it's about life, my life, quilts, midwifery, and whatever else occurs to me.

28 December 2010

Thoughts on 2+ years in Oz

I was just reviewing my "what I miss/don't miss" and what I love/don't love" lists and realised I had to make some changes. It seems trite to say it, but a lot has happened since we moved here in September 2008. The Aussie dollar is now at parity with the US dollar, which is bad and good at the same time. Good when I have to feed our US bank account with Aussie dollars; bad when I look at the prices of some things here (shoes, bathing suits, books, electronic equipment and sometimes food, just to name a few) and where I used to say "well, X dollars, that's not so bad, it's really only .7 or .8X dollars in REAL money," I can no longer make that comparison.

On my love/miss lists, probably the biggest change has been the availability of good ice cream, i.e. Ben & Jerry's imported from the US of A. This is to take nothing away from the local purveyors of quite good gelato, but everyone knows gelato is not the same thing. My Ben & Jerry's moment arrived a few months ago when Brisbane-area delis started stocking 7 or 8 flavours, of which I actually only bother with one (Half-Baked, if you must know). I wonder what misguided market research led B&J's Australia to decide not to import Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz to this land of coffee and more coffee. And, sadly for me, there is also no Mint Chocolate Chunk to be had in pint containers, which by the way cost $11.95 at my nearest deli (I told you shit was expensive here!) making it an occasional treat, not a way of life. Sydney and now Melbourne have Scoop Shops; here in the provinces we're still waiting for one. If we should be so blessed, I am pretty sure my favourite MCC, as well as CCBBB for Phil, will be on the menu.

Bagels: not great bagels, but actually boiled and then baked bagels are for sale in the supermarket (plain or poppy), and in the CBD (that's Strine for "downtown") there's now a cute little place called Bagel Nook. BN imports its bagels from Melbourne, apparently the capital of all things Jewish in Oz, and even has sesame bagels on offer, in addition to what seems like five kinds of onion bagels (feh!). Unfortunately, BN is closed on weekends so my shopping trips there are limited to those days when I'm passing through the CBD on my way home from a meeting with my research supervisors.

It's summer and it's been a cool and wet one. When we arrived two years ago, Queensland was under rather severe water restrictions and building a desalination plant to cope with the drought that had been going on for something like 8 years at that point. The reservoirs were at about 15% of capacity. Surely it's mere coincidence but since we've been here it's rained so much that the reservoirs have been back to 100% for months now and communities that had all but dried up, literally, are now awash, again literally. Farmers just can't catch a break; they were anticipating their best harvest in years but were knocked back this time by too much rain rather than too little.

After a wet winter, spring reports had it that the desert areas to the west of us were blooming like they hadn't in years. Spring was often rainy and cool and, unusually, it wasn't until late November that I could wear shorts and go barefoot all day. And now it's summer, when we should be in the pool every day, but with what seems like near-constant rain and overcast skies between the deluges, swimming in an unheated pool just isn't that attractive an idea. I wouldn't wish for a return to the drought conditions, just some sun and blue skies once in a while. But before you think I'm complaining about the weather here, let me just say that I have no idea where we could live in the US that would give us the same weather benefits (no snow and ice) and yet be affordable and in a place we would actually want to live.

Then there's politics...oy. That'll be for another post.

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