Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by dreamer, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    I was just watching Larry King, (I seldom watch any TV) and Steve Irwins wife and dtr Bindi were on.
    I was wondering if you ever went to their zoo, and did you ever see Bindi? She sure seems like a wonderful and amazing little girl! And Terri seems like an awesome person, as well.

    Oh and, LOL, just wanted to say at the moment I am wishing I were there instead of here.....hope you are enjoying your summer, LOL- we are in the middle of an icey snowstorm, LOL.
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hi, dreamer. Yes, we've been to Australia Zoo, about three years ago. It's literally 1000 miles from here, we were on holiday in Queensland but it was high on our list of things to do. As you drive north from Brisbane up to the Sunshine Coast, you drive past the big sign at Beerwah, with a giant Steve Irwin on the sign.

    We loved the zoo - absolutely amazing. As husband has described, we're zoo junkies. Wherever we travel, we visit whatever zoo or wildlife park we can find. And Australia Zoo is one of the best we've ever seen. Basically, they're ALL nuts about the animals there, as nuts as Steve. Instead of a sign, "This way to the Galapagos Tortoise" it was "This way to Harriet, the Galapagos Tortoise". Harriet was at that time the oldest living animal, having been collected by Charles Darwin on his first Beagle voyage. Harriet was dinner-plate sized at the time. When we saw her she was a grand old dame being spoiled rotten by being fed rose petals and hibiscus flowers - her favourites. Unfortunately, she died about six months ago.

    But everywhere we went we could see the wonderful things Steve was doing. All the money he makes - it all gets ploughed back into the zoo, to expand it, make the facilities as perfect for the animals as possible, to build the wildlife hospital there (a very important thing, with the Bruce Highway going right past the zoo, and all the native animals needing care). It's also a research centre, with universities around Australia working together with Australia Zoo and the Irwins to learn more about wildlife and zoos.

    We didn't meet any of the Irwins that day - they were in the US at the time. But we did get to meet most of the others, including Wes, who showed us the scar on his leg from the croc that Steve saved him from. We got to handle that huge Burmese python (I love pythons) and difficult child 1 got to spend time gazing lovingly at his favourite Wedge-Tailed Eagle.

    The "crocoseum" - I don't know what you saw of the memorial service, but the big grandstand where people were in front of and speaking - it's the top floor of a two storey structure with a canteen at the top. Running up through the inside at several places are a few koala enclosures. There are trees, going right from the bottom to the top, with feeding vases holding fresh eucalypt branches for the koalas. People can be standing there watching the crocs, or sitting further back and having lunch, without even realising there are koalas right next to them. We knew to look, and from a few angles we could see the koalas watching the memorial service too.

    It's good to see Bindi doing so well. She's an amazing kid, but then, she has amazing parents. Bindi has been home-schooled because they travel so much, but home is always where they come back to. It's a small, three-bedroom single storey house inside the zoo grounds but fenced off for privacy. Certainly nothing luxurious or big.

    It's been funny to hear some of the criticisms levelled at Terri - "Bindi shouldn't be being pushed to do all this stuff, she should be in school" - the thing is, all our kids are still on school holidays for a few more weeks. Besides, she's already several grades ahead, so I'm told. I mean, what better education could you get, in zoology, than to live in a zoo?

    I daresay they'll have her back home soon after Australia Day, on 26 Jan. We'd love the chance to meet them one day, preferably back at Australia Zoo. There have been a lot more improvements since we were there and we want to go back and check it all out.

    We're loving our summer at the moment - it took its time getting here. We had some early hot weather in September but it then fizzled out to mostly dreary and cool over Christmas, until the last week or so. Now it's perfect. A bit more rain would be nice, but it seems we've had all we're going to get. The ocean currents are cooling (down a couple of degrees) and that is enough to stop what little rain we were getting.

    I would love to spend time one day, staying in a place where we can wake up in the morning and watch snow fall. I've never experienced that. easy child 2/difficult child 2 has, a couple of years ago. She was on a Young Carers camp down in the Snowy Mountains area and there was a blizzard which socked them in for the weekend. None of the kids minded! It was all too new for them. But my sister spent three years in Canada back in the Sixties, including one of the coldest winters on record, I believe. She came home and said she never wanted to see snow ever again.

