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Delight and Things

a little peek at what delights me

Tag Archives: canada vs australia

I didn’t want to believe it. But there’s no denying this:

autumnleaves_words

Curious, I checked out the info on the summer photo, thinking I took it ages ago. Not so. It was only 20 days ago.

20 days. That’s the difference 20 days makes. Imagine it in another 20.

All of my friends and family back in Canada are currently getting excited at green shoots poking through melting snow. That fact coupled with my ivy photo gives me the irrational urge to throw all of my plans out the window, jump on a plane, and fly over to the Northern hemisphere to join them in their enthusiasm for all things spring.

Don’t get me wrong – I love autumn. It’s especially nice here, when we’re getting the odd spot of rain to help things green up a bit, and the temperatures have cooled down from the 40s so I can get out and enjoy running again. The dark mornings mean my boyfriend sleeps in till 7 (believe me, that’s a sleep in in our neck of the woods) but it’s still light long enough in the afternoon to get out and enjoy the evening. It’s the time when the boys are getting tractors and land ready for seeding, and ewes are getting fat in preparation for lambing. But it’s also the harbinger of winter, which means dark mornings and dark evenings, cold toes and noses, and frosts doing their best to damage my winter veggies. Which makes me anxious.

I know I should just embrace winter. Find some things I love about it. And I will try – but for a little while longer I’ll grasp on to the last remnants of summer and attempt to just enjoy the nice things that autumn has to offer. Starting with a pretty photo of the ivy displaying it’s new outfit.

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Can I just say that it’s super weird that the Canadian cleaning product “Vim” is the exact same as the Australian cleaning product “Jif”? I asked Jamie to pick me up some Vim the other day and he came back, so apologetic, because (and I quote) – “…all they had was Jif. Will that work?”

Actual laugh out loud. Yes. That will work.

Then I had to google it just to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. Why’d they bother changing the name between countries?

And please, no laughter that I just wrote a blog post on cleaning product. (What is my life coming to?!!)

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My two favourite holidays are Thanksgiving and Halloween. Unfortunately, this country doesn’t celebrate either. On October 8th, which is Canadian Thanksgiving, we ate tacos for dinner. I’m lucky I even remembered it was Thanksgiving – I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Jamie, who said “happy thanksgiving” as we sat down (bless him – the Aussie who before meeting me had never even heard of pumpkin pie). So no, we didn’t really celebrate. It’s hard to have a family gathering with a turkey cooking in the oven when you’re family is halfway across the world and you have an oven that doesn’t seal entirely well, adding extra heat to an already 40°C day. And also, we had indulged in a Thanksgiving feast at my grandmother’s house in July when we were in Canada at my special request, so I wasn’t feeling like I’d missed out too much this year.

Halloween, on the other hand, is not something that we could just recreate in July. Halloween needs to have the perfect combination of autumn leaves, cool nights with wood fire smoky smells, and everyone on board to transform their houses into gruesome graveyards, insane asylums, mad scientist labs, monsters headquarters, and more. It also requires the shops to sell tiny bite sized candies and face paints, and mothers everywhere to dust off their sewing machines to create a costume out of scrap fabric laying in the back of the cupboard. It needs pumpkins to be in season (and I mean the classic orange ones, not Queensland blues). So needless to say, we did not have Halloween during our visit back home.

But I was seriously in need of a Halloween fix. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and force-feed Halloween down the throats of our community. Although it’s a bit difficult to trick or treat when the houses are quite often more than 1km from eachother, I figured I could at least host a party and show these Aussies what the big deal was. It was party planning time. While in Adelaide for a wedding I bought a bunch of decorations from the classic spiderwebs to skull lights, and with the help of a few friends even tracked down a few orange pumpkins. I invited the kids down the street to come over for a pumpkin carving night and we created some amazing jack-o-lanterns (after having to explain what a jack-o-lantern was). I got a bit crafty and built a giant paper mache Frankenstein head to hang at the front door. I stuffed hay into my old work clothes and hung my scarecrow look-alike from a noose in the driveway. I created a murder scene in the bathroom. I baked ghosts and bones and had punch with floating hands in it. I even had a good friend who has a cupcake business create some seriously cool halloween cupcakes – awesome!

