Day 21 – Monday, November 10th

Frill-Necked Lizard

White barked gum trees

Beautiful Flower

F in the Rain Forest Area

Sturt’s Desert Pea

M at RSBS

House of Representatives Chamber

Parliament House

Today, Michael had to take off the vacation clothes and go back to work again, as he was speaking at the Australian National University in the afternoon. However, we did get to spend the morning sightseeing at the Australian Parliament House. AND, since Jenny worked there, we got to have a behind-the-scenes tour of the building. The current Prime Minister is Kevin Rudd and we walked down the hall and past his office. We also saw his wife who was wearing a dark colored suit and bright red shoes. Michael asked Jenny if we could go up and say hello but she requested that she not get fired right now, so we abstained. One of the funniest things that I saw was a bumper sticker on a door that said “Rudd, a dud, dud”. I asked Jenny about it and she said that it was the door of the opposition leader!!!

We got to go into the House of Representatives chamber and saw where each minister sits. Jenny is a Handsard editor which is much like a court reporter and she showed us where she sits during the sessions. Each editor is in the chambers for 7-1/2 minutes, and then has 1-1/2 hours to transcript the session and any notes that she has taken. I would think that it could be an interesting job, but I am afraid that I would want to poke my eye with an ice pick before very long!!

The Representatives were to go into session at 2:00 that afternoon and there were guards checking for bombs while we were there. They had mirrors attached to sticks and were looking under each of the desks and chairs.

Everything on the Representative side is done in Green, while the Senate is done in Red. There are 22,000 clocks in the building and each has a red or green light on it. When a vote is about to happen, bells ring in the building, a red or green light comes on to tell which chamber is voting and the ministers have 4 minutes to get into the chamber before the doors are locked. The votes are not made electronically, but the ministers stand on one side of the chamber to vote either yes or no.

We left there at 11:00 and drove into the city center of Canberra so that I could see Canberra House which is where I used to work. We had lunch at a café on the lower floor and walked around for a few minutes. We then drove to the university and finally found our way to the Research School of Biological Sciences where Michael used to work. We ended the trip at the Department of Zoology and Botany where he gave his talk.

While he was speaking, I jumped behind the wheel and did some driving around as well. It was wonderful having the GPS because it meant that I didn’t have to worry about where I was going, but instead concentrated on staying on the correct side of the street. The biggest problem that I had was that the turn signals are on the right side of the steering column and the windshield wipers are on the left, so I ended up cleaning my windows MANY times during the trip. I first drove to the office of Cox and Vearing who were two of my bosses when I was at Arthur Young. It was fun to sit and talk to them about their practice and mine as well. Jim’s comment was that he “would have known that voice anywhere!!!”. They told me that another of my friends (Joan Macie) worked just around the corner, so I drove there and spent about 30 minutes with her as well. She said that the receptionist said “I think that she said her name was Frances Arnold”. Joan replied “Did she have an accent?” The receptionist said “Maybe”. I thought that she was being VERY kind.

After I picked Michael up at 3:00, we drove to the Australian Botanical Garden and spent an hour or so walking thru the gardens. Once again, we enjoyed seeing all of the plant and bird life. We stopped at the café and had afternoon tea and enjoyed watching a frill-necked lizard sunning on the path in front of us. It is the first one that I have ever seen.

I then talked Michael into going to a fabric shop and then on to Woden Valley Shopping Mall. It was fun to walk around there again, although it has changed greatly in the last 20 years.

We drove to Queanbeyan, a small town outside of Canberra and picked up our friends, Wally and Dale Southwell and went out to dinner with them. Once again, it was wonderful to catch up on their families and lives.

We are both “peopled” out, but have really enjoyed catching up with everyone.

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