The Australian sun is hot, intense and can feel like it’s burning right through you. So when I accidentally sat on and broke my sunglasses or my sunnies as they are referred to here, I still did my best to try and wear them anyway. I’ll look tomorrow for replacements because sunnies are not really optional here. I guess I should have brought an extra pair or maybe I should just try not to sit on them next time.
One of my current units at UWA is called Indigenous People and Social Work. Indigenous studies is a very important topic in Australia and so it is no surprise that this is one of our first units. I feel like everything I previously learned and read about the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities is now being reinforced, expanded and given a new Social Work perspective. I hope that by the end of this unit I will begin to see my knowledge deepen beyond a superficial understanding. A documentary that was recommended to us is Putuparri and the Rainmakers. I’m not sure how you would get ahold of it in the US but in Australia you can stream it through SBS On Demand. This documentary talks about Aboriginal culture, history, land rights, the law and so much more. It is yet another perspective and another group of voices to add to my understanding and appreciation for Aboriginal life, history and culture.
We can easily compared the weather here in Perth to the weather in Sacramento. Although the patterns may be a bit different, the average highs and lows are pretty similar and both areas are also known for their droughts. The only major difference is that, on average, Sacramento gets two more inches of rainfall a year. It’s currently winter in California and Summer in Perth but there has been an unusual amount of rainfall in both places which has lead to widespread flooding. Although it needs to be mentioned that despite some unseasonably cool days, the rain here has been accompanied by warm and muggy weather so it’s definitely not winter here.
In Australia there has been enough water to create a waterfall on Wave Rock where Ryan and I visited on our trip in 2014. It’s probably amazing to see in person but possibly dangerous to get to currently because the flooding has been along both the Swan River and the Avon river. Here are a couple news articles if you’re interested: WA Towns Flooded and Heavy Rain Wreaks Havoc. The Swan River runs right in front of our apartment in Perth but the flooding hasn’t been in our area and we checked out the swollen Avon river while we were out in Brookton this weekend. Some of the bridges to the north of Brookton are close to being covered and some of the places mentioned in these news articles are names we recognize because it’s an area where we could potentially work in the future.
As for Sacramento, my parents are a couple feet away from flooding which isn’t uncommon but if you can see in the picture of us, we’re standing on the deck and the grass below us is typically completely dry. For a good number of years, the Sacramento river hasn’t even flooded it’s banks. But now thanks to a very wet winter, not only is the drought in Northern California mostly over, some of the dams are reaching capacity and causing potential problems. Evidently there is a spillway near Oroville (Thousands in California Told to Evacuate) that could possibly break sending water down the Feather River which feeds into the Sacramento River above my parent’s home. My parents don’t need to evacuate yet but they have a plan and places to stay if needed.
Please pray for those being impacted by the flooding in both Western Australia and in California.
Today it rained. We have given back the car we were borrowing and our umbrellas are packed in our shipment that will be arriving (hopefully) next month. So we worked out the least wet route to church. And this happens to be the same as the route we would take on a super hot day:-)
Thankfully we had a few things going for us this morning, it was not pouring rain, the rain was warm and there are a couple of different bus options. But we were grateful to have an overhang to take refuge under since there was no covering at this particular bus stop. We made it somewhat dry to church and it was clear enough to walk home this afternoon through the city.
Maybe the Perth weather got the memo that we’re missing the California rains. It’s forecasted to rain 3 inches tomorrow!
Since we don’t have the snow to remind us that Christmas is coming, we have to rely on decorated shopping malls, cheerily lit homes after dark and our own Christmas traditions to help us get in the spirit of things. Some of these things are on pause for us because we’re in transition but I can still do my best to celebrate what I can and savor the traditions I can still enjoy. Here are 14 ways that I try to remind myself of the good things about the holidays and enjoy the anticipation of Christmas.
- I blogged last week about The Season of Advent. Having Advent reading, an Advent wreath and pausing at least once a day to read scripture and pray through the season reminds me of what is important during the holidays.
- Christmas music! Once Thanksgiving has been celebrated, I am all for Christmas music. Christmas music in the car, Christmas music at home, Christmas music in almost every store I walk into. I love a good mix of secular favorites and Christian songs. Each are festive in their own way. It all makes me happy.
- Baking and making delicious goodies. I will do a little baking this week but I look forward to making cinnamon rolls for my family to enjoy one morning and I’m sure there will be cookies made at some point too. My tastebuds love Christmas. And the smell of baking treats definitely helps get me in the Christmas mood.
