February 2005

Well, here we are it’s February already. Julie is spending several hours a day looking for work and trying not to be depressed. I’m back at work and Stewie’s still on holidays, alternately looking for work and looking for another car.

Julie’s News has also been updated for January, complete with all of her exploits in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

We had planned a trip to Adelaide because Dad was in hospital. Unfortunately, he died on the Friday night, before we arrived on the Saturday morning. Funeral is on Wednesday, so this weekend we have had to make arrangements with the funeral directors and draft the eulogy. Then we had a couple of days free time before the troops arrive on Wednesday, so Julie and I did some touring.

The view over the Adelaide Plains from My Lofty.

Rundle Mall.

At Dorothy and Pete’s place.

Looking down from the top of the cliff at Kingston Park, where we grew up. At that time, this path was a goat track and there was only the rough beginnings of the Surf Lifesaving Club and the caravan park, nothing more.

Interestingly, when we arrived at the Funeral Home, Dorothy and Kevin were falling apart, and I was the one holding it together. Not really surprising after all that I have been through. At the meeting with the Funeral Director, I insisted on seeing Dad. He really didn’t want me to. I told him, “Mate, my second wife was an organ donor. There’s nothing you can show me that will surprise me.” Then Julie spoke up and said loudly, “Excuse me, what my husband is trying to say ….”. Edith proudly poked her in the ribs and quietly said, “Good on you.” In fact, when I did see him a little later, what did surprise me was how old he looked. I mentioned it to Pete later and he agreed.

The troops arrived as planned on Wednesday and the funeral went ahead as a real celebration of Dad’s life and accomplishments, not the least of which was raising 3 kids who can get it all together and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, when the time comes. It was the largest collection of Fiddamans in one place for a very long time.

Kevin and his family.

Da boys.

Paul announced that his Lisa is pregnant and due on 10 August, so along with April being due in Seattle in late August, we have the beginnings of the new generation. Simon is getting engaged to his Lisa soon too. The boys and I took the opportunity to play a little. Guess who won!

The little friend for Datsun materialised in the form of Kelly, an 8 week old male Silky Terrier Cross. Julie saw him while shopping in Woden Plaza. He was doing his trademark standing up and flapping his front paws. She was instantly in love, but the $500 price tag needed a bit more consideration, so she told the assistant, “I have to do some shopping. If he’s still here when I get back, I’ll take him.” When she returned a few hours later, another woman was holding him, and the assistant grabbed him and said, “Sorry. He’s taken.”

Then she had to find where she had parked the car.  With her lack of internal GPS, she was roaming around either the wrong car park, or more likely, the wrong level in the correct car park, with a loaded shopping trolley and him starting to fret and whine, and calling me to say that she would be home soon, right after she could find the car! By the time she got home, she was a mess.

Speaking of messes, Datsun had chosen that day to discover a roll of toilet paper, had taken it out through the doggie door in the laundry and scattered it all over the front yard.

We thought Datsun was small, now he’s the “big guy”.

Photos are now up. Takes a while, as I have now (finally) installed the wireless into dial-up network as originally planned, and bandwidth is a bit of an issue, especially at 28.8k. With the Telstra upgrades planned for our area, we can’t get broadband until the middle of April.

I did pick up a wireless network from a nearby neighbour, who clearly has a broadband connection. Need to follow up on that one! Hmm. Subsequent investigation showed that he also has a dial-up connection, in fact his was even slower than ours!

My birthday has proved to be a really laid-back day. I bought a bike so that I can start riding to work and collected it today. We have a quiet dinner tonight, with a secret chicken dish where the meat literally falls off the bone, followed by a dessert with alternate layers of crust, chocolate and mint ice-cream. Nice!

Julie’s news.

Howdy friends and family:

Well some good news regarding my addiction to certain TV shows: I can get a few of them on TV though we don’t have a cable. They are about 6 months behind. Rodney has set up a TV and VCR in our bedroom, so I can record.
Some of the shows come on really late. Some I’m not watching such as Enterprise, Crossing Jordan, SUV, etc.

1. Charmed – this season – just saw the Lady Godiva episode
2. Lost – on 3rd episode though I had seen up to where Claire got kidnapped. I’ve gotten Rodney into it now also
3. Stargate – this season – I have missed three episodes from this season, but figure I’ll get caught up on reruns
4. CSI – this season – Main character has just gotten his job back and going thru a divorce – think 3rd episode show here and in the States

Well enough of that stuff – but I’m cool with it.

I’ve started a diary so that I can remember things that happen during the day that I think you might be interested in.

