Sunday, January 16, 2011

"You'll be awright!"

Andrew captures a small Huntsman spider.
Australians have in international image as a rather goofy bunch. Thanks on that to Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin. Laid-back to the point of being silly. Again, image of Steve Irwin getting snapped at by a giant crocodile and laughing about it. ''That mate's a might grumpy today. Would like to take my arm off, I'd guess.'' As he reaches over to do the same thing again.

It doesn't help that the average Australian also has a rather laid-back approach to the creatures and creepy-crawlies that make the rest of the world nervous, at best. (And that I truly believe they ham it up a bit for the tourists!)

''Aww. Those are the yellow-backs. Give ya a nasty sting, they will. But nothing that'll put you in the hospital.''

Australians are really big on things that'll put you in the hospital.

''Ya gotta watch out a bit for those red-backs. Not gonna kill you though. Unless....'' and here they pause to closely evaluate the size of the twins. ''Nah. They should be awright!''

Also really big on things that kill you.

And on ''should be awright.''  (We could make it the national motto!)

The presentations at the Alma Zoo were also informative.

''Naw. These little fellows wouldn't be able to kill you.'' About a small crocodile. ''Could take a nasty chunk outta you though.''

Just a lizard.  These really WON'T kill you, but we think they are cool anyway!
And my favorite about the often misunderstand brown snake. ''Nah. You probably won't die. Depending on where it bites you of course. Worst case scenario is a few months in hospital. Stings quite a bit too, I'm told. With any luck you should be out of hospital within a few weeks at most.''

Slight pause. ''I still wouldn't touch one though.''

I feel like I'm giving away a magician's secret here, but Aussies are actually quite safety conscious.

Think about it. Kids are taught to identify poisonous and dangerous animals and what to do if they spot one. (Stay away from it. Call an adult.) Kids are taught swimming and water safety at school. Signs on the train warn about crossing the rails. And there is a yellow safety zone next to the tracks, something I have not seen anywhere in the USA or Europe. (Stay off the yellow. Simple enough even for a three-year-old.) There is a national sun-safety campaign – SLIP, SLAP, SLOP – that encourages everyone to slip on sun-protective clothes, slap on some UV safe sunglasses and slop on the sunscreen.

The first time we went to the beach there was a warning on the blackboard about blue bottles.  People read the sign, evaluated the risks and discussed their options.  Some stayed and swam.  Others left.  We stayed, figuring that they wouldn't let you in the water at all if blue bottles were the ones that killed you. (It'll hurt a bit, but you'll be awright!)  And we stayed well behind some other swimmers. 

I'll admit, our first view of the ocean was a bit scary.  Stay between the flags?  And what about THE REST of the ocean? 
Having just researched 'blue bottles'' I've just learned that they are what we call ''Man of War" in the rest of the world.  Oh.  Guess that explains why some people left.  We didn't see any though.  And, true enough, the Aussie website informs you that, while you should seek medical attention immediately, noone in Australia or New Zealand has ever actually died from a bluebottle sting.  Maybe from embarrassment at not knowing what it is though!

Right now the news is informing us about mosquito control – in order to avoid Dengue and Ross River Fever. As well as about wearing wellies – gumboots- during the cleanup effort to prevent cuts and infection in dirty waters.

We got car seats over here now too. And something known as bike helmets.

It's more fun to remember Crocodile Dundee, though. lost and confused in New York City.

''What's all the fuss about, mate?'' he'd say.

Of course, Crocodile Dundee kicks ass. Without a fuss. And still smiling.

That mates is the Aussie way.

T. Rex at the museum in Brisbane. 


  1. It is me, Anna's mom, who follows your blog regulary. I really enjoy reading about your travels and travails, and admire your grit and tenacity. Funny but I moved to Germany to give my girls a better education than what I was seeing in the states. Actually, I am very pleased about their German education but understand the many and awful downfalls.

  2. SO NICE TO MEET YOU! You still made my day by signing on. I obviously do NO serious promoting or networking - I barely have time to write most of the time - but it IS good for the ego boost every now and then!

    I stumbled on to Anna's blog the same day I wrote you. She'd managed to keep it secret but I'm on to her now. It is nice to see those faces.

    Have actually been worried about all my animosity towards Germany - Anna always seemed to take it in stride though too. To be honest, the academics as far as I can tell seem to be fine - high in comparison to the USA - AS LONG AS YOUR CHILD IS ABLE TO KEEP UP. WHich is more a reflcetion of the society I believe - FIT IN OR ELSE! Once I made myself 'available' though you would NOT BELIEVE the number of GERMAN moms who came to me crying about their child's problems in the schools. ANd about how unresponsive the system was.

