31 December 2003
Clare ready to experience her first snow.
Remember the woolly caterpillars from the last month? The colours represent the winter temperatures, with Black being Cold and Red being nice. So far, they are accurate. With a sudden start to cold weather in late November (see the snow on Brasstown Bald!), we quickly organized warmer bedding and clothes. The wind whooshed around and thoughtfully cleared up most of the leaves I had painstakingly raked to one side, whilst showing us all the air gaps around the house. There was just enough snow to make a snowball or two, but the children enjoyed getting dressed up in snow clothes with hats and gloves anyway.
The current weather (consistent with the Woolly Caterpillar forecast) is unseasonably mild. No jumpers/pullovers/ sweaters/jackets required. We have been warned this will soon change.
Finally, they administered some pain relief, and about 1.5 hours later, another dose, and Lana’s pain finally began to subside.
Baby at 13 weeks - looking well.
Lana then proceeded to rest. She slept the next 30 hours straight, followed by lots of rest for the following week or so. With the cold going away and the morning sickness past all was well again.
Now all are improved. Once more, for the Australian readers, the doctor’s visits are $25 US each and the various antibiotics were $251 US. Without insurance, these costs would have been substantially higher. Australians complaining about an increase in prescription costs to $6 AUD, need to look around and compare!
The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year. A tale of shopping exuberance occurred at Walmart where a lady had waited for some time to be one of the first to get in and get her heavily discounted appliance. She succeeded and got her appliance, but was knocked over in the rush and bumped her head on a display. Whilst her friend was trying to keep people from stepping on her, all she could do was push her a bit out of the way. Everyone was too busy going for bargains. Finally the paramedics got through, rescued her and took her to hospital to recover. In a later interview, the staff at Walmart expressed their sympathy by saying they would hold the appliance for the lady for when she recovered – at the same special price.
Also, guns are much more prevalent than in Australia. At Walmart, you can go to the gun counter and buy a rifle or pistol, ammunition and whatever else you need. This is quite a surprise for an Australian where guns are rarely seen at all. So, to comply with local conditions, we have purchased a “Red Ryder Model 1938 BB air rifle.” The BB stands for Ball Bearings. You fill the ammunition area with up to 650 ball bearings, cock the gun by pulling the trigger guard and off you go. The gun was in the general area of Walmart for $25 and 6000 BBs were $5. In this way the children are learning about gun safety with a less powerful gun. This gun will NOT help when the Rattlesnake returns other than perhaps irritate it.
So, we now have the spare cars and a gun. When necessary, David can put on a pretty authentic Southern accent in order to be understood occasionally, so we are getting localized.
B1 and B2 - enjoying the chill.
Library – The local library is a treasure. It has a huge range of books, especially older ones in the children’s area. We will need some time to go through the collection of living history books that abound. These are books that provide a first person narrative in various historical times, such as “We were there with Christopher Columbus”, or “We were there with Julius Caesar” and lots of tales told about famous historical people. The library is also linked to all the other Georgia libraries, and the inter library transfer system is very impressive. We were able to borrow the book “Who gets the Drumstick” by Helen Beardsley, which is what the movie “Yours, Mine and Ours” was “based” on. Read the book.
Home Depot – On the first Saturday of each month, the local branch of the Hardwarehouse equivalent has a Kids Craft time. It is Free and the staff provide a choice of simple woodworking kits for the children to make with all the tools provided. They get down and help bang the nails, assemble the bits and apply the glue. Depending on the child’s age, they will give advice, or hands on help. They provide a great apron on which they write the child’s name which we bring each month, a certificate with their name and completed project (homeschoolers – “tick” craft done), a badge or pin they can put on their apron, and the thing they made to take home. The children have made a box, fire truck, bird-house, helicopter, sled, Mickey Mouse bookends and snowman napkin holder.
Local Wildlife – At the Local Post Office in town, you must be careful to avoid wandering chickens. We also saw Emus whilst driving out of Hiawassee. These are the Australian flightless birds. That surprised us.
Also at the Christmas Parade were lots of floats put on by local businesses, churches and community groups. One of the clever floats was a collection of tricycles joined together, with all the riders wearing check shirts and baseball caps, titled, “Hillbilly Carpool”. There were ten bikes in all with the Grinch and a toy monkey bringing up the rear.
