Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

2013 is just about to click over into 2014 and just like that moment when your cars odometer clicks over a special number, it will seem all vital that you experience it and all important and yet strangely totally unimportant in mere moments after the event.

2014 will be an improvement on 2013, as 2013 was on 2012.

As for 2013 I had hoped to leave the whole cancer thing in 2012, but come February I was back in hospital for the Radioactive Iodine Ablation and lost another 8 weeks off work while I was radioactive.  Thinking the worst of it was all behind me I tried to get back into the swing of work and life... but it was not to be. I struggled and struggled until September when Dr Jeff decided it was time to test for all manner of cancers and oddities.  The first tests came back showing there was definitely something a rye (pun intended).  Ultimately I got a clearance on all the "regular" cancers, but Coeliac was preliminarily diagnosed.  So where I had hoped 2014 would be free of hospitals I am, apparently,  incorrect on that.  I go back in in mid February!  But that's the end of it. I am totally over the whole feeling crook senario. AND NO MORE HOSPITAL!  They are full of sick people you know!!!

2013 was filled with wonderful people.  If I began the list this post would go forever.  Let me just say I hope THEY know they are special and made 2013 great for me.  There are some I will never see again. Death and distance keep me apart from some special friends but that doesn't mean they are not thought of.  Distance seems much smaller with the internet being so accessible, but it's not the same as being there.  It IS a whole lot less final than death though.

2014 will see me finish my 100 Strangers photographic project and then work out what to do with it.   I'm stuck on number 64 because I never seem to be well enough to travel far from home.  That will change after February. I also want to spend more time on portraits in general and know a few likely suspects that will get the whole four light set up foisted upon them!  If you are one of those people, fear not... it is mostly painless!  Mostly!!!  I'd shoot more bands at the 16's if some goodies comes up.  It's a great venue for me to practice those skills.  A bit more macro is needed too.  I have a new series in mind too, but I will need the indulgence of a few friends to pull that one off!

2014 will also see me back in the veggie patch.  I'm still planting somewhat randomly. Not really following  a good crop rotation program or even good companion planting.  My record keeping sucks and I need to stagger my planting fortnightly.  So at the moment I get a glut of one veggie and the others are as rare as hens teeth.  I tried growing pumpkins for the first time this year and harvested my first on December 27.  They are messy and run all over the yard, but that just means less mowing! I think I need more flowering plants to encourage more bees, so rejuvenation of one of the beds that runs along the dividing fence is a must.  I have the plants.  It's the energy I am lacking.  Chickens are still a no go zone for me.  I do need to construct some frames for climbers in the yard.  That will have to wait to 2014 now!

So it's back to work on the 3rd for me and the daily grind is drawing closer to an end with retirement in the not too distant future.  But until that day comes I'll still be using photography as my primary escape method.

In celebration of 2013 here are a selection of my fave pics for the year.
Hope you enjoy them too!

Friday, December 27, 2013

64/100 strangers. Not quite enough!!!

My 100 stranger project has slowed.  Almost stalled.  The first 50 were a breeze time wise.  Then I got a bit sick so there was a break.  I've finished another 14 since since then and I am happy with them all.  For the next 36 I want a little more diversity in my imagery. I want to use some simple lighting techniques and venture out of my comfort zone, both photographically and geographically. I really need to apply myself to finding and photographing those remaining 36 strangers.

My first Stranger was probably the hardest.    Taking that first step, approaching that first stranger.  After the post 50 break I found it hard to start up again, hard to walk up to a complete stranger, introduce yourself and then ask them if you can take your portrait!   That is, of course part of the whole process.  Finding the subject, finding the right light and then taking a complimentary shot all in user a few minutes!

Of course the desire to finish the series is compounded by my desire to have the series exhibited.  I am working on a proposal to exhibit at a local gallery and am amazed at how much I need to do and, strangely, how little it will cost to do.   I already have the 100 frames necessary to show the work, printing costs will be manageable and there might even be a sponsor for that.  Catalogues, advertising and running expenses have been considered and the costings pull up quite reasonably.   With any luck I MIGHT be able to convince another sponsor to come on board.   If you want to get involved let me know.   In the meantime here are some of my favourites of the first 64...

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like ......

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas......  well actually it isn't!  That's actually a big fat lie!!

It is hot and the days are long. I'm on leave. Pressies bought, wrapped and under a tree, my first ever pink frangipani has flowered, but it still doesn't look or feel like Christmas at all.

I have about 10 days off work and, as per usual, about 20 days worth of work to fit into it! I started off on saturday by turning over one of the veggie beds. Had just about finished when I was bitten by those nasty flies that are the bane of my life!  I'll allergic to them and even though I immediately washed both bites and hit the drug cabinet they blew up all sore and itchy and lumpy.  Jeeze I just can't seem to win!!!  Still I did get the bed ready for some planting and I could have avoid the bites by using the bug spray.  Too late now for those recriminations!!!  Three days later there is still lumps and the itchiness continues.  The drugs really don't do much!    I've done all the grocery shopping and even bought every item on my "bits and pieces" list.  All the wrapping is done and the pressies are all under the tree at mums.  I couldn't be bother putting one up here.  I have 3 in the office, surely that is enough!   As the afternoons cool I hope to get some more mowing done.  I'd much rather be sitting in the big chair with my nose stuck in a book. An icy cold glass of water by my side.

