Four days ago we picked up stakes and made the big move from the more elegant, understated Moffat Beach to the busier, flashier King’s Beach. From our new third floor apartment we have spectacular views to the wave-stacked ocean just 100 feet from our doorstep. The water is so close that with no view of the ground below I start to think I am on a cruise ship. The most fascinating feature of our new locale is that we have a bird’s eye view into the busy Brisbane shipping channel. Every hour or so a fabulously gigantic Asian freighter loaded with ginger or pineapples or possibly electronics plies the waters outside our windows. These are not just big boats; they are vessels of the imagination and provide a welcome interruption to the endless ocean horizon. I can’t speak for the kids (they get mad when I do), but when a ship slides into view from the south, I immediately jump on board in my mind and follow it to some distant exotic destination. Then I remind myself that in just a few days I’ll once again be headed to just such places.
Caloundra has been wonderful for us. Though we get stressed out at the smallest glitch (a definite hazard of an undertaking of this magnitude), we have slowed down our pace long enough to get to know some wonderful people. As promised, Naz came over and taught our family night lesson, or should I say put forth an admirable effort. He has little siblings Kieran and Asher’s age back in New Zealand, but that still did not prepare him for the chaos that is our usual family night. Attention spans last moments, singing turns to caterwalling, and somehow jumping off of furniture always makes its way into the agenda. Any effort he put forth, no matter how brilliant, was immediately forgotten when he broke out the lollies. For some bizarre reason, Australians have adopted an abbreviation of the word lollipop as a blanket term for all candy. Naz wanted us to have a proper introduction to Aussie lollies, so he brought an assortment for us to sample. They included Milkos, Redskins, Freckles, Clouds, Ears, Chicos, and Red Frogs. This of course begs the question, do Aussies need help coming up with better candy, or at minimum, better names for their candy? The ears were understandably grapefruit flavored, while the clouds were an all-purpose version of sweet and contained more red dye in their one-inch length than most third-world inhabitants consume in a lifetime.
After Monday night’s sweet fest, we were treated to a delicious dinner on Tuesday by Sandra and Roland Vanneste and their sons Boyd and Craig. Sandra prepared at least 7 dishes after putting in a full day at the office with an ease and expertise that still boggles my cooking-challenged mind. Roland, no slouch himself, baked a mean Pavlova, sufficiently delectable to rival any the Andruses have ever had. (This is saying a lot since Tom’s family are veritable Pavlova connossieurs.) The Vannestes were so gracious, so welcoming, we couldn’t believe we merited such treatment. Their home, designed by Roland and built only a few years ago, was a marvel and a treat for us to behold. As usual, the entertainment was provided by Kieran and Asher, who quickly enticed Boyd, 17, and Craig, 24 into a no holds barred pillow fight. Sandra soon got involved and the kids were in romper room heaven.
We are overwhelmed by how friendly and generous Australians have been to us. Would we be the same to a loud and energetic Aussie brood if they passed through Atlanta? We hope the answer is and always has been yes, but it’s hard to imagine we could match the downunder version of downhome hospitality. I guess it’s a good sign that our friend Richard of bushwalk fame is bringing his kids down this afternoon to build a monster sand castle with us. We must not be too scary after all.