Monday, August 04, 2008

Back for a month

John and I couldn't stay away. We missed New York too much upon our return to Australia, so quickly began planning for a return visit. Given that it was my 30th birthday, we figured that was excuse enough and planned around that.
Of course, this also put us in New York for the bit we missed previously - July, the middle of summer. It was an awesome month, that did nothing to ease the longing we have to return! In fact, it seemed to strengthen our bonds with the city, and made us realise, that really, it will always be a home to us.
Some of the highlights? Gordon Ramsey's restaurant "The London", The Philharmonic in the Park, Shakespeare in the Park "Hamlet", The Upright Citizens Brigade (a must to return to), shopping, shopping and more shopping (including designer sample sales), a tour of the Steinway factory, cycling around the perimeter of Manhattan, kayaking in the Hudson, Texas hold-em poker with friends, karaoke, frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity and soaking in the sun and sites of the city in summer.
On top of all this, it was REALLY great to catch up with all our friends, and especially to meet the brand new baby of Cory and Hayley. We also got to see Cory perform in a musical in Waterbury, Connecticut - a lot of fun!
So, now we're back in Australia's winter. And it just doesn't compare! It seems that we will forever long for the New York City life. So, we've been looking at how we can make that happen again in the long term. It seems that we will never feel at ease until we are back in the city.
And you know, it's not just the big things. We love to travel by subway - it's cheaper, convenient, and allows you to spend your time reading, listening to music/podcasts etc without the concerns of car ownership. We love the buzz. We love that things are always open so that if we feel like dinner at 10pm, we still have a huge selection to choose from. We love how close everything is. We love ... we love it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hello All

For those of you who have been checking our blogs, you will realise that there have been no new blogs in quite some time. We have got so caught up in living here that we have had little time to sit and blog. Also, we have had some computer viruses that limited our blogging capacity. Even now, I'm not too keen to do the whole picture thing as I have to disable a number of blockers in order to do so.
So, instead, this is just to fill you in on what has been happening.

In April, it was John's birthday, soon followed by our friend Kristen's birthday. So, we decided to do "10, no 11 days of birthday fun". This included everything from scavenger hunts to Korean Barbecue and beyond! We even found time to splash in the puddles of Mid-town and throw a frisbee on the Great Lawn in Central Park. John learnt to ice-sculpt a bowl (which we ate fruitsalad out of) and Kristen and I had our make-up done in Henri Bendel. We sampled fancy caviar at Petrossian and ate ice-cream from the Chinatown Ice-cream Factory. It was a full and fantastic birthday extravaganza.

Jess (John's sister) arrived for about another 10 days early in May. So we had more busy time enjoying the delights of the city. We did some new things with Jess and revisited some old favorites. We saw the Yankee's play the Mariners at Yankee Stadium, ushered at the Blue Man Group in order to get free tickets, Made a bear (or turtle) at the Build-a-Bear Workshop, shopped at Century 21, saw an Off-broadway production of Anne of Green Gables and much, much more.
We calmed things down a little after Jess' trip and settled back into our daily routine, but we're also trying to get through all the things we still want to do. We went to the Hamptons for Memorial Day. There we snoozed on the beach and watched the waves coming in. We now understand why people the world over are amazed by Australian beaches. Nothing else compares! We were surprised how snobby the area is - all these people living the "American Dream" to the exclusion of everyone else.

We're preparing for a visit from Matt which I sense will be as action packed as (if not more than) Jess' trip. Broadway shows, more sports etc. in store.

We're also making the most of the warmer weather. I've got back into running in the mornings, and we sit out in the backyard during the evenings. The dog has come to enjoy our evening ball-throwing 'routine'! I'm hoping to get to some pretty gardens as well before we head home. It is absolutely amazing how GREEN this place is. There is no water shortage, so everything is such a rich green that seeps of life. That is one of the big things I know I will miss. Watermelon here tastes sensational.

I'll get some pictures up once I've checked things out with John. But, thought I should give you some goss anyway.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Other fun and crazy things

We went along to a basketball game in New Jersey to watch the Nets play the Kings. Whenever I have to ride a bus for any real sort of distance, I realize how much I dislike public transport - with coughers and snorters all around me I was wishing I didn't need to breathe for about half an hour! At least on the subway you can escape to another car, and you're never really on the subway for too long anyway.

