notes from here and there


Ma petite artiste å Cafe Bouqiniste

My biggest fans are Ouma, Oupa, Grammy and Poppy, so today I'm catering to my readers. Okay, so it's not just today...but today I'm admitting it. I'ma braggin'.
Sophia at Cafe Bouqiniste photographing magazines for her paintings.
Yesterday at Cafe Bouqiniste Sophia was flipping through some french magazines and asked if she could take the magazine home because she wanted to use some of the pictures for painting ideas. When I said no she came up with the idea of photographing the pages and using those images for her paintings. I have friends who do that!
The feeling of Bouqiniste.
I can't wait to see the paintings. Here's a sampling of her images.
It started with this.
And then this one among other fascinations with the Medieval period.
Next she went for something more abstract.
But of course she had to include some fashion.
And something to do with a bag. Never enough bags.


The verdict is in

We have decided on Clayfield College. What a relief to have that decided. Now we can make plans. Sophia will start prep on January 27. Until then she'll be going to a little preschool nearby a few days a week...unless she's hanging out at Byron Bay with mom. At first I was upset we couldn't get Sophia into a school right away and now I think it's a blessing. We get to hang out together longer and practice our Aussie accents. It's like an endless summer! Clayfield has been wonderful in helping us find our feet here. We are being introduced to other families and invited to different Clayfield events. By the time January gets here, Sophia will be dressed in green and ready to roll. (I think Carl voted for Clayfield because of the SA colors.) So for planning's the school calendar for next year so you can plan your visit accordingly. Of course it doesn't matter when you come, but we will have lots of flexibility between terms. 2010 TERM DATES Term 1: Wednesday 27 January – Friday 26 March Term 2: Monday 12 April – Friday 18 June Term 3: Monday 12 July – Friday 17 September Term 4: Monday 4 October – Friday 3 December We actually picked Clayfield because the Prep classrooms reminded us most of Poe Co. Plus there are boys...believe it or not, we missed that boy energy at St. Margaret's. A very weird phenomenon without it. There are other reasons too like the people. Clayfield has made us feel special and welcome and it's a bit tattered around the edges, kind of like us. Yay! (The pictures may be slick but the place is not.)
Sophia having a beverage at Hutch. A corner cafe near Macquarie St.
So what about that uniform? you ask. Well, being the fashionista she is, the Clayfield uniform is actually a selling point because it's so much better than Poe's. At least the girls can choose between dresses, skirts or shorts. And there is no khaki involved...just ask Roberta about that (yes, Anna Grace's mom). Of course, my opinion of green isn't much better than khaki but there's no need to mention that. :-)


A day at Southbank

In an attempt to assuage some complaints about my delayed blogging, I am writing a short post and giving you lots of pics instead. We are busy interviewing schools and going crazy with all these decisions. I am sure my next post will be on what school Sophia is going to, but first, we have to make a decision. Is it St. Margaret's or Clayfield College? Ugh. How I miss Poe Co. In the meantime here's the latest weekend update. This weekend we stayed in Brisbane and took care of some business and looked around town. Yesterday we went to Southbank which is an area south of the CBD and is home to the performing and visual arts venues of Brisbane. There are also lots of markets at Southbank and plenty of coffee shops, small eateries and this GIANT ferris wheel. Of course we had to go on it.
Before heading to Southbank we did a little shoe shopping on Queen's St. We splurged on a pair of Birkenstoks for Sophia because flip flops just weren't working and she has started to get blisters from her other shoes. I love how she continues to be surprised when her shoes don't fit anymore.
Our day actually started with a bike (Sophia & Carl)/run (Me) to Powerhouse for breakfast and a quick ride along the river. Then we took the bus to town to shop a bit, then walked through town and went across a really long bridge over the river to Southbank. Then later, the Citycat back to Bulima where we caught a ferry back across the river to Teneriffe and then the bus home (because we couldn't walk anymore and the driver laughed at us because it was like two stops.) The only thing we left out was the train.


