29 June, 2011


Sorry for the delays in posting. We should have regular Internet access in 2-5 days.

Boy do we have some stories to share.

Location:Meadowbrook Promenade,Currambine,Australia

11 June, 2011

And on the seventh day...

Reconciliation before Mass... I guess I can fess up to missing church while flying last Sunday. I could have gone to a vigil service while in Los Angelos, but it completely slipped my mind.

Anyway, a two-for-one.

The Flora and Fauna of Oz - Part Two

This looks the cross between a pidgin and a puffin. Once again, if you think you know what this little guy is, leave a guess in the comments.

The Flora and Fauna of Oz - Part One

A spiky berry ball thing. I have no idea what this is. If you know, please respond in the comments.

1 Canberra Rise, Ocean Reef

This home is a bit older and it feels a bit dated, but it has large bedrooms and is very close to both the ocean and everything Catholic.

First off, it is across the street from a park. The park backs up to a Catholic primary school and church.

You can see the stairs leading up to the school in this snap, and the yellow building in the background is the church. We could walk to mass!!!

There is a Catholic University three blocks away.

The ocean is not too far off and we are but a few minutes form the train.

The appliance kind of suck. The range is old and the stove is small.

The master bedroom is at the front of the house and then there is a long hallway going to the back three bedrooms. This house also has a separate WC, bath and laundry room for the back of the house.

The bedrooms are all above average in size for an Australian house. They are all a little pinkish though. Pink and blue must have been popular color that week.

New carpets throughout. New carpets have their own particular stench that I could not identify at first. Once the realtor identified it for me though, I understood and it was tolerable.

The back yard is smallish, and contains a bottle brush tree. I am told that this blooms with bright red flowers in the Spring.

On the down side, the neighbors house connects to this one (though there is no entry) and it appears to be a group of young men, each with their own car parked on their front lawn.

Other than the chatter of the neighbors over the fence, the road was quiet and serene. This is on my B list.

They want a $510 application fee, which is non-refundable if they select you. This means that good applications can end up losing money if they get selected by multiple landlords.

Location:1 Canberra Rise, Ocean Reef, WA, Australia

3 Zurich Fairway, Hocking

This property is for sale for $460,000. The owners have moved to Canberra for work and have a desperate need to sell. The agent was geared mainly to that type of transaction. I told her my need and upped the asking price of $460/wk to $500/wk rent with the condition that the house be available for me BEFORE Erika and the kids arrive. The realtor is going to talk to the owners and see if they will change their plans.

Beautiful newer house in a newer development. The houses are still being built and sold, so there are a lot of signs pointing the way to open houses and the like.

I parked in front of the house across the street an hour before the open house, as I am want to do. I do this to listen to the sounds, observe traffic and see if I can't talk to any neighbors before I see the house. The lady in front of whose house I was parked cam out and asked me to move, as she was expecting some 12 guests. I introduced myself and explained why I was there and we chatted for a while. Her two charming daughters aged 3 and 6 came out to see what was up. It shouldn't bother me that she lied about the guests needing parking. She just probably wanted the strange man gone from in front of her hues. It does however bother me. She also had little good to say about the neighbors. One was loud, another was stubborn, etc... Sigh...

The house is nice inside withe BUILT IN SCHOOL ROOM. There is a small desk built into this little nook and a mural of Noah painted on the wall. This is the view from the kitchen... So you can keep an eye on the kids while doing other things.

The wood floor is gorgeous in the dining/living rooms and kitchen. It has modern appliances and a clean feel.

The bedrooms are fine, though one has florescent lighting as the owner used it as a beauty salon in her home.

The master bedroom and a sitting room are located at the front of the house. The house is painted in modern, tasteful colors. I ink that I twas built in 2007.

It is okay. The realtor was very concerned about the number of children.

Location:3 Zurich Fairway, Hocking, WA, Australia

10 June, 2011

21 Medowbrook Promenade, Currambine

I love this house!!!!!!