- Decorations! I really enjoy decorating for Christmas but this year in our home all we have is our Advent wreath because we are moving. However, I look forward to being in my parent’s home and enjoying the beautiful tree lit for the week leading up to Christmas. Next year we’re decorating right after Thanksgiving and we’ll leave it up until January 6th, 3 Kings Day also known as Epiphany. I love stretching out the holiday season and enjoying the decorations as long as reasonable to my own standards.
- Christmas movie marathons. I will watch Elf multiple times this season. We’ve already watched Elf, The Grinch, Home Alone and A Christmas Story. Tonight we will watch It’s a Wonderful Life. There are so many good ones! It’s fun to snuggle up in a warm house when it’s cool/cold outside and enjoy a good movie. I’m also looking forward to watching the TV classics like Charlie Brown, Rudolf and Frosty the Snowman.
- Walking or driving through beautiful Christmas light streets. Almost every town has a street known for the amazing Christmas decorations. It’s always fun to gather a few friends, dress warmly, carry something warm to drink and enjoy the shining lights and creativity of our neighbors.
- Opening Christmas letters and cards. In my circles, I have a lot of friends who keep in touch all year around but it’s typical to just hear major updates from people at the end of the year. I love opening cards, seeing how the families have grown and hearing about the past year. I enjoy celebrating the joys of life with people and being able to pray through the hard things too. A mailbox filled with Christmas cheer is a wonderful thing.
- Early Christmas shopping. There is nothing better than having your Christmas shopping done early. Even if things don’t get wrapped right away, I love not having to think of last minute gifts. This is definitely the planner in me but it allows me to better enjoy the holidays not having yet another unfinished list.
- Christmas wrapping. Seeing a growing pile of pretty wrapped presents is always cheery and festive. A little Christmas music or a Christmas movie and wrapping with a cup of hot chocolate is a wonderful way to spend an evening.
- Eggnog. So before this year, I never would have said that eggnog was a necessary part of the holiday but then my sister-in-law introduced me to Royal Crest Dairy eggnog and now I’m hooked. Although Royal Crest isn’t available everywhere, eggnog will definitely be a staple in our refrigerator this season.
- The Nutcracker Ballet. I can’t always go and see The Nutcracker but when I can, I always enjoy it. During the holidays growing up it was always a treat to dress up and attend The Nutcracker as a family. It’s such a festive, entertaining part of the holidays. And the music is beautiful too!
- Stockings. There is something that is special about stockings to me. Leading up to Christmas, I love looking at them hanging across the mantle or on the wall if there is no fireplace. Even if we opened gifts on Christmas Eve, stockings were always Christmas morning. And my favorite tradition is always finding a tangerine in the toe. I look forward to making stockings something special for my own kids some day (this is NOT a pregnancy announcement).
- Candle Light Service. There is something particularly beautiful and celebratory about a Christmas Eve candle light service. It’s a wonderful way to calm our hearts and refocus during a busy season.
- Christmas reading. In the past couple of years I would download a Christmasy book to enjoy leading up to Christmas. Today, I sat with the pile of my childhood books that we will be shipping to Australia and read through all my favorite Christmas stories. From The Polar Express to Santa Mouse, these are Christmas classics for me. The Story of Holly & Ivy is precious and The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree always makes me cry. I fondly remember reading these books as a child and I still enjoy them now.
What are the traditions that help you remember, enjoy and anticipate Christmas?
Ryan and I have been enjoying the rainy weather in Northern California. But when the rain stops, we enjoy the crisp fall evenings too. Last night Ryan took the opportunity to step outside and enjoy the moon. It’s the little moments that provide rest and rejuvenation in between the long days of work.
Here are just a few pictures to show our past few days with friends. We were in Bonn visiting my best friend from my time in Germany in 2003. Then we took the train down to Zurich and are currently visiting a friend who I met while he was studying abroad at UCSB and his lovely wife.
It was rainy in Bonn but we took advantage of the beautiful botanical gardens and still had a wonderful time visiting, catching up and sharing stories. We could have spent many more days enjoying the wonderful company.
The train ride was relaxing and the views were wonderful even though we were speeding by and it made it hard to get a good picture of all the castles and churches and little villages along the Rhine river.Zurich has proved relaxing and wonderful too. I’m glad we have another day or so here before heading to Basel. We spent yesterday getting to see a bit of the city and enjoying drinks and dinner on the river.
And today we drove through Glarus (where New Glarus in Wisconsin is named after) and visited a beautiful lake called Kloentalersee in the Alps. It was a lovely time to just be out in nature and enjoy another amazing place with friends.
For those of you who follow me on Instagram @joycandee, here is the picture for the answer to today’s posting. You can decide, was it a good selfie choice?