Saturday, December 30, 2006

NYE 2007

It's NYE here in Sydney. I'll be one of the first to welcome in the new year. How very exciting. OK, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm in that last sentence. It turns out I'm not a huge New Year's Eve reveller. I don't really know why as I generally like any excuse for a party and some hoopla, but I think it's all about the build-up, it's just too much hype to live up to. So I enter with no expectations.

It's about 6 0'clock in the evening and I really should be getting decked out in my party dress but I'm just not ready to go there yet. I 'kind of' had a big one last night .well, technically it started around 2 in the afternoon which may have been a big part of the problem. In any case, because this will be my last weekend of drinking for the next four months, I kind of made the best of it last night, which means there's really not much left in me for another night of boozing and partying. Sigh. I am getting old. According to one of the guys we met last night I really couldn't be any younger than 28. He based this on my footwear. I had been planning to wear flat sandals. but wore some nice heels instead..I reckon if I had worn the sandals, I'd have been labelled a senior citizen.

Normally I don't make resolutions at New Years . It just makes sense that if you want to change something in your life, you do it when you are ready to do it.Well, it seems that I want to make some changes in my life and it just happens to be New Year's so I am giving in to tradition. Just this once. My resolutions are as follows (laugh if you must, but I can stick to anything I set my mind to).

Resolution #1 : No drinking of alcohol for the next four months

Resolution #2 : No eating any sorts of sweets or chocolate - including cakes, cookies, pastries, etc.

S yah. That's the plan Stan. Resoltuion #1 will be mujch easier than Resolution #2. Wish me luck.

Here is a picture from my Christmas potluck. I will post more in the near future.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A List of Books . Just That Simple.

Note to all that have lots of spare time on their hands - I've actually written THREE posts tonight, so if you want to read about Christmas on the Farm or my future life as a Farmer, scroll down to read the other two posts that follow this one!

So, living in Sydney has not been conducive to my education or mental well-being. Amongst other things that I have neglected (my body..ahem), I have not been able to finish a book since I arrived. Oh, I've started a few, but just have NOT been able to get through one. Or maybe I have. Oh wait, I did read 'Don't Eat This Book' from front to back, but that was an easy read. Good, but easy. Ok, so here are a list of books I am currently reading or planning to get through in the upcoming months. If anyone has additional suggestions for good 'on the road' books, please, by all means SHARE them!

Currently Reading
  • The Story of B - Daniel Quinn
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pilsrig (thanks for the recommendation Michigan)
  • The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle (whoa, this one's a bit out there, but worth it I think)

Planning to Read

  • Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
  • The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho (thanks Shannon!)
  • The End of Food - Thomas F. Pawlick (a huge thank you to Tash and her flatmate's Sugar Daddy for sending this all the way from France in record time!)
  • Memoirs of a Geisha -Arthur Golden
  • The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • The Hero With A Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell (thanks for the recommendation Rob)

So, yah. Hmmmm. Seems I am on a bit of a non-fiction kick. Only two in that list are completely fictional. I haven't been able to read much fiction in the last couple of years - it's like I have this insatiable appetite to learn more about, well, everything - the world, other people, myself. Yum!

Farmer Shan

Well, the countdown is on - only 12 more days at that absolutely wonderful place of work, Citibank. Oh, how I will miss sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day. Oh how I will miss having to do Run Rate reports, take minutes and be the unofficial PA of the team. Mostly I will miss being underpaid and doing work that does not utilise any of my natural abilities or developed skills. It's always great being an unappreciated resource - really character building!

Now, on a more sincere note, I must admit I will miss a few things about my place of work. First and foremost, the people. I've made some fabulous friends in the Cards department, most notably Mary, Sara and Shaz. And then, of course, there's Doug, the Tasmanian! I will also very much miss the gym. For the next four months I am going to have to be creative with my workoujts - no gym and no homebase, where I could build a makeshift gym. So yah..that's about all I will miss.

Farming will commence soon after I arrive in Melbourne. I've sussed out a few places to do farmstays in the area surrounding Melbourne, so just need to cement something now.

