Austin and Australia Hook-Up


There is a slogan heard throughout my city:  Keep Austin Weird.  I’ll admit we are a strange brew, an idiosyncratic bunch, concocting good times acceptable only to those who live here.  But never in all of my city’s weirdness did I expect to find that my other favorite weird place, Australia, has been tangled up with the freaks in Austin via an establishment that serves meat pies.  Ah, before you judge, think of a juicy chicken pot pie.  Yum, right?

So next Saturday, January 26th, I’m going to drive Hook and myself to a place called Boomerangs while they host their sixth annual Australia Day Party in Austin.   It’ll be like the Hooks are down under when really we’ll just be on the Drag.  Boomerangs will have to suffice until we can hop on a plane this summer.

Yes, our long-term plans still include trying to make it to Australia for Hook’s research sabbatical.   Fingers crossed, we’ll be on a plane as early as July 1st.  Worst case scenario, we hop on a plane as late as August.  Every day, Hook improves and he gains strength and his appetite increases.  As long as this continues, Hook wants to keep Australia a possibility for us.   I put the option of removing Australia off our radar for a year and he said, “No, I want to go.”  Last year it was me who needed the idea of Australia.  This year, it’s Hook.

His lack of an appetite is not a small concern for me because Dr. No is skinny, like Abraham Lincoln skinny.  (I call Hook ‘Dr. No’ because he says, “No,” to everything even when he means ‘Yes Dear.’)   Just yesterday, Hook said, “I need your appetite,” and I said, “Yeah, and I need your stomach.”  What a wonderful switch that would make.  Instead, I’ll take Hook to the pie eating place to fatten him up and see what this whole Australia Day thing is all about.

Hook’s True Handicap

On Friday, I rounded up a short-term temporary handicap placard so Hook could park closer to his building at the university.   Something as simple as walking 200 feet can wear Hook down which makes it harder for him to do whatever it is he needs to do whenever he goes to wherever he needs to go.  HDU_HandicapPlacard

I try to drive him when I can, but since he’s only taking pain medication as needed, he’s less likely to turn over the car keys to me.  Try pulling the car keys out of a man’s hand who is determined to drive while he thrives.  I almost didn’t mention the handicap decal in this blog because I was a little worried people might think we were taking advantage of his situation.  Then I realized we were completely taking advantage of his situation and I thought, good for us.   Hook really does get winded, and the fact that the man was full of a bunch of wind to begin with, well …

The Good and Bad of Australia

Before I end this week’s blog, I’d like to share two Australia-related links.  I always have my eyes and ears peeled for anything and everything Australia.  It’s like when you’re getting ready to buy a new car.  As soon as you decide on a make, model, and color, you see that car everywhere you go.  That’s what it’s been like for Hook and me since we decided on Australia as a sabbatical destination spot.  Whenever I read, see, or hear Australia, the word Pops! out at me.   Have you noticed in the last couple of years how everything is Pop! this and POP! that.  Make it Pop!  Well, pop these links open and have some good reads:

  • Good Aussies:  Australians Can Do Attitude.  If you’ve been having a tough time kick-starting your 2013, or if you’re like me and you need to walk before you can run, then this article will jump start all that feel good, I-can-do-anything, attitude you’ve been looking for.  Just click:
  • Bad Aussies:  Oz Has Its Crazies, Too.  Given that Aussies have a questionable cultural history, is it any wonder that they have their share of crazies, too.  I wouldn’t want my fellow Americans to think only we have the loose and ludicrous.  Oz has their fair share.  Read on:

Hooks Down Under Blog Schedule

I’ve decided to go weekly with this blog and you can faithfully expect an updated post early Saturday mornings unlike today which is a late Sunday post.

During Hook’s hospital stay, I was manic with my posts.  I wrote an abnormal amount, but that was because I was spending an inordinate amount of time in a hospital with nothing to do except fret, write, and waste time on Facebook.   I didn’t mind the over posting because I understood people wanted and needed a Hook update.  But, I’d put my business on hold for December and January and now I need to get back on track with my Hook The Talent events coming up.

For those who are wondering how to keep up when we post, if you click on the Follow Blog Via Email at the top of the page, all posts are automatically pushed out to you via email.  (Some of the more tech-savvy readers are rolling their eyes at the blog-challenged, but just never mind them.)  I’m happy that people are interested enough to read and are willing to keep track with us as we struggle to answer the big question:  Will The Hooks Make It To Australia?

Someday, some way, somehow, Austin will meet Australia in Oz.  Until then, I’m going to drive Hook and myself to Boomerang’s next Saturday.  If you’re in Austin, hook up with the Hooks as we eat some Australian meat pies.  Look for the red handicap parking sticker and you’ll know we are there!

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Australians Are Fun for a Reason

But First:  Vashon Island

I’m drinking coffee on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound while writing this blog post which I find amusing considering I made fun of Seattle in one of my previous posts.  I take back anything I wrote on the state of Washington and instead make claim that I confused it with some other place.

On Vashon, they have these cute little shops and people feed you when you walk in.  Or, I am making this up to hide the fact that I keep buying food wherever I go.  I’m delirious from all of the eating in stores, in the farmer’s market, on tables inside restaurants.

The thing about traveling is that everything looks better.  I bought a pair of black

Yes, I actually paid ca$h for these.

