Sunday, February 21, 2010

Year of the Tiger

(even though that's a picture of a rooster)

6:30 P.M. The sun is shading the fig trees in dappled brilliance, St. Mary's Cathedral looms over the lushness of Hyde Park, and a dozen Chinese performers are trying to say, "Happy New Year" in sync. Suddenly, a red-ribboned dragon rises from the ground to dance tauntingly around the Archibald Fountain, while men dressed in black gis kick and punch the air. It's an hour before Sydney's Chinese New Year Twilight Parade begins and the performers are warming up, practicing, and (at least for children dressed as tigers) practicing their roars.
With jubilant performers, thousands of spectators lined the streets of downtown Sydney to watch the parade. Bob and I headed downtown a bit early to take in the atmosphere. I wanted to watch the parade, and Bob wanted to drink. So we made a compromise and watched the parade from the window of a pub. The parade started at a slow, sauntering pace, but then picked up in speed and color. Glowing denizens of previous years trolled down the street, such as this friendly dog, portly pig,and slithering snake . . . oddly followed by women rollerblading inside tables.My only question, well besides, "Why are there women rollerblading with tables on their hips?" Would be, "If one unfortunately falls, how does she get back up?" And to usher in the new new year of 2011, a sneak peak of an illuminated rabbit tagged the end.Men dressed in freakishly fetid bunny costumes closed the parade in haphazard hoppings. They threaded the streets on wild pogo sticks, leaving little doubt that preparations for next year's parade will begin as harried, crazy, and quick as a bunny.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How a cat gets named Dingo

Once upon a continent, a young couple made a rash decision to move to Australia on a temporary work visa. They planted trees in the steaming tropics, the boy picked pumpkins, the girl picked limes. They helped refit a dive boat, took care of horses, mowed lawns, painted decks, drove from Cairns to Uluru, drove back from Uluru and on the way saw a white Dingo.

When their visas expired they returned to Chicago sunburnt and broke. The boy was starting grad school but due to scholarships wasn't allowed to work. The girl worked three jobs so they could have money, the boy got lonely. Boy said, "Do you mind if we go to the shelter just to look?" Girl knew the last word was a lie.

The door to the cattery was opened by the boy. Twenty cats lazed about a large room, and on the tallest ledge in the back of the room lounged a large white cat. He wasn't fat, quite skinny in fact. Just very long and tall. Cat saw girl and stood up, looked at the girl and sat with the self-confidence of a sphinx, as if to say, "Well mates, my people have come."

The young couple went to the cat and noticed his entire back was covered in scabs and raw skin. The cat had been found with his back greatly injured, and though he spent six months in a shelter in Indiana, no one came to claim him. Sadly, he was completely declawed, but cat had decided these were his people and no one argues with a cat.

Boy and girl adopted cat, but didn't know what to name him. Two days after they brought him home, cat ate the carpet. The young broke couple payed $428 to get carpet back, slightly used. Cat is named $428. Couple comes to the conclusion $428 is a bad name for a cat. Girl votes for Pica, boy says, "No." They go for a drink.

Upon walking home the girl says, "Hey, how about a cat named Dingo?" Boy says, "No." Girl's sister says, "Yes." Cat's name becomes Dingo.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Australian Day of Beaches and Ferries

It's 1770. The HMS Endeavour is cruising around the south pacific, when crew on board, including Lieutenant James Cook, suddenly notice a continent 32 times bigger than the United Kingdom. Good on ya boys!(pretend it's an older ship and instead of the Opera House, the background is filled with wild shrubbery)

Shortly after they excercised their great skills of continental observation, they sail to shore. Without consorting the native aboriginal peoples, they claim the land for Britain. After their departure they have a few battles with unmoving coral reefs, and eventually return to jolly old England to deliver the news. And what did the British Empire decide to do with a large and lush tropical land? "By jove! What a perfect place to put all our convicts! Not to mention the practical distance. Let's ship them over there quick as a bunny!"

Fast forward at a moderately slow pace to January 26, 1788. When a bloke called Captain Arthur Phillip cruised into what is now Sydney with eleven convict ships. He raised the mighty Union Jack and ta-da! A reason to celebrate January 26th as Australia Day was born. Travel to Australia today, 222 years later, and you'll find a very different-yet-thriving, beautiful, multicultural country.

Bob and I weren't sure how to celebrate Australia Day, so we went to Sydney Harbour to view a few festivities before heading to the beach. Mainly, we watched Sydney's cute ferries - bedecked and spectated to the max- race eachother for honors to the Harbour Bridge. I took a few candid photos of drunk Australia Day Man, then Bob and I went to the beach and snorkeled with an octopus.