Hillbilly Car Pool - the front
Parish Directory – Our local church has a “Parish Directory”. We did not know what it was, but now we know. It contains a brief history of the parish in words and photographs of the previous year, followed by a photo of every family that makes up the parish with their names. Then there is a list of everyone’s address and contact details. Basically, it is the parish spotter’s guide. We are now able to rush to our book and answer the question, “Who was that person we were talking to?” After all, everyone knows who we are. We are “The Australians”.
Pizza – Pizzas vary depending on where you are in the US, but locally, they are quite different to Australia. The two most common varieties are Cheese and Pepperoni. That is, the base, tomato paste and then just cheese, or cheese and pepperoni (salami). A “specialty” pizza is Hawaiian (Ham and Pineapple). The typical Australian Pizza with LOTS of toppings is a rarity. We had a Hawaiian pizza the other day. Our friends commented, “That’s a lot of toppings!” whilst we looked at each other and said, “Is that all they put on?”
An interesting, yet tasty, pizza is the BLT pizza. Basically, you have the base, tomato paste, cheese and bacon pieces cooked. Once out of the oven, you add the tomato and lettuce. Sounds odd, but is very tasty.
Boiled Peanuts – A local delicacy is boiled peanuts. Signs abound on roadsides advertising “Boiled P-nuts”. We finally thought we would stop and try some. In an old drum, over a wood fire, are peanuts boiling away in salty water. The peanuts, through their shells, absorb the salt and they turn soft. The local rule is that whenever you eat a boiled peanut, you open the shell, suck out the nut with a big slurp and drop the shells onto the ground, saying, “It’s all natural”. I think we are too used to peanuts being crunchy to appreciate the softer texture of the boiled peanuts.
Sorghum Syrup – In the early days of this area, sweeteners were derived from the Sorghum cane. It is similar in consistency to Golden Syrup, but is darker and has a more molasses/malty taste. This is very tasty on hot buttered toast. When we couldn’t find Golden Syrup, we substituted Sorghum syrup in ANZAC biscuits (cookies). They tasted quite good, just a bit different.
Vidalia Onions – These are grown locally and are peculiar to the specific soil found in Southern Georgia. They are sweet and do not make your eyes cry when they are peeled. One of the local restaurants has an Onion Ring loaf made using fried crumbed Vidalia onion rings shoved into a loaf tin. Normally David avoids Onion Rings because of their bitter taste, but the Vidalia onion rings are very tasty. But the rule is you must pronounce their name properly – Vie-Dayy-Lya in a Southern accent. Unfortunately, they are only around in summer. Next year we will stock up.
Butter – In Australia margarine is a viable alternative to butter. It tastes similar and can be used the same as butter. Here the margarine tastes completely different. We tried many and can’t recommend any. The butter comes in a box with four sticks, each equaling 8 tablespoons. Many US recipes actually suggest using 1 stick or half a stick, rather than using ounces or spoon measures. We now just use butter for everything.
Chocolate - In general, Australian chocolate (i.e. basic Cadbury Milk chocolate) is far superior to any of the standard fare here. We have performed taste tests with locals both here and in other states, and the results still come back the same. “Let me try some more of that Cadbury’s.” Some of the US chocolate bars are very nice, including “Zero”, “100 Grand”, “Baby Ruth”, “Poppers”. The last are small balls of larger chocolate bars, such as Kit Kats, Snickers, Three Musketeers (Aust. Milky Way), Milky Way (Aust Mars Bar) among others. It is not very easy to say no to just one.
Food overall – As part of our service to all you strangers to the US, we are constantly trying different foods with varying degrees of success. Vegemite is known due to the song by “Men at Work” with the phrase “Vegemite Sandwich”. Very few actually knew what it was, but they know the term. If we are allowed to apply it correctly – that is not like peanut butter – on hot buttered toast, the reaction is favourable. Unfortunately, it is just one of those things that is unavailable here.
1 cup Self Raising corn meal
1 cup Self Raising flour
1 small diced onion
1 tin sweet corn
1 tin creamed corn
Throw all the ingredients together in a bowl. Add milk until you achieve a doughy consistency. Drop Teaspoon size balls in hot oil.