The game was exciting, and we had hot-dogs to complete the whole experience! My favourite part was one of the motivating songs they play in the background throughout the game. It says "Everybody clap your hands-" and EVERYBODY CLAPS THEIR HANDS!!!!! John says they should try "Everybody buy some Coke" and see what the result is! It had me in stitches every time the song came on.
When the frozen snow started to soften it was a lot of fun to play with. We threw snowballs both at and to the dog. Hilarious! Many hours were spent on such simple fun!
I found an old fashioned milk bar/diner near our place. It had antique coke stuff in the window and the old interior. It reminded me of the scene from Back to The Future, when Marty goes into a milk bar in the 50s. It's been there for ages - since the 20s or something. It ended up being very expensive (a disappointment we often face at the end of a fun meal) but the milkshakes (malts) were sooooooooooooooooo yummy. And now we've done it, we won't have to wonder about it every time we go by. Union square is a pretty cool place to hang out. There is a great book store there that has rare books as well as just about any other book you can think to look for. (Yes Sal, it's the one you went to). We spent an hour or so there with a couple of friends and John picked up a giant old dictionary. We went out with them for coffee in a nice little cafe afterward. This photo was taken before they arrived. It is in the same location as the swimming pool art that we put in a blog a little while ago. I went by the other day and now they have a life-saver ring and something else hanging on it too! All for fun. If I wasn't so worried about being arrested, I reckon I would have enjoyed the view from up there!

I got pink eye (conjunctivitis) last week which bought me a couple of days off school. It was so difficult to figure out how to see a doctor that I almost gave up! The ones I spoke to couldn't see me for a week. Finally I got an appointment with an eye specialist! They did the whole letter chart and everything - most unnecessary. I can't afford to be sick here because not only is it difficult to get to the doctor, but they don't really replace me properly at work, so whoever has my kids has a tough time of it - no real assistance. At least I have health insurance so it isn't too costly - $15 for a normal (?) doctor and $25 for a specialist.

The buttons have popped off my jacket (NOT due to putting on weight) and I've been having trouble finding somewhere to get replacement buttons. There's no Lincraft here! I'm going to explore my options tomorrow.

Every Friday the kids at our school have to have lunch in the classroom because the church needs to use the room we use as our playroom. Today I let my kids build a cubby house. They had a great time despite how squishy it must have been for them. We also had a speech meet earlier this week. The children memorized poems and stories for the meet and presented them without prompts. It was pretty amazing and they did very well.

I think John has mentioned my frozen hair before, but here it is in real life! No wonder I'm finding it hard to shake my sickness.

Down near Chinatown we found some people playing this game of bike polo. They ride their bikes around and try to score goals by hitting a ball with their polo-like sticks. We decided the sticks were home-made using some other sport stick with a bit of pipe on the end. The ball was like the sort kids play hockey or cricket with at schools in Australia - bright coloured and plastic. There are no goalies. Each team has three people. If you put your foot down you have to ride over to the side and tap a cone before joining back in. It was interesting to watch and drew participants from all walks of life.

A couple more of my paintings.

Chinese New Year

The past few weeks have been part of the Chinese New Year Festival. We headed down to Chinatown to join in some of the festivities. We saw the fireworks and also a parade with dragons, lions etc. I love that part of town so it was all good fun for me.

We got really close to the fireworks - much closer than you ever can in Australia. Being a Chinese event, they had some pretty cool fireworks. They had flashy ones close to the ground, the swishy cartwheeling ones, noisy ones, high up ones, and loads of colours. I also got to have lots of bubble tea. I'm onto another asian delicacy too now - green tea ice-cream. Yum!
We also went to the Peking Duck House where we got a Peking Duck to share for $40 or so. It was very tasty and we left feeling very satisfied.
I've been doing a lot of painting lately too. I'm developing my style and at the moment I am experimenting with painting people. I got some charcoal and I think I'll try to sketch some landscapes as well. Painting landscapes doesn't seem so effective for me. It's also hard to get the detail into it due to brush thickness.

Just for fun I'm doing a couple of courses this weekend - decoupage and weaving! All the creative outlets are great because the schoolwork is so structured.

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day was a big thing in school here. I needed to dedicate the first half-hour or so of the day to distributing Valentines. My class mom made us all gift bags with our names on them. We put these on our desks and then went around the classroom distributing our notes, cards and sweets to each other. It was very cute. Mean Mrs. Ryder wouldn't let the children eat their candies at school but made them take them home instead! Of course, I could eat mine!

At some point during the day it started to snow. It was the most snow that we've had this winter. It was pretty nice looking, but the snow got fairly deep so we had to wear boots to walk around the streets. John and I went out to a restaurant for dinner - in our boots! They really took care of us at the restaurant and I even walked out with a long stemmed red rose.

The snow hung around for ages on the streets. The weather got really cold so it froze solid and the grot from the streets clung to it. Within a couple of days the snow was really ugly grey slush. It was nice when the sun finally came out enough to melt it and then when it rained. Nice to freshen up.

We've had snow again since, but nothing that has lasted long.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Secrets in the Financial District

When John woke up this afternoon, we headed down to the Financial District, which is where New York City all began. I love the old buildings down there. It has a very different feel to the Upper East Side. We ate lunch at Chipotle which it a chain of Mexican restaurants under the McDonalds umbrella. It is one of our favourite restaurants here. It was nice to sit and chat in the warmth of the restaurant.