Ooooohhh - did I mention I saw my first KANGAROOS while at Mary's farm??? They were bouncing along by a fence, trying to get to the other side, then finally they went Boing Boing BOING and jumped clear over the fence! It was so neat to see!

I am debating whether to bring my laptop on my trip around Australia. It would be great to have it while I am on the farms, because I've been dying to write more and more these days and I reckon farm life would make good fodder for some travel writing pieces. On the other hand, I will probably be hostelling it at some points during the trip and don't really want to have to worry about my laptop while I am holed up in Byron Bay. Any opinions on this one?

K -well, I will keep you posted on Life as Farmhand! If anything, should provide some laughs at my expense!

Christmas on the Farm . . . and Other Random Santa and Non-Santa Related Things

I have a big head. Literally. OK, maybe figuratively as well, but right now I am looking at a picture of Mom & I out on a ski (back when we had SNOW in the winter on PEI). I have a tuque (sp?) on and my head still looks big comparatively, even without the hair. See for yourself

OK, enough talk about heads, on to the main course - Christmas in the country!

To sum up - my first Christmas away from home was absolutely brilliant. So much so, that I didn't even get a smidgen sad when I called home and spoke to my family on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. Sidenote: Dear family, please do not be offended, this is not to say that I didn't miss Christmas in Long Creek & North Granville, because I most certainly did, but hey, it's good to spice things up and after 25 years it was time! Anyways, I attribute the wonderful Christmas holiday I enjoyed completely to the company with which it was spent. Mary & her entire family (five kids, a couple of spouses and 4 ankle-biters, along with the matriarch & patriarch (anne & Ian) and a few furballs that got under feet on occassion) were hilarious and interesting and easy to get on with. Her mom cooked up a feast on Christmas Eve, then again on Christmas Day. Rabbit Turine, Goat's Cheese Roulade,Prawns, Oysters, Duck, Turkey, Chicken, etc. (a lot of etc. actually).

Mary & I went to Ballarat on Saturday to spend the night out on the town with her best friend, Petey. Ballarat is an old mining town about 1.5 hours north of Melbourne. It struck me as very very American - the sprawl, the street layouts, the big box shopping. Ugh. No thank you. The saddest thing was, as we were driving to Petey's house Mary asked where we were, because we hadn't yet passed the town's lake. Petey pointed to a large muddy field that we were passing and said 'That's the Lake'. It had completely dried up. Australia is suffering from droughts and bushfires far worse than ever before. It's obviously an effect of global warming, just as all the other strange weather patterns across the world are. Britain and Eastern Canada are having extremely mild winters, while British Columbia, normally a fairly mild part of Canada, is getting snow and cold temperatures. And, speaking without the authority of a meteoroligist, I reckon that is an effect of global warming as well. Sigh.

Anyways - note to anyone travelling through Australia - skip Ballarat.

The farm was lovely - a sprawling house, set far back from the road, with horses and cows wandering in the pasture (again, very dry grass). Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to ride a horse as it of cold and rainy the entire time I was there. Now, cold is a relative term, but it was around 15-19 the three days I was there, with a fierce, biting wind and intermittent showers. Hardly the summer in Australia one would imagine. In fact, on Christmas day there as a fire roaring away in the living room. It almost felt like I was back in Long Creek when I ate my dinner by the fire ! Oh and did I mention it hailed? Yes, that's right . It hailed in Australia on Christmas Day. In the middle of summer.

I came back to Sydney today. I can't wait to leave now. On Christmas Eve Mary & I popped into Melbourne for a bit of last minute shopping in the downtown area and I absolutely loved the city. I kind of wish I'd spent more time there and less time in Sydney. It was much more European, whereas Sydney is much more North American. At least I am going back, and who knows, with the way my finances are going I might need to stay there for a bit to make some cash!

All in all, it was a fabulous Christmas - thanks to all that sent Christmas cards, parcels and emails/e-cards! They were all very much appreciated and enjoyed. Note to Kenny/Father - more 9 page letters please - your last one cracked me up!