It has a small pool and decent sized bedrooms and, from the front yard, you can see the Indian Ocean. It is minutes away from the train and they are asking just a pittance.

The strategy here is to be more attractive than the other ten families that came through the house with me. According to the realtor, this means more money. They are asking $480/wk and I will offer $525. Tis is less than the Joodalup house that I like so much, but it is a much bigger and nicer house,

Some pictures:

The Ocean is the straight blue line. Yes it is far off, but you can see it.

Here is the pool. It is small, but it would be wonderful on a hot summer day. There is also a shade sling.

There is a little wall separating a room off of the kitchen from... another room off of the kitchen. I am thinking that one is a school room and one is a living room.

There is an additional room at the front of the house that is kind of a sitting or media room. This shot was taken from the dining room off of the kitchen.

Here is a wonderful picture of my left thumb... And a gas range.

From the front room there is a hall that goes into first a study and then the master bedroom. From there the hall beds to go to the other three bedrooms, a laundry room and three bedrooms. All of the bedrooms are above normal size.

I don't have a picture of it, but there is a separate bath room and WC.  The toilet is being shy off to the right.


A New Strategy

After speaking with some of the other people going through the house I just tired on Galleon Street, I think that a change of strategy might be in order.

I order to get my family into. House when they arrive in two weeks, I think that I should be applying for everything that I see. If it fits and and isn't completely offensive, I should put in an application. Tis means that the stinky 70s throwback house in Stirling should get an application as should the house with the too small bedrooms. We will try a shorter lease on those and see if we can't trade our way up.

Of course the hope is still that the Joondalup house will come through. The owners are thinking on the applications now. They MIGHT get back to me over the weekend, but there is no guarantee that they will either get back to me at all and, if they do, that the answer will be in the affirmative.

I would hate to have to move everybody into a vacation (holiday) rental at some outrageous rate only to move everybody again. I would rather get something at a nominal rate that is sub-optimal and have everyone appreciate the upgraded place all the more.

What do you think? Use the comments section to voice your opinion.

Location:Joondalup, WA, Australia

The Oz Cinema Experience

Wow. I am sitting in a very plush theater. The cinema at he main Joodalup mall is all velvet and curtains. The ticket prices are Hightower for adults ($17.00) but that is not completely out of line for a high class heater on a Friday night.

One thing that was odd for me was that there was no marquee showing the moving and their show times. The movies now playing were printed and displayed on a cardboard stand without the times. I had to ask at the ticket counter. I may have missed the listings as I kind of came in a side door.

I, of course, started up a conversation with the ticket taker and he insisted on giving me some of the MUST SEE Australian movies. On his list are: The Castle and Chopper. I also received an accent lesson. In Castle the A is pronounced like a person from Boston saying "car".

Another interesting tidbit is that the cinema doesn't show rated R movies.

Anyway, I saw "Super 8" and I give it a thumbs up. It has a little bit opt everything for everyone, but might be a tad too scary for younger children. I'd say 12+.

Location:Joondalup, WA, Auatralia

2 Galleon Road

I am sitting out in front of another house to look at. There is a 90minute wait between now and the time of the showing. I have taken some pictures of the property and will try to have this posted before I actually take the tour.

The front yard looks like it has been given up on, but that seems pretty typical of this neighborhood. I suspect that not much grows. Although the neighbor had a healthy flower garden in full bloom (and I thought that this was the winter).

From the street I can see a lemon tree in the back yard. This will belay any fears of scurvy striking the family in the near future. We can just go out into the back yard and suck on the tree.

This is, so far, on my B list, with the Joonalup property still heading the list.

I spoke with the agent's assistant at 1:00, it now being 3:00, an she said that the property owner and the agent were in a meeting about the property then and that she would call me as soon as she had an answer.

Wow... Long meeting.

I am going to trot off to the local Mackers and grab a cheeseburger and post this on the free WiFi.

