Monthly Archives: January 2012

Kangaroos, Koalas and Penguins, Oh My!

Despite the fact that I swear like a sailor and guzzle beer like its my job, there is a big part of me that never grew up.  The appearance of one adorable animal can totally make my day, and hell, if its cute enough – my week.  I squeal like a five year old anytime I see a puppy or frankly anything with fur (hairless pets aren’t really my thing, but some lizards are really cute).  So when Vic suggested we plan a visit to Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade and fondle some other local creatures while I was down in Melbourne, I couldn’t say YES fast enough!

We woke in a bit of a haze from our Australia Day festivities, but were ready to hit the road in the early afternoon!  Phillip Island is a smallish island just over 2 hours south of Melbourne, Australia and it is home to a large colony of Little Penguins (formerly Fairy Penguins… don’t even get me started), and is a holiday destination for the region – and I totally understand why.  The island is just stunning, and largely unpopulated outside of a few main towns.

To start off our afternoon of animal encounters, we hit up the Phillip Island Wildlife Park where I was promised close encounters of the big eared and bouncy variety 🙂  The park did not disappoint! We were given bags of pellets on the way in and essentially unleashed into a wildly unsupervised open range park.  Vic suggested that we head out to the large back paddock area first to seek out some of the bigger Roos.  On our way out to the paddock we first encountered a rather large bird and sadly my first thought was “Dude, its a Llama!” – which is unfortunately a terrible quote from the movie Dude, Where’s my Car?  Anywho, there were some Emu around and man are they creepy.  They have really big eyes, leave their mouths awkwardly dangling open and instantly started stalking us – not to mention that they are huge.

Dude, Its a Llama!

When we finally shook off the Emu (after I tossed some pellets at the ground and hurried away), we spied some Kangaroos lazing in the shade.  We approached and took a few photos, and one of them got up and started slowly making its way towards us.   Upon review, his approach was probably the least threatening animal behaviour in the world:

  • Movement was slow and not terribly deliberate
  • He chose to walk (well, a Roo walk/crawl) instead of bouncing
  • Appeared timid, which increased as he got closer
  • Approached with his body low to the ground, not standing up to show his size

Regardless, my first instinct was to toss the bag and run, so I hid behind Vic for a bit – I’m pretty sure he was on the RUN bandwagon, but we stuck it out. As the incoming beast finally reached us, all he did was carefully nose around and it became blatantly clear that he just wanted some pellets.  And he was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  Ever.  Ok, maybe not ever, my theory is that baby raccoons are the cutest things ever – but seriously I was dying.  Feeding this particular Kangaroo was a very lovely experience, it felt like feeding a horse with a very small mouth – ie. no teeth, it was gentle, and it kind of tickled.  In comparison to experiences later in the day where teeth and claws were involved, this was bliss.  Mr. Roo snacked from both our hands and followed us for awhile (still gently) as we headed back to the main area.

We did eventually separate ourselves from our first love and went to feed the rest of the flock.  As I mentioned before, the Roos and Wallabies that hung out in the more heavily trafficked areas weren’t as subtle about what they wanted and would grab your hand with their scary claws and eat with quite a bit more passion – but it was still pretty adorable.  I have to admit, when you’re surrounded by four or five of them it doesn’t matter how cute they are though, its a bit unnerving.

The highlight of the park was definitely the hand feeding, but there were also several other animals that were available just for regular zoo-like viewing, including three incredibly fluffy Koalas and a few packs of gnarly looking Tasmanian Devils.  FYI – the Looney Tunes totally lied to us! Taz was brown, stood on two feet, twirled around and made noises mostly with his tongue out of his mouth – the real ones look like small black bears with white rings around their necks (well they would be white if they weren’t covered in blood), they walk on all fours and make truly creepy and indescribable noises.

By the time we were ready to leave I was on my last nerve dealing with the flies, unbelievably sweaty, and both hands were full of animal slobber – I couldn’t have been happier, and the day wasn’t even over.

We spent the few remaining daylight hours in the town of Cowes, soaking in the sunlight on Vic’s friends Penthouse balcony – it was pretty posh.  We hopped in the car just before 8 and scooted down to the Penguin Parade.  To digress a bit, the Penguin Parade is a naturally occurring nightly migration of the world’s smallest Penguin – the Little Penguin – as they return from the sea and waddle across the beach to their homes in the sand dunes.  Its the animal equivalent of watching rush hour, except with less honking and cursing.  Sort of.

