Saturday, 30 June 2007

Ah, Australiana...

Discovered in an antique/preloved retro shop in Louisiana... That's right folks, this fascinating little bit of "creativity" can be yours for $7.25.

I can't even think what to say about it. Let the shiny speak for itself.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Busy days

Poppy didn't realise he needed help with his accordian, until Berry came along. And this little kitten didn't realise it needed an enthusiastic new friend... Surprises for everyone, in Breaux Bridge.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Welcome to Louisiana

Crawfish are big in Louisiana, but not this big.

This monster welcomes people at Lisa and Rocky Sonnier's famous cabins and restaurant in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana -- and it's just one of the place's many quirky charms.

Mike Rowe filmed an episode of Dirty Jobs here, about making "cracklins". Fabulous, I'm told, but a bit bad for you. That's the cracklins, not Mike Rowe. Although.....

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

More friends

Berry made a couple of furry friends at Northpark, the giant mall in Dallas. But they wouldn't share their bikes, and they wouldn't come out from behind that glass.

Really, Makai was much more fun.

Most delightful

With 2500 miles down and 500 miles to go, this was the fortune I got at a Chinese restaurant in Dallas:

"You are about to embark on a most delightful journey!"



We finally made it to Dallas, back to civilisation -- and even though it was just an extended pit-stop, Berry wasted no time finding her feet.

First order of business: make some new friends. Check. Meet Makai, Berry's new friend.

The entire friendship consisted of a half-hour chasing each other around the garden restaurant at Northpark, but they had a really fantastic time...

West Texas

Right about here, Paula let out a big sigh and said, "Oh, this is horrific."

And that's west Texas for you....


Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Somewhere in Colorado...

Six hundred and thirty miles. Thirteen hours. More than half a day. And did I mention 630 miles?

That's how far it is from Tremonton, Utah to Pueblo, Colorado, and we drove it all in one day. This time Berry regained her Toddler of the Day award (improving on her previous day's performance) and we had Bob The Builder playing all day, instead of The Wiggles.

Thirteen hours of anywhere gets very boring, and Utah and Wyoming are long on endless plains and short on Starbucks, which makes staying awake a bit tricky. But at least we had fabulous things waiting for us at the end of the road.

Joe and Christy, Nathan's godparents, are fabulous artists who live in this amazing place just outside Pueblo, Colorado. They have llamas living across the street and acres of wildlife all around. What artist wouldn't love to live here?

Joe took us for a trek around the back of their land and casually (too casually, I thought) mentioned the bears they see roaming around up there. BEARS! Bears, bears, bears. I've been quite preoccupied with the dangers of bears and cougars and mountain lions and other non-Australian wildlife threats, ever since I moved to the States. And particularly since I read about bear attacks in Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods. In his book about Australia (In A Sunburned Country), Bryson is hilariously liberal in detailing how Australia is crawling with the most dangerous animals on the planet -- and ok, you can argue that. But very few of Australia's- most-dangerous will take your limb off for choosing the wrong path on a hike. Kill you in seconds with poison, yes -- but they'll leave your limbs in place. And I'm quite fond of my limbs.

Anyway, that gave me some pause for the rest of the hike, especially when Joe pointed out where one of their neighbours had been leaving large roadkill out for the bears to eat. Like they needed encouragement or something... the bones were picked disturbingly bare.

Christy is a transplanted Southern belle, so after our scary/pretty walk, we had the most incredible southern fried chicken and potato salad and all kinds of other things you should never eat if you want to live a long time. It would've been a fantastic dinner on any day, but it was especially, heartbreakingly good after miles of Denny's dinners and McDonald's salads.

That night we slept upstairs in the fabulous house that Joe built. Usually when people say "I built this house" they don't mean with my own two hands -- but that's what Joe means. It's an incredible place. And in the morning, just to make sure our stay would be completely unforgettable, this was the sunrise.

I'm telling you, those llamas are living the good life...

Running around America

A towering formation over the playground where we stopped in Green River. Berry might remember it for the biggest slippery slide she's ever been on -- I'll remember it for the fantastic rocks.

(It's taken me so long to get an internet connection tough enough to upload all my roadtrip photos -- things are going to be kind of slow coming round on the travelling stuff. But I don't care if you don't.)

Friday, 22 June 2007

Where it all started

For anyone who's ever wondered what the very first Starbucks looks like.... this is it. Turns out it opened in 1971... for some reason I thought Starbucks was older than that. We went to this one (again) on our third-last day in Seattle, right after we said our goodbyes to Pike Place Market.

It's true what they say: Seattle really does have a Starbucks on every corner. I don't drink it myself, but I'm told any coffee is good coffee when you're cold 80% of the year...