Well one thing I’ve learned is they do a lot of BBQ’s here which is fun but I’ve met soooooo many new people, that I’m starting to get confused on who is whom!!!! I’ve also am learning how to use a gas stove and oven. The oven is “all around” heating and the symbols on the oven are nothing I’ve ever seen before. They really use symbols!!!!! The weather here has been hot and muggy though we’ve been having wind and thunderstorms at night with a little rain.

I went and had a haircut and he really cut it short, but that’s okay cuz Rodney had Stewart shave his head. It’s not too bad once I got used to it. (I’m on the bed typing, watching TV and Kelly – new puppy – is trying to help me!!!!!! He’s trying to chew my diary.

I have discovered that the US is soooooo spoiled in regards to grocery shopping what with all of our instant 30 minute meals, etc. Yes I miss them. To be fair, they do have some, though not to the extent that we do.

I am re-learning how to cook. I have bought a crock pot and one thing that I have wanted for quite a while – a bread machine. I have several recipes from my Mom and Grandma Ike that I’d like to adapt so I can enjoy them again. I am learning how to recycle – though we do have it in the States – I, unfortunately, never did it!!!!! They have items that are familiar, but things like cheese (no “orange” – all white), chips are different names/tastes, butter to me tastes different, mayo is not as thick, can’t find hamburger/hotdog relish, things are not as sweet here to the taste buds. I know that I’ll adapt but this is the first time that I have been on my own overseas without the backup of the military, i.e., commissaries, BX’s/PX’s, etc. Yes I have lived on the “economy” before, but the military was always there!!!, so this is a new experience. Rodney is having a small problem understanding this as when he and his family went to the States, he had “others” that were as confused as he was and he could talk/laugh/point/discuss with. No I’m not feeling sorry for myself – just a little overwhelmed and “new” to the experience. Weights and measures are another matter though that will be solved when my stuff gets here – hopefully by the end of March. When I return to the States in August ’05 for my daughter’s baby, I plan on going to Costco (bulk store) and pick up some items due to bulk vs. cost, i.e., vitamins, seasonings, etc. Please note – these are my observations and feelings and nothing against the country I have married into. Face it – I’m a spoiled American, but proud of it, though a little shocked at my attitude – sorry people of all nations!!

:>)

Well it finally happened in regards to my driving. Several weeks ago, when I was looking for work, I decided that I needed a suit. Rodney and I found a really nice one but due to my shortness (okay short legs!!!!) I needed to have it altered. I was driving in an area that I didn’t know (yes I was using the GPS), but had never really done round-abouts yet. Anyhoo – after my 4th round-about I got confused and turned into the right lane (which for me would be normal). The roads were fairly clear in the beginning so didn’t catch onto the fact that I was on the wrong side. Next impression is hearing a police siren, trying to find it, noting cars coming towards me.

When I finally pulled over, two cops came up to my window (one female and one male). The female asked if I was okay. I threw up my hands, stated I was an American and that I was really confused. The male cop noted that I had cigarettes on the passenger side of the car and said “I think she may need a cigarette!!!”. They asked me why I continued driving and didn’t drive onto the barrier. I stated that it was illegal in the States and didn’t know what to do or where to go. They helped me get on the “right” side of the road and I then parked in a bus stop – which I found out was illegal too later – so I could have a cigarette. I did make it to the alteration store finally.!!!!

We were planning on going to Adelaide to see Rodney’s Dad who was in the hospital. He wasn’t doing so well and Rodney wanted to see him.

I had been looking for work during this time when Rodney called me and told me that he had heard of a job thru his boss, Bob Jenner. Bob’s daughter, Hope, worked for a pest control company and they were looking for a receptionist. I e-mailed Rodney my resume to fax to this company. About 30 minutes later I got a call for an interview for that day which was the Friday before we were to leave for Adelaide early on Saturday, 2/5. I had another interview that afternoon, so instead of us trying to program the GPS, Rodney decided to take me. Interview went okay and I was told that I would probably have to go thru another interview.

We went to the airport on 2/5 where Rodney got a cell phone message, from his sister Dorothy, that their Dad (Claude) had died the night before!!!

Dorothy and her husband Pete met us at the airport and is was fairly emotional. It was not the trip that we had planned for. Pete and Dorothy had made plans to go to the funeral home and then drove us to their place.

They did stop at a few places so I could see the view. I was pretty stressed due to concern for Rodney and meeting new family. They have a wonderful home. Dorothy has a definite green thumb and even grows “baby trees” for new forests (hope I got that right Dorothy!). The next day we went for a wonderful walk – very long and very tiring, though beautiful.

