Above The Clouds

The last time I wrote a post about what I’ve been up to was May 23rd, so I have three weeks to catch you up on! Last week, I hit my 4-month point at the tomato farm. It actually blows my mind that I’ve already been here for that long. You know what else blows my mind? That this past Friday, I finished day 84 of my 88 days. How have I been working for over four months and I still haven’t hit my
88 days?!?! In reality, I’m pretty sure I’ve already reached finished my days, but I want to be extra careful. The last thing I want to do is spent 400 dollars on a visa renewal only to have it rejected… The government website has so much grey area about what the rules are, so I want to be absolutely SURE that I have 88 days. Technically, it says that as long as you work full time in the same place for three months, you’ll have your 88 days. But then I’ve also read that you have to have a minimum of 35 hours each week in order for it to count. Since we’ve had quite a few holidays, as well as lower hours, we often don’t work 35 hours each week. I also read about a website called 88daystowork.com, where you can upload your payslips and they will calculate how many days you’ve completed based on your hours and your wage. As of last payslip, I’ve officially made my 88 days (as a matter of fact, I now have 97.66 days!). However, I’ve also read that in order for it to count as a day, you have to work a minimum of five hours that day. With some of the holidays that we worked, they had only let us stay for four hours since we were getting paid double time. Therefore, I’m ONLY counting all of the days that I’ve done five or more hours of work, which means technically, I have four days left. Let’s hope nothing goes wrong before Friday of this week! 🙂 Also, June 20th will mark my five months in Australia. Everyone’s always like, “Oh, you’ve been here since January! Have you gone to the north? Have you seen Sydney? Perth? Uluru? Adelaide?” “Um.. no.” “Oh, well what HAVE you seen?” “Warragul. And a bit of Melbourne.” I am getting so excited to move into Melbourne so I can see more of the city, and hopefully I’ll get to do some out-of-city trips as well! It’s hitting me that I only have 4 or 5 weeks left in Warragul, so I want to make every day (and weekend!) count. I’m also eager to start looking for accommodation in Melbourne, but it seems like most places only post 1-2 weeks before the move-in date so it’s difficult to plan, which is making me kind of antsy. However, I KNOW everything will sort itself out, cause it always does!
 
So, what have I been up to the past three weeks? Quite a lot actually.. I’ve been keeping myself busy and I usually feel like I don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done! I’ve been staying away from watching tv and movies, and instead I’ve been
starting little projects until I get bored of one and move onto the next. So far, I’m working on putting together a photobook of all of my travels during my two years in London to get printed. I’m also putting together all of my blog posts so that I can get it printed into a hardcopy. I looked up prices and saw that it would be $23 to put together a “book” of 100 pages so I thought that would be great! However, upon putting all of my ten-years’ worth of blog posts in a document (with pictures), it has now reached just under 500 pages… So now, I guess those of you who have been keeping up with my blogs for the past few years can be quite impressed with how much you’ve read 😛 (and I appreciate it so much!). As well as that, I’ve been planning the details of my Asia trip – booking flights I might need, as well as accommodation during Christmas and New Year’s, and trying to set up a loose plan to fit in as much as I can (as I realized that I didn’t leave enough time to fit in everything that I had wanted to!). In between that, I’m making as many cupcakes as possible (this past month was chocolate mocha, and spiced pumpkin cupcakes!), looking at different accommodation in Melbourne, and of course writing blog posts whenever I get a chance. I feel productive, and I no longer feel like my time is being wasted! For the two weekends after I posted my blog, I stayed in Warragul because I had spent so much money the weekend before when we rented the car and went to Healesville
Sanctuary. On the last day of June (Thursday), I went to some friends’ for dinner. We had a potluck, so we had cuisine from Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea. And then my food.. which was 1) Ritz crackers with smoked salmon topped with dijonnaise (my favourite sauce EVER), and 2) Ritz crackers with cream cheese topped with sweet chilli sauce. Okay, so not really Canadian but I couldn’t make a poutine. I’ve noticed that EVERY time I eat with my coworkers, everyone always waits until I grab my chopsticks and take my first piece of food. Then I either get a, “Oh wow, you can use chopsticks!” or just an applause. I’m getting used to it now, but I was so self-conscious at first, when all eyes were on my chopstick-abilities! On Friday night, I went out for happy hour with a couple of my coworkers, which was nice! We went at about 4:30 and stayed until around 10,
and when I got home, Paul had also just gotten back from his night out so we continued drinks and discussions in the living room. On Saturday, Gabi and I spent the day in Warragul, walking through the park and going to the supermarket. We then had a chill evening watching movies and eating chocolate pizza (see the video in my last blog if you haven’t already). On Sunday,
we went to a barbecue. One of my coworkers (Judy) ended up applying for a job in Newcastle (which is near Sydney) and was asked to move the following week, so we weren’t given much time to prepare ourselves for her leaving. Anyway, a whole bunch of people showed up to Civic Park, and we spent the afternoon
eating and visiting, which was fun!
 