Climbing at the Powerhouse & New Farm Park

Sophia couldn't make it to the top a week ago. Even though we're not in Africa she's turning into a real monkey. We spend many afternoons at New Farm park climbing the ropes or the big Moreton Bay Fig.; or we hang out at the Powerhouse next door climbing the "Flood" sculpture while mum watches on from the cafe. These places are essential to our existence as we currently do not have a yard or balcony. I admit it, I miss the comfort of Banks St. Sometimes I have to argue with Sophia to go outside and I don't blame her for wanting to veg at home. It's me, who needs to get out. Ice cream sometimes helps with negotiations but not always.


Exotic pests

You find these everywhere, usually around parks and cafes. Just another strange bird, one of many.


Dicky Beach

Last Sunday we sauntered up the Sunshine Coast to Dicky Beach, named for a shipwreck who's hull still rusts away on the beach. It was a warmish winter day. Being the wimp that I am, I sat on the beach in a polar fleece while Sophia and Carl took the long board out for a test spin. As Sophia came in from the waves blue lips and shaking, she said, "I should never have listened to him. I should never have listened to him.""What do you mean?" I ask. "Daddy was wrong, it's cold." Looking around I notice everyone else surfing in wetsuits. She's tough but I'm not sure Carl will get her in the ocean again without that wetsuit. As the Australian's say, "It was fresh."

Dicky Beach in motion

Dicky Beach, QLD Australia from susan simmons on Vimeo.


Cutie Pie

I just had to include these two photos. The first one is of Sophia at La Bouqiniste eating a homemade strawberry marshmallow that came with that delectable hot chocolate sitting there in front of her. I did taste it and I must say, it was divine in that Fancy Nancy sort of way. Anything to make a 5 yr. old happy so mom can have 5 minutes at her local and a cuppa joe, which here is called a "long black" (not kidding). If you think Starbucks has complicated coffee orders, Australia tops them. Okay, I'll have to do some research because I can't remember them all right now. Will get back to you on that so when you visit you can at least order a cup of coffee the way you like it. This next photo is of a mamma Australian possom. My assistant took this photo while we were walking around New Farm checking out some schools and the neighborhood in general. Which brings me to the issue of finding a school...a daunting enterprise to say the least. Sophia misses the enrollment date by two weeks, which means if I can't finagle her into Class 1 (equal to U.S. Kindergarten) in January then she will be 18 months behind her U.S. classmates. Total bummer. I had really hoped to get her into a school right away so she could be in a routine and make friends seamlessly. It's turning into a whole other matter. Now we're researching lonnie private schools, which some of you may think is not such a bad thing...but think St. John's and all the posturing that is required to get your little angel through the door. Do my credentials cut the mustard? I don't know. I'm even having Carl make the calls to set up interviews, banking on his male charisma and the perception of a serious father who can bankroll this expedition. Pathetic, I know. And then, there is the whole problem of neighborhood. Love New Farm. Very arty and hip, awesome riverwalk and one of the best parks in Brisbane, but not lots of families. I think families are mostly in the burbs. Which spells death for me, right? So now what? Sophia and I may pack it in, move to Byron Bay (see below), attend a Waldorf school and make Carl commute on weekends while we're selling quilts at the market and perfecting our surf technique. You'll just have to check back and see what we decide. In the meantime, it's mental meltdown for mom as I struggle to find not just my community but also Sophia's. Oh yeah, this is supposed to be an adventure. Cheer up. Ha! So in the spririt of Byron Katie (I don't care if she is New Agey...her stuff works!) I turn it around and say, I look forward to setting up a community again and finding my way. Everything I need, I have. And so, I am having a birthday breakfast with new friends. For real.


We're not in Kansas anymore...

New Farm park is huge. 15 hectares or something. There are open fields and rows of rose gardens. Football fields, tennis courts and of course, a playground. I am amazed at some of the differences found in the playgrounds, and here is one. I'm sorry I didn't get a better photo of it because you can't really see how big this climbing aparatus is. To reach the top is really high. I don't know, 20 feet maybe. I like that this type of athleticism is encouraged. Here are some more pics of the playground. Check out this Morton Bay fig tree also known as a banyan tree, and this massive treehouse they built into it. This is only one small portion of it.


