Back here to be with my OZ family. Annual visits, yes, without pressing the “tourist mode”. It’s the kind of holiday where I pack only 3 sets of clothes and the rest of the baggage space is claimed by food snacks long missed by these folks — born, raised in the Philippines — who now call Sydney their home. The time of year when “bonding with family” translates to babysitting chores, movie dates with the sister, and endless exchange of stories from recent pasts and current interests. They always manage to surprise me with their new projects. Like the newly-refurbished basement that now looks like a hip den where one can spend a whole day Netflix-ing or just listening to good music or reading a good book while the coffee brews. The den is designed for adults. The kids are stuck with their playrooms. 😊

Then there’s the tiny vegetable garden in the backyard. Salad greens freshly-picked here. Found broccoli and basil flowers here and the mango flowers look promising too! Lush and healthy. These greens grow out of pots and tubs but they all look so “full of life” if you’d allow me to use that phrase. The tomatoes are not ready yet, but the lettuce, beetroot, kale, onions, arugula, broccoli and basil are. Oh, this tiny garden gives us so much joy.

I’m not into gardening back home. Condo living does that to you. But I’m now considering a cottage in a vacant lot down south where I can have a backyard veggie patch to grow these salad ingredients. Last night, I threw in watermelon balls into a bowl of freshly-harvested arugula sprinkled with an Italian dressing, some julienned carrots and half a boiled egg. Tonight, I’m harvesting some lettuce for my salad. And some spinach too!

I have this nearly 3 y.o. little boy telling me which plant is which, and even picked some mulberries for me. What joy. Until he said something that sounded like “crocodile”. I paid no attention to it until he drew my attention to something moving by the base of the stairs leading to the garden. Right across the mulberry tree. There’s an outside patio at the back of the house that leads to the vegetable garden. We were going by this same stairs back to the patio when I heard the boy say crocodile. I looked back and had to rein in a muffled scream while still moving away but not before fishing out my iPhone to snap these photos.

This blue-tongued lizard surely gave this panicky grandma a big scare. It isn’t a crocodile, but this reptile nearly sent me screaming. And it’s only my 2nd day of babysitting. Maybe I should spend more time netflix-ing in the den. 🙄