It was really funny treating people to a whole new holiday – everyone was so delighted with it all and was wide eyed at the decorations and food and everything halloween-y that I just took for granted having grown up with it. Of course, it wasn’t quite the same as home, but everyone got into the spirit and dressed up, and we ended up having a bit of fun. Although you can’t go too wrong with good friends, a few beers, and a bbq with farm fresh meat on it, can you? It’s just an added bonus that a dead Fred Flintstone was cooking it for you.

So – Happy Halloween everybody! Let’s hope those of you who celebrate it are feeling sick to your stomach from too much candy, and that those of you who don’t will one day have a random Canadian move to your town and host a halloween spooktacular.

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I was chatting to a friend the other day who has a cousin who did a university exchange to the USA. Apparently, while there, she had been told numerous times that her English was really good, which clearly confused her, as she was from Australia, and grew up speaking English – so she’d hope her English was good. It kept happening and she became curious. She started asking people what they thought the official language of Australia was, and her two most common answers were Spanish or Portuguese. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some countries I’m ignorant about, definitely, but usually I’m pretty good with the English speaking ones. And also, for every person that assumed this Aussie spoke Spanish at home I’m sure there were four others that knew she spoke English. But still, it’s a bit shocking, seeing as Australia’s fairly big on the world stage.

So the seven and a half months I spent traveling prior to coming to Australia where spent in actual Spanish speaking countries. I was definitely daunted by this fact when I started my travels, but I used it as an opportunity to learn some of the language and eventually came to appreciate the laughter and good-natured teasing that came along with me learning it. At the beginning, I was hesitant to say much more than the basics, inserting lots of “por favor’s” and “gracias’s” and “lo siento’s” along the way. By the end of my time in Central and South America, I had read a novel in Spanish, and willingly started a conversation with any bus driver, market seller, or shopkeeper in order to use it and improve it.

I genuinely enjoyed the challenge of learning to speak a new language, but don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of frustrated moments, and I honestly found conversing was exhausting. Rather than having a casual chat, during every conversation, no matter how small, I had to be totally focused. I had to listen carefully (especially to those rapid fire Latin Americans!!), then translate what was said, process it, and form a response first in English in my head, then Spanish. And all in the time it takes to take a new breath. Then I had to say it right without stumbling over rolled r’s.

So I have to say I was excited when I got off the plane in Brisbane on July 15 to be able to take a mental break. Australia is not a Spanish speaking country. Traveling in this country was going to be easy compared to what I’d just done! But I didn’t really consider that for some people here, I still spoke a bit of a foreign language – English with an accent. Or “good” English, as perhaps some more ignorant people might say – although I’ve yet to come across any Australian who didn’t know Canada speaks English. In fact, half of them ask me whether or not I speak French as well. So kudos to Aussies for knowing the official languages of Canada!

So here I am in Australia, and yes, we are all speaking English, but sometimes when I say things, people either look at me like I’ve just spoken in Russian or they respond with something that is completely unrelated, simply having guessed at what came out of my mouth. For the most part, people understand me and simply giggle slightly when I say ‘tomayto’ not ‘tomaahto’, but there are a select few who need me to repeat every second sentence.

I’ve found that the one word that stumps most people is ‘water’. Like when I’m at a pub or a bar or even someone’s home and I ask for a glass of water. Not that crazy a request, but it generally results in mass confusion and I have to get my boyfriend to explain. So, fairly quickly, I learned how to pronounce water in Australian…. ‘wuaahdeh’. And it works like a charm – whenever I ask for it, I get exactly what I want, with no baffled looks and no repetition. As time goes on I continue to find words like this, or terms, that I have begun to say in an effort to be understood. (Some may say this is assimilation, and perhaps it is, but sometimes I hate being pegged as a foreigner and having to have a conversation about it when all I want to do is pay for something or order a coffee or post a letter!)