2 mile radius

It's funny how we replicate our lives no matter where we are. All I need is a good coffee shop, book store and yoga studio and life is good. Doesn't matter where I am. I found my coffee shop..."La Bouqiniste." I have no idea what that means or if it means anything but I love it. It's tiny, full of rustic furniture and shelves of books to look at or buy. They have Corman McCarthy's, "The Road" in french. The french version is called "La Route." Personally, I think that's a mistranslation because it's not a route, it's a road to nowhere. But I digress...Sophia loves digging through the basket of kiddie books that sell for $1. Hence, we are amassing a new collection of Australian literature. My new assistant took this picture of me sitting out front. All I need now are some friends to loiter with at La Bouqiniste. 5 yr olds are fun to hang out with, and they sometimes make great assistants, but they never sit still long enough to really loiter properly. Any takers?


How to go shopping with a man (& a 5 yr. old.)

Can you believe it? Carl is dragging me shopping on the weekends. Well, maybe he doesn't need to drag me, but it's his idea to go and not just mine. Apparently he loves the local markets and so do I. Last weekend we went to the Jan Powers Market here in New Farm. We bought tons of organic groceries and meat. It was awesome. Sophia loved the Peruvian music so we hung out and had some lunch and listened to the music and people watched. Makes me think how hard everyone is trying to get the Farmer's markets to go in Houston. I think it works here is because it's almost more convenient than going to the grocery store plus the produce is way better. Face it, Whole Foods and Central Market are awesome. Here, everyone goes to the market on Saturdays. They are from 6-12 in the morning and it's everyone's family outing. Afterwards you meet at the park for "tea," meaning a mid-day meal. Last weekend, I was hoping to see some local knitters because I wanted to buy a scarf I had seen a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't find them but did find Sophia a cute beanie instead at a different stall. Sophia left her fabulous pink beanie that Ouma made back in the states. She was wearing the pink one the day we were packing and getting ready to leave for Australia but somehow she didn't bring it. Maybe it was the 100º heat in Houston that made her forget. Anyhow, I can't wait for this weekend's market in the West End. It's supposed to be a bohemian part of the city with more hippies and more stuff, not just fruit & veg. I'm still looking for a scarf and of course, I need another bag. I will let you know what I find.

Design in Life

This is a water fountain found in one the many shopping areas here in Brisbane. There are many cool water fountains. So many I could probably do a blog just on the cool water fountains found here. Just wanted to share a simple example of typical Australian design in life.


You too can join the circus!

I signed Sophia up for the circus. I'm serious. You can take circus classes here. She starts next Wednesday on her "real" birthday. She's going to love the trapeze and the tumbling. Maybe Cirque du Soleil is in her future. Plus, I'm happy it's not a bunch of anorexic gymnasts prancing around. No, just hulu hoopers and fire-breathing oddballs. Only in Australia, right? In the meantime, she's been practicing rock wall climbing. There is also a woman's circus group called Vulcana. You can take classes and train in their space. Who knows, I might join the circus too but don't expect to see any proof of that here. I won't be posting any pics of me on the trapeze or whatever. Not unless I'm desperate for more material so I'll make sure to keep life interesting.


Public Transport = New Shoes and Ice Cream

We haven't been in a car since last weekend. This no car life may change but for now it works for us. Sophia's feet are fine, but she seems to need lots of ice cream for extra sustenance. So far, we've had ice cream everyday....maybe it's the taste of the gelati here but she never wanted ice cream this much before. Even though we walk to school and walk to the park in Houston, it must be nothing compared to here because my feet have been killing me. Sophia and I were downtown heading to the bus stop when I saw a sign in the window that said "No stilletos here!" so I went in, tried on a pair of awesome purple clogs by El Naturalista and $150A later I walked them out the store. At that point, I didn't care what they cost as long as my feet felt good. And they still do!