    The first time I saw snow, was on a school excursion which drove through the Snowy Mountains. We spent part of a day playing in what we thought was snow - we realised years later it was half-melted slush. Then when husband & I took the kids through there six years ago there was nothing except man-made snow (pitiful slush) and a spot at the top of one mountain that looked like someone had defrosted their fridge. Nothing more, until we got to the Victorian snowfields a week later on a day trip. But we've never stayed overnight anywhere and watched it snow. Maybe this year...

    Enjoy your winter while you have it. Your days are already getting longer.

  3. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    I did not see any of the memorial service, I seldom watch anything on TV. I had seen Steve on Larry King a couple times over theyears......
    My geography is awf,(I suppose it might get a little betetr homeschooling my son, LOL, I HOPE) - I did not realize you were that far from the zoo. It sounds like a wonderful place, and I have ready you post here about all the animals and all in your peice of the world, and it just sounds so divine.
    On TV Bindi seemed so bright, so mature, so very very educated, self confident, secure in herself and LOTS older than 8 and very very personable and kind. Terri also came across as an amazing and wonderful lady. (I had never seen them before)

    Now, LOL< about my snow here today, LOL----truth is I would MISS snow if I did not have it, but this year has been exceptionally strange and the weather has been highly unusual. ANd me and Mother Nature seem to not have coordinated properly with each other. This whole time with my sons eye and all our out of town to the city appointments have been during the times of our most severe weathers for the last 15 months. Every tornado every microburst, every major wind or thunderstorm and both of our huge snowfalls. Me and my son have dodged branches and limbs now for 15 months and we always seem tobe in the wrong place to get caught in all the mjaor weather events for 200 miles around all this time.
    SO- well, I had just recovered from being at RMH last week - took me longer this time......(maybe cuz of how upset and sad I was, or maybe cuz a crisis hit home while I was there this time, and it is far from resolution) SOoooooooo-- while I like changing seasons I was wishing I was somewhere else.....and where you ALWAYS sounds so wonderful, you describe it so well. and it sounds like a instead of crossing all the northwest suburs of chicago today to get to the city during rush hours yet the ice snow sleet and wind, and then sitting in yet another hospital all afternoon------being where ou live just sounded.........very apppealing.
    AH well, your home always sounds like a very nice place to be, too.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    East, west, home's best.

    The thing is, I love this place a lot because I was raised in Australia and so it has always been home. But in Australia so much of what we hear is about Northern Hemisphere stuff, from "Mother England" to "good old US of A". Where, in all this, is Australia? What is the Australian spirit?

    We have some beautiful stuff but we have our dangers, too. Since Steve Irwin died there have been a rash of stingray spearings (that is, spearing by stingrays). There was one a couple of weeks ago, about two beaches south of us here. Nobody is mad at the rays, but it's odd - these things do happen sometimes, no matter how careful people are.

    I put up a link to a photo of our beach on the Sunday pool party thread and husband asked me, "Did you tell them about the blue-ringed octopus in the area?"
    Of course I didn't. We know they're there, hanging around the rock pools but they're shy and hide away. They're only dangerous if you pick them up and they bite. THEN you need CPR and a respirator.
    On Saturday a 15 year old kid was walking through a scrubby area near his home in the western part of Sydney and was bitten by an Eastern Brown Snake. They did all the right things, got him to hospital, gave a good description of the snake - but he died, yesterday. We've got really great antivenin services for all our snakes (including sea snakes) and spiders, but occasionally we still get a fatality. The Sydney Funnelweb Spider is a real nasty - but we've learned so much about it that since a combination of appropriate first aid and good antivenin, nobody has died since the early 80s, when a small boy died after a spider was hiding in the sleeve of his coat and bit him on the arm. There was a delay in treatment (his dad kept saying, "Stop fussing!") and there was also no antivenin back then. Before that we would have several deaths a year. That spider bite, untreated, can kill in half an hour. A woman not far south of us died when she was bitten on the breast by a spider that had been in the bedclothes. She lasted three hours. We've found these brutes in our backyard and they're really aggressive. They will rear up and attack. Nasty.
    Most of our snakes in this area are shy and will crawl away. Other parts of Australia have aggressive snakes and Saturday's attack was probably a snake that got stepped on and was a bit aggressive due to the hot weather (it was close to 100F out there on Saturday).