Warning: Don't lick your fingers – the raw mixture tastes horrible.
31 October 2003
James showing his new found gap.
Ariel and Clare catching falling leaves.
Also, with the leaves going down, we are seeing more of the horizon and the sky. Mountains are becoming visible and there are more stars in a bigger patch in the night sky.
All Soul’s Day included the children’s choir and Peter was part of it, too, so he sat in front with the other children. Naturally enough he joined in when he did know the words, but the rest of the time he did what he normally did – made a telescope from his program and peered at the congregation, curled up on his chair, reached down to the ground and fell head first on to the floor, faced the wrong way and generally inhabited his own world. Miss Eloise gently corrected him (more gently than we would have) and it all went quite well. The choir sang beautifully and after a nervous start, sang very strongly.
However, Peter now has a place reserved for him in the choir next year. What was his reaction to being “dropped”? “OK”, he said and ran off to play.
So now, onto the new adventure of partaking of the US medical system. Perhaps our greatest challenge to date.
David raking a lot of leaves - doing manual labour!
Also, it is becoming easier to spot the squirrels as they leap from tree to tree. As they don’t hibernate, we should be seeing more of them as winter approaches.
Lots of Potatoes
Boil it away until potatoes are cooked (fall apart) and then add in cream and serve. This is a great cold day recipe that uses up all those potatoes lurking in that bag. Couldn’t be easier.
30 September 2003
Single Bed = Twin Nobody can tell us why
Double Bed = Full
Oops = My Bad When it’s your fault, you say, “My Bad”.
BBQ = Cookout The equipment is a BBQ, but the event is a cookout.
I beg your pardon. = Whaaat? Can you repeat that, please?
Bear = Bar See above
I started out life with nothing, and I’ve still got half left.
(Seen on a cap worn by a senior citizen)
So we just took photos for y’all to enjoy. We’ll have to get a gun for next time.
The Rattlesnake - too far from our car.
But it’s amazing how quick you get used to it. There is a lot more parking than we ever had at Moss Vale or Bowral. I think the parking area at either Home Depot or Ingles (supermarket) has the same amount of spaces as all the car parks combined in Bowral. Mind you, with the average rate of car ownership in the US having just exceeded one vehicle per person, they need lots of car parking places.
David has been volunteered to teach the confirmation class of 11 year nine and ten students. He is enjoying himself with a captive audience that is not allowed to go anywhere else for an hour or so each week. However for the last three weeks, whilst the teacher of the year 7 and 8 students was away, he had to teach about 25 children. The first week he was frustrated because none of the children would answer questions. Then he had a good idea. Bribery. The following two weeks he rewarded every answer (correct or otherwise) with a jelly belly (basically fancy jelly beans). Hands were flying up thick and fast!
When the teacher returned from her trip in Europe, she mentioned she met lots of Australian tourists there. She said they constantly used the phrase “ABC”. She finally asked what they meant. “Another Bloody Church!” was the typically Australian reply to describe the abundance of amazing churches on almost every corner in the major European cities.
His reply was:
Gainesville is the Poultry Capital of the World....as for the chicken and the fork....that was a joke the Police Department played on some visiting Atlanta Disk Jockeys several years ago...they actually created an ordinance to go with it. Thanks for your interest.
So, it just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read. It is worth doing a reality check every now and then!
Ripper! BYO Policeman.
What is this insect?
James taking a leap of faith
Before the playground was built, Lana heard Peter crying outside. Upon investigation, Lana saw James and Eric on the decking pulling a rope. She quickly rushed to the edge and there was Peter sitting on a bit of wood tied to the end of the rope and being let down. He was crying because Eric and James realized he was too heavy to pull all the way and they were letting him back down.
So, they completed pulling him up and pulled him through the balcony. Just remember, young children will give us all plenty of evidence for Guardian Angels.
Last week, the boys had a new plan. They tied rope from the fort/playhouse to a nearby tree. Combined with the loop from the end of the very thick rope we had been given, they created their own flying fox.
31 August 2003
Bed Head = Head Board A Bed head is the impression left on your head after lying on your back too long.