During the day I met Rodney’s older brother Kevin and his wife Edith. Very nice people and Rodney and his brother look very much alike though I suspect personalities are quite different. After everything was taken care of regarding the funeral, we decided to take the train to the actual city of Adelaide. So again we set out on feet and walked (up-hill) to the train ‘station’. They have a commuter train that runs every hour that can be caught at several places. We wondered around Adelaide for a while – bought some wonderful chocolates from Haigh’s which is a specialty candy store. It was extremely hot that day and I confess that I got worn out. Day three we went to see Claude’s third wife Betty. In his will, Claude left his car to Pete and as it had been sitting for quite a while, it had to have some work done on it. The “boys” (Rodney and Pete) got it running, so that is the car we used during our stay. Rodney drove me around Adelaide, showed me the place where he and his sibling were raised (within walking distance to the beach!!!!), and showed me some of his other old haunts. I also met an old girlfriend of his, named Mary Jane. This could have been an awkward situation except that she is a wonderful woman and we hit it off really well. We tried to get connected with two families used to work at Boeing Kent, but were transferred to Adelaide. No luck though. Will try again next time we go there. I learned several things that day:

1. Due to water shortage – can’t leave water running when doing dishes for rinsing, brushing teeth, etc.

2. Pete’s sister Joan, who was also staying there, is a miner and explained to me about Opal mining. She showed me several different types of chips and some beautiful stones that she had made in jewelry. She is a really, really cool person 3. I didn’t know what a wombat was, so Joan explained the animal to me and even went out and bought me a stuffed one which I keep in my car now 4. Dorothy uses the neatest hand cream so gave me some. Just as good as Mom’s Pacquins which is almost impossible to find in the states, much less here.

5. Saw my first “Huntsman” spider which was the size of a lid of baby food. It was in the bathroom and I almost had a heart attack. These spiders don’t hurt people and are fly catchers. Still icky though!!!!!

6. Learned the hard way that all the electrical outlets here have an off/on switch. Not like in the States – where you just plug in and go. The on/off switch is like a surge protector.

The night before the memorial for Claude – we took Pete, Dorothy and Jane out to dinner as a thank you for letting us stay with them. Also the Saturday before, I got a phone call from the place I interviewed at on Friday, asking if I’d like the job. The place is called Capital Pest Control. I had applied for the receptionist position, but they felt I was over qualified, so have given me the job of dispatcher. I’m using this job as a stepping stone to learn the country, language/accent, etc.

Wednesday was the day of the Memorial and a very unusual time to meet the rest of the family members. They were very nice to me though. I met:

1. Pete and Dorothy plus their daughter Kate – Dorothy is Rodney’s sister.

2. Kevin and Edith, plus their daughter Belinda and son Kim.

3. Val, Rodney’s 1st ex-wife and his two son’s, Simon and Paul. Both boys have girlfriends named Lisa and are engaged, so interesting situation with two Lisa Fiddaman’s (eventually). Paul also announced that his Lisa is pregnant and due about the same time that April is in August.

4. There were other relatives, but as you know my memory for names is horrible.

We had a family lunch, which was the first time the Fiddaman’s have been all together in a long time. We spend the rest of the with Simon and Paul. All the “boys” went go karting and it was fun to watch the competition between them. They were very nice to me. We went to a hotel that night as we had a really early flight back to Canberra on Thursday.

Just a few things since we’ve been back that happened to me before starting my job on 2/14.

1. I went to one of the malls to buy a bread machine, which I did get and also came home with a 8 wk puppy that we named Kelly. He is a Silky X Terror, oops, Terrier. He and Datsun get along beautifully. Datsun is very protective of him, i.e., when he can’t find him, he goes searching; when we walk the dogs, he stops to make sure Kelly is keeping up. It is really fun to watch them play and do everything together.

2. That same day, my directionally challenged brain couldn’t remember which parking lot I had left the car in, so wandered around for an hour looking for it!!!!!!

3. Been to several BBQ’s. Their BBQ’s are good. You can have sausages, rolled in a piece of bread (not buns) with grilled onions, and whatever sauce you want or you can have Minute Steak (we call it cube steak), plus salads, etc. and of course grog (booze – mainly beer). :>) 4. Rodney and I are still discovering things about each other. Some good and some bad, but that way in most “new” marriages. Just little things like he doesn’t like leftover salad (even with no dressing so isn’t soggy), is primarily a steak/sausage man, though I am trying new/old recipes on him. If he goes back for seconds, then I know it’s okay!!!!

5. Rodney has now made our house wireless so we can take our computers anywhere in the house to use. I’m in the dining room (lounge) right now.

I’m going to end this now. I could go on and on and on. Thank you for being there for me (us). Take care till next time.

ME