Tuesday, 30 August 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Stomping on shadows while not dropping the bread...

We were on our way to lunch with friends and Jimmy was running and stomping on shadows (Pop's I think), while Daddy was taking photos. Daddy was the "official photographer" of the event and didn't have to carry any lunch supplies - Jimmy was required to help, and help he did and he did not drop that plate. 

Thanks for the lovely photo Michael!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Pink-eye passports...

Because I have conjunctivitis, I was reminded of when I had conjunctivitis the week we went to Chicago to get new passports...

And my oh-so-lovely passport photo did not prevent me from re-entering Australia - phew! When we returned, we did our immigration thing with a Customs Officer at a desk marked: Australian Families (or similar). As a result, I have no idea how my passport would affect the performance of the face recognition at the automated Customs (or whatever it's called). From experience, it's no big deal - my fringe was registered as a scar or similar and when the machine doing the face recognition thing didn't like what it was processing, the Customs Officer who I saw wasn't worried and was happy to stamp my passport when I asked.

But, presumably, I'll be travelling with Michael and Jimmy for the next 9 years, if we travel outside of Australia in that time, so the awful photo on my passport will not read by a machine - it will be seen by people.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Catching up with my brother!

It was the day of the Federal Election, and my brother was visiting Brisbane for 24 hours. So naturally, we drove the 2 hours and hung out with him. Only my Mum (aka Granny) wasn't able to come - she was handing out how to vote cards for the Greens. So, these photos are for my Mum.

My brother, Arun (aka Dirt Hand), was up for a gig the night before (he lives in Melbourne), and we had a little fun (or trouble) with the whole picking him up thing, which is not surprising as none of us have lived in Brisbane in the last year or so.

Michael and I had hoped to eat at one of our old haunts, but it wasn't to be... It was now a hair salon. Another old haunt had moved, and as Arun thought his preferred lunch venue would be super busy, we sought out the old haunt that had moved. It turned out that these places were really close to each other, and we ended up eating where Arun had wanted to go anyway - stomachs and tastes buds were after something a little different.

Lunch at Shouk was excellent. So was the coffee. And the service. And the interactions between the staff and Jimmy. And with an hour or so between Arun's flight and the end of lunch, we went to an old favourite park, because we were all in need of some fresh air.

And surprise, surprise, the park had changed and the swings were no longer there. Boo. The lack of swings didn't stop us from having fun, and we found a more Jimmy friendly playground on the other side of the park. And then it was time to take Arun to the airport and drive back to Warwick.

Naturally, we'll have to organise a catch up with him again and arrange it so that Mum can be there and so that it's more than a few hours. We may, or may not, aim for it to be in Melbourne...

Tuesday, 23 August 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Helping stack the firewood...

So, it's winter, but in Warwick that sometimes means it's warm enough to wear short sleeves during the day but cold enough late at night and early in the morning for a heater. My parents ordered their last load of wood for the winter and Jimmy was helping. That's my boy!

Missing Manhattan, KS...

Yep. That's right. After years of wanting to back in Australia, I miss Manhattan, KS. Not just the town, but the friends we made there, both socially and through K-State (although, almost everyone in Manhattan is connected to K-State). It was a lovely place to live.

Life in Manhattan wasn't always easy for us, but it became home. Even if we were keen to come back to Australia, Jimmy remembers living in Manhattan, not Brisbane or Warwick. It was nice to move into a space that was all ours, even if it was without essentials like a sewing machine, extensive art supplies, bicycle related tools and equipment or an electric drill.

But there were some nice distractions: different infrastructure, different bird life, unexpected insects, squirrels, geocaching, and coffee... Arrow Coffee Co became a home away from home and we became used to ordering 8 or 12 ounce lattes, which are almost a meal in and of themselves. Food combinations of peanut butter and chocolate,, or savory with maple syrup became part of our diet.

We've been back in Australia just over 8 weeks now and it's lovely to be back, but I can't help but wish we were going back to Manhattan in time for autumn fall or winter, even though it was so cold and dry that I had eczema for the first time in my life. This Warwick winter is much milder than I remember the winters being and it's a little disappointing, even if there was never any chance of snow.

