Anne Marie's Australian Adventure

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Archive for the ‘housing’ Category

So how was your week?

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 26, 2009

I’ve been a crazy woman packing and cleaning. It has been a very stressful time and sad too. We’ve had a chance to say good bye to most of the people we’ve met here. We went to dinner one night with Mike and Caroline Hall at the Rubican – very nice. We went to dinner another night with Carole and Greg. I went by the theatre to say bye to everyone there. I’m taking the Turkish girls to the movie today.
What a week it’s been. I’ve been packing and trying to organize the storage and cleaning and farewells. Then on Wednesday night Cooper stood up and yelped in pain and couldn’t walk on his left rear leg. He’s never been like that before, he was whimpering like a puppy every time he tried to walk and he was shaking so hard. We couldn’t  find anything in his paw nor feel anything out of wack. All through the night every time he’d walk he would cry. I was sick about not knowing what was wrong or what to do. It wasn’t any better in the morning so we drove to the Vet in Manuka, got him out of the car and he started walking around like nothing was wrong. We put him back in the car and drove back home. He was okay most of the day and then in the afternoon it started again so this time we drove to the vet and got him out of the car and into the office. The vet thinks he probably torn a ligament in his knee. He gave him a shot and some pills for the next few days.
He seems to be doing better but we have to make sure he takes it easy on that knee for 4 weeks. That’s going to be tough with him going to the foster family next week. Fergus found a great article online about ligament injuries in dogs and the treatment of it. We are hopeful that he won’t need to have surgery if the takes it easy for that period of time – no jumping into and out of the car – no running or ball chasing – just nice easy walks.
We turned in the small rental car – and got an SUV to haul the kids and their kennels and our bags to Melbourne – we drove three blocks to park and mail a package and ran over a broken beer bottle at the curb – the tire was history!! We had to buy a new tire. I washed three loads of sheets and towels and hung them on the line before we went to the rental office – while we were waiting for the guy to change the tire it started to rain so all my laundry was soaked by the time we got home. I spend the entire evening using the dryer to get them dry (that dryer can handle about one towel or two sheets at a time – it’s like a kids size play dryer).
I had also had the carpet cleaners come that morning and so it took forever to get the carpets dry because of the moisture in the air. And you can imagine how hard it was to keep the kids and Fergus from walking on the wet carpet with dirty paws and shoes. AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!
Today was a little better. I finished most of the laundry – still too rainy out so I had to use the dryer. Got most everything packed  and the furniture back in place (all the small things were in the kitchen). Cleaned the kitchen floor and I was in bed asleep by 7:30 pm.
Today I hope to relax a little. I’ll go to the Bus Depot Market – take the girls to the movie – take the last couple of boxes to the storage – and enjoy my final day in Canberra. Tomorrow morning it’s pack the car and off we go to Melbourne. The kids know something is up and they won’t let us leave the house without them. They love to ride in the car but it’s a long trip. They may feel differently about the car after this trip. 
So I might not have a chance to write for a couple of days.  I hope to get at least one final blog entry about the foster homes and our final days in Australia before we fly home. Check back in about a week for more.

Posted in dogs, food, housing, People | 2 Comments »

Click Your Heels Together…

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 16, 2009

If  it was only that easy. We have been agonizing about what to do regarding returing to the US. We love it here. For the first time since I’ve known him, Fergus is happy to go to work. He loves teaching medical students, the hours are reasonable (no 24 hour shifts or over nights), he gives lectures, has PAID time to prepare his lectures, PAID time off for vacations, holidays off when everyone else is off, reasonable patients, no worries about paying malpractice insurance. He goes to work early and comes home not so crabby.

I love it here because I can teach drama to students who want to learn drama and not have to deal with grades or discipline problems. I can work part-time, I can work with young adults on productions without having to worry about how to fund it. I could get involved with all types of theatre groups here – just haven’t because of all the travelling we have done.

We like Canberra because it is a big city but feels like a small one. Lots of parks, shops, theatre and things to do. We have met some pretty amazing people and have done some amazing things while we have been here. The weather is a lot like Kansas but no snow. And there is still so much we want to see throughout Australia.