Vic’s Mom had sent us well prepared with sweaters and blankets so we gathered our pile of layers (which seemed ridiculous at the time as it was still a million degrees out) and headed into the venue.  The setup is essentially this: You walk into a horribly commercial touristy building and then out onto a lovely boardwalk that leads out onto the beach where two separate stadium seating areas sit on either side of the entrance to the Penguin’s burrows amongst the sand dunes.  While mildly irritating due to the lack of photographic memories, I ended up enjoying the fact that no filming or photography was allowed once you enter the boardwalk or the stadium – its rare these days to watch something amazing and not see flashes and haze from screens absolutely everywhere.

As we entered the seating area, we noticed that there was room to sit right on the beach, which is the closet you can be to the Penguins waddling up from the shore and we were amazed that such prime seating was still available.  After an unusually long and confusing conversation over where to put the blankets we settled in for the show.  The sweaters and blankets turned out to be a great idea, and while we were possibly over prepared, I definitely saw some jealous glances as we created a blanket fort and watched the show in comfort.

Waddle, waddle, waddle!

The Penguins eventually emerge, in nervous little huddles and appear to hurry with all their might up the beach – which is a hilariously slow process because they are just so tiny.  Its pretty precious to watch groups of Penguins emerge out of the water, and then disappear again out of fear, only to then spend the next ten minutes scurrying in a little clump towards home.  We probably watched little packs of Penguins parade by for an hour or so, and I assumed that was the entire event.  However, I was thrilled to find out when we returned to the boardwalk that there were Penguins EVERYWHERE amongst the dunes.  Silly me, I figured that since they were so nervous and had to travel in packs, that they would just disappear into the sand and bushes  – but no, they were scattered around the dunes, completely out in the open and generally alone making cute calls (possibly territorial, but they sounded cute) at each other and staring back at us staring at them.

I can happily report that my need for animal interaction has been filled (for now)!  Needless to say, this was one of my favourite days ever 🙂

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In Search of Relief

Tuesday Morning Cocktail

FYI, this post is going to be TMI.

I’m one of those unlucky few who really feels the pain of being a woman.  I am practically crippled two days  a month, groaning, clutching my stomach and cursing my ovaries.  I’ve pretty much tried everything and have generally relied on a combination pain killers and rage to get me through.  Actually, lying on the floor with my legs straight up resting on the wall really helps, but its not super appropriate at the office – or while wearing a dress.  Similarly, yoga can ease my suffering, but I find it hilarious when the instructor tells you not do to inversions if you are menstruating – because I really want everyone in the room to know my cycle, right?

Thanks to Eleanor, I have been introduced to yet another ovary-pain reducing technique – Tiger Balm.  This horrible smelling, and potentially tear jerking (seriously – wash your hands really really well!), ointment when applied to areas that are emanating pain actually seems to reduce the pain at the source.  The warming feeling is lovely too. They really should make a Tiger Balm stick like that Head-On (apply directly to the forehead!) stuff, so the risk of getting it in your eyeballs would diminish!

So this morning, after cradling myself at my desk for an hour or so I scurried off to the Ladies room (or ‘The Toilets’ in Oz) to use my magic solution.  I started thinking thought “If it works this well from the outside, wouldn’t it be phenomenal from the inside!?”  I checked the label and while the instructions read “Rub a small amount on affected area” it doesn’t explicitly say not to ingest it.   Common sense told me No, things that smell like burning probably taste like burning too – and not in a fun spicy way.

So I returned to my desk, partially content with the heat radiating from my belly (and the back up of Advil flowing through my digestive system).  Curiosity got the better of me and I ended up emailing Eleanor to say I wanted to eat the Tiger balm, hoping for some encouragement.  Unfortunately due to my time zone, I realized I wouldn’t hear back from her until tomorrow, so I finally gave in and googled it.  Turns out my common sense was on the money, all ingesting would do is both burn and numb my mouth and throat.  Dammit.

Cramps can make you crazy, but Tiger Balm can help (just don’t eat it).

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Here Comes the Sun

Alright, I know I’ve been bagging on Australia and the poor excuse for a Southern Hemisphere summer I’ve been experiencing so far – BUT, one trip to Melbourne turned it all around!  The forecast looked amazing and didn’t disappoint, sunny skies and hot to scorching temperatures.

I joined my friend Vic in his hometown for an Authentic Australia Day BBQ (sadly, no shrimp on said Bar-Bee).  We spent the whole afternoon around the pool in the glorious sunlight, lapping up the summer rays and guzzling beverages of choice (point if you immediately thought beer for Nancy).  The afternoon was capped with a plethora of barbecued meats including Lamb, Beef, and various Sausages.  I even tried a Sausage wrapped in a piece of bread, apparently an Aussie delight.

I also saw a spider that could easily be confused with a mouse.

Sydney even decided it up its game and delighted me with a half day of Sunlight when I returned – things are looking up!

