… is all but complete. The most recent step was when Comcast removed my webpage, hence the move to the new address
http://home.exetel.com.au/outsider. We have settled into our terrace in Carlton, more-or-less fully furnished from Ikea. The movers delivered most of our stuff from Boston last Friday, we are now just waiting on the boxes I mailed in the days before we left.
We are really enjoying life just a short walk away from Lygon St. Great cafes, huge choice of restaurants, and only a 10 min walk from uni. Also within walking distance we have Cinema Nova, trams, Royal Park, and the Melbourne Museum and Royal Exhibition Building.
Next week we’re off to Maroochydore for a week to visit mum, dad & Morag. More soon
We just got back from our second trip to Trysil, Norway, having experienced a skiing extravaganza hosted by Olaf. We flew into Oslo and took the bus up (about 3h), as before. Stayed at Olaf’s grandparents old place, just a short walk from the bottom of the ski lifts.
Had some really great weather, great skiing and good company with Olaf, Jill and Marco. We also learned some interesting facts — for example, the spice cumin is frequently confused with carroway. Long story.
Highlights included dogsledding, the skiing of course, and playing Norwegian Trivial Pursuit (only Olaf speaks Norwegian, so you can guess how that went).
>> More photos
We continued on to the Netherlands for three days and then on to Serbia to visit Jasmina’s family. More on that later.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all of you, from both of us
A lot has happened this year that I kind of
forgot about until now. Some
Jasmina’s mum Velinka stayed with us
February-May, which was fantastic. We thought she
might be bored, since she doesn’t speak any English & we had to work during
the day. Actuallly she really enjoyed her time and would have stayed longer if
it had been possible to delay her return flight. My Serbian is not so hot,
sadly, but we have a wonderful relationship despite the communication
difficulties — she likes to cook, and I like to eat. It’s a wonder I didn’t put
on more weight than I did. We did some fun touristy things, went to the
aquarium, toured Harvard, & went up to Ipswich to visit Glen’s family. Our friends
also appreciated her cooking at parties, dinners and birthdays!
The biggest thing was switching jobs, both our current ones finished
this year so at the end of last year we were madly applying for new ones.
Imagine our surprise in March when we were both offered the same job at MIT —
we’d thought there was only one position when we applied. Things became a bit
tense when we discovered that a bureaucratic stuffup at Harvard meant that
Jasmina would have to leave the country for a minimum of 2 years before she
could ever work here again. It was really looking like she would not be able to
take up the job at MIT, which would have been bitterly disappointing to us
both. Luckily we managed to correct things and she switched to a new visa
without the 2 year requirement. Oh, the joy of being a nonresident alien
exchange visa holder. I started my new job in July, while Jasmina had to wait
until November. She’s been loving it so far, & has big plans to make the
most of the gym, sports clubs, anime society etc.
We did quite a lot of traveling over the
year; I had trips to Atlanta, New Orleans, Tucson & Santa Barbara for
various conferences and visiting collaborators.
New Orleans was fun — insane,
but fun. More recently we took a trip up to Vermont for a weekend, visiting
several local food and drink producers, including the Ben & Jerry’s ice
cream factory (mmmm). We inadvertently took separate holidays; Jasmina back to
Serbia, where she visited with her mum and all the relatives, and also managed
to get down to the Adriatic coast for a week. I was too busy to go with her,
but I managed to wangle a
trip back home of my own in September. I stayed with
Stuart & Belinda in Melbourne, Stuart now has his own graphic design
business which is going pretty well. I also had 5 days up in Maroochydore,
hanging out with mum & dad and Morag. Because Jasmina’s permanent residency
visa was still processing, she couldn’t come with me; however, we just heard
that her visa was approved, so now there’s nothing stopping us returning to
Here in our suburb of Watertown we have a
growing group of friends who live close by, which makes entertaining etc.
convenient. The social highlight of the week is the semi-regular mid-week
drinking club meeting down at Conleys, our local. We also had everyone around
to watch the fourth (and what turned out to be the final) game in the World
Series, which the Red Sox won — first time in 86 years. They take their
baseball pretty seriously round here, it was truly a momentous occasion.
Arrivals & departures — everyone seems
to be having babies at the moment. Dimitrios & Feryal’s new daughter Deniz
arrived on April 14th (also my birthday!), and also Paul &
Jeno’s new son Jordan in December. Roberto, a friend of ours who studied with
us in Australia, arrived from the UK on a 1-year fellowship at Harvard. Sadly
for us (but happily for them) two of our closest Australian friends here both
left, Lisa & Reuben for Hawaii and Andrew, Riki and Jessie for Sydney.