Generally speaking, Australians love to shorten words – some well known ones are mozzie (a mosquito), barbie (the barbeque), blowie (a blowfly), footy (AFL football), uni (university), sunnies (sunglasses)… the list goes on. Then there are some terms that are different, and although not elongated, just much longer. I laughed when I saw street signs saying “overtaking lane” vs the Canadian “passing lane” – the Canadian version is much shorter. And on a playground we went on the “slippery dip”, not the “slide” – really? what kid can say slippery dip more easily than slide? Then when it comes to money, they have no short term for their coins – they’re referred to as # cent pieces or # cent coins (or dollar coins, 2 dollar pieces, etc.) where as in Canada we have the penny, dime, nickel, quarter, loonie, and toonie (1c, 5c, 10c, 25c, $1, $2). Seems every language has their shortcuts.

And although we all speak English, our countries have different expressions and sayings. One of my favourites is ‘a bit puffed’ for ‘tired’, it sounds so much happier, somehow. I’ve adopted the expression “far out!” when I’m particularly exasperated by things (for example, I’ve stubbed my toe for the third time that day) in replace of the F word when I’m trying to watch my language. And I’ve pretty much replaced the boring old “lots” with the Aussie “heaps” – to the point where my sister tells me to come back to Canada whenever I tell her “I miss you heaps” or “we’ve got heaps of lettuce growing”. I also am highly addicted to using the word ‘reckon’ in place of ‘think’. For example, “I reckon we need to stop for petrol in the next town” or “What do you reckon, should we buy an ice cream while we’re there?” Then – there are some words that are the same that have different meanings. For example, the term “rubber” is commonly used to refer to an eraser… not so in Canada, where it refers to a condom (which is sometimes called a ‘franger’ in Aus). The first time I heard the term it was used casually in conversation by a child – “Mom, do you have a rubber I can use?” and I nearly choked on my drink.

Here’s a few other words/terms I had to learn (most easily sorted out by context):

chook – a chicken

snag – a hot dog sausage

stubby – beer in a glass bottle

whinge – complain

pissed – drunk / on the piss – drinking

“my shout” – i’ll pay

crook – to be sick

sand shoes – running shoes

bikkie/biscuit – cookie

sauce – ketchup

trackies – sweat pants

chewie – chewing gum

dunny – outhouse

smoko –  coffee break

icy pole – popsicle

yakka – hard work

in good nick – in good condition

stickybeak – a nosy person

flash – fancy

And if you’re interested in trying to decipher what it is that I say on a daily basis, take a look here and here. It was kind of interesting taking a look at terms that might confuse other people while I simply think they’re normal – made me realize that people might not know what I’m talking about when I start referring to hydro poles, toques, and washrooms. And if you’re keen to check out more Australianisms, take a look here and here.

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As you know, I come from a ski resort. But I am not a winter fan. And unfortunately, it’s officially winter here now – although I can’t complain too much because I’ve yet to have snow coming in over the tops of my boots or to scrape the ice off the windsheild before starting the ute up in the morning. Bonus! Although it can get a bit fresh here and I do like to light the fire the second we get home from work and I did have to purchase a column heater for our bedroom, it’s not too bad in the grand scheme of winter.

A funny thing that I’m discovering here is that things in the garden are growing! What? In winter!? Because we’ve been getting a little bit of rain, things are sprouting and the bulbs are coming up (although randomly, in the middle of the lawn… odd planting practices by the previous inhabitants of the house I suppose) and the rose bushes are growing tiny new branches. I have to admit I really want to give the garden some tender loving care so it can at least take the eye away from the industrial decoration which is the tanks and the pipes and the clothesline, buuuuuut I’m at a bit of a loss as to what I’m supposed to be doing because at home, nothing grows in winter. Nothing. Thank goodness for the internet and for wise friends!

I’ve planted a small veggie patch in which I’ve put some winter veggies: cauliflower, beetroot, broccoli, silverbeet, and carrots, but the seeds are slow to sprout and I’m unsure whether it’s the soil, the temperature, or my lack of experience in sowing. Probably a combination of all three. After getting frustrated, I started some seedlings inside and they seem to be doing alright, so hopefully in a few weeks they’ll establish a big enough root system that I can transplant them.

Luckily, I’ve found this handy sowing guide for Australia that will hopefully give me a bit of help in keeping my garden going. For those Canadian friends who are reading this, I offer you no support. You have it easy, with a clearly defined growing season, ample precipitation, and a non-frying sun. But I do wish you the best for your summer veggies which should be growing nicely in the sun at home right this very minute.

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