    I've grown up with this. I've grown up knowing instinctively to be aware of where my next drink of water is coming from; to always watch where I put my feet (not just biting beasties, but animal dung on the farm where I grew up) to the point where most Aussie kids are barefoot in summer. Aussies love to tease tourists about how dangerous the place is, but if you're sensible it's a good place to be.

    Fire is our biggest worry. This is a landscape that has evolved to NEED fire. That's creepy. I just went down to the shops and on the way back there was a lot of fallen bark blown across the road. I try and drive over it (scooter) to speed up its crumbling to compost, but in nature huge chunks of bark just lie on the ground at this time of year, adding to the fuel load. A fire comes along, often started by the almost daily thunderstorms (mostly thunder & lightning, hardly anything wet) and it's like throwing a match onto a pile of oily rags. The eucalyptus and other volatile oils evaporate under the heat and then explode in mid-air. Long after the fire front has passed, hollow trees (we have many) can still be burning, unseen. In the '94 fires, weeks after difficult child 3 had been born so it must have been two months later, we saw one of these chimneys collapse after all those weeks of slow, hidden smouldering, and it set off another small fire. It would have been much worse if the original fire hadn't burnt everything so completely. It actually happened as we were driving past.
    Then a few months later, during a routine morning commute car pool on the road out of town, a small dead branch blew in the car window. It speared the driver right through the heart. Not another mark on him. I don't know how, but he managed to stop the car within a second or two but was dead a second or two later. His passenger was in shock for a very long time.
    Some of our trees are called "widowmakers". They seem perfectly healthy all over, then suddenly, even in still air, a large branch will drop. These leave behind on the tree the hollows where a lot of birds nest. The fallen branch adds to the fuel load.

    Before Christmas I told people about the fires out of control in Victoria and Tasmania. They even had snow in those areas! But those fires are still burning.

    We've been lucky in our area this summer. All that wonderful bush that surrounds us is highly flammable, but we've had no scares.

    I'd love to visit other parts of the world. I love animals and nature, it's great to explore the wilderness in other countries. But despite all I've grown up knowing, I would be very much at risk in another country.

    I've been worrying about all those people copping those ice storms. I've seen a documentary recently about what happens - really scary. I don't know how I'd cope. I could handle a hurricane more easily.

    The scary things are when you are suddenly in the midst of nature reminding you of your insignificance. We have bad storms here, we've had disastrous weather that had the city at a standstill for days and weeks. (OK, only fire has us at a standstill for weeks). I still hate trying to drive in heavy storms and torrential rain. Strong winds are really scary when your vehicle is affected by crosswinds. But when you get into strife despite all your precautions - that's scary wherever you are.

    I take my hat off to you, to be able to drive your son to the hospital in blizzard or extremely stormy/windy conditions. When you're worrying about your child, it just makes it all the more desperate.

    I hope you can sort out your son's eye problems soon so you can help him get on with his life without having to be constantly interrupted by more procedures.

    If ever you visit down under, do let us know so you can drop in.

