Thursday, July 23, 2009

I finally snuggled a koala and other ill-recorded memories

Koala snuggling (or, basically, "holding") is forbidden in Victoria, unless you're a park ranger, or, at minimum, highly qualified koala reserve volunteer, you're limited to, dare I say, "first base"? I have been all acquirer to have a koala cuddle puddle in the more animal-rights-liberal state of Queensland. We headed up there for our combined scuba trip/modelling conference.

Tom's mom didn't know Tom had already committed to the conference when she bought her ticket to come out and visit us for three weeks, but it worked out well. She got to do some great snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef and I got some variety in venues to show her around in.

One thing we have occasionally noticed is a psychic clash that can easily ensue between either 1) enjoying an experience or 2) adequately capturing it on film. Rarely do we find we are able to do both. For example, one bed and breakfast we stayed at in Mission Beach (just south of Cairns) is famous for its local Cassowary birds. When Mick and Sue, the hosts of the lodge, called us up from our rubber lobster search (a miniature treasure hunt through the rain forest, just behind their lodge), we had the treat of a lifetime to hand feed a female Cassowary, while her man-o-the-season was back sitting on the eggs. Male Cassowaries are smaller and less colorful, by the way, so we lucked out by meeting her. Of course my response was, "Honey, you are so much better at getting good shots with the camera, HERE!" (toss).

Later, when we were talking over highlights of the trip, Tom didn't remember much about the Cassowary...."I was kind of preoccupied trying to get pictures of it and it didn't really make much of an impression on me". This, a bird with a bright blue head which has a giant elephant toenail sticking out of it, not memorable?

Another phenomenon: when I reviewed images from the trip, including those his mom took, many of them smacked vaguely of the expressions I've seen Tom where through history, particularly between ages 9 and 23, where he only seemed to be able to muster the "I don't want a picture taken" look. It all kinda reminds me of one of my favorite websites, "Awkward Family Photos"...

For example, check out this gorgeous, yet camera avoidant teen:

Ruth and I visited an animal sanctuary while Tom was at his conference one day. For the low, low price of $20, I got to hold a koala and have a professional 8.5" x 11" photo taken. It all happened quite quickly and felt awkward. None of the intimacy I'd dreamt of for my first time. You know, in holding a koala. The ranger arranged me in a position, placed the marsupial and I was told to smile. My hair was in my face in an awkward way ("It looks like she has a giant birthmark on her face - her husband isn't going to like that photo at all!" - Ruth). The animal had a horrible musky smell that I adopted myself for the remainder of the day. We paid to have the photo retaken as Ruth dressed them down for the poor photography skills, but I was a bit traumatized by the whole encounter by that point.

It's funny, often photos don't do justice to what a glorious experience we actually had. Sometimes the act of recording the experience, or being the subject of someone else's desire to record it, changes the experience for the worse or even steals it altogether.

Sometimes it's the crappy memories that resonate the loudest some time later. At some point they stop being crappy memories and morph into good memories of crappish stuff that happened.

There's a lot of that in sailing as I remember...relatively few recollections of serene 73 degree days with easy jibes and calm waters...lots more running aground. Yet now it's easy to laugh when talking about it. As much as I treasure photographs as a valid record, in a way they aren't as objective as they seem. Maybe it's better to sometimes only capture the memories in our own minds and let our perceptions of events evolve over time?