Then we walked up Broadway from Bowling Green to Park Place. There they have a Canyon of Heroes - where famous people's names are in the sidewalk. It's for all the people who have had a ticky-tape parade up Broadway.

We also saw a sidewalk clock on the corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane. It has been there since 1884.

We started to freeze once the sun went down, but we still had one more place to visit. On September 16, 1920 a TNT bomb planted in an unattended horse-drawn wagon exploded on Wall Street opposite the House of Morgan, killing 35 people and injuring hundreds more. The shrapnel damage can still be seen on the side of the building. So, we went to see it.
The House of Morgan is across the street from The New York Stock Exchange. As is typical of life in New York, after a quick clean up business continued as usual!

Friday, February 09, 2007

School Updates

School is going fairly well at the moment. I have reached my maximum of 18 students, so it's nice to know what I have to work with. No more surprises!
I did a day of festivities for Australia Day. I started with a song - "G'day, G'day". We talked about Australia's basic history - convicts, Aboriginal people, etc. Then we did a couple of activities - dot painting and an Australia book. At gym we played "Possums in the trees" and "Fruitsalad". Just before lunch we had the story of Possum Magic and ate vegemite sandwiches and lamingtons. After lunch we played the chocolate game (which is aparently Australian) with Cadbury chocolate.

Here the children are making bridges after learning about the Brooklyn Bridge.

And the strongest was...
The mothers of the children in my class had a girls night out that they invited me to last night. I went along and had a really great time. They even paid for me! I was a bit embarrassed because I just wanted to be 'one of the girls', but you can't knock back a free meal!
I feel really blessed to be at this school and am continually blown away by people's generosity toward us.

Secret Science Club

We've been going along to a free science club thing that is quite interesting. The Secret Science Club is a series of talks by scientists followed by music. It is open to the public and meets the first Wednesday of every month in the basement of Union Hall bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It's a pretty cool bar and always boggles my mind. This time it was about whether the universe is finite or infinite. Last time it was about the possibilities of alien intelligent life coming to earth! Most of it goes over my head, but it's fun to ponder these things from time to time!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Snow, Superbowl, and Ice Sculpting (John)

We've had about 3 snow falls that have stuck. They make the city look fantastic, especially Central Park. Colby hasn't seen snow before, and so is mildly perplexed every time it falls and gathers. He still loves to run around in it though.
Last time it snowed I took him to the park and let him off. I then made snowballs, and chased him round, throwing them at him. He didn't know what was happening, but I thought it was hilarious. He'd try to catch them, and they would explode into fine powder, and he'd be left with nothing. Very funny.

Last Sunday was Superbowl, so we had a Superbowl party. We had a few people over, served buffalo strips, jalapeno poppers, and prawns wrapped in bacon. It was great. It's still cold, so we used the 'outdoor fridge' again. The Bears sucked arse and they cost me five bucks. Pen backed the Colts, but didn't pick the closest score, so they cost her five bucks as well. Overall a good night though.

On Monday we went to a friend's ex-work... an ice sculpting studio. We started out with blocks of ice...

Used some awesome tools...

and carved and carved...

to make... Beer mugs!

or Coke mugs.

I also tried my hand at making a love heart for Pen (how romantic).

Oh, and I'm told that they do other ice sculptures there as well...

The crazy thing was, that it was warmer in the ice freezer than it was outside. We arrived in beannies and scarfs, went into the freezers and took them off!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Australia Day

We celebrated Australia Day yesterday. We got some Boag’s, meat pies, Violet Crumbles, Tim Tams, and other Australian food. We played cards and two up (we knew it was the wrong day for that, but it’s all we could come up with).

Penny made our guests drink a glass of milk through a Tim Tam, which was fun to watch and a good laugh.

It was very cold yesterday, and our fridge was full, so to keep the beer cold we just put it outside. It was the best fridge of all, the beer was icy cold, and you didn’t have to juggle leftovers or cartons of orange juice to get one!

The only other news so far, is that I got an iPod. I was listening to it soon after I got it in the supermarket. People were looking at me a little strange, but I thought nothing of it. After a little while I realized that I was singing along with the music that only I could hear. Oh well, in this city no one cares.

The other day I read that the pommy artist who does the 3d street artwork was doing one in Union Square. Ever since I first saw the e-mails about this guy I wanted to see one of his works. Today we went to Union Square and saw the one he did there. (Another tick in my list of things to do before I die). It is a picture of a lady in a fountain pond. The funny thing was that the Asian tourists who were there taking pictures were throwing coins into the ‘water’ as if it was a real pond. A local was standing near us laughing at them with us, and we thought that we should walk a few feet away and just throw some coins on the ground to show them how stupid they looked.