Several months ago Fergus decided to see what it would take for us to stay. We thought once we find out then we can decide if it is worth staying or just go home to the US. Well, the medical board has had his paper work for fours months now and it seems every week they want something new – silly things like proof that he speaks English. We were hoping the hospital would extend his contract but because of the finacial situation they don’t have money to extend the contract but if he got the approval of the medical board and then the College of Emergency Medicine (the board the governs the standards of Emergency physicans) then they could hire him. Well, we are still waiting for the medical council to forward his paperwork to the college. His contract was up at the end of March. We are living on his paid vaction leave money. Once we knew this decision was not going to be made before the end of April we realized how much we really did want to stay.

In the meantime, reports back on the house in Kansas are not good. The renters were having problems with the sewer system, leaking pipes and aging water heater. Either way I was going to have to go home and get those things taken care of. And then there is the issue of the dogs. We know that if we fly them back to the states – at great expense and major trauma for them in a kennel for 20 + hours, we would never bring them back here again. It seemed that we had to resign ourselves that we were going back to the states.

Our friend Sue said that if we needed to go home and are sure we want to come back to Australia that maybe she could find someone from the Airedale Rescue group who could foster care them for a few months. Then Fergus and I could return to Kansas, he could work, I could get the house fixed and put up for sale and we could come back once the paper work here in Australia gets sorted out. That’s it in a nutshell.

Well, last night we got the final word that we have found two families willing to take one dog each – they already have dogs so the two of them would be a problem, one family has a male dog who wouldn’t be happy with another male around and the other family has a small dog which we would be concerned that Bean Sidhe would see as a snack. The two families are willing to make sure they visit each other and with Sue there as a guardian we think this will be a reasonable solution. It won’t be great leaving them but our hope is that it’s only for a few months.

So everyone we are coming home in May. We will stop in the Bay Area to see our families and then head back to Wichita. If all goes well with selling the house and with the paperwork here in Australia we will be coming back. I know this might be a shock to some of you who had no idea we were thinking about staying but I didn’t want to publish anything until we decided for sure. We have flights back on May 4, 2009. I will have time to write another update. We will be driving to Melbourne with the kids and spend a few days there to make sure they are settled in.

So the Australian Adventure will continue with reports from Cooper and Bean Sidhe signing in for me. I hope to see many of you when we return to the states. There will be a major yard sale going on if you’d like to visit Kansas for some shopping.  Look at it this way – if you didn’t get a chance to visit us while we were here this year now you’ll get another chance.

Posted in dogs, housing, Info, shopping, travel | 5 Comments »

A Visit to Wombat Bend

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 5, 2009

We finally got to Victoria and visited Bill and Sue and their four Airedales at Wombat Bend in Yarra Glen Valley east of Melbourne. It was a fantastic time. We spent three nights with them and were able to hear all about their battles with the fires. 



Their B&B is so cute. It’s a one bedroom and bath but it has a large living room and kitchen – the place is bigger than our house in Canberra if you exclude the extra two bedrooms. It was so peaceful and quiet. One early morning I heard and saw the hot air balloon go by –  it was magical. We were surrounded with Airedales, birds I hadn’t seen before and the billabong was full of ducks. In these pictures you can see their round house and the B&B with it’s surrounding veranda.








They are still doing a lot of cleaning up and also having their billabong dredged since the water is so low due to the drought. The silt that they are digging out of the billabong will be spread out over the property and the grass will eventually grow.



With the help of a neighbor they were able to save all their buildings, their cars and many trees but manyof their fence posts were gone. When we were there it was seven weeks after the fires and a soft covering of grass was visible in many of the burned out fields we saw. In these pictures you can see how close the fires came to their house and the B&B. The fences are their property line.

This isn't Fall color - it's burned leaves.

This isn't Fall color - it's burned leaves.












wombatbend13 These pictures are just a sample of the area around Sue and Bill’s house. We took a ride throughout other areas where entire hills and houses were burned to the ground – it was very sad. For those of you who where in the Bay Area during the Oakland Hills fires you will remember the look of the devastation – multiply that by acres and acres and that is how this area looks.