May peace and love be with you all.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lucky Me !

I am completely cheered up now. I was bummed out for the past few days as I really didn't know what I was going to do for Christmas/who I was going to spend the day with, as the plans I did have fell through. I really wanted to get out of Sydney, but it didn't look like it was going to happen. That is, until, my guardian angel came to the rescue. Her name is Mary and she invited me into her home for the Christmas holidays or, more specifically, into her parents' home, which is in the countryside..about an hour outside of Melbourne. Not only did she offer this hospitality, she also very generously booked my return flight using her Qantas Frequent Flyer points. Could you ask for a better friend? A better Christmas gift than the company of a wonderful family and Christmas on the farm when it's your first time away from home? No, I really don't think there is anything more I want for Christmas. Thank you Mary.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Anyone Have a Wheelbarrow?

Ugh - I am stuffed - like a turkey at Christmas. Except I am stuffed with banoffi pie, sausage rolls, lasagna and egg custard pie. Oh and maybe some wine. Maybe a lot of wine.

I am feeling slightly better than last time I posted with my 'poor poor sad sad me' rambles. It might have something to do with the fact that I spent this afternoon drinking sparkling wine all afternoon, having an absolutely fabulous Christmas potluck party, and calling North America yesterday.

The truth is, yesterday, I had a bit of a cry. First time since I've arrived (except when I cried about having bedbug bites which is totally ledgit). Anyways, the crying started when i banged my head really really hard on a cupboard in teh kitchen, then I just found myself crying about everything. As much as I absolutely LOVE travelling and living abroad, there are some things that are sometimes being difficult to deal with - like being away from your family at Christmas time, and wanting to be back in N. America but at the same time not wanting to forfeit your adventure, and not knowing which friends to count amongst your closest. Anyways,I eventually stopped crying, called North America, madecream cheese icing for my carrot cake and felt a lot better.

Last night I hosted a Christmas potluck. I made five dishes - Mexican lasagna, pizza, a huge salad, carrot cake and chewy chocolate bars. Guests brought an assortment of yummy dishes, although a couple did not seem to get the concept completely. In any case, there was more than enough food to go around and liquor to be drunk. We also did a gift giving game, where we drew numbers and then, based on numerical order, selected gifts from the pile that we had donated. I miraculously got the best number - Pick 1st but also, after everyone else has gone, get the chance to steal any gift from anyone. But I didn't,I stuck with the Fundies I originally unwrapped - undies for two with four leg holes. Peter and I tried them on and got some brilliant shots. I'll see I can get some from my friends who have better cameras than me!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Seduction Style

This is apparently my seduction style. I'm kind of cheered up now (see post below). Now do the test yourself at And thanks to Ann for posting this on her blog!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Sigh. OK, be forewarned that, as I write this, I am kind of bummed out for a variety of reasons, which I may or may not write about later on in this post. That being said, I will attempt to pepper this post with some positive and prolific thoughts so as to keep you all sane and tuned in.

K - I was doing SO well at not being homesick during this festive season - namely because it's freaking plus 30 degrees here and so it does not seem like Christmas at all. Additionally, I have just been way too busy to take the time to think about the fact that this is my first Canada away from, well, pretty much everything: my family, my old friends, PEI, Canada, the Northern Hemisphere, the season called get the idea. Well, a combination of things now have me absolutely longing to be back on the Island. Sigh. I might have to cry now but you won't notice because this is a blog post and I can just come back and finish it after my tears have dried.

On a MUCH happier note - today I rec'd THREE Christmas cards (my first three of the season!). And yes, I did open them :) Thanks to Mom&Jim, Nanny, and Gram & Grampie. I am thoroughly impressed that they all got my address correct. I. on the other hand, forgot to complete Nanny's address so her card was returned to me Monday. Apparently the Aussies couldn't suss out that Summerside, PE is in Canada. Oops.