Maybe this will be the dream house once I see the inside.

God provides for the birds in the trees... How much more does He love me?

And as an add on note, I just met some of the neighbors. Ruben is ten years old and they have another son who is fourteen and a thirteen year old daughter. I did not get to meet either of the teen agers though.

Jo, the mom, seems nice enough. She just moved here in January herself, but from just a little further out of town. We laughed about the weather differences. They were in jumpers (sweaters) and I am in a t-shirt.

The ocean is just a stones throw away and you can smell the salt air from here. You can also readily hear Marmion Ave, a major thoroughfare, which is just meters away, though it is separated by a fence and a vegetation wall. Jo says that kids will drag race on the road on weekend nights, so sometimes you have to deal with that noise.

Jo and foamily have been watching the previous occupants move and then a crew come in and clean up the place. It is good to know that some time and dare was taken to make the place ready for new occupants.

The local public school is walking distance away and is, according to Jo, a good one. This isn't really a concern for us, but it is nice to know.

380 flinders Street, Nallamara, WA

I wasn't turned off by the agent showing up 20 minutes late.

I wasn't really turned off by the major street running in front of the house.

I could live with the lack of ANY yard (it was all paving and landscaping).

I might be able to live with the layout of the house, which was pretty awful.

I cannot, however, live with the hundreds and hundreds of dead cockroaches (yes, at least they were not live cockroaches) that they didn't bother to clean up after they let loose the bug bomb.

In it's favor though.... It was cheap.

Location:380 flinders Street, Nallamara, WA, Australia

Joondalup Public Library

While waiting for word back on the lease on a property here in Joondalup, I
have taken the opportunity to visit the local public library. The city of Joodalup has four libraries. The main branch, near the city hall, is open seven days a week, while the rest are not. This library is nice, but is not as large as the large libraries I have visited back in Minnesota. I would put this one on par with the RumRiver library in Anoka, MN, USA.

The process for getting a membership is easy enough. You simply need to prove residency. A signed lease would do the trick, if I had one on me. Tree are no membership fees and you can check out up to ten items at a time in each card. Our children can have their own cards.

The children's section is colorful and geared towards the stroller set. They also have a teen lounge filled with bean bags and moody vampire novels. (It is a small world.)

Downstairs is a reference library and a local history section. I have not yet visited down there as I am waiting (fretfully) for a phone call from the realtor and don't know if I can take a call down there. From where I am I can dodge out the front door quickly.

Behind the library is the city hall and behind that is a little preserved land, they have recently had a bit of a brush fire there and the trees are all scorched, but they appear to be coming back.

Apparently this is also kangaroo country, as thee are cautionary signs warning of the critters on the road next to the library. Mind you that this is directly next to the government center and library. I did hang out for a while until my parking time expired (AU$0.60 per hour), but no kangaroos presented themselves for a photography session.

Waiting for a Lease

I went to see a great property on Wednesday. The best part, by far, was meeting the neighbors with small children. Their names are Tony and Jo. They have kids Lilly and Ryan which are close in age to Oliver, James and Hannah.

Having looked through the house I am sold on it. The other houses that I have seen do not suit us. Either e bedrooms are way to small or the house is way to old (and smelly - if you now me you know how sensitive my sense of smell is).

I out in my lease application on Thursday morning and hopped to hear back from them by Friday morning. It is now 12:35 in the afternoon and I have no word. I did call at 11:00, but the agent was "tied up". I want to call again, but am afraid of coming across as a stalker.

So, I was in the neighborhood at the Joondalup library and decided to make a drive by of the property. I am sitting here watching the neighborhood go about it daily routine unaware that it is being observed.

The mail carriers has just gone by on his rounds on his motorcycle and a student driver jus pulled away from a curb. Apparently this is a good place for that as there are loops anadromous very little traffic. It appears that the student driver is practicing parking at the curb and starting up on a hill.

Still waiting...