The biggest news of all for us was when I was offered a 2-year
fellowship at the University of Melbourne, to start in July 2005. This week I
accepted! We have a lot of details to work out before the return, Jasmina may
stay for a bit longer to serve out at least a year at MIT, after the epic
battle we went through to allow her to take the job. We are incredibly happy to
be going home, the work here has been fantastic, and we have met some wonderful
people, but it is just not home and doesn’t have anywhere near the same quality
of life as Australia. Being so far away from all our family and friends doesn’t
help either. So with a bit of luck this will be our last long-distance
Christmas communiqué, hopefully in a year’s time we will be more or less
settled in Melbourne and making the most of it all.
We hope this letter finds you well &
happy, all the best for the holiday season and may the new year bring you
everything you wish for
Duncan & Jasmina
This morning we went into Dundee again to do some more shopping (naturally, we eventually ended up at a pub). I couldn’t find anything for Jasmina but bought a nice little crystal trinket for June.
Around 11 we went over to June’s place and then I went with Tracy to visit grandma. She was in a pretty good mood, pretty bright and cheery. I gave her Morag’s present &emdash; a picture of Jasmina & I at our wedding, very thoughtful gift. After a little while I bade her goodbye – Tracy’s strategy is to say she’s going to work – and we went back to Junes.
I raided her photo collection, Susi is going to scan the rest of the old photos of grandma’s and send them to me on a CD, hopefully. This technology is wonderful. I gave June the present and she gave me everyone’s birthdays, as well as Susi’s address (incl. email). Then we headed off for Perth.
Moira was there with Ian and Cara and a friend of hers. She’s much better now but wasn’t yet up to coming with us on a walk along the riverbank. We went up to the railway bridge, crossed over to the town side, down again and back over on Perth bridge. Nice little town, lots of flowers around at the moment (Ian said that’s just a temporary thing). We ordered some delivery Indian food for dinner and had a few drinks and chatted.
Got back to Kinross about 10:30, threw the bags in the room and called Jasmina, then went to sleep. Set the alarm for 4:30 the next morning… ugh.
Dad dropped me off at the airport the next day, foggy and rapidly brightening as the sun rose. Got into London very early, Sunday morning and nothing was open. Wandered around listlessly for a while, there was a market of some sort setting up so I hung around for a while and checked it out. Time was running out so I headed back to the airport by tube and home to Boston. Great trip.
Got a reasonably early start and headed into Dundee to do a bit of shopping. Some nice shopping centres and one touristy shop but couldn’t find anything really appealing. Did find a starbucks though.
Back to June’s and then to the home to pick up grandma. She was in good spirits, a little more energetic at 11 o’clock in the morning. We took her round to Emma’s and saw her and Emily, then Susie came round for lunch as well. Watched Monsters Inc. and chatted for a while, managed to get in touch with Steve K. and arranged to meet that evening. Grandma was getting a bit anxious, perhaps because she was in a more unfamiliar environment & surrounded by more people she didn’t recognize, so we packed her back off to the home. Dad & I were at a bit of a loose end so we headed out to St. Andrews, too early to meet Steve but we did some sightseeing and some shopping (some nice stuff but expensive!) The town is rather nice though, very quaint and with the abbey and the castle. Apparently Chariots of Fire was filmed on one of the nearby beaches here.
Had a nice pint in “The Keys” and then headed back to Dundee to drop off dad. Came back and met Steve & Teresa and went to the Inn on North St., which is a pub/restaurant upstairs and nightclub downstairs. Food was OK, beer was better. S & T are doing fine, and little Saskia is a cutie. She was very well behaved throughout the meal but we left after a while, worried about the smoke. Went back to their place in Strathkinness, a small nearby village, and chatted for a while, saw Steve’s collection of Star Wars stuff and Lego (!). He will never grow up.
Dad slept late this morning so we got away a bit later than we expected. Drove down to Preston Pans in the morning and saw Grandad Penman’s old house. Drove around the neighborhood a bit but nothing really looked familiar. The church where mum & dad got married has maybe been knocked down, where dad thought it was there was a much newer looking church. Drove up to Grandma Galloway’s old house, but it didn’t really look familiar either.
Next headed up to Dundee, stopping at Kinross for some lunch and then found Aunt June’s place about 2pm. Saw June, and Susie, and Emma; later on Rachel & Tracy dropped by as well. We went out to the nursing home and picked up my grandma. She has advanced Alzheimers and short term memory only, but she is in good shape physically and in good spirits.
We took her for a little walk around the garden, she is particularly enchanted by little Emily (Emma’s daughter), who is quite good with her too. She had a little bite to eat and June made some dinner (cold meat and salad – a tradition at home!) for us, which was very nice.
We left around 7pm to visit Ian & Moira in Perth. Alas we took a wrong turn and had to go through the center of Perth, which slowed us down enough so that we missed him at home. But we did meet Cara (Ian & Moira’s daughter) and Anna (?) who gave us some beers and chatted until Ian came back with son John. Lovely family, and beautiful house near the Isle of Skye hotel in Perth, just 20 min away from Dundee. They offered us some dinner but we gave our excuses and came home, both of us buggered. We checked in, I called Jasmina and wrote this.