The Great Outlaw Visit of 2009

Tom's mom has come and gone and what a lot we all did!
- The Great Ocean Road (see next post)...Melbourne to Port Campbell and back
- Immigration museum
- St. Patrick's church
- Movida (my favorite restaurant)
- Republica (another favorite)
- Lots more random eating and weight gaining, including polishing off at least half of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cache Ruth imported for us
- Playing Killer Bunnies, the Beginner Pared Down Version with Ruth, and other German style boardgames that his brother sent for my birthday
- Playing Killer Bunnies, the Hard Core No Mercy Version with our new booster packs that we got Ruth to import for us
- "So You Think You Can Dance" tour concert (confirmed my belief that I cannot, in fact, dance)
- Salvador Dali exhibit (different, unusual, nice)
- Viewing Melbourne from the 360 degree overlook downtown - wish I'd done it sooner and maybe I wouldn't get lost so much?
- Trip to Cairns, Mission Beach, Trinity Beach, Karunda and Dunk Island
- Butterfly park and wildlife reserve
- Attended closing gala at a modelling conference....was models there at all, nor any high end designers or people with an interest in fashion...turned out to be, like, scientists + buffet.
- Played Roulette, the NON-European table kind (only one "0" for the house) - experienced similar result to usual Roulette (you have to know me pretty well here)
- Watch Ruth win our team a round of red wine playing Heads or Tails (you put your hands on your head or rear end and they flip a coin), then we won "dinner for 6" by getting lowest score of the the night (bag of chicken flavored potato chips, or "crisps" as we call them here)
- Had a lot of good conversations about Tom's family history, upbringing, etc. I decided that we live too far away to not spend our time covering relevant topics. We tried to stay away from chatter about the weather or bask in the glory of just how great being a cub scout was for Tom.
- Met a Cassowary face to face. Just wow.
- Went scuba diving with my OPEN WATER CERTIFIED husband on the Great Barrier Reef. Our last dive was the best of my life. Tom's mask fogged up, his ear hurt a lot and wouldn't pop and he had a myriad of other equipment problems. I was just glad he was there alongside me, in pain though he was...hmmm....sports imitates life?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Great Ocean Road Tour July 09

Tom's mom, Ruth, arrived on Friday. Our friend, Mel, and I took her on a two day trip down the Great Ocean Road, complete with 34 koala "bear" sightings (every American shows up talking about those crazy "bears"), a helicopter ride over the 12 Apostles, and quite a lot of snacking. Tom stayed back in Melbourne with his honey-do list and to go earn the fun coupons.

Trivia bytes from the journey:
  • Three Paganos cannot eat a two kilogram lobster in one sitting, but we will try.
  • Male echidnas have a five pointed penis (nice animal 'husbandry', huh?) (get it?).
  • There never were 12 actual Apostles (limestone monoliths) - there were only 9, and even those still keep falling down. They were originally called "Sow and Piglets", but someone decided the biblical reference would be a sweet marketing move.
  • The youngest person we can find a gravestone for in the Lock Ard cemetery was eight years old, but he wasn't part of the shipwreck. Still, sad.
On the second day, being the self-improving type of girls we are, we all set goals for each other..."get a lot of walking on the beach in", "eat healthier", "don't be such a chatterbox who speaks in one giant run-on sentence", "make a video of yourself doing at least 10 dances", etc.... it is...the latest Kitty-0 Video:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Trivia night

A couple days ago we went to pub trivia at the Corner Bar. Our friend Melissa is a trivia maven, but unfortunately she couldn't make it. It was Tom and Aimee and Sara and me. Step one for a trivia game... Get yourself a name. We had a couple in the running...

Sheik, Sheik Djibouti
Lance Boyle and the Pop Tarts
That Dog's Got Parvo
Chairman Meow and the Right Guards

It was a cool scene, lots of people into it. I do think that i-phoning and texting during trivia is like, yknow, not fair. I guess? But in a real survival situation, I would definitely go with the person with a web connection.

3 rounds of trivia, most of which were TV, celebs, movies, music and so on. We never fully grasped just how is out there that we don't know we don't know about it. Can't exactly call it an all-out rout. Tom went in, his brain throbbing with knoweldge... 3 questions in I think I heard the sound of a balloon rudely deflating. The only answers he knew were about Prince. Otherwise, about as useless as a screen door on a submarine. He was kicking himself for missing "what movie centers around the town of Gobblers Knob" question (can you name it?)

Aimee and Sara tried to hold our weight... But when it came to questions like "Men at work's smash hit 'Down under' is the subject of a court battle- What song are they accused of copying?"

All in all though, I think this made us want to redouble our efforts to catch up on australian TV. We try and we try...