Location:Joodalup, WA, Australia

04 June, 2011

Life is a Round Table

4:00am and the alarm clock is already sounding. I had set two alarms on my regular alarm clock and another two on my little computer (which will run on batteries if we lose power). I hit the snooze alarm a couple of times but the alarms are programmed to all go off within minutes of one-another and I am actually up and out opt bed by 4:05am.

My chauffeur, Josef, is also up at this time and he manages to finish his shower before I finish mine. I wake up the kids at around 4:30am and say my goodbyes. They fall immediately back into sleep and I doubt that they will remember our final moments together on this continent. I kiss m wife goodbye and head downstairs.

The computers that I am taking have been charging overnight, and one had a long backup running. All of my data is backed up on multiple drives and is split up enough so that if any of the bags are lost, we can recover all of our important information (mainly pictures).

Joe and I get to the airport an hour and a couple of minuets early for my domestic flight.

Travel Tip Number One

Arrive at the airport 90+ minutes early for a domestic flight. I normally don't check bags when I fly and I can just jump in the security line and go. I had two bags to check and didn't anticipate the additional time.

The fine folks at Sun Country had all of the people flying to LA hop into a new formed line to expedite our way through security. Unfortunately they only had two people processing the line and I would have been done quicker had I stayed in my original position.

When my turn finally came up, he printer at the agent's station broke and I was delayed another ten minutes.

Travel Tip Number Two

If you are going to check bags, pay for it on-line. This is smart on two fronts. It not only gets you through the line faster, but it also costs you less.

Travel Tip Number Three

The cheapest fare isn't. We hired a travel agent to book my flight. The agent got me the cheapest ticket...but... With the additional baggage costs it is costing me more. Plus, had I booked it myself, I would have done it through one web site and my bags would have been checked through to my final destination. As it turns out, I will have to collect my bags at LAX and then re-check them with Qantas.

Travel Tip Number Four

As my mother says, "life is a round table". Which iOS a way of saying that if you put good into the world, good comeback to you. And if you put bad into the world, bad comes back to you.

While waiting in line to check my bags, a woman and her small child asked which flight was called over. It turns out that she was on the previously called flight. I helped her to get to the front of the line.

Later, when I was waiting to go through security, my flight was called for final boarding and others helped me to the front of my line. I would not have made it were it not for the kindness of strangers.

Travel Tip Number Five

You don't need to be wearing shoes to board the aircraft. I ran from security. It helps to know the layout of the airport so that you can pace yourself too.

Travel Tip Number Six

Kindness negate kindness. I am writing this as the only occupant of an exit row. I got to stretch out and relax after my heroic boarding of the aircraft. I was nice and niceness came back... But that's not just a travel tip.

We are approaching our destination and I must turn this off soon. St. Anthony travels with me. :)

Location:In the sky over the United States

02 June, 2011

Changing Money

We (read I) haven't been too good at watching the money markets and timing our purchase of Australian currency. When you wait until the last minute like we are want to do, you sometimes end up paying a premium.

When we started this process, the US dollar was trading above the Australian dollar. So, for every US dollar you would surrender to the bank, you would get back one Australian dollar and some change. The value of the dollar has dropped significantly in the last few months and now the US dollar only buys about .93 Australian dollars.

When you change your money in person with cash at TravelEx desk at a US Bank in downtown Minneapolis, this rate drops to .81! Ordering currency through the same company's web site gets you .83.

We found that if we bring greenbacks into the American Express office in Perth, that we get .92!! This is a great rate relative to the others. So, I will be exchanging about $1,000 locally at the sucky rate and bringing the rest of my greenbacks to Perth and exchanging them there.

This whole messing with money has caused us no small measure of stress. I hope that by reading this you might find our solution works for you too.

Be sure to call the American express office to check the rate. Although I have an Amex card, they told me that I didn't need it to exchange currency. I will let you know how that goes.

Location:Minneapolis, MN