K, the thing is ..I'm not as happy as I was when I first arrived here and I'm not as happy as I know I could be. I think, to be honest, that there are two BIG factors that are affecting my happiness factor and one smaller factor.

The biggest factor is, without a doubt, working at Citibank. I just know I am not cut of corporate cloth and I really find it hard to be around people day in adn day out who stress over things such as getting sales reports on time. Ugh. I am tired of being a part of something which I genuninely disdane. When I started at Citibank I convinced myself I could handle it for a short time and the money would make up for the compromising of my values. But I was wrong.

The second biggest factor is my physical well-being which I believe I have already written loads about on this blog, but that isn't going to stop me from carrying on about it again. OK, I am perfectly aware of what I need to do to stay in shape and keep the weight off - everybody knows - eat well and in moderation, while engaging in exercise on a regular basis.. The thing that most people don't ever come to realise is how much of an impact moving to a new place and embracing a new life can have on one's body. I have spoken to loads of fellow female travellers and I swear, 80% of them have experienced the same issues I have. Yes, I have to take responsibility for my eating and drinking habits which have not been perfect (altho my exercising habits are even more vigorous than they were back at home), but there's a great deal that I cannot control with regards to how my body and mind react to all the changes I am forcing upon them. I can only hope that the changes I make in the new year, wehn I leave the city and embrace the farm life, will impact positively upon my mind and body.

The final, smaller factor, is simple - I am not a big city girl and it's starting to take its toll. I don't really know what it is about citylife, but it drains me and puts me in a foul mood much too often. People tend to be rude, people tend to be in a rush and people tend to frown more often than they smile. Things are louoder and faster, but not necessarily better. I think it is all related to the fac t that I can't stand coroporate life and this is the life that many cityfolk embrace with open arms. (more on this - I am going to do some writing later tonight)

OK - so what am I doing about all the things that are causing me misery? Well, I am going to change the things within my control. I am leaving the big city life, quitting Citibank and, consequently, will be giving up drinking and overindulging in bad foods. I am going to go live and work on farms and vineyards around Australia - hopefully this will repair both my mind and my body because, oh boy, do they both need it!

Other Random Thoughts/Questions/Observations

The new James Bond film is excellent - a return to the classic Bond storyline - the action is still brilliant, but there's more substance and style to this latest installment. As for the new James Bond - I am torn. He can act and looks good without any clothes on, but he has the face of a villain (piercing blue eyes, no upper lip). Hmmmm, I'm just not sure - Roger Moore is still my fav.

Would it be wrong for me to go on a date with an Irish guy that I have absolutely no interest in simply so I can hear him talk? Good grief, that's sad isn't it? This Irish guy started chatting with me at the bar, convinced that I was from the Irish countryside andI just turned into Jello. He was from Dublin - what a lovely accent. But, to be fair, I have no interest in him (aside from hearing his accent). In fact, it turns out that I've not really be interested in anyone that I've met since arriving in Australia, which is not to say I am not interested in anyone... Ahem.

I recently saw a trailer for a new film which has Will Smith playing a single father struggling to make ends meet and pursuing the dream of working as a stockbroker. Looks like it could be a good flick, but I was a bit thrown by the film's title as depicted on the screen: 'The Pursuit of Happyness'. Please, someone please tell confirm that I am not the only one that sees something wrong with this!!

Tomorrow we are taking off from work early for the Credit Cards Christmas Picnic! Yay - a half day at work then lots of free food, booze and plenty of shenanigans!

K - that's enough for now. I'm still bummed out, but I don't feel like explaining why at the moment...