  5. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    I live in the suburbs, more rural county then the cities I am so close to. Grew up and lived all my life right here within 100 miles, except for one year I spent in SW Minnesota. Now that was a place, LOL------very rural by my standards, and I spent my year on a chicken farm working and living in an old abandoned farmhouse (WITH permission) that had no indoor plumbing or electricity. - all gravel roads around us. Quite an adventure, I was just barely 20. But aside from that I am here by chicago. 4 seasons, no major wildlife unless you mean the people and rat race. Or the traffic.
    IIRC one winter late 70s or early 80s, the wind chill did go down to something like 80 below? maybe? and yes on rare occasions the heat could have been maybe 115 if you factor in the heat index? SO yes we do get a little of both. Our humidity is high in summer often, but not like say New Orleans etc. We get snow but not like say Colorado? We have had floods....I lost my first brand new car to a flood in 86. I am maybe an hour-2 hours from Mississippi River, and I love to drag any one of my kids off to go sit and watch that flow when they are having difficulties. One year we did travel a little bit, not too far, up north over the river up in Wis en route to family in MN and out in MN that year it was VERY dry and fires were a huge concern. Another year up north the river was not really flooded, but then back down to ST Louis Missouri, and yikes the river was quite flooded. I live in an area called "chain of lakes" and we have a couple of smaller rivers nearby, Fox River and Rock River. And one of the Great Lakes- Lake Michigan is very close, as well. IL is rather flat. and up north here is rather populated, so I say "rural" but we are not as rural as some states. We do get tornados, some years are worse than others. One year when I worked at our county nursing home, we spent almost the entire summer with our patients in tornado evacuation and let me tell you they HATED it. I was caught once in a tornado, but it was in Minnesota during a visit, and I had my raging bipolar nephew outside- me on top of him on the ground while huge chunks of concrete whirled around us. I watched a trailer subdivision get blown up and around and crash back to the ground while I laid on top of him. (we were in town)
    But we really do not have many wildlife or mother nature dangers, not really, not here. Oh we have a huge population of deer that run into the roads and that is a problem occasionally..and we have "brown recluse" spiders, but they are nothing at all like other areas have. Our biggest fire danger is when someone overloads their electrical and the neighbors houses are so close by. See, I am in a single family house, in town, my town has 20,000 people, and our yards are all one fifth an acre. North and west of me is more rural, and east of me is solid city. When I am driving my son to eye docs or dtr to psychiatrist or either to neuro etc- I am driving in city traffic the whole entire time, and I am not driving on expresssways cuz...well, LOL to me THOSE are brutal. (I can drive expressways other places, just not here to chicago)

    I really am fascinated with water......ocean, rivers, lakes. Heck streams and creeks and ponds, even. I only visited ocean once. :-( I find mountains beautiful, mother in law lived on top of a mountain near a resort in Bath County, VA (but she died 12 years ago and I only got to go there twice)
    As a kid I was in scouts and for 7 years I spent a month way north Wis camping in tents, (not yerts) and one summer spent a month in a canoe. I have also tent camped in winter (as a kid)
    I have always wanted to build a sun roof room or all glass room, becuz I absolutely love to watch storms etc.
    I also love to watch it snow.

    We moved here 18 years ago to this house in this town, and we are no longer near OHare airpoort, but I grew up much closer and would lay and watch airplanes for hours on end. Now when we go into the city, I am always staring out the window and getting all excited watching planes at OHare and Midway (we go right past both on way to eye docs) but, my kids do not share my fascination. BUT I have never been in a plane, have never flown. I also have always lived in towns serviced by commuter trains to chicago, and I love to watch trains as well. We used to use the train to go to chicago, until I needed a scooter and it was complicated to me trying to figure out how to do so. - since I did not ride very often back then.....I never got the hang of using public transportation. Where I am right now is the end of the line for the train, and our service is very limited.

    I am a very warm person- I mean I am always too warm. Today it is 7 degrees right now and I took my dtr to school in a tank top. (and jeans and boots) no coat. My bedroom window is wide iopen and I have a fan on, pointed directly at me. I took off the jeans and am sitting here bare legged, bare feet, thermostat set on 60. (My door is closed to keep the rest of the family rom freezing, LOL) In summer, I can get often will be in a shower, a bath, or a pool. BUT I do not enjoy winter sports. Never did. well, no as a kid I did. skated on the pond outside and sledded daily.....
    and I enjoy sitting riverside with a bamboo pole dangling in water watching fish swim. or floating in a simple rowboat. No skiing for me, no fireplaces for me. LOL. a fav pastime of mine as a kid and with my own kids is walking alongside the creek, watching crayfish, minnows, frogs and turtles. I also liked to shove a hot dog on a stick and hold it over a fire, alas, there is nowhere anymore here you can have an open fire to do so. - and most of the water now is private owned and inaccessible.