Main Meal = Entrée If you’re not hungry, don’t ask for an Entrée!
Biscuit = Cookie A biscuit is something like a scone/bread roll
Boot = Trunk “Chucking it in the boot” is not a familiar term here.
Tyre = Tire Pronounced “Taaar”
Windscreen = Windshield
Cheque = Check Used here for everything. The bank statement includes a page containing a copy every check presented during the month. In Australia, a telephone or utility bill lists about 6 to 8 different ways to pay – Cheque, Bpay, Credit Card, Eftpos, direct debit, Australia Post, etc. Here they all want you to pay by check.
North country campers may be surprised to be bitten by tiny insects that can hardly be seen. So minute are these midges, called no-see-ums, that they can easily go through window screens and the mesh of some tents. Also called punkies and sand flies, these 1/10-inch-long critters are the smallest of the northland biters. They belong to the family Ceratopogonidae, which has about 460 North American species. Most feed on nectar. Several midge species will attack other insects. If a mosquito is full of blood, a no-see-um may bite her and steal the blood.
When and how does it bite? A few species of midges go for human blood. The females need protein-rich blood so their eggs can develop. Like mosquitoes, midges feed at dusk. They puncture skin with a pair of mandibles, which look like scissors blades.
Life cycle. Midge eggs are laid in ponds. The larvae look like thin worms. The pupa floats but does not swim. Adults usually emerge in summer and feed in June and July. Adults do not fly far from their breeding grounds. Some people say you can escape from no-see-ums by simply moving a few feet away.
Good news. Thanks to biting midges we have chocolate. One species pollinates cacao trees, the source of chocolate, in lowland tropical forests.
2. The Good News Bee
This bee does not sting but makes quite a loud buzzing sound as it flies around. It tends to speed along, then stop and hover just in front of you (as if it was telling you some good news) and then flies on. They look exactly like a horrible nasty biting wasp.
These are like mini crayfish that live in the creeks and streams. Eric and James had a great time exploring with Jonathan Floyd in the creek at the Floyd’s place. They found Crawdads, blue tailed lizards, salamanders, skinks and lots of nifty things.
4. Huge butterflies and Moths
We have seen some really large and beautiful butterflies and moths including the white Webworm Moth, Tiger and Black Swallowtails and others.
It’s a shame to wreck a good story, but we spoke with the Greeter later and she said that the Policeman regularly pops in and says Hello, and they weren’t talking about us at all. Phew!
I passed the test and received my license - $15 for 4 years.
I should have known better about stopping. Peter always reminds me from the back seat, “Daddy. You didn’t stop. You slowed down.” This is because he heard the following joke. (Try to pronounce the driver’s words in a slow Southern drawl.)
A driver slowed down and then went through a stop sign. A policeman promptly pulled him over and approached the driver’s window. “Excuse me, Sir. You didn’t do a complete stop at that intersection there.”
“But, I slowed down”
“Sir, you are required to come to a complete stop before proceeding…”
“I slowed down”
“Sir, slowing down is not stopping..”
“But I did slow down.”
With a firm expression, the policeman asked, “Can you step out of the car for a moment, please”
The driver stepped out and the policeman began to hit him over the head with his clipboard.
“Stop, Stop!” cried the driver.
“Do you want me to stop or slow down?” asked the policeman.
25 August 2003
First problem: How do we get it home? The car we had wouldn’t fit the lumber, and I did not yet have a US driver’s license or insurance in my name. Luckily, the Ogburns were able to assist and we used Ward’s dump truck to transport the wood.
Can you guess who was the builder and who was the assistant?
31 July 2003
Our trip started on the Monday, leaving Country Australia after another 0 degrees (celsius) night leaving all the house and outdoors covered in a white frost. Our friends transported us and our luggage to a Sydney hotel and we had our last Australian dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Sydney, followed by a nighttime tour of the city in the Smith Tour Bus.
We left the hotel on time at 8 am and arrived at the Airport ready for the trip. Well, not quite. We had left one of our bags in the hotel room! Luckily we had plenty of time to spare and the hotel was able to send the bag on the next shuttle bus.