I was so relieved to see Sue, Bill and the dogs safe. It is scary to see how close they came to losing everything. It wasn’t luck however, they have been prepared to fight the fires for years because they knew it wasn’t a matter of if there would be a fire but when. Years of drought and a history of bush fires has made them even more vigilant. This is Australia after all.

Seven weeks after the fires the eucalyptus trees have already begun to sprout new branches from their charred trunks. More about our trip in upcoming blog entries.


Posted in dogs, housing, Info, People, photos, travel | Leave a Comment »

We have a House!!!

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 18, 2008

We found a house today. It’s an older home near Canberra City Centre in a suburb called Turner. It has a nice fenced backyard for the kids. It’s old but clean and well maintained. There are three bedrooms – only one bath with a shower but it will do. Wireless internet (that’s important) cable TV and it’s furnished. It even has a fully stocked kitchen i.e.;pots, pans, dishes, appliances, microwave oven, utensils, glassware the whole shooting match. The beds have linens and blankets and bedspreads. There are two TV’s one in the living room and one in a spare bedroom. The house is brick so it stays cool in the summer, gas heating (not central but it’s a smallish place) one in the living room and one in the hallway near the bedrooms. After all the crummy places I’ve looked at it was unbelievable to find such a nice place.

The house is just blocks from a neighborhood shop area with an IGA (grocery store), post office, pharmacy (more like a drug store), an assortment of other shops, and our very own pub. Yet we are only blocks away from Canberra Centre, a large mall with all the brand name stores – three stories high and about four blocks long.There are parks all around us, Australian National University is across the street (the Theatre Arts Centre on campus is within walking distance) and there are main parkways (highways) in all directions to get around Canberra. The hospital is only about 15-20 mintues away depending on traffic.

We are under the shadow of the Telstra Tower, which sits atop one of Canberra’s highest hills – I’ll send pictures once we get into the house. I plan to start moving on Saturday. Fortunately we haven’t accumulated too much stuff since we got here and we haven’t unpacked all our boxes yet so moving should be fairly easy. The address for those of you who have been asking is: 68 David St. Turner, ACT 2612 Australia. Overseas mailing is expensive so don’t write, email instead – I’m especially talking to you, Martin Thornton!

Fergus and I have never lived in a neighborhood before – this should be an adventure. We went out to celebrate at a great Spanish restaurant called Legends – tapas & Spanish rice. It was very good. This is in Manuka near where we are staying now. Once we move we will have other new places to explore. As they say in Aussieland “Ta”, for now.  

Posted in food, housing, shopping | 2 Comments »

House Hunting

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 3, 2008

Fergus started work this week and I started the tough job of finding a house. They do things very differently here. You have to find a house in the Saturday newspaper or on some online sites. They have “viewings” like our open houses on a scheduledday for 15 MINUTES. I was at one house and in 10 minutes 5 women came thru the house, two had applications in hand, and one was begging the Realtor to give her until Monday since her husband was out of town until then. The topper is that the house was a dump. I was very discouraged.

We definitely need to reexamine our housing budget.

I did see one house that I really liked. I walked to where the “viewing” was to take place but since I didn’t really have an idea how far away it was I ended up getting there really early (three hours) I was going to just walk by and if I liked the looks I was going to hang out until it was time. well the owners came out and invited me in, showed me around, offered me a cup of tea. They have two dogs and would consider pets (a problem with most rentals I am finding). They were delightful, Norma and Bob. They are retired educators, he a high school principal and she an elementary school teacher. They are moving to Melbourne at the end of April. I loved their house. The backyard adjoins a golf course. All the windows face open rolling hills. This time of the year (autumn) it looks a lot like the San Ramon Valley for those of you who live in Northern California – rolling golden hills with groves of trees – oak and eucalyptus.

They want me to bring Fergus back – “even if we aren’t interested in the house”.

Yesterday I looked at rental furniture. Now that’s more hopeful! Today we go to Sydney. Watch for the next installment – Exploring Sydney!

Posted in housing | 1 Comment »