notes from here and there



Sophia at GoMA making a fashionista paper doll. 
On Friday Sophia and I took the bus to the Gallery of Modern Art. It was late so we went directly to the Children's Art Room. Wow, what a treat! Currently there is a fashion exhibition of a local Brisbane duo, Easton Pearson; so the children's area was a fashion parade of paper doll making using designs and patterns from the exhibition. Sophia loved it. As soon as we walked in she got down to business. She only had time to finish one doll so we took some materials home to add to Sophia's design collection later. In the meantime, here's a sample of her first design. 

Sophia designed the handbag herself. 
Fashion parade of paper dolls. 

There is nothing better than finding awesome activities for Sophia in places that I like to visit too. Next on our list, the Queensland State Library.


Bulimba Again: WeeMusic with the Wee One

Sophia on the ferry to Bulimba.
On the way to WeeMusic.
On Fridays Sophia and I take the ferry across the river to Bulimba for WeeMusic. (Same for ballet.) It's a short walk to the ferry crossing and a short ride across the river. It's so nice to ride the ferry to class. The water is calming and relaxing and the stroll up Oxford St. is always interesting with it's array of little shops and cafes. 

Sophia loves Weemusic. She only wishes her Grammy or Ouma could take her because the other two students are there with their Granny's. **Big Sigh** Sophia is learning how to play some instruments and how to sing with an Australian accent. She plays the glokenspiel, cymbals, drums and a triangle. It's challenging but she's learning about pitch and rhythm. She likes to correct me and Carl all the time, rightly so.
Me. Taken by my assistant.
We can see Bulimba from our apartment and looking out our window is like looking peering into the fish bowl of another world. Life seems slower paced over there. The streets are wider and the houses and lots are bigger. I love Bulimba. It reminds me of the Heights except it's on the river. Bulimba is so close and yet so far away. To get there by car is probably a 20 minute drive. If we could drive across the river it would be 2 minutes. 

The crazy river. 
My chagrin with this is that Bulimba is a lovely, funky family suburb and Sophia's school is on the other side of the river. What to do, what to do. 


Ballet in Bulimba

Yesterday I had to race up Oxford St. with Sophia on my shoulders. We were late. Ferries were late. No buses in Bulimba. (20 minutes apart.) Wish we had a bike.


With architecture like this who wouldn't want to go the library?

Queensland State Library entryway.
Yesterday I took the Citycat to Southbank...over to the museum area and library. I was fantastically surprised to find such stunning architecture, not just the libary but the museums as well. (I'll post pictures of the museums later. I wasn't in a picture taking mood that day.) What I love best about the architecture is the public spaces: magnificent courtyards with pools, ponds and waterfalls mixed with sculpture and of course, the caf├ęs and coffee shops. Australian's take their tea breaks seriously and why not? So this idea of tea time is built into all their public spaces. I didn't have much time at the library but I noticed two alfresco dining areas at the front, one up, one down. Maybe there were more at the back. At the museums there were several places to stop and have a bite to eat and a coffee. All of them lovely places to take a break.
What every library needs is a good outdoor cafe.
The kiddie corner from the outside.


Traffic in Brisbane?

If Australia has so few people, then why do they have California size traffic? I figure most of the Australian population lives in one of the five major cities...and the way the rivers snake and turn ox bows, well, there's no wonder city planning seems so unplanned. But still, you can't imagine the bumper to bumper traffic we've experienced each Sunday we return from a weekend at the coast. So here's a little video to give you the real essence of our dilemma. It's boring, just like sitting in traffic.

Traffic to Brizzy from susan simmons on Vimeo.

Traffic to Brizzy from the Sunshine Coast.

This is what I do when I'm bored in traffic.
I practice taking blurry photos and play with my camera settings.


I've been Everywhere

This gives you an idea of what it's like to try to read a map. Our plan is to go everywhere.


Australian 101

Me: What did you have for snack today? Sophia: It's not snack, Mom. It's morning tea. Except we don't have tea. Me: So what did you have for morning tea, then? Sophia: Yummy fruit and cheese.


