Visited the coast…

We drove from Canberra to the coast – about 2
hours away. We crossed some mountains and the roads were as winding and steep
as many I’ve been on in Colorado. At Murramarang we found a friendly group of
what I think are kangaroos (as opposed to wallabies which.

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I saw what looked like a dandelion on steroids.
On closer inspection I realized that it had spikes on the leaves – lots of
them! I dubbed it the scary plant.

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There were lovely sandy beaches and outcroppings of sandstone that have been carved by the sea.
 

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The clouds in the sky were especially nice…

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On the drive out I saw what looked like some
sort of animal in the trees. They didn’t look particularly good, in fact they
sort of looked like scruffy stuffed bears. One resembled a gorilla. I asked
about them in Bateman’s Bay and found that there are, in fact, hundreds of
stuffed animals in the trees on highway 52 between Canberra and Bateman’s Bay.
On the way home I took photos…

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Can you spot the bear?

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On close inspection you can tell that these have
been out there a while.

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Canberra…

…is the seat of government. Elections are this coming weekend and the politicians are out and about and not here. I don’t think I miss them. We are staying at the Medina Apartments so we have a kitchen which is very nice. Here's a view out of our front door:

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The trees in the courtyard are budding out!

I love Australia – more specifically, I love Australians. They are both friendly and polite, casual and helpful. There are probably cranky Australians, but we haven’t met any.

A case in point was our experience picking up our rental car this morning. We arrived at 10:00 with paperwork in hand showing that we had paid in advance for our car. Unfortunately we were not in the Eurocar system. It took three people and call to the US (boy was I glad my cell phone worked and that there was someone awake in the US to take the call) to figure out that somehow our reservation had turned into a 2-day (rather than 11-day) reservation in Tasmania (rather than Canberra) in June (rather than August). Only our name was correct. But the three people on the business side of the counter were helpful, assumed that it was a problem on their end (not ours) and we did end up with a car in a reasonable amount of time. All in all, it was an amazingly good experience.

After getting the (tiny, baby blue) car, we went to the National Library for a look-see and lunch. Next was the National Portrait Gallery. I loved that – a museum full of contemporary and traditional portraits of Australians. I much prefer faces to landscapes so this was a treat. No photos allowed or I’d share some.

In the afternoon we drove south to Booroomba Rocks, part of a national park whose name I forget. The land is similar to that in the US, but it is not the same. The trees are different – mostly eucalyptus. They remind me so much of trees drawn by Dr. Seuss. The birds are different – we saw parrots, cockatoos, and magpies today. Their calls are are new to my ears and that caught me by surprise. (We didn't start early enough to make it to the actual rocks, but we did put in a 4-5 mile hike.)

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Spotted these mail barrels (not exactly mailboxes). They look functional.

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So, driving on the other side of the road is not for the faint of heart. I navigate and Steve drives. Traffic is different and it’s not just that you drive on the left. There are traffic circles in many places instead of traffic lights. Steve missed the yield sign once and we barely escaped death but that experience had a focusing effect. He’s mostly got them figured out now. (Jeff, if you are reading this, I didn’t grab the dash or scream. It happened too fast.) Traffic appears to move better with the circles because there is a lot less stopping.

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I took this photo out the car window on the way home from Booroomba Rocks. The gray branches against the gray sky were lovely.

Traveling to Australia…

Steve and I are in Canberra, Australia! It was a 3-plane trip: Dallas to Los Angeles to Sydney to Canberra. The long ride over the water took 14 hours but it wasn’t as bad as I remember it being. The Qantas aircraft was a practically new A380. We were in economy but the seats were pretty comfortable and there is a really nice foot-net under the seats. It’s not really a foot-rest – it is more of a net (or sling) that supports your feet and lower legs. Every plane should have them.

We bought some flat, inflatable seat cushions from LL Bean before we left home. I will never again fly without mine. Plane seats are very hard and these help.

On the flight from Sydney to Canberra we were on a prop plane. The propellers were right outside my window. I try not to dwell on them when they are moving.

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It was a short flight but the flight attendants hid time to serve tea and coffee. They gave us each a tablemat ‘package’. The mat is similar to a thick paper towel – but better. I got a green one and Steve’s was a purple/indigo. When open they almost cover the tray table. A fold on the left holds a sleeve with a napkin, sugar, and stirrer. I have to say that Qantas pays a lot more attention to design details than I am used to in an airline.

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It is hot at home in Texas – hovering around 100 degrees. It’s late winter in Canberra and the trees are just budding out. We got out and walked in the breezy cold air – and later in the rain. As Steve says “we are training our circadian rhythm to a new zeitgeber” (zeit means time and geber means giver). I hope to go to bed around 10:00 PM and wake up in the morning good as new.

PS – That didn't happen. We crashed at 7:30 and slept for 11 hours!

The other quiilts are in…

…for the World Series Challenge benefiting the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. All eight quilts look like the quilter who made them. Remember as you look at these that they are all 16" x 16"!

Ricky Tims's entry is very convergence-y:


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Mary Sorensen's applique is flawless…

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Sue Nickels' (who is on my team) has made an even more amazing whole cloth entry:

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Hollis Chatelain's finished quilt is haunting and amazing (she's on my team too):

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And John Fllynn's quilt, quilted, is even more stunning (luckily, he's on my team too. Or I should say that I'm on John, Sue, and Hollis's team!):

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I've shown Caryl Fallert and Judy Mathieson's quilts on the blog already. Trust me, you'll probably see them again before the auction.

Click here to go the link to the Challenge home page. The idea here is to raise funds to Alzheimer's awareness. The smaller part of the challenge is the actual 'challenge' part. I admit to being just a little competitive – I would love it if my quilt raised the most money! So save your pennies and buy my quilt quilt for the most money (how's that for a naked appeal for your money!). Here's my quilt (which you've seen before and will see again). Read more about my entry here.

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You can go here and vote for your favorite quilt. Every vote is a dollar and every vote (and dollar) counts.

Art!

I'm on my way to Australia as you read this with Steve, my husband and sherpa. I really like having my own sherpa! Since I'm likely to be to bleary to post I thought I'd give you a two more days of photos from Paducah.

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I love this shot. Who knows why.

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Of course an artist lives here! I want that screen door…

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I have two pots by the pool that are so much in the sun that the plants keep wanting to die. This may be what I need!

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I got to go to a potluck dinner at the home of the artist who made this guy. I love it!

Paducah is at the convergence of three navigable rivers. It's a seriously important inland port. When there are floods, Paducah is at risk but they have a wall to keep the river out of town. Artists have painted murals all along the wall in town. Imagine the water up to the top of that wall!

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Here's a detail of one of my favorite murals:

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