July 4, 2009


A trip home always involves fun errands and little day excursions. I went on the little shopping trip to the mall on Saturday, because NOTHING is open in Australia on a Sunday. I found a little hat that I think suits me very well.

On a sunny afternoon we went to a gallery showing of gorgeous textile shabori work and beautiful prints. It was a husband and wife, they were both artists. After a few minutes of being there, we realized the artists were actually right next to us and we got the pick their brains and get all the juicy details of their work and education history.

There was also this adorable, but giant, puppy that grabbed a paper out of my moms hand and took it outside to chew on.

My parents have this old 1999 volvo, that we used to use in Adelaide. They NEVER drive it, except when my brother comes home on a break from university. So twice a year, they call Australian AAA to come recharge the battery. A well dressed man came to fix the car and give us a 20 minute lecture on how we were distroying the battery by letting it drain for months and months. He sternly told us it must be charged over night. We ignored his advice. Nathan I drove it that afternoon for a few hours to run our errands. Everytime we parked and restarted the engine, we held our breath, not knowing if we'd be able to drive home.

Gorgeous wallpaper patterns. I love the bright pinks and blues against the muted browns.

That evening, my parents took Nathan and I to a wine tasting bar, that also served tapas (small Spanish savory dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar). It was quite lovely. Notice my red, tipsy face in the photo below with my dad.

Nathan and my mom split a bottle of red wine, I think it was a shiraz, between them. Somehow, they managed to talk to the waiter about earthquakes and geology. How the science topic came up, I don't know.

Felting Trends

Felting is the new thang to create, I learned from my mom. She took a workshop on how to create raw fibers of silk and wool to create felt. It's a little to rustic and messy for my style, but it was pretty interesting to help her do her felting homework for her class.

She stared by pulling short fibers and laying them down on top of each other. Then another layer, 90 deg from the first, was laid over it.

We also had some silk that we cut into triangles to place on top of the wool, to create a 'prickly' design. Her homework was to create something that represented 'prickly.'

The real action happens with you add warm water and olive oil soap.

And then she had to roll, many times, the piece so that the fibers would talk to each other. These are her words, "talk to each other." I was skeptical, but it started working.

To get all the fibers stuck together and become a piece of fabric, you must throw. She threw the wet mess as hard as she could against the counter.

The final piece was really quite cool. Her instructor was pretty impressed as well.

I don't think I could make a trip home without witnessing a new art project and learning a few techniques from my mom.

July 3, 2009

Snorkeling in Winter

We rented snorkel masks and fins to go check out the tropical fish in Turquoise Bay. This reef is known for strong currents that can quickly take you into deep waters through a break in the reef. 

Discovering this, we entered the shallow reefs far from the danger area so the current would carry us over the corals and wildlife.

I had some trouble standing in the water with fins on. Mom caught me falling backwards in the sand, while Nathan is fiddling with his mask. 

The fish were amazing! A designer’s dream: vivid colors, rainbow stripes, small neon fish and the oddest of shapes. I saw multi-colored wrasses, clown fish, tang fish, butterfly fish, triggerfish, angelfish and SO many more. 

I almost panicked when I saw the reef shark. It was six feet long and swam under me toward Nathan. I took out the mouthpiece and screamed, “shark!” 

I was sure we were dead, first Nathan, then me. Dad screamed, “It’s harmless. It’s just a nurse shark.”  I asked, “Promise?” 

But after seeing the display, we figured it was a reef shark. Mostly safe, but still a shark.

We also saw two green turtles. It was so special. It’s hard to smile with a snorkel in your mouth. I saw a stingray too, but stayed away from it.

I hate to complain again, but it was super cold. Sitting on the beach was painfully cold, but the water felt like warm salty bathwater.

We celebrated our discoveries by enjoying fresh local snapper on a bed of Mediterranean salad.

So fresh, so good.

Whale Sharks and Vomit

[the ocean photos are courtesy of Ningaloo Reef Dreaming]

Mom and I were not brave enough to go on this day adventure.

Nathan and Dad had booked this whale shark adventure a month in advance. It was the whole reason we took a 4-day trip to Ningaloo reef. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world and eat plankton, not juicy tourists.

They woke up Monday morning at 6 a.m. and made a ton of noise in the shower and kitchen, waking up the rest of us. A bus picked them up at the hotel’s reception and they drove to where the boat was waiting.

Nathan and Dad’s group were the only ones that didn’t cancel the trip due to the weather. Four other companies cancelled their tour because of the rough weather and drove their buses back to town.

There were 18 other eager whale shark enthusiasts with Nathan and Dad. After taking a little dip in the reef to confirm swimming abilities, they headed out a couple miles from shore.

Mom and I stayed in the hotel room that morning. The weather outside was getting stormier, the clouds blackened and the wind started howling.

Back on the boat, Nathan and Dad were getting the rundown on whale shark safety. They were asked to not get in front of the shark and stay away from the massive tail.

Nathan started feeling dizzy right before the practice snorkel when the boat stopped moving and was then influenced by the wonderful rolling waves. When in the water, he didn’t really improve much and felt like burping but due to the snorkel he was forced to hold it in, in hindsight he realizes this may have been the wrong decision.

Back on the boat the “weak stomach syndrome” spread among the group as the first few group members saw their breakfast again in partially digested form. Nathan was one of the first to get sea sick, followed closely by Dad; there was also a French couple that was in all sorts of trouble.

Several people were lined up at the back of the boat, hurling over the side. They were told not to go to the back unless they were actually going to get sick.

Nathan and Dad were sea sick and vomiting the whole time. Nathan felt the worst. He lost the yogurt he had for breakfast and began seeing yellow bile.

Nathan spent so much time at the back of the boat he slammed his knee against the side from all the rocking.

When they got the message from the circling plane above that a whale shark was spotted, the captain shouted, “Whale shark! Whale shark!” And everyone quickly ran to the back of the boat and quickly put on their gear (wet suit, snorkel and fins) in anticipation of jumping into the path of a giant fish.

Excited and weak from lack of food, they jumped off the boat into the deep water and tread water until the shark came into their path.

Nathan and Dad said it was magical and majestic, worth every hour of nausea. The shark has a wide mouth and a beautiful pattern of dots on its body. It glided through the water, aware of the floating humans nearby, yet calm.

The boat spotted four whale sharks that day. They are usually lucky to spot only two. Dad jumped in the water five times to see the sharks, but Nathan was getting extremely weak and sick and sat out the last two jumps.

Nathan is on the right, waving to signal that he saw the shark. He’s got the lime green snorkel piece.

They all rolled themselves onto the moving boat. The viewing had finished and they got dry and dressed, reflecting on the sharks. The company had included a delightful feast for the hungry swimmers, but not many were feeling up to eating. Notice their faces and how disgusted they are by the sight of the food.

The group came back to land, and we met the guys at the hotel room.

Dad was passed out on the couch and Nathan was eating everything in the pantry.