    Knowing me, first off, LOL- I would not be able to afford to go elsewhere, and LOL- I am now afraid to try flying.....but even if by magic I wound up somewhere like SYdney, where it sounds so lovely- I would prolly do somethning really dumb and get hurt, bit or stung or whatever. But gosh- you make it sound so wonderful, so beautiful, even with it's dangers. I suppose I have been happy enough right where I am, with my "modern convenineces" all to my east right there not even 1 minute away and our pretty ruralness 1 minute to the north. And our quaint Town Square blocks away with its brick roads and town gazebo etc. and our waterpark just a couple miles away at the other end of town etc.

    But driving on ice? It does stink, and slush? YUK, slush and mud are both YUK. LOL. and driving on ice in a blizzard in rush hour Chicago traffic? LOL- well, I guess it does keep the adrenalin flowing. Especially when you can open the window and reach out and touch the 18 wheelers whizzing past on all sides - 3 or sometimes even 4 lanes of traffic going each direction and with train yards below the bridge or train crossings full of commuters or El trains overhead....and airplanes all around you trying to land. as you speed along 60 MPH with your windsheild wipers trying to decide if they want to clear the sludge so you can see and the ice under you (no chains on your tires) and the stoplight turns red and the guy behind you is sliding on the ice so even if you do stop, he might not. and last week a peice of an airplane DID fall onto one of the houses by the airport by RMH. ANd everytime I do turn on the news or read the paper etc.....I keep reading that our RMH where we go is the worst neighborhood in chicago..and theres me and my lil guy------traipsing from the parking garage to the House at all hours. Yeesh. LOL.

    As for my son, yes, I am hoping they figure out just how they are gonna conclude this whole issue soon. I think they kinda did last week, they FINALLY set the next appts for a couple months away-------altho we do have one more that had already been scheduled for a couple weeks from now. Right now we feel like the cash cow or guinea pigs, we are not sure which, or maybe a lab rat? Even my son asks- mom do they have us come back so they can send a bill? (it is $400 per visit) Or mom, are they holding me for research for the artificial vision? Are they experimenting on me or are the holding me for future experiments? I don't know, I ask and get no answers. I am immensely grateful he is an easy going child and resilient and goes with the flow so well. ANd last week him and I did go to the museum of science and industry and went into the submarine there and used that for our homeschooling. ANd in Nov we went to brookfield zoo on one of our doctor visits. Watched the dolphins. Used that for our homeschooling, too. We wanted to go in the coal mine at museum last week, but we were too late.

    But yes, you are right- east west home is best, and we are always glad to go home, too. Even when we do enjoy visiting and running around. (although I REALLY liked the ocean in New Jersey by Cape May, and my son keeps telling me he will become rich someday and buy me a home there, LOL)
  6. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    Oh I know- a couple of my biggest challenges to overcome recently----
    parking garages, YIKES, out here in the suburbs we have so few parking garages, and when we enter them, even still, I always flinch, and duck, LOL- I always feel like the top of my car is gonna get ripped off. Actually I did have a CB antennae on top of my SUV and I tried to get it off, but couldn't and it DID get knocked off in the parking garage. ANd parallel parking, YUKKY, we do very little of that out here. LOL. ANd elevators. Especially when I went alone into the city by the elevators and I was in my scooter- trying to summon the elevator with the button and then trying to get in before the doors would close, it was awful, I bet anyone watching got a good laugh. and escalators- I rode them fine as a kid when we went to malls, they bother me a bit, and even worse when my son jumps on them.....and revolving doors- seems all the big buildings in the city have them and they scare me! LOL.

    driving around here near home, the kids make fun of me cuz when we drive past the cows I always point and say "moooo- cows say MOOOO" even tho my youngest is now almost 12......rofl. and when we pass the christmas tree farms, I point and say "babytreees"
    There was this TV/radio commercial several years ago- about an amusement park over in Indiana and it said "theres more than corn in Indiana" so when we are going thru the cornfields every day, I start to sing THAT song....
    and truth told, yes, I also do still sometimes burst out singing the clean up clean up song from Barney the dinosaurTV show.
    So- I DO have challenges even here, LOL. and I keep telling son one of these days we will try our hand at el trains and subways or taking a city bus.