Seattle's also home to "the largest Starbucks in North America" (to quote the excited girl who served me there). I took my mum and dad to that one -- by accident, not as a tourist attraction I swear -- when they visited from Australia. I don't have a picture of that one, maybe because it's too big...

Monday, 18 June 2007

Moving a letterpress... again

My marvellous old Chandler & Price letterpress is on the move again, and this time we learned from our mistakes! Last time was very nearly a disaster...

We hired a tow-truck guy to lift it straight into the Penske (he looked skeptical when he saw it, but everything worked fine) and 3000-odd miles later, Nathan and Dad backed the truck up to a raised storage unit and used the pallet jack to wheel it right in. So: no 3am terrors and no endless physics questions.

Much better!

A moment

This little storybook moment is brought to you by Dad/Dave/Grandpa... who came all the way from Dallas to Seattle to work way harder than he should, so that our move would go smoothly, and to give Berry some much-needed Grandpa Time.

She's a huge fan, and so are we.

Friday, 15 June 2007

I am Lucida

HowAboutOrange didn't want to be Arial, and inspired me to take the Which Font Are You? quiz at Quizilla... which is probably an insane design-geek thing to do, but I never said I wasn't.

Anyway, I am Lucida Calligraphy (even though the font example says "Lucinda"), along with 18% of people who've taken the quiz.

"Lucida Calligraphy - You tend towards the arts. You tend to stand out in a crowd and have your own style. Be careful not to be too aloof, however."

Fifty percent of people are Arial: "Arial - You're pretty normal. That's certainly not a bad thing, as a lot of people like you."

Unfortunately, I quite hate Lucida Calligraphy as a font. It's so early-90s...

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Nobody was hurt...

...but this semi lost its trailer and the whole load on one of the many, many bendy roads we drove along on the way to Bend, Oregon. What a mess.


Savagechenille put my Ciao Bella Vespa Girl card in her Treasury! It's very nice to be in a treasury when you're on the road – like a lovely bonus.

Berry and a Lake

A few days ago we stopped in Oregon by a very, very windy lake. It was impressively beautiful, but Berry was nearly blown away.

Oh Oregon

Oh Oregon... you are so pretty. Don't let it go to your head.


These were for sale in the crazy little middle-of-nowhere shop by the service station and the Artistic Taxidermy stand.

I think they're priceless.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Across America... and Artistic Taxidermy

To All The Fortunate People Who Are Not Travelling Across America With Berry:

Yesterday we drove 600 miles. That's like Brisbane to Sydney, and it felt like it too. We were all chirpy (or hungover, depending on the person) after a good night at the great McMenamin's in Bend, Oregon, and we set off at 6.30am so that we could take advantage of Berry's "sleeping hours" until about 9.30am. We were going to get some very peaceful and productive driving done.

Sadly, as we buckled her in the carseat she opened her eyes for an instant and caught sight of her big blue Wiggles backpack. Her eyes lit up, and that was the end of the sleep, the peace, the productiveness and all our plans. Basically she didn't sleep at all yesterday, and by hour two we had already:
1) revoked her Toddler of the Year Award
2) confiscated her previously-held Baby of the Year Award
3) awarded her the Bad Baby of the Day Award

Lots of yowling, lots of demands to eat (and eat), lots of demands for Wiggles and attention, and lots of endless plains. With some picturesque mountains in the background... but honestly they were powerless against Berry.

Thanks to faulty Twilight-Zonesque GPS directions we very, very nearly ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere. We were saved when we magically stumbled upon a single petrol pump, a tiny store and an "artistic taxidermy" stand by the side of the road. Picture proof below:

Anyway, I didn't mean to interrupt my endless whinge with some facts.

We're in Tramont, Utah now. Dad (Evans) was sorely disappointed to find that the Denny's (this town's best dining establishment) didn't serve beer, and Tomas was sorely disappointed to find the Denny's didn't serve margaritas. Paula says Utah doesn't have wine at all because (and I quote): "They hate women"*. Tramont, apart from being probably misspelled by me,** is the kind of place that plunges me into a tractor- and heavy-agricultural-machinery- inspired instant depression. I got that creeping Boonah kind of sadness coming over me as we drove down the main street (my family knows I mean....).

[*Paula said it, not me.]
[**I think it's actually something like Tremonton. Aw, shucks.]

We are trying to be even more ambitious today, with 600+ miles as the goal. We're trying to reach Pueblo, Colorado by nightfall. We're setting off early-early again (although I think 6.30 is a poor excuse for "early" and would prefer to leave at 4am... but I'm outnumbered here). Paula, who patiently sat next to Berry throughout a fair proportion of her shenanigans yesterday, has buried the blue Wiggles backpack deep beneath the rest of the luggage and forbidden anyone to mention them. Which is fair enough.