The following weekend, we had a long weekend because of the Queen’s Birthday on the Monday. Gabi went to Sydney for the weekend so I planned quite a bit to keep myself busy, and it was an awesome weekend! On Friday, I had another going-away party to go to. One of the full-time people (who had been working at the tomato farm for five years) was going back to Ukraine
because she wasn’t able to get her visa extended. I was busy making cupcakes that evening, so I finished baking the cupcakes before going to the event. So many people from work were there, which was good since we don’t get much time to talk to each other at work. Even my supervisor was there! I spoke with one of the other workers from Ukraine, and he said that he was surprised to see my last name on Facebook, and he knew what region of Ukraine my family had come from just based on my last name. So crazy! Anyway, I stayed until about ten and then I went back home to make icing and finish my cupcakes (I’m determined like that…). Paul ended up coming home shortly after, so we had another drink and discussion session, which has been a nice Friday routine (except for this weekend cause I was sick 😞). On Saturday, I got up early-ish because I got a ride to Melbourne with Allen and Viola. They parked at the casino and then I made
my way to Chinatown because I was meeting up with my coworkers for dim sum. Judy would be leaving for Sydney the following day and I had constantly been saying how I wanted to go for dim sum (which they called yum cha – I still don’t know what the difference is..), so we finally got to go! We stayed for at least three hours and then we went to the Asian supermarket for awhile. Afterwards, I went for coffee with someone but before I get into that, I have to digress into a story…
 
Back when I was 17 (over ten years ago…), I must have been
doing a project in school about my family’s history. My family has a book that was put together in the 80’s, which includes the family tree of the Achtymichuks. After I finished my school project, I took it upon myself to upload the entire family tree onto a website online. That meant I had to type in every name, every birthdate, every birthplace, every death, every marriage, etc. However, since the information was from the 80’s, there was still a lot that needed to be updated (my sister and I weren’t even in the tree!). I THEN decided to search every single name in the tree on Facebook (which took a LOT of time, since I would have to look at their friends and make sure they were friends with at least one other person who was in the family tree) and send them a message about the family tree. I’m sure a lot of them thought I was spam – I mean, what would you do if you got a message saying, “Hi, I have a website of all of your family’s information and if you give me your email, I can send you an invitation so that you have access to it.”? However, quite a few wrote back to me and a lot have updated their information and added their kids and grandkids into the tree, and now we have over 950 names on the website! Anyway, on Facebook I’m part of a ‘Canadian Teachers in Melbourne’ group and about a month ago, I noticed that there was a post by someone with the last name ‘Andrychuk.’ She was planning to come to Melbourne for three months as a teacher, and
was looking for connections before she got there. I knew that I was related to Andrychuks, so I clicked on her profile and saw that she was from Saskatchewan. Huh… interesting. I then decided to write her a message to say that we were from the same province, and I saw that we had written each other before, regarding the family tree. I wrote her and said we were cousins (according to the family tree, we’re third cousins, to be exact), and said that I would love to meet up with her when she got to Melbourne. My dad has no idea who her parents are, and vice versa, but our great-grandparents are siblings and they were born in the 1890’s so that might be why. I also got an email from her parents because they’re planning to come visit her in August, and they want to meet me as well! Such a small world…
 