Today's Farmers' Market Finds

This morning we went to the Jan Powers Farmers' Market. I love buying directly from the farmer or the artist. Here are some items found in our shopping cart: homemade yogurt with fresh passion fruit mixed-in; cheese from Maleny: Brie & Parmesagn; mixed lettuce, carrots, green beans, pumpkin, apples, lemonade fruit (like an orange and lemon combined), lattes for breakfast, hot choc for Sophia, sausage rolls and sausages from a Scottish baker...Carole, they even had scotch eggs, didn't try though...the best strawberries ever, bananas, gerber daisies, some handmade stationery, barrettes and a cute applique shirt for Sophia, a beach basket for me, tea tree oil, big container of honey. I think that's it. Total cost: $150 (Australian Dollars). Not super cheap but it would be more in the grocery store and not as fresh. Not at all. The strawberries will last two weeks in my fridge. Can't wait for the next one.


Back-to-School Blues

At times like these, we wish the Grandparents were near because we all need a break!
Everyone in Texas is heading back to school and excitement is in the air. Had we stayed, Sophia would be starting Kindergarten now at Big Poe with all her Poe Co. buddies. I'm excited and happy for everyone, and I'm also a little sad. Sophia misses her friends so much. The adjustment to Australia has been difficult. At first it was fun, but the novelty has worn thin and Sophia is ready to get back home. I feel like I'm living with a teenager who yells at her parents and tells them how much she hates them. Yes, this is the same Sophia who before arriving here was easy going and got along with everybody. I don't blame her for feeling the way she does. She had a pretty good life there on Banks St. and now she's in an apartment, in a new country, not old enough for proper school and all the preschool's are full because it's late in the term. She's been stuck with mommy and face it, I don't hold a candle to her mates. That's one of the reasons we changed our plans and are not heading back to Texas until Christmas. If we went back now, there's no way I'd get her on a plane again. She's already decided she'd rather live with Mia and not come back here anyway. So after much agonizing and research we found a temporary solution until school starts in January: C&K Kindy.
The front of City Hall and the home of C&K Kindy on the third floor. The Brisbane Museum is on the ground floor and the Mayor's office is housed here too. Entry at C&K Kindy. Part of Sophia's classroom.
It's much like Poe Co. (similar curriculum and philosophy) but it's in the city. The only reason we got a spot is because they are closing the school (after 60+ years) at the end of the year for building renovations and many people have moved their children somewhere else in anticipation. Thank God for C&K Kindy. It's been a stressful transition but when Sophia came home elated and with an invitation to a birthday party, I knew we made the right decision. Her school is on the top floor of City Hall. We take the city bus to school and then ride a very cool elevator up. Believe it or not, there is lots of outdoor play space up there on the roof.
One of the playground areas.
It's crazy, I know. Who would've thought I'd put my kid in a downtown school, but there you go. You know how we sometimes wonder "what if"...what if I did it this way instead of that way. Well, that's what Australia has been for me. I'm doing everything differently — everything opposite to what I did before. It's like a parallel life but I get to live them both. I'm not sure how I feel about all this but it is what it is and I'm just trying to roll with the punches. (More like a kick in the pants.) After this, we may never move again. I'm not sure I could handle it without becoming a serious alcoholic. In fact, I wouldn't mind a drink right now.


Macquarie Street and The Mistress

View from our living room. The River is behind those first row of houses.
We are staying in a loft apartment on Macquarie Street. I wanted to show you some pics of our place. It's fine for now, but we need to start looking for a house with a yard. I think Sophia is getting tired of riding her bike around the kitchen island.
"Don't bother me, Mom."
Closer view, same window.
My blogspot. Notice the pink and orange beenbag on the left. A great find at the Byron Market. Carl and I fought about it...I wanted it, he didn't. And now we fight over who gets to sit in it.
View to the kitchen and study alcove.
The queen's servant.
Concentration over the Wiggles.
Sophia riding her bike aournd the house.
The queen at work and the regular state of my living room (her art studio).
Me playing with my iPhone whule the queen gives me orders.
88 Macquarie St. is a converted woolstore that sits on the north? side of the river. Basically we're on the same side of the river and the northern suburbs.The way the river snakes you never know which side you're on. That's why we have a GPS to tell us which direction to go. (Yes, it talks in an Australian accent.) I call her the Mistress. I think it says a lot that the locals use GPS's. I mean if an Australian can't find their way around here, then how should anyone else? What did they do before satellites? Everyone is lost, not just me.
The Mistress.


The hubby is a nomad, the hubby is a freak.

