Saturday, June 21, 2014

Australian Adventure

Nearly six years ago, I arrived in Australia with my husband, a selection of our belongings (four suitcases and three on the way), eight books, a B.A. in English Lit, and an entry-level marketing contract with an IT firm in Sydney.

My first day in Australia - palm trees, fountains, and Darling Harbour!
Now it's time for me to return to Canada. I kept my husband, but I've added a Kindle, a professional wardrobe, nicer suitcases, life experience, an MLIS and a career in libraries...  Plus, I can say things like, "Ah, bless," "Heaps," "It's my shout," and "The kids at the library were feral today!"

My contract with the public library is up at the end of this month, and a replacement state manager has been appointed. I've been kept busy wrapping things up at work, packing, and doing other things that are necessary but not fun. There isn't time to farewell everyone, as much as I'd like to, because our flight leaves the day after Canada Day - that's July 2nd.

If you're in Sydney, I'm planning a drop-by evening on Friday 27 June. Please DM/email/SMS me for details.
Celebrating 7 years of marriage, and finally dressed to match Sydney

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the tremendous amount of personal growth since I left Vancouver Island in 2008.  Between being thrown into my marketing role, taking on leadership roles at uni and church, public speaking, finding my profession, making numerous new friends and growing in my marriage, I'm not the person I was when I arrived. Now, I get to take all of that life experience with me, and leap once more - back to Canada.

Harry Potter comes to mind: "I'm not going home - not really." Australia is my second home, and I will see Canada differently now. It was a difficult decision, but Mr J and I made it together. We are moving back to Vancouver Island, to the city where we met and married. I have family there and Mr J has a job lined up. The experience I've gained here has been invaluable and I hope to find work soon.

My home in Canada - ocean, mountains, and evergreens.

Friends - you are lovely, and you've made my time in Australia so much more than the scary adventure I was expecting. It's been "unbelievable, mate, unbelievable." Thanks for welcoming me and teaching me, and for sharing your enviable weather, wine, mangoes, beaches, sport, culture, weekend markets, and so many good times.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Best Books of 2013

I've picked out the best books I read in 2013 to share with you. They weren't necessarily published in 2013, but that's when I enjoyed reading them.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

I received a free copy of this Australian novel at a conference, and now that I've read it, it's firmly on my keeper shelf. Excuse me while I pinch content I wrote somewhere else.

One of 2012′s 50 Books You Can’t Put Down, M.L. Stedman’s debut novel draws us in to the lives of Tom Sherbourne and his new wife Isabel. It’s 1926 and Tom is a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off Western Australia. The logbook is supposed to keep a record Tom’s daily activities, but Isabel convinces him to leave out the entry that should read: Boat washed ashore with two occupants: father, deceased; and infant.

Isabel can’t bring herself to give up the baby girl, and Tom can’t bear to see his wife childless and unhappy. The consequences of their decision are not made clear until years later. A delicately balanced story of right and wrong, and the fog in between.

Spin by Charles Robert Wilson

Spin won the Hugo award for best sci-fi novel in 2006 but it is so much more than sci-fi. It touches on science, religion, romance, Martians and the end of the world. It's a long book, and dense. This is more of an observation than a criticism.  It’s excellent, but a bit heavy – like another favourite, Hugh Howey’s Wool – and I find I need to step away and let my mind absorb the themes.

10-year-old Tyler Dupree and his wealthy neighbours, Diane and Jason Lawton, are in the backyard together when the stars go out.  This would be Tyler's story, except that his life is so bound up with the Lawtons' he can't quite separate himself from them. The novel follows Tyler, Jason and Diane through adulthood and makes some very uncomfortable conclusions about the nature of humankind.

We learn that there is a protective barrier around the earth, keeping it from ageing as quickly as it should under the persistent heat of the sun. Earth's scientists dub the makers of the barrier, the Hypotheticals - but who are they, where are they from, and what are their motivations?