Last day

We spent one last day in Seattle with Dad and Tomas, before the big trek. The Pacific Northwest is our kind of place, and it's hard to leave when we've loved living here so much. We count ourselves incredibly lucky that we ended up here after the hurricane.

We went one last time to the University District (Nathan spent a year at UW during undergrad, so we hit some of his old haunts again). We took Berry one last time to The Land of Nod, pretty much her favourite place in the world. We took Tomas to the very first Starbucks, and we went, of course, to Pike Place Market. There was a street festival going on down by the markets, a very sunshine-y afternoon with lots of "unique" people (the kind only Seattle can produce) in the crowd doing some mighty crazy dances. One stand-out: an old man with a beard, wearing a fedora, a tutu and random streamers of tulle... Berry was transfixed.

Yeah, we'll miss it here.

Urban Vintage

I kind of wanted to keep these... but since my business name isn't Leaves of Glass and since Kateri (whose business name is Leaves of Glass) had paid me to make them, I didn't.

I really love doing custom design because I get inspired in completely unexpected directions. This project was so absorbing – I loved coming up with a notecard design to reflect the "urban vintage" look of Leaves of Glass. (Kateri's jewellery is gorgeous, by the way – and when the earrings have names like "Invitation to the Dance", "Spring in my Step" and "I Call My Sugar Candy" – well, I just want to run out and get my ears pierced...)

Still pretty

I love my engagement ring.

I've had it for almost four years now, so I should be over the novelty. But every time I go get it polished by the jeweler, I feel like it's brand new all over again and I go around doing ridiculous things like turning it back and forth in the sunlight to make it all sparkly.

Yesterday was one of those days.

An ending

I'll miss living on base.

I'll miss the warm Air Force neighbourhoods where everyone makes friends quickly and looks out for each other, where kids play in the street at all hours and people leave their cars unlocked, their doors open. I'll miss the feeling of complete security and the sense of community and purpose. I'll miss the playing of the national anthem at precisely 4.30pm every day, when every car stops and every person stands still, turns to the flag and puts their hand on their heart. I'll miss the C-17s overhead. I'll miss seeing people proudly in uniform everywhere I go.

We're in a war I don't agree with, we're being led by people I don't believe in, and I'm not an American citizen – but I'm tremendously proud of the men and women who put everything on the line to serve what I've come to think of as "our" country. And I'll miss living among them.

On the move

I like moving.

I must like moving, because I don't like staying still. I don't like to know where I'll be living for too long. I love seeing new places and settling into new houses and meeting new people. I get sentimental about leaving – but on the whole, moving around is my thing.

But oh, how I loathe the packing. It's a special secret torture that we inflict on ourselves, and as a girl who's moved nine times in the past ten years, I can say with some authority that doing it frequently doesn't make it any easier.

So between packing and organising and cleaning and toddler-wrangling and reorganising and working and out-processing and planning (not to mention more packing) May has been a long, long, looooong month. I am not sorry to see the back of it.

Rolling rolling...

Berry has been busy trying to learn lots of things. Two major projects:
1) figuring out how to get around on things with wheels... bikes, scooters and pushcars are fair game
2) figuring out how to jump.

No success on either front yet.

Is it bad for a mother to hope her toddler takes ages to learn to jump? It's just so ridiculously cute when she tries... she puts huge concentration and effort into "launching" herself, but her little feet never leave the ground.

I just think I'll be a bit sad when she figures it out.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Friday, 1 June 2007

Back of Beyond

I found my parents. Sort of.

Mum called from some semi-unintelligible place in rural Queensland and said they were planning to hit the famous Birdsville Track, once known as "the loneliest road in Australia" (that's saying something). It was opened as a cattle route in the 1860s and passes through both the Strzelecki Desert and Sturt's Stony Desert.

Sooner or later they're going to end up at Uluru (which was called Ayers Rock when I was a kid). Now that's a place I'd like to see.

Front Page!

Excitement for a Thursday: my bella figura Hello Sunshine card made the front page of Etsy!

It's my second time on the front page, but the first time I've actually grasped the significance of it (I was very new last time...). Chance-wise it's a bit like being struck by lightning, so they say...

On the happy side, I made several sales. On the sad, wish-I'd-known-this-before side, I didn't get to my listing in time to add extra quantities... so when someone bought the card, it slipped right off the page, never to reappear.

But not to worry! I got sales for this time, and educated for next time – to pay attention and act quickly if I see my work on the front page again.