The nomad holding a Castle lager. Liquid gold shipped directly from ZA.
Yes, it's true. I married a nomad from South Africa. There are many gypsies like him, and they are all the same. Each is on a quest to find the best wors outside the motherland. They always find it, and each other. Here he is at Springbok Foods in Oxenford, QLD. I must say, the place was busy.
Tagged. Do you really think he'll wear that Springbok cricket hat?
I cannot say too much because I gave birth to one of these nomads and she eats biltong like chocolate.


Mail bag

Thank you all for your letters, gifts and packages. We have M&M's in Australia and all kinds of other things...but what we don't have much choice in is Band-Aids! So feel free to post some fancy Band-Aids in your next package! They would be much appreciated!


I did not choose Australia, It chose me.

Hint: The name of my next project. Maybe something by the end of the year. I'm adding it to my endgame. (You know who you are.)


Weemusic in Bulimba

An Australian pelican takes flight.
Today we took the ferry across the river from Teneriffe to Bulimba for a music class. It's acutally closer for us to go across the river than to get to other parts of New Farm, especially on foot. I thought it would be fun to have a Friday outing, taking the ferry and walk up Oxford Street. The music class was great. Sophia is learning notes and playing different instruments. We are not a musical family, but maybe Sophia will take after Ouma and surprise us all!
Often waiting for the ferry takes longer than the actual time it takes the ferry to get across the river. About a 2 minute ride!
Ferry from Teneriffe to Bulimba
Bulimba reminds me of The Heights. Lovely trees, a big park, lots of families and then there is Oxford Street, a street lined with shops, cafes, bakeries and a very cool vintage movie theater. The first time we ventured across the ferry to Bulimba, it immediately felt familiar. If we can figure out how to get to Clayfield College from Bulimba, don't be surprised if our address changes to the other side of the river. Of course there is the other option of sending Sophia to the Bulimba state school. So is it the simple life in Bulimba and walk to a state school, or do we drive all over the place in order to attend private school? Ugh. Any thoughts?
88 Maquarie Street is the red brick building behind the riverfront houses.
View from Bulimba towards Teneriffe with the City center in the background. Carl works in the middle, white building (to the left of the tallest building).
I don't have photoshop at the moment so I can't draw on my pictures or else I would. Time for dinner so gotta run along now. Queensland's version of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is this weekend and next will be posting on Ekka soon. The difference? Ekka is livestock shows and fashion shows, all in one. Afterall, livestock is livestock, mate.


James Street & Lucky 88

Sophia waiting for breakfast at James Street Market. **88 seems to be our lucky number lately. And yes it's true, I love Kill Bill which means more 88's.**
One of the first places Carl took me and Sophia was the James Street market in New Farm. He didn't take any chances and made sure I saw the best of Brisbane before I hightailed it back to the States. Well, he succeeded to impress by bringing me to James Street and its fancy nook of trendy shops, markets and eateries. It feels a lot like Whole Foods combined with Highland Village and a little bit of Australian flare. Now and then we come here for a weekend breakfast and to poke around the neighborhood a bit. If Sophia's lucky she might even get a small cup of gellato. I like to hang out here especially if I'm missing the slick part of my life in Houston.
Australians go barefoot everywhere. Even James Street. Oh, that's Sophia.
Yum, yum. Sitting in the window.
Part of the James Street Market.
The photographer and blogger.


Light, oh beautiful light.

Shooting in Texas, especially West Texas, I can alway count on that cool evening light...kind of warm blues and pinky orange skies. Here I just have minutes before I catch it. I'm playing with the light settings, overexposing some shots so it's not so shadowy and working to figure out the Queensland color pallette.
West Texas sunset.
The greens in Brisbane feel really black and at the coast, the sky is royal and the sand yellow.
Sophia taking the Citycat on the Brisbane River.
A light pink sunset at Broadbeach.
Before we left the Gold Coast I caught a sunset on our way to have "tea" (Australian for "dinner" or any meal for that matter) at the Surf Club. Many of the surf clubs have restaurants, bars and even "pokies" (slot machines) as a way to raise money for the life savers. We like these clubs because the food is good and it's very kid friendly, not to mention a local hang out.
Sophia and Papa.
Broadbeach at dusk. She walks along the sand.
Happy camper.
Walking to the beach.
You can see Surfer's Paradise in the distance. All of the Gold Coast looks like that...tall buildings and skyscrapers.