Yes, that’s how they pronounce it.  No news to those who watched the Oprah specials.  Lovely city, really.  We stayed with Matt, from Colorado.  Really nice guy with a really nice semi-detached renovated house in a cute neighbourhood.  Lots of rose gardens, brick houses with lots of character.  Matt’s house is right near the train station, which was very handy to get to the downtown venue where we had our orientation.  Before I get further, thanks very much to Matt for his hospitality.  We had a great time showing Matt how to master his computer.  Leon proved to be a very patient and knowledgeable tutor.  We invited Matt to come to Bendigo for a refresher course, anytime.

Aussie day at Matt's - we wore our Canada shirts

So… we met the “gang”.  There were 20 of us from Canada, US and the UK.  Many young female teachers, some young families and a few older teachers like me (3, to be exact, including me).  We had time for some interesting stories about how we got here, what our homes are like (thanks Donna and Neville for the fantastic house and homecoming) and spent a lot of time trying to figure out who lives where so we can visit them in the coming months.  The events included a lot of speakers, some from the dept of education, some from teachers who have exchanged before and a very interesting show and tell complete with spiders (yuck!) and lizards (so cute!).  Overheard at the picnic:  “so you are really good with dealing with husbands.  Six is it?  Yes, I am the queen of catch and release.  I killed the first two.  I catch them…. (at this point I had to interrupt and ask about her husbands?????)  Well, it turned out they were talking about “huntsman”, a large spider that eats other insects.  Phew!!!! Here I thought Deirdre was some sort of an ax murderer.  She lives in a large house on a farm and keeps finding large spiders in her house.  You are a better man than me, Deirdre.  Unfortunately, spiders are a fact of life in Australia.  I’ll have to get used to it.

We got home about 6pm today.  It is already home here.  We missed our patio and the birds.  While I was on the phone, a couple of pigeons were mating in the yard.  Big show of feathers!  And our friendly crested pigeon has a little chick in her nest, just above the pizza oven.  Sooo sweet!  There is so much to look at when we are out back.  We had a nice dinner of steak and veggies and congratulated ourselves for having a healthy dinner.  We are such old fogies, happily at home, preferring our own cooking and company to going out.  I am sure a younger audience is going ewwww!!!!!

As usual, I’ll get some pics up next time.  Stay tuned.

I forgot to mention – it’s the Australian Open Tennis in Melbourne this week.  We couldn’t help but watch the men’s semi-finals last night at Matt’s.  He has tickets to see the women’s finals tomorrow.  I am not that avid a supporter, but it is neat to be here for this big event.