I miss my job in Manhattan. My job was great, it really was the perfect mix of lab work and research and writing, and because the work was so interesting, I was too busy to be homesick, which was an added benefit. But it's not just the work that I'm missing, it's the people I worked with: my boss, his lab group, and the K-State staff. The people of Grain Science and Industry are a lovely bunch and it was a pleasure to be a part of the department.

I miss the daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms of our life, even if it meant time away from Jimmy, because he gained so much from his time at daycare and I gained a lot from working - not just returning to the work force or keeping my mind off being homesick, but a wonderful group of friends too. 

We're all missing the routine of the working week, even if Michael and I would have liked more time with Jimmy. We're currently getting lots of Jimmy time to make up for it, and while we're hoping something comes through work-wise, we're enjoying our little boy and (most of) his shenanigans. 

I miss the prairies and the Flint Hills, the native grasses and wildflowers (and I cannot believe that I haven't shared our last Konza Prairie visit - it was worth the heat, insect bites, and effort to get out there).

While living in Manhattan, KS, Michael and I felt that the seasonal and cultural festivals celebrated in both Australia and USA made sense: it made sense to celebrate Christmas or the Winter Solstice (or both!) because the days became longer, even if they grew colder; and spring (and therefore Easter) really was a time of rebirth and renewal.

It was fun to start developing our own rituals around the seasons and not have time clash with broader society - I mean really, why do many Australians celebrate rebirth and fertility (whether they know it or not) with eggs and rabbits at the beginning of autumn and Halloween in the middle of spring? I'm not questioning people who celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, it's just that, in Australia, the cooler air and slightly shorter days do not inspire rebirth or fertility.

There is a lot to like about Manhattan, KS. From the people to the climate, it's an easy place to live. Yes, it would have been easier if we'd owned a car, but bicycles offer a nice perspective and connectedness that comes from being in the fresh air. We made friends with some of the bus drivers and bus trips to the Discovery Center or library became a weekly highlight, especially once Jimmy started going to daycare.  

It's nice to be back in Warwick, sharing my old home town with Jimmy, but Brisbane and Manhattan are home. What makes a place home? I haven't worked that one out yet, but I'm leaning towards familiarity and friends. And we miss our friends in Manhattan, more than the place, but it's a package deal.

Manhattan we miss you. 
Thank you for having us.
We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Sunday, 21 August 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: wearing a friend's tutu, in a park, eating a snack as he heads for the play equipment, with said friend and parents close behind.

Life really doesn't get much better than if you're 3. 

Monday, 15 August 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Steering wheel!

We went to a nearby park. It's been a park forever, but I don't remember playing there as a child. These days there's some nice but weathered play equipment under some shade cloth and we took Jimmy there a few times and he loved it. Especially the steering wheel (and the helicopter, but I didn't get as nice a photo of him on it). The playground is a bit small for daily visits, but definitely good on a weekly rotation.

Saturday, 13 August 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Heading out to see the sights...

Warwick's Jumpers and Jazz in July Festival was in full swing and we all went to the rummage sale. For most people the highlights were the yarn-bombed trees, local crafts and foods, but I quite like this photo that takes me back to the days when Jimmy was just learning to walk

Friday, 12 August 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Because there's no such thing as too many muddy puddles when you're 3...

Yes, clearly we kept Jimmy too clean while at Carnarvon Gorge, so he was eager to be useful and help Daddy planting grass seeds out the back. Yes, the mud stained his t-shirt and shoes, but not his pants. And yes, it was fantastic fun.

Currawongs Playground visits a currawong playground... AKA Carnarvon Gorge

Before we left Manhattan, KS, there was much discussion about when my mum should take 2 weeks holidays: our first 2 weeks back or 2 weeks after Queensland's winter school holidays. Once it was decided that the latter would be better, because we would be over our jetlag and any travel related illnesses, we had to decide what to do or where to go. I suggested Carnarvon Gorge and the rest, so to speak, is history! Photo heavy, so please keep reading...