|Alex and I at Jarrod’s 21st, April|
You may recall, only a couple of blogs back, another blog entitled, “2009…Going, going…gone!” Well, only a few months on, it’s not just 2009 that seems to have gone, but what is soon to become a sizable chunk of our money…as after months and months of searching, Alex and I FINALLY bought a town house! After “seriously” taking up looking from November last year, we found out how truly time -consuming the quest for a home could be, including attending auctions that would go ridiculously and obscenely above the reserve. Weekdays seemed to be spent looking FOR properties, and Saturdays looking AT them, which really didn’t leave much time to do much else. The rest of the story will soon follow.
Buddhist Temple at Yuroke
Fed up of house-hunting, I’d read that there was a Buddhist Festival at a Buddhist Temple in Yuroke, just under 30 kilometres away from the CBD. Alex and I went with Linda, and had a really relaxing Sunday afternoon. It was lovely to just stroll around the gardens, breathe some fresh air, look through the market stalls and simply forget about all the things that usually consume our brain space. It truly was just what we all needed!
|Matt and Alex at our local Vietnamese restaurant|
We’d been trying to catch up forever with our friends Matt and Mae, and their two little cuties, Freya and Nayte, so we organised to go to one of our local Vietnamese haunts in Preston…good food and good company…what more can one ask for! Again, it was lovely to just hang around, take it easy, and catch up on the latest happenings.
|Auntie Rina (R) and her friend Concetta (L)|
My mum’s oldest sister, Rina, lives quite close to both where I live and work, and I try and visit her as often as I can. Auntie Rina is now 88, and I must say that if I look like that at her age, I will be stoked…well…if I make it to her age! I love going to visit, as she always has some story or tale of her life experience to impart. She has had a rather colourful life, but let’s face it, with 88 years behind you, there would surely have to be tales to tell! With a life that started near Naples, in Italy, and ended up with her travelling to Australia after the second world war, Auntie Rina has often kept me entertained with her anecdotes. I often feel saddened when I hear of people dismissing the elderly…we have so much to learn from them, and their life experiences are meritable…if people would only realise this. They should be the building blocks of our society, as in essence, and with any luck, we will have learnt from them, making us the people we will one day become. I often look at those who have no respect for their elders, and wonder what their level of respect for themselves, and in general, is!
|The three “novias”: L to R: Linda, Karen and Ombi|
|Esther Williams eat your heart out! With Karen at Peninsula Springs in Rye|
Before Karen and Jesus had come back from overseas, we decided that we’d have a “novias” weekend away ( girls’ weekend away). I must say, Karen, Linda and I had a blast in Sorrento. It was just the girls… eating, chatting, chatting, chatting, chatting, oh, and runs on the beach, going for walks and visiting the Peninsula Hot Springs in Rye. It was an opportunity for us to gas bag to our hearts content, and believe me the three of us have a combined gas bagging prowess that is beyond belief. The boys (Alex and Jesus, Karen’s husband), have recently devised a “hands up system” for when the three of us are together, as otherwise it’s pandemonium. Did the boys come? The poor fellows wouldn’t have got a word in edge wise! Or any wise, for that matter! It was great to be able to take the time out to do this, as the three of us truly are three peas in a pod. Whatever brought us together will now keep us together, as we have formed a friendship and bond which although cliched, can only be described as special!
|Congrats Jo! Munching on pizza. L to R: Alex, Jesus, Jo Karen|
Speaking of special friendships, you have often heard me chat about our other most special friends, Jo and Richard de Meester (www.thedemeesters.blogspot.com). I want to congratulate you Jo on your new job at Alphington Grammar School. I am sure that they will love you as much there as at every other place you have worked at. Who doesn’t love you Jo!? Needless to say, a celebration was in store…so we all lobbed over to the de Meesters and had celebratory pizza.
|The Garcias L to R: Sisters Esther and Rita, and mum, Aida|
In April, Rita also visited from Dubai. Yes, Rita too is special, but she is more like my sister than a friend. I have known Rita since we met in Year 7 at Santa Maria College in Northcote, and I have since long been the “fourth Garcia sister”. Did they adopt me? I adopted myself… a long time ago! Whenever Reet’s in town, her mum and dad’s house (who I consider my family) becomes my local hangout! And time is never enough. You know how much I love, and miss you Reet! Whilst she was down we also went to visit her father-in-law, Harry, whom I also have grown very fond of. Harry is an articulate and intelligent man, and we have had many an interesting conversation. We talk a lot about books, as it’s a shared passion. Most of you know that I am a voracious reader, and culture vulture. The problem is that I never have enough time to read all that I want to…I do give it a pretty good shot though!
|L to R: Andrew, Ombi, Alessandra (Anita’s daughter) and Anita, at the fundraiser|
I may be stepping backwards now, but I think it was in late March that we had a fundraiser for my friend Phil West’s foundation, Renew the Spirit, which I help out with from time to time. The organisation helps to heal the hearts of child survivors of war and terrorism. I was the master of ceremonies for the night, which had a Colombian food and dance focus. It was a both a fun and profitable night, and I was also able to catch up with my good friends Andrew and Anita, whom I had not seen in ages.