At the Check-in counter they were very strict on bag weights and we had to reshuffle the luggage in all of our bags to ensure the bags did not weigh more than 32kg and onboard not more than 7kg. This only took about 30 minutes! The lady at the check-in estimated I lifted about 250kg on and off the scales.
We then went through to the international departure area, where I remembered I still had the keys to my little blue car in my pocket, which I had just sold through Robert Smith. A quick placing of keys into the envelope and then popping in the post and we finally got on board.
The first leg was about 10 hours to Osaka Kansai airport. This plane had a common movie screen. When the movies came on we had to stop the children watching either film, as neither was suitable! The staff on this JAL flight were very good, especially helping Ariel who had a bit of a headache, probably from the excitement and not enough water.
Peter checking plane safety instructions.
As the picture above shows, Peter was quite calm about the flight.
The Hotel was very comfortable and once we realized that going anywhere was going to be way too much hassle, we ended up back in our rooms. Lana had a sleep and we watched a Western on Japanese TV. The flight to LA was relatively easy with the children able to watch Jungle Book 2 and Bambi or play some games on their personal video screens.
Three hours of customs/immigration awaited us in Los Angeles and and then a transfer to the next flight and we flew 4 hours to Atlanta. So, finally at 10:30pm we stopped flying, met our US friends, and drove for 3 hours (via Wal-Mart), culminating in a humid night in a hotel in North East Georgia, over 9,000 miles away from home, under different stars.
- It is quiet during the day and noisy at night. At home, we are used to magpies, cockatoos, Gallahs and kookaburras sharing their “songs” with us. Here it is quiet until dusk when all the “Katydids” – grasshopper type insects (Look in A Beka Science 4) starting their mating rituals.
- Also at dusk the fireflies come out. (called lightning bugs locally) These are pretty interesting, giving flashes of light throughout the woods. (A Beka Science 4)
- Daddy long legs here are Grand daddy long legs – they are bigger than what we are used to but basically the same type of spider.
- White Faced Hornets are mongrel things. One stung Peter on the first day they explored our new house and so they all retreated back into the house. Just as well, too! There was a huge nest of the things. That night, Ward Ogburn used a common wasp and hornet spray that jets a stream of poison up to 22 feet to kill them. Whilst destroying the nest and killing all its occupants, he was stung too.
- Yellow jacket wasps are not pleasant either. One stung Lana in the first week when she accidentally brushed it off her arm. The mark is still there and occasionally is irritating.
- Ticks are in the untamed areas of ground and latch on to the legs. Lana got one so we know about them now.
- Squirrels are cute. There are lots around the house.
- Bears are apparently in the area, but we haven’t seen any yet.
- There are lots of Deer around.
- The birds actually sound OK (when they actually sing) rather than variations of squawks most of the Australian birds are known for. We also saw some “Red Cardinal” birds – pretty little bright red birds.
- Chiggers are the worst. They hang around in unkept areas of gardens or bushland and are about 0.1 mm in size. They leap on to anything warm-blooded passing and crawl as high as they can until they get to a soft bit of skin, then start sucking. After about 3 hours a little lump comes up and they are very itchy. So, everyone avoids areas chiggers are reputed to be, once they get inside all clothes are washed and everyone jumps in the bath. The funny thing is, chiggers are not meant to feast on humans – they die from our bodies. Dogs and birds don’t get the irritations, as they are the correct host. See here for more information.
Placing our stake in a new land
The new GE 4D Ultrasound – a great vision of the baby using enhanced ultrasound imaging. Well worth downloading.
Mel Gibson’s new film “The Passion”. This is a very interesting look at his new film about the last hours of Our Lord up to his Crucifixion. This is NOT for the little ones (under 12), but it will give you an idea of the movie that is sparking much controversy
A Blackberry and Raspberry Cobbler.Ingredients:
½ cup melted butter
2 cups SR Flour
2 Cups Milk
2 Cups Sugar
3½ Cups Berries
Pour melted butter into lamington tray (9in x 13 in).
Mix sugar, flour and milk together – it may be lumpy but it doesn’t matter.
Pour this on top of the melted butter.
Put berries on top of that.
Cook in moderate oven for about 45 minutes to an hour until golden brown on top.
Yummo. Especially with vanilla ice cream.