth of ecological error), of the meal that we were hosted for, by the indefatigable Aunt, the meal that we hosted somehow for that same wedge of family, on plastic plates and tinfoil pans for a politely appreciative family, of the Eldest playing with his cousins, of the Toddles with spaghetti streaming down his chin as he firmly stabbed another wedge of cucumber. ‘Bumber!’ he said, and I felt something inside of me relax.

We’re here. The rented apartment is spacious and happily short on furniture. I’d take boy-room over end tables any day. The cousins are delighted to have the Eldest around, and are quite tolerant of the less flamboyant Toddles. And my aged grandmother bursts into easy tears over, well, our presence – which would not have happened if not for her gift of the airfare, frankly.

Oh, my, but we are here. And I am bound by solemn promise by the Eldest to take real, truly ruly photos of kangaroos, odd pinecones and koalas, to mail back to his American classmates – but first, a moment to breathe. We’re here. Damn me, but we did it.

Part Two: phooey

Today has been a day of irritating mundanity. We arranged for a cell phone, which as of yet does not work (there’s no phone in our rented apartment). I sat around hunting wireless networks (the promised internet access has not materialized, partly because I lack a phone with which to call for help). We went grocery shopping. The Man grumped about finances, dampening the joys of discovering fejoas and passionfruit. I did laundry, washed dishes, cooked for the sabbath. It was lovely to see how easy it is to find a range of gluten-free, vegan foods here in Melbourne – there was a shop right on Balaclava St, with shelf after shelf of options. I even walked away with two loaves of bread to try, as a change from Enjoy Life’s leaden pseudo-bagels. (Good cookies, that brand – lousy bread.)

Really, the highlight of the day has been finding kosher Vegemite in the grocery store, and watching the Toddles tear around the apartment, shrieking ‘mite! ‘mite! I love that my little American kidlets eat Vegemite. It suits something deep inside me to see them eating the food of my childhood (and adulthood, to be honest), a thought I should hold on to the next time I roar about idjits upset over PB&J sandwiches being banned from schools. Hm.

On the fridge hangs a little calendar that I made last night. At the bottom, I’ve scribbled a list of things I’d love to do. It’s promising something, it’s taunting, it’s catching the corner of my eye as I lift pots and chop vegetables.

next up: the Prom and calendric happiness
Aussie chicken burgers

1/2 kilo ground chicken (not the low fat kind!)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 Tb each freshly chopped dill, parsley, basil (whatever you have)
2-3 tsp fresh thyme leaves, stripped off the stems
salt, pepper
1-2 Tb curry powder

Moosh the whole thing in a bowl, until reasonably well mixed - I used a potato masher, since it's what I had. I've since made the recipe again, and I used my hands.

Turn on the grill (broiler to you Yanks), and spray a roasting pan. With the oven rack close to the grill, broil the burgers until done, perhaps 10 minutes. Check after 5 minutes to gauge speed of cooking and closeness to the heating unit.

Serving suggestions: green salad with avocado, tomato and green olives. Green beans, steamed. Rice. Simple, fresh, clean flavors all, to balance out the richness of the burgers.


Lois Grebowski said...

OOOH, YUM! Those burgers sound real good. Will have to try those...

Glad to hear you're settling in. Hope y'all have the time of your life...sounds like fun.

I do have one question, does the water *really* swirl down the drain in the opposite direction?

Thanks to DW for helping us keep our Mama fix. :-D)

mama o' the matrices said...

You know, I think the water really *does* swirl in the opposite direction. The boys collapsed in a cousin-overloaded heap tonight, before I could pop them in the bath. Promise to check tomorrow night and confirm...

There's a thought: I'm upside down!

country girl said...

I am really enjoying the news from down under. I can even live without pictures; just keep the words coming. My son brought vegemite home from Australia for us to try. I think it's still somewhere in the back of the refrigerator. I guess it's an acquired taste.

joy said...

The water swirl was one of the first things I checked on my initial visit to KiwiLand. It does swirl the other way.

Very happy to hear you are all well and happily upside down.

dykewife said...

am i the dw? or is someone else? it sounds like it's a wonderful holiday for the kids. the chicken burger recipe sounds fact, sauteed mushrooms with that would be absolutely delish. :) i'm going to try it after student loans come in and we can afford to buy a pile of groceries.

oh, and vegimite? vegan or otherwise sucks.

dykewife said...

oh, and if the dw was me, you're welcome :) if not, well, you'rewelcome anyway :)

mama o' the matrices said...

dykewife, you are the dw. It's something that stuck - your first comment popped up on the blog while the Eldest was going through a mini-Arthur mania. DW is Arthur's determined sister, and somehow it all hung together in my pointy wee head.

Sorry for the confusion, and yes! Sauteed mushrooms!

Zina said...

How wonderful and funny. I wholeheartedly apologize for being the conduit for the bagel pucks that you lugged to Roo Land.

That Man dance about finances? I think I know that dance. It looks like a Navajo rain dance but with really angry faces and clenched fists. And onlookers shaking pennies in coin purses for percussion. Right?

mama o' the matrices said...

Oh, but how could you have known? I'm going to give them one last shot at gastronomical use, as garlic croutons.

And yes, yes, yes! Especially the bits with the percussive onlookers... *giggle*