    Very German. It's your fault, not ours!

    I think of all my LOVELY LOVELY friends there - and their children - who really are like family to me. And I know that their children - like your children and your grandchildren - ARE lcuky to have both worlds.

    It just wasn't the place for me and I can see that now that I FINALLY am somewhere that really does TOTALLY fit my rather bizarre personality! Quirky sense of humor but intense too.

    SO I'm glad I didn't offend!

    I am actually beginning to believe I can 'save the world' again - or help a bit anyway, one baby step at a time. I would like to see Germany make homeschooling legal. It's a human rights thing - and I'm American enough for that! It might seem small compared to Haiti and Pakistan and self-immolation in Africa (honestly, WHY DO I READ THESE THINGS?!) but....

    I had some FANTASTIC experiences with my limited time homeschooling - and while I am doing the biggest happy dance ever at sending ALL FOUR of mine to school next week - I do believe it is something I may be able to help with. Want to contact Amnesty INternational - I was involved with them a while back, ANd then those families in Germany who are in jail fighting the system.

    Stop being bitter about my little homeland and do something to help it!

    Anyway - THANKS - for not being offended and for actually signing on!

    I'll be thinking of you as I write now!
    Tschuss - CHristine

  3. I enjoy your blog! You are an excellent writer. Of course you have heard everything about homeschooling and my opinion is that - unfortunately - very few parents do a good job. I'm sure you are one of the few that would put her heart into it. However, being around schools (Anna's dad is a teacher) for many years, I saw too many kids being "homeschooled" in a poor way. The kids will suffer for it.

    As for the rest of your life! Just think about the broad horizons you are exposing your children to. It will affect them forever and it can only be positive. My girls would never be the amazing women they are if we had stayed in Oregon. (beautiful place but very stifling) Speaking of which, you might enjoy Anna's sister's blog. She is quite a dynamite gal!
    Another amazing writer.

    Some day we will visit Australia. It is big on our list (as well as New Zealand). In the meantime, we are going to Ireland in April and then to our house in Greece for 2 months. I am thrilled that Anna, Tom and kids will visit us (and we won't have to go to Germany this time - been there, done that). Carry on being a wonderful mom and enjoying life (the new one!)

  4. I only 'homeschooled' my two for two months. I LOVED it and so did they - but it was TWO MONTHS - and it was supplementary. The benefits I saw were closer family togetherness, way more time to focus on history and social issues we were interested in, way more flexibility and creativity. And the one kid I have that is quick and interested to begin with - Andrew - would be easily two grade levels ahead if we homeschooled. EASILY! Of course, those kids do well in public schools too. But yeah - the parent has to DO IT and DO IT REGULARLY. I read that homeschooled kids actually do BETTER in Uni than average - but I wonder sometimes with what I've seen too! I think the key is to do HOME_SCHOOLING and not just to take the kids out of school and TELL yourself you are doing homeschooling!

    I agree. I LIKE public schooling and I am fighting for that too. My kids are all enrolled in public - not private - schools here and I am already on the Parents and Citizens committee, heading a reconciliaton/indigenous garden project and working (actually will be TEACHING a bit!) with a gardening and healthy eating program. Schooling only works when parents get involved. Since your husband is a teacher I am SURE he agrees! ESP in marginal socio-economic groups.

    Of course, I would never have considered homeschooling if the German schools had been doing their job. Ryan was dying there - literally, emotionally and physically withdrawing in front of our eyes.

    My fight for homeschooling is really more a fight for the RIGHT of parents to be involved in schooling at all. FOr the parents to have a say in what is best for their child. My child was shunted and ignored for FOUR years - with a parent who DOES care and DID get involved - and DOES speak German and IS white.

    Oh sorry - you've read my blogs!@

    But I am the same person here that I was in Germany. WHy am I seen as an involved, enthusiastic contributor to the school here while I was considered a pest and overambitious for my child - unrealistic and demanding - in Germany? I was asking for the same things! There I was a pain. Here I've been offered a job!

    Sorry. You HAVE heard it all before.

    Guess I am lucky to find somewhere I fit in!

    I will check out Katys blog when I can. My computer got a VIRUS yesterday and I am borrowing Damon's. ARGH!

    We look forward to welcoming you to Australia in the future! ENJOY GREECE! Just Lovely!