Saturday I am hosting a Christmas potluck dinner at my house - should be great fun. Afterwards we may all go down to the Royal Botanic Gardens to take in Carols by Candlelight which is supposed to be a brilliant show - stars singing carols and loads of families and the such enjoying the evening. The only hitch - it's supposed to rain.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Red & White Continued

There's Still Hope

OK, I am being overly dramatic -after all, I am only talking about Canadian politics and, less face it, that's not really the most exciting topic of conversation someone can engage in. That being said, I sincerely believe that our nation is in dire need of a real leader that believes in and will work towards creating a society that reflects the values of the majority of Canadians. I do not believe our current PM is that person, which is why I was extremely pleased to learn that the at the Liberal party elected a new leader whom I believe is genuinely in politics for the right reasons. His name is Stephane Dion and he was formerly the Minister of Environment. He was my second choice,. Ken Dryden was my first (who coul argue with a hockey hero/lawyer/all round intelligent and charismatic guy?), but Dion really does have what it takes to be a great leader - in my opinion. Firstly, he's got his priorities in order: economics, social & environment. Thank you Mr Dion, for recognizing that all of these things cand and must coexist in order to build a great nation. Secondly, my impression of this man is that he is not seeking any sort of glory - he doesn't have an ego - I believe he was described recently as 'the Geek who stole the Liberal Party convention'. Thirdly, he's a French Canadian. Now, maybe that's a bit biased of me, but for some reason I have an affinity for leaders that can speak both official languages and have a decent understanding of the unique position that Quebec holds within Canada. Finally, did I mention he has made the environment a priority and used to be the Minister of Environment???? YAY!!!!!

I truly hope that Canadians recognize the value in electing a leader that will not waste his time in office trying to defeat the Supreme Court's definition of a marriage and eliminate same-sex marriages, a leader who recognizes the value of creating a society that supports those in need - including women, minorities, youth and those that generally need a helping hand, a leader that will restore programs aimed at improving Canada's environmental record and, perhaps, offer a vision for the future that is positive, participatory and proactive. A leader who won't focus his energies on wars that don't need to be fought, borders that don't need to be protecting. A leader that won't spend his time trying to engineer fear into the citizens of his nation, but will provide them with information and inspiration.

Ok, maybe that's asking a lot of one man - what can I say? I am an optimist!

Horses & Saddles

I went horseback riding in the country this weekend past - Glenworth Valley to be exact. It was brilliant - two hours riding through forests a lush, green valley with streams running through it. There were 12 of us - myself and a gal from work organised the outing and there was a great mix of really wonderful people. Some of us had ridden before, some never. I would have to say I had 'little experience' and they gave me a horse accordingly. Ah, good ol Omegga - how he loved to bring up the rear of the pack. For the first half of the ride I have to say I was a bit bored - only got to trot a wee bit and plodded along for the rest of it with a view of a horse's behind as a constant.

Luckily, at the halfway point my friend, Sara,. who just happened to be an extremely experienced rider, took me to the front of the pack and we had a great time. Acutally we left the rest of the pack altogether and four of us trotted and cantered our way home. Must say, Omega really picked up his pace on the way home!

The after effects of riding were not so enjoyable and included extremely sore thighs and for some reason, sore biceps.

Max Brenner - A Man After My Heart

It turns out that horse back riding is very cardio intensive and you pretty much HAVE to refuel after a long 2 hour ride with some carbohydrates. If you so choose, you migh think about choosing chocolate as your source of carbs. Lisa, Craig and I made that very wise choice, ducking into Max Brenner's for a tasty treat which 'may' have included a strawberry & chocolate fondue, along with Belgian waffles drizzled in chocolate sauce and ice cream. the best solution to NOT overindulging (aside from not going to sucha place at all) is most definitely sharing with two friends. I highly recommend Max Brenners to any female that happens by Australia and any male that is in the doghouse or wants to impress a lady!

Life's a Beach

Yesterday I took the ferry to Manly for the second time since I've been here. My friend from work, Sara, is lucky enough to live on this little piece of paradise within Sydney. Manly is basically tourist heaven - beautiful beaches, lots of great little cafes and a chillaxed atmosphere. The main street kind of reminds me of Disney World's main street.I don't know why, it just does. The folks in charge of decorating the main drag for Christmas had gone all out and wrapped some garland around the palm trees. Priceless

Bootcamp is OVER !