So back to my Saturday… At about 4, I walked towards Victoria Market and went to meet up for coffee with my third cousin (Breann) who I had never met before. It was actually really nice, and I think I was just excited to speak with someone who sounded like me and understood my lingo! We chatted for at least a couple of hours and then decided we should go for dinner because it was nearing 7pm. We took a tram back into central Melbourne and had hot soup outside under a heatlamp, and then went the complete opposite route and got cold gelato for dessert. I caught
the bus back to Warragul at around 9:30pm, which was a long trip because I had to stop halfway, wait 45 minutes for a train, and then take the train to Warragul so I didn’t get home until midnight. On Sunday, I decided to stay at home and work on all of my projects, so it was a very productive day. Then on Monday, I was planning to go to the supermarket and clean before going to Allen and Viola’s for dinner, but then I got a message from Allen at 12:15 saying he would be at my house at 2pm. I was still in bed, FaceTiming my parents and I had no idea he was coming so early! He then messaged and
said it won’t be 2 (and I breathed a sigh of relief), but then said it would be 1:30 instead! I jumped in the shower, used my heater to dry my hair since I didn’t have a hairdryer (problem-solving at its finest), so all I had to do was grab the cupcakes when Allen arrived. There were ten of us in total, and some were my old housemates from Ali’s house, while others were some of the pickers at the tomato farm (who I’ve met up with in Melbourne before). They were making a HUGE duck hot pot, so I got to see them put it all together. We ate at about 3:30 and it was so much
food – they just kept adding more and more into the pot, so it never looked like we ate any of it. It was so good though! They had noodles, and then in the hot pot, they had added squid, crab, pork, and lots of ginger along with the duck. Since I wasn’t expecting to eat so early, I had already had a late breakfast right before coming, so I was already so full after having one bowl. After eating, we played a game like Dance Dance Revolution for awhile, and then we watched the Marvel movie Black Panther, which was really good! By the time we finished the movie, it was just after 7pm. Then, everyone went back to the table for round 2! I figured I should probably go home instead since I still had to make lunch for work, so Allen drove me home. Gabi was already
back from Sydney, so we talked while I made dinner/lunch, and then we had a late dinner before going to bed.
 
 
This past week went by so fast since it was only a 4-day week, but I started to feel sick towards the end of it. I knew it was because I wasn’t getting enough sleep, since we’ve started going to bed later. I kept trying to go to bed earlier but it wouldn’t help. I decided that on Friday, I shouldn’t go out because it would only make me feel worse, so I rested in bed. Thank goodness I did because on Saturday, I woke up feeling great! Warragul was having its monthly Farmers Market on Saturday and when I looked at the Facebook page, it said that a lady would be doing a perogy-making workshop at 11:30. I went at that time, met up with Akane and Paul (not my landlord Paul – a different Paul), and then Gabi came shortly after. We sat by the campfire, checked out the market, and went to check out the
perogy-making workshop every once in awhile so we could see what she was up to. Eventually, we finally got a perogy at the end, and it was so good! I didn’t stay long enough to learn how to make them though 😦 Gabi and I went out for sushi afterwards, and then we stopped at the grocery store because I decided that I was going to make pumpkin cookies and pumpkin soup later in the weekend. Why all the pumpkin? Well, when I was making my pumpkin cupcakes, I realized that canned pumpkin doesn’t exist in Australia so I’d have to buy a pumpkin and puree it myself. Lucky for me, pumpkins were on sale one week so I bought one for four dollars. Then a whole bunch of thoughts went through my head… so if you’re ever wondering what kind of things go through my mind when I’m overthinking, you’re in luck because I’m about to share my train of thought (and you will probably think I’m crazy for it). I’m just really confused about the whole pumpkin thing. It’s autumn now, meaning they’re selling
pumpkins in the grocery stores. But does this mean that during Halloween, they don’t sell pumpkins anymore? So how am I supposed to carve a pumpkin on Halloween? And when do I get a pumpkin spiced latte at Starbucks?? Is it during autumn, or is it when the rest of the world’s Starbucks sell them in October? I actually spent about a half hour pondering this and had to Google it because I couldn’t let it go. If anyone’s wondering, they’re sold in September/October, like the rest of the world. So I’ll be having mine in Spring. SO WEIRD! I wrote my New Zealand ex-flatmate about the pumpkins during Halloween thing, and she wrote back asking why I was thinking about Halloween in June. Paul said that they still sell pumpkins to carve during Halloween, so thank goodness I can do that since I don’t like any other parts of Halloween. I’m still trying to get used to the fact that it’s cold in June. My life feels completely backwards. How is it getting cold and Christmas isn’t coming?! How do people live like this?!?! Like actually, what is there to look forward to in this cold weather?? I recently found out that during the past few years, they’ve started introducing ‘Christmas in July’ here, just so that people have something to look forward to. And I’m SO excited because when I got my suitcases back three weeks ago, I realized that I had packed two Christmas sweaters and I thought to myself, “Why did I pack Christmas sweaters when it’s going to be 30+ degrees at Christmas?” Well, now I know why… I always have to be prepared! Anyway, back to the pumpkin (see, I bet you’re all thinking I’m a bit crazy now)… I pureed the pumpkin, but I only needed one cup
for my cupcake recipe. However, I got 9 cups of pumpkin! I decided to double the cupcake recipe (as well as put in an extra cup than what the recipe suggested), so I made 51 cupcakes. And now I have 6 cups of pumpkin remaining, which is why cookies and soup are next on the menu. I don’t know why I just wrote half a page about pumpkins… this is why my blogs are too long. Maybe I should stop here 🙂 Miss everyone so much!! Love always

Above the Clouds – SYDE, Olivia Reid
 

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