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This is my Brain on Math

I’ve discovered that sitting through a two hour meeting with an Actuary in the late afternoon isn’t the best for my psyche. Actuaries are statistical geniuses, and are the back bone of the Insurance industry (shhh.. Don’t tell the Underwriters) – unfortunately though, they relate mostly with numbers.

While the meeting wasn’t a total bust (I actually learned a little, I think), but I left the room slightly confused, with a novels worth of illegible notes (apparently my handwriting decreases in clarity along with with my comfort with the subject matter), and a searing headache.

I pounded some Advil, quickly summarized my notes and fled the office in search of solace (read: alcohol). Hopefully math will agree with me in the AM, tomorrow’s another day.

 

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Mother Nature is a Bitch

Seriously? I realize no one back home is going to really sympathize with me here, but what’s going on with the weather?! I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to skip out on the Great White North during the dark days of winter, but Mother Nature seems to be playing a practical joke on me:

This is what an Australian Summer looks like??

Granted, 20+ is still 20+, but it should easily be in the 30s and sunny – its has rained on every single one of my days off except the day I landed in a jet lagged fog.

To add insult to injury, it’s above zero all week in Toronto. At the end of January. Really?

This looks like November.. not the end of January.

Then again, I’m in Australia, relaxing in my chic downtown pad and enjoying a fabulous glass of wine – things could be worse.

 

 

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Filed under Negative Nancy, Pictures Tell a Thousand Words

Possessed: A Haunting in Two Acts

Would be SO much cuter if this was my problem

I think I’ve mentioned that this temporary stay in Australia counts as my first real experience living alone, right? Anywho, I’ve been pretty jazzed about the experience since I think it’s important for women to know how to completely be on their own. The first week and a half went by swimmingly, I was really enjoying the extended independence.

Unfortunately, my new (albeit temporary) home, had other ideas. I had issues with the dishwasher as soon as I moved in, so I decided it was an unnecessary aspect in my life. Once the maintenance team came by to fix it (meaning I could properly close it), I figured I’d just never interact with it again – I mean really, I’m one person, the dishes are extremely reasonable. I pretty much didn’t even remember it was there – until Saturday morning at about 8am (when I was soundly asleep) and it decided to turn itself on and go into some variety of error mode that involves lots of beeping and whirring noises.

Evil Room of the Beep and Whirrrrrr

That was fun for about twenty minutes. I tried everything – including several different combinations of holding buttons. Nothing worked, so I googled the brand along with “F1” error which was flashing on the display. Apparently this meant a water leak, which I promptly reported to the front desk. Approximately ten hours and a Comedy of Errors later, the solution was to just unplug the damn thing. Problem, and irritatingly inescapable noises, solved.

Or so I thought.

After one day of solace, I laid my head to rest with thoughts of uninterrupted sleep in my head (sadly, not sugar plumbs). Somewhere prior to morning I awoke to a very strange, high pitch noise that sounded like maybe the air conditioner was dying. I looked at the clock, decided it was too early to care, shoved a pillow over my head and went back to sleep.  I woke up to my alarm, along with a seemingly louder mysterious noise. I ignored it and went to work, slightly irritated with the disturbance. By the time I made it home that night, I’d almost completely forgotten about “the sound” – but it made itself VERY apparent when I entered the bedroom.  I’ve mentioned previously that I have an alarming ability to sleep well in almost any circumstance – clearly, this was an exception. For the next three nights my sleep became increasingly strained and interrupted, and my waking hours saw much more twitchiness than usual.

Evil Alien Crickets destroyed my Fortress of Solitude

“The sound”, which I liken to something akin to an alien cricket, kept getting louder and both its impossible to pinpoint location (seemingly the window valence) and its completely unknown source (animal or machine?) were becoming the bane of my existence.  I finally gave in and arranged to switch rooms within the building this afternoon.  After frowning my way through packing up my superfluous quantity of stuff and trudging it all to my new room (ask for help? way too stubborn for that), I was delighted to discover I had traded up.  Not only was my new apartment bigger, with a better view and increased quality and size of all appliances – it mercifully didn’t seem to possess any peculiar high pitch noises.  Score!

Well, at least fingers crossed this place is a larger success – now that I’ve completely nested into home number two, I don’t think I’m willing to go through this routine again!  Also, between the various noises I keep reporting to the front desk, and my general spazziness because of them, I’m pretty sure the staff here think its me that’s possessed – not the room.

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To Korean, with Love

Thanks to my newest tech gadget acquisition, I was reminded of why we nicknamed my roommate ‘Korean’. Generally, calling him this is met with raised eyebrows and near-visible cartoon question marks looming above heads – because Korean is about as white as they come, with a side of Ginger 🙂

Love you Korean.  Don’t miss you at all though, T9.

Wonder if any sleuths will deduce his real name!

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