T-minus seven days to...
Pickle and I will be heading off to beautiful Hawai'i in just two days, and in one week, we'll officially be teammates for life! We're so psyched for the whole trip - not only for our once-in-a-lifetime start to our new adventure, but to see our families and make some amazing memories together too! We'll be spending 9 days on Oahu before visiting Kauai and the Big Island for some honeymoon time.
I'm sure there will be plenty of memories to share when we return, but for now, I thought I'd share our engagement announcement. It was nearly a year and 4 months ago that Pickle hijacked my Valentine's Day plans (he'd made all of the plans for us on Valentine's Day, so I arranged for a sequel the following weekend, but our Mikadog tore her ACL and had to go through surgery, so it was a month later when we finally made it out.) I planned the whole evening as a surprise - fine dining, tickets to see this amazing exhibition of light installations by Bruce Munro at the Franklin Park Conservatory, and a hotel suite...all (I thought) Pickle knew was that we were going to Columbus for the evening (except that my sister had been feeding him every little detail behind my back so he could plot his proposal!) It was a beautiful night, and I could not have been more surprised when he got down on his knee at the end of a path through the field of light to ask me to marry him. We were both so excited neither of us really remembers what was said (Pickle said he'd had a lot of things ready to tell me, but it basically came out as "Iloveyousomuchwillyoumarryme?" to which I responded "ohmygoshohmygoshYES!ohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshAgggghhhhhh!") We're a little better prepared for the wedding ceremony and we'll have some people there to document it in case we black out from happiness :)
I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory, yesterday. The Australian Academy of Science invited me to present a talk for their East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) fellows and members of the Academy, since I had been a fellow in 2013. The 2015 fellows are having their orientation in Canberra at the Shine Dome before heading off to their summer (for them) internships across the country.
I enjoyed catching up with Shannon, who coordinates the program, and getting to know the fellows. The EAPSI fellowship is sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in partnership with national science and technology agencies in Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan. It was an amazing experience for me, and left me with a strong desire to return to Australia. I'm so excited for the fellows who are about to embark on their adventures!
I was able to spend the day with the group touring some Canberra highlights. Our first stop was the Australian War Memorial. This was my first time to the memorial - it is not only a touching tribute to those who have given their lives serving their country, but also a well-curated museum and archive for the Australian armed forces. I think the most striking part for me was the Roll of Honour, adorned with innumerable red poppies. The flower is a symbol of remembrance of fallen military persons, and the tradition of placing poppies in the wall began in 1993 at the internment of the unknown solider as people waited in long lines along the Roll of Honour to lay a poppy at the tomb.
After our time at the War Memorial, we headed to Parliament House for another tour, followed by question time. I had toured Parliament during my own fellowship orientation trip a couple of years ago, but we had a phenomenal guide who made it all the more interesting this time around. The guides at both the War Memorial and Parliament House are volunteers, and it's astonishing how knowledgeable they are about their respective institutions and the history behind them. I didn't bring my camera into Parliament, as I'd visited previously and cameras are not allowed in the House during question time, but here are some shots I took on my first visit of the national flag on top of Parliament, the House and the Senate...
Question time was quite the experience. In a nutshell, there are questions without notice from the opposition (the Labor party), which they direct toward a specific individual from the majority party (Liberals) as well as planned questions from the Liberals to leaders of their own party. (Note: Labor is the party we would consider the most liberal in the U.S., and the Liberal party is the most conservative.) During this particular session, Labor used every question they were afforded to address the fact that the Attorney General failed to submit a letter he'd received from the Lindt Café gunman to the inquiry on the Martin Place siege that occurred at the end of 2014, a terrorist attack that took the lives of two hostages and the gunman in downtown Sydney. They hammered on the fact that misinformation was (albeit unintentionally) provided to the House and went uncorrected for too long after this was discovered. During their turns, the Liberals took the opportunity to lob questions like "Can you tell us how the current government is delivering on its promise of rainbows and unicorns and making Australia the greatest country in the universe?" to which the Liberal addressee (often Prime Minister Tony Abbott) would respond with a long, self-congratulatory verbal pat on their own back. Throughout the entirety, outbursts would occur from all sides, including scoffs, loud sarcastic laughs, snarky comments and bold accusations. The ringmaster in this circus was the Speaker of the House, the Honorable Bronwyn Bishop, a 72- year old woman with white hair and a bright orange jacket who sat atop her throne-like bench and commanded "There will be silence on my left!!" while warning members if they got out of line again she would throw them out (picture Ruth Bader Ginsburg-meets-the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland). The whole thing was quite the show! If you're interested, you can relive a bit of the spectacle here (start at around 35:14), though I will say that you really don't get the full effect on video.
After all the drama, we headed back to the Shine Dome to await the arrival of another guest speaker, Professor Jenny Graves, Order of Australia and Australian Academy Fellow, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Australia and additional members of the Academy. Thankfully, I presented prior to Professor Graves, as her talk was titled "Weird Australian Animals, Sex and the Future of Men"...and the development of technological pedagogical content knowledge in science teacher preparation is a pretty tough sell after a weird animal/sex talk! Really though, it was quite an honor to attend her presentation - she has done amazing work throughout her career and has advanced the field of genetics in astounding ways!
After our presentations, the AAS hosted a dinner for the fellows and honored guests. While the Academy was very gracious when arranging my travel to offer accommodations for the evening, I needed to get back to work the following day, so I headed out before the dinner to catch my 8pm flight. Shannon presented me with an extremely thoughtful gift and lovely note with her thanks for attending and well wishes for our wedding. She is seriously the most awesome representative of the Academy for the groups of fellows they host - no one on either continent was as thoughtful, well-organized and supportive as Shannon during my time in the program! I didn't get a photo, so I'm including one with Shannon from my fellowship visit.
It was a long but exciting day, and I am grateful to Shannon and the Academy for the experience!
Well, we've been back from my sister's wedding for a few weeks now, but I've just been too crazy busy to post. I interviewed for a position with my university before leaving and was offered the job on our way back from Mexico, so between getting started with that and wedding planning, things have been preeeeeetty busy (not so much in the "I have pics and stories to share" kind of busy - more like making reservations, going to dress alterations appointments, having our rings made kind of busy...all good stuff though!).
Kerry and Brad's wedding was SO fantastic! It was a ridiculously fun few days, and I wish we could have stayed so much longer. The resort was amazing; the food was delicious; the water was surreally blue; the people were a blast, and the wedding was just perfect! So much happiness - it was a really awesome week of memory-making. They don't have their wedding pics back yet from the photographer and have asked everyone not to post pics of the ceremony, so I'll just share these from the trip itself...
The time with family was great, and I'm so pumped to be seeing them again so soon (this time with Pickle's fam as well!) in just a little over 2 weeks! yikes...2 weeks...I really need to get back to work! Can't Wait!!!