Yes, I actually paid ca$h for these.

sunglasses with pointy lenses and rhinestones outlining the frames which are likely only appropriate for Halloween or if I were to choose prostitution as my next career.   I also bought a handmade, wooden tasting spoon for $18.  Eighteen dollars!  Maybe the spoon cooks the meal for you, too, and then you taste.   I didn’t think to ask.   On Vashon, stores have handwritten signs that read:  We Prefer Cash.  I wish I had thought to leave behind little notes that read:  Me, too!   We have so much in common.  How will I ever leave this place?

While I’ve been stuffing my face on Vashon, Hook and his buddy, Kelly the Canadian, drove down to Port Aransas to do whatever it is that men do on the coast when women aren’t around:  fish, fish, and fish.  The perfect Hook relaxer until we meet with the radiologist on 10/25, the oncologist on 10/26, and the surgeon some time later to find out if and when surgery will be.

Editor’s Note:  I failed to mention where I stayed on Vashon Island  — Sylvan Sanctuary — a little slice of heaven with a gracious host.  Five star experience, three star pricing.  Beat that.  Adding to my failures is my omission of the original Seattle’s Best coffee house  which roasted the most perfect bean ever discovered in the universe.  I bought 20 lbs, some of which I packed in my suitcase, the rest I shipped to my extended family in Michigan.

From Outcasts to Outback

This blog was supposed to be about the history of Australia and an answer to the question:   Why are Australians so fun?    Instead of giving some long drawn out history, I can sum up everything with one word:  convicts.

Australia began as a penal colony when the British shipped off convicts to get them away from England.  And yet, isn’t it interesting that when we think of or speak of Australians, it is with affection.   Maybe all of that law-breaking background laid a  foundation for the Aussie wait awhile attitude.   They either had to get along, wait awhile to get along, or walk into the Outback and get eaten.   There was no where else for them to go.   That might also explain why Americans seem to have an affinity for Aussies.  Both cultures are experienced with learning how to make do with what they have.  A group full of puritans stuck on an icy coast is really no different than a group of convicts stuck on the outskirts of the wild.

We rarely hear anyone say, “That Australian was a jerk.”  We just never hear this.  Usually, the reference is something fun or nice or fun or comical or fun.  But I haven’t gone bonkers on the land down under.   They have their share of strange, too.

Weird Things About Aussies

Readers of the last blog voted, almost unanimously, to have me citizen report on Weird Things About Aussies.

I scoured other blogs and online sites and devoured as much information as I could in a 24-hour period.  Of all the weird things about Aussies that non-Aussies claim, there were really only three that stuck out:

1.  Vegemite:  Aussies slather the condiment, Vegemite, on everything.  Apparently, every single one of them every single day.   Truth?    I don’t know.   I don’t want to know.   Please make it stop.

2.  Barefoot:  One blogger said that most Aussies walk around barefoot and drive barefoot “all the time.”  Surely businessmen are not walking around barefoot but maybe they are removing their shoes when they drive.   Who knows?  I drove barefoot immediately after reading that and thought:  Oh my gawd, this really is fantastic.  It’s almost perverted.  Aussies are convicts and perverts.  I can’t wait to get there!

3.  Estimate driving time in an interesting way.   Another blogger said Aussies estimate driving time by how many beers it takes to get somewhere:  “Was only two beers to get here,” or in Aussie-speak, “…only two beers to get ‘ere.”

Did I say three weird things?  I meant five:

4.  Aussie television stations only show Australian sports on television or will only show international sports if an Australian team is part of the game.  Quite frankly, that just sounds genius.

5.  Australians ride their bikes on the freeway.  This made me wonder if it’s legal to ride a bike on the freeway in Oz and then it made me wonder if it’s legal in the U.S. and it is not (usually).  Legal in Oz?  That I do not know.

Somewhere between drinking and driving and riding on the freeway, it’s a wonder the Australian lifespan isn’t shorter.   Some other less interesting weird facts were that Aussies put BBQ sauce on everything.  In Texas, this is practically a law (BBQ sauce or salsa) so I’m not sure how that is weird.   Another post mentioned how Aussies will wear sunglasses on even the greyest of days. Something about the distance to the sun blahblahblah.  Sunglasses all the time sounds like Hollywood and Hollywood is definitely weird.   Perhaps that should have made the list except it’s not special to Oz so I left it off.

One final Aussie weird is the Friday beer celebration where Friday afternoons are welcomed in with beer even in the workplace.   Are they talking about Australia or Austin?   Beer Fridays ought to be a law everywhere.

The Real Reason Australians Are Fun

They have a sense humor.  I found this snarky advertisement gave more insight into an Aussie’s sense of weird than any list ever could:

This is not a real Queensland Rail ad and it was never meant to be, but in 2010, Queensland Rail offered to let the general public create some new advertisements for them.   Big mistake.  Australian smart alecks like to have fun, too.

If I weren’t feeling so lazy on Vashon, I’d link who said what to which Weird Things Aussies Do, but all of my energy is floating in the water and I won’t be able to pick it up until I take the ferry back to the mainland.   And if you haven’t figured out just how lazy, look at the date:  October 20th.   This blog was supposed to hit October 14th and absolutely no one sent me a note to say:   hey dufus, where’s the blog?


Apparently Australians aren’t the only ones who enjoyed Beer Friday.   We all have our reasons and ways of being fun.  Oh, and there’s nothing to the rumor that they’re feeding babies to dingos.  Where did that come from?

References I was too lazy to link inside the blog:

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