|L to R: (back) Margi, Marion, Fran, moi, Clare, and front, Pauline with Fran’s baby Kieran & Mel|
April also saw a reunion with my “old mob of mates” from Santa Maria College; Margi, Marion, Clare, Melinda, Frances and Pauline. We all see each other from time to time, but it had been ages since I saw Pauline. Nothing had changed! That same night I had my cousin, Jarrod’s, 21st. It was held at the Kew Boathouse…a black tie affair, and with jazz musicians, it was a night enjoyed by all.
|Ombi and Dino with Ida|
Most of you would also recall that I worked for years at an organisation called CAST (Community Accommodation Support Team), which is now called Northern Support Services, looking after people with an intellectual disability. I am still in touch with many of them, especially with Ida, who I still have over for coffee or dinner. We recently had her over for bowl of pasta, which she loves!
|L to R: Ombi, Rosie, Bel, Tara, Emma and Em|
Another reunion, of a different kind in May…with Bel of Mundo Maya, and some of the other girls I met through the Cuban Dance Academy, when I was going to salsa classes a few years back. Well, I actually met Em in Ecuador…but that is another long story! (read: not now, or add on a few more paragraphs!) Rosie and I co-compered Cubamemucho in September last year…we had a good laugh then, and we had a good laugh on our catch up. It was actually a great night, with laughter abounding!
|The wild men of Borneo, aka (L to R) Alex, Mick and Jesus|
Finally it was Easter, once again! Hadn’t we just had Christmas!? Alex and I once again (last year was our first time) went camping near Glenrowan. Latin Camping Abancay has been going for more than 25 years now, and it basically consists of a bunch (quite a big bunch!) of both Latinos and their family and friends. It’s a few fun filled days of camping on Freddy’s land, whilst spending the days chilling out and the nights entertained by Latin bands, music and shows. I am not sure who provided the better entertainment…the entertainers or the entertained! Mick Benham, you are a crack up, and personally you get my vote as “Entertainer of the Weekend”! Our group was a bit of a United Nations. Not only did we have a number of people from various Latin American countries, but we also had a mix of other nationalities from
|Master Chef Matt with apprentices, L to R: Sophie, Kasha & Freya|
Malaysian, to New Zealand. Matt (originally from New Zealand) proved to us in his second year running that not only is the host with the most, but the chef with the best! Your food rocks Matt! This weekend away was yet ANOTHER opportunity for the girls to gas bag shamelessly!
|Going, going, gone!|
Back to going, going, gone… on the 9th April we attended…yet another auction! I had been to the gym (yep, still go regularly) in the morning, followed by two open house inspections and a visit to Rita at her parents’ house. We still had “the auction” to go to, but besides throwing my cheque book in my bag, I had low, if no expectations, and wasn’t really holding much hope. As I mentioned prior, watching houses go way above their reserve had been quite normal in recent months. I nonchalantly placed a few random bids, and to our surprise, after placing a bid that for us was definitely going to be as high as we would go…we won! I was stunned and gob-smacked! I know that it’s hard to believe, but YES, me, gob-smacked! As I stood there in my gym shorts, and looking totally dishevelled (who had a shower…I was only about to view yet ANOTHER auction which we would have no hope of winning, right?), it started to sink in…we were now home owners! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We went into the house where we proceeded to sign the contract, and even meet the owner. Now, all the “stuff” (paperwork, looking for a mortgage etc) that goes with buying a new house is a (continuing) chapter unto itself! Are we excited that we have a new house? yes, but…much more excited that we do not have to look for one anymore!
|Hasta la vista…babies! With Amanda and Al|
Amanda and Al’s farewell…yes, the “little girl next door” and her boyfriend Al (Alister) are off around the world for ten months or so. I remember when the Leveridges moved in next door and Amanda was a cute little six month old baby…she is still cute, but now she’s in her early twenties, and about to do something that is very close to my heart…travel. Am I jealous…of course I am…I always am when others travel…in a good way, of course! Lizzie and Gary (her parents) had a little get together next door. It was a fun night. I kept looking at both Al and Amanda and thinking about how much this trip is about to change their lives. They are both forward and progressive thinkers, and I know that this will shape who they are about to become! I will be following you all the way guys!
Dedication: First of all to my beautiful “sister” Rita; thanks for being a special and wonderful part of my life. I will always be here for you, as you have been for me! Secondly, to Amanda and Al: May you be safe and protected on every step of your journey. I will be with you every step of the way. I am so proud of both of you! Alex and I are here whenever and however you need us!
What am I reading?
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (just read)
Adams vs. God, The Rematch by Phillip Adams (just read)
The Final Call, In search of the true cost of our holidays by Leo Hickman (currently reading)
|Having a gelato at Fritz, with James (L) and Ben.|
|Maccas = crap. It’s a bit like 2 + 2 = 4!!!|
|Those dancing feet (Latin camping) belong to Mick and Jesus! Guess whose are whose!|
|Este es para mi cunada Karen en Ecuador: Estoy baillando con mi amiga Karen en el camping Latino…Que Verch!!!|
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends” – Maya Angelou
|Me and my spunk!|
|Ombi and some hot Mamita Rica! aka Jesus|
|Jarrod’s 21st.; Jarrod with “Nonna”, Uncle Dino and Ombi|