I have a few books set aside to read over this break.  Mundles' "Cook", Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton and for something novel, a novel!  I don't usually read fiction, but I am testing the waters with William McInnes.  I don't really have much else planned.  I won't stray far from home.  I hope to take a few photos along the way.  There should be some time for Gallery visits, maybe some fishing and sitting by the lake.  Maybe even a trip to the beach!  For christmas I need to make some rocky road, some fudge and maybe a flour less chocolate cake.  Otherwise Christmas is all organised.  Menus planned, ingredients either growing or purchased. Nothing left to get.

What to do on New Years Eve is another concern.   Last year I went to town and watched the fireworks.  Then I taxied a whole heap of "P" platers home. They can't drive together in one car until they get a black licence.  That's on option for this year too they will all still be on their "P's".  Sadly Newcastle has canned the midnight fireworks this year.  An economy drive I suspect.  The 9.30pm ones are always better. Normally longer, more bangy and flashy than the midnight ones.  I guess town might be desolate after 10pm!!!

As for the rest of my time off.  Rest is an option.  As is cleaning, gardening and taking a few photos.  Here's one I made earlier!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Happy Birthday you Silly Yak!

I got something totally amazing for my birthday.   You'll never guess what, so I'll just blurt it out and tell you.  I got coeliac disease!  Woot Woo!!!

Well it wasn't really for my birthday. Like as in it wasn't wrapped up or anything.   Maybe I should explain.... Since my return to work in mid April after Radioactive Ablation in February 2013 I have never felt well.  Never felt right. Never felt like I did before the whole cancer thing.  I was not just feeling physically unwell, but I had a poor work attitude and my moods were less than pleasant.   I had no energy and so in mid september I began seeing a psychologist and my GP on a very regular basis to try and work out what the heck was going on.  Well it has taken some months, untold blood tests, examinations and poking and prodding and chatting to finally get a preliminary finding that I am a coeliac.  Gluten intolerant. An auto immune disease where the villi in my intestine have decided they no longer wish to absorb any iron or vitamin B12 I ingest.  They have shut up shop and will not be nice to me until I cease consuming the bits they don't like.

Now this is a preliminary diagnosis only.  I have been referred to a gastroenterologist who will do a small intestine biopsy to confirm what the Doctor has surmised. Even though I am not fussed on yet another procedure, I do want confirmation one way or the other. So its back to hospital in February.

So what does being a coeliac mean.   Well it means that a toasted sourdough and a beer are out of the question if I want to feel good!!!   In more technical terms it means that gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley is toxic to me.  At this stage I don't know a great deal more about it all, but I expect that to change soon enough! I did investigate the gluten free section of the supermarket this morning and was pretty impressed with the range of items available.  I was unimpressed that a small box of "corn flake" style breakfast cereal was nearly $7 a box!  It does explain why the British Government provide "prescriptions" for subsidised food for coeliacs.  I'm sure I'll figure out the food options though.  I can't see too many changes for my lunches and dinners, but I am a weetbix or oats girl at beakky and that will be an issue!   Oats themselves are fine, but they are usually processed in the same machinery as wheat and apparently that's a no no.

So there is a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I am hopeful that I will begin to feel back to normal soon.  It's been a long hard struggle. And at least it is not another cancer, which is what the Doc suspected from the start!

Next birthday I want something WRAPPED!!!  Thanks in advance!

UPDATE  19 February 2014 :-   The small intestine biopsy was done on 29 January and results were given today.  I am NOT a Coeliac. Nor is it another cancer, in fact they do not know what the problem is, but they are still working on it and I can't ask for more than that.   So I'm back on the sourdough and beer but along the way I learnt how hard it can be for a coeliac and how much wheat is in the everyday food we eat.  Ice cream as an example....  who would have thought ice cream and ice blocks would have wheat in it.  My hat goes off to every coeliac.  It's not an easy life.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Oh what a night in old Sydney town!

What a week it has been.  First I was going, then I wasn't going and at the last minute I was going again.  Going where?     Going to Sydney to meet a totally awesome man whose musical and film making career I have been following since 1995.

I wanted to go, but after last weekend and the garage sale sapping my limited energy reserves  I doubted I could follow it up with a long drive to Sydney and back on a school night!  I told him I'd be there, then I told him I wouldn't, but I knew this would probably be my one and only opportunity to meet him face to face.  Sure we are "facebook friends" and we have been using the chat function on there since about mid 2010, but face to face!!  How could I miss this rare opportunity?   The simple truth is he lives about 17,000kms away in cold old England and was out here on a tour promoting one of his movies and running a series of empowering workshops designed to help creatives get their ideas out of their heads and into the real world.  Hence, a trip to Sydney... for both of us!

What should have been a 1 hour 40 drive took substantially longer in the most hectic traffic I have ever seen, breakdowns on the toll roads and the eastern distributor compounded the usual end of the day rush of people just wanting to get home.   There might well be some tickets heading my way as a result.  Travelling in a Transit Lane for one, although I wasn't in there for more than about 500m.  There might be some speeding tickets too.  And although the car is registered on my etag, it wasