It is Sunday morning (Saturday around 6 p.m. for my Pacific Standard Time friends) and I have just returned from my marketing in Coburg. I am currently housesitting (and cat sitting) for a lovely couple – the daughter of a couple I stayed with in Bendigo last December.   Many of you know my hesitation in coming back to Australia this year. The email from J’s daughter tipped the scales and here I am, happily ensconced in a nearly new three bedroom with my very own room and bath, full kitchen with lots of pots and pans to use (some of which I don’t quite know what to do with) and a couple who has urged me to help myself to the perishables in the refrigerator and the pantry. Say no more.
  The house where I’m staying is just a few blocks from the train station and shops. Shops with names like Ottoman Kabobs and Pizza, Pantheon Cakes, Parthenon Shoes, Continental Groceries, Dong Natural Therapies, etc. line the Coburg section of Sydney Road, a main north-south artery.  There is also a plethora of Asian-owned variety stores where a person can find everything from salad spinners to ladies’ girdles. My stops this morning included the fruit and veg stand (a kilo of mandarin oranges for $1.99; a kilo of gigantic navel oranges for $0.99), Crystal Bakery (a terrific apricot Danish), Coles supermarket (various and sundry items) and finally to Al Alamy,(which in Arabic translates to “world of foods”) a grocery and café that has the very best flat white in the area. Joey and George, the baristas there, have memorized my order. So far I’ve received two free coffees. Not sure what that’s about, but I’m grateful for the treat.
   Melbourne reminds me of the American Midwest – specifically, Kansas City, where I lived for 16 years. Much of the architecture is of the same mid-19th Century vintage. And the other day I smelled something that was vaguely familiar, something that evoked a feeling of nostalgia … fallen leaves. Maple leaves, actually.  I’ve lived in the southern California desert so long that I have almost forgotten that there are places where trees lose their leaves.
   I do have responsibilities while I’m here, though. Actually a responsibility named Willow, who is an adorable (if a little needy) kitty-cat. I arrived to an empty house, but knew that there was a cat in residence. After a couple hours moving a suitcase, using the bathroom, getting comfortable, no feline showed up to investigate, so I deduced that the cat was outside or in hiding under a bed. Turns out that she was where she usually is – hidden under blankets on the couch. And I do mean under.  I had to pull back her covers to get the photograph. When she’s out from under, she’s talking to me about being hungry, or needing to go out or wanting attention. She’s quite content sitting on my lap while I work. Makes it harder to reach the keyboard, but it is cozy.
   I arrived Melbourne and was greeted by the worst weather they’d seen so far this Fall – 9 degrees C (about 48 F) and raining cats, dogs and ponies. For all that, I was still grateful to be out the Sonoran Desert, where the temperature was 104 the day I left. And even though I’ve been cold a great deal of the time since I’ve been here, Mom had a point when she said that you can always put on enough clothing to get warm, but you can never take off enough to get cool. True. The photo to the right is a view down O’Hea Street looking toward Sydney Road.
   In the past weeks, I’ve spent a good deal of time working on queries and scouting out how to make my blog better. In fact, there just happened to be a writers’ conference in progress when I arrived and I participated in a class concerning that specific topic.  Don’t worry – you won’t really notice anything besides a new look. My readers should also find it much easier to get email updates and so on. There might be a RunNorthGoWest Facebook page in the works, too, so all of you will have to Like RNGW on Facebook.
More soon – about Blooms Day.

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