Today was my last day at bootcamp and it was a fun one! No really, it was! We paired up with someon of the opposite sex and formed five two-person teams. Millie then got us to complete five races and there was a prize for the team that won the most races. I felt bad for Ben, getting stuck with me, as I pretty much suck compared to the ret of the mega athletes. Well, wouldn't ya know, speed was not an issue. We had to do teh ol egg & spoon race, then run a couple of laps while holding a balloon between us (no hands allowed). Turns out I can balance an egga and a balloon and we ended up winning three of hte races! The prize sucked though - a lemon-lime sports drink with calories. Yuck.

K, that's all she wrote for the moment.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Red & White

Notes from a Burned Out Shanadian

Christmas in the Summer

I know for a fact that PEI has already recieved at least one substantial snowfall (the fact that it was subsequently washed away by rain is inconsiquential to this particular observation). Now, I'm not going to lie, the weather in Australia is enviable in comparison - sunny most every day with temperatures ranging from the mid twenties to the mid-thirties, but part of me misses the white blankets of snow, the slushy sidewalks, the cold crispness and the deep darkness that settles in just as you are leaving work. Then there's the warmth of the woodstove and the valid excuses to stay snuggled under the comforter for an extra ten minutes in the morning and the radio announcement confirming that everyone must stay off the road (and therefore not go to work). And finally. how am I ever supposed to remember it's the holiday season when it's SUMMER?!?!?! That, by the way is my excuse for not doing any Christmas shopping this year.OK, I lie. I am trying to do some via the Internet right now., but it will be minimal. I figure most of you will understand if you only get a card from me . I am half way round the world after all!

Parties & More Parties

DId I mention lately that my social life here is like nothing I've ever had before and, quite frankly, I think I'm getting too old for all this hullabaloo. Not that this has stopped me from continuing to take part in aforementioned hullabaloo. I just think it takes me longer to recover than it used to...

So last Friday I met up with a Kiwi guy that I might go travelling with and we proceeded to drink a lot. Well, really he drank a lot and I pretended to drink a lot, but was really nursing the beers he kept pouring. So, we shall see. I'm not sure we have the same intentions in our travelling - I get the idea he's up for lots of surfing, seteak and beer. Possibly not in htat order. On the other hand, he's thinking of buying a car and seems to know loads of people around Oz to couchsurf with. Stay tuned for more on Shan's Adventures in '07

Last Saturday i went to a house party. It was good fun and I met some interesting people. I realised how rare it is to meet people whom I can actually have a genuinely engaging conversation with. I suppose if I were a little more mainstream ( and let's face it I watch The Biggest Loser, so I'm not a complete loss in that regard!) and a little less concerned aboout things like politics and the environment I wouldn't have so much difficulty. But, hey I am who I am. Afterwards we went to the center of dirtiness and Debauchery in Sydney - also konwn as King's Cross. Honestly, I didn't think it lived up to the hype, but that may be because it was absolutely raining buckets and the cover charge to the bar we chose was $15 and I didn't stay long...

On Tuesday night I went to another Christmas party - this one was at a bar and there were free drinks and nibbles. My kind of scene. Met another friend from the Northern Hemisphere! I think my circle of friends is about half North nad half South.

Baking Off

So the last monht at Citibank has been bloody gluttonness. Every Friday has meant another team bakeoff - two teams in Cards pitted against each other in a battle of the bakers! WEll, yesterday it all came to a gloriously gorging end. 4 teams competed in an 'Iron Chef' style finale - the ingredients to be incorporated into the four dishes (one ingredient in each) were: Chilli, condensed milk, almonds and lychees. I did not get a chance to bake this time round, but took my job as 'name card maker' very serioulsy and created some slightly corny descriptors for our creatiosn: The Pie Who Loved me ( Banoffi Pie), Bake on Through to the Almond Side (Almond Fingers), It's a Mad Mad Mad Madeleine World (Lychee & Rose Madeleine cakes) and Chilli Chilli Bang Bang. And what was the final result? Our team won by a LANDSLIDE (28 votes out ofa possible 33 - the other 5 were shared amongst the other three teams)

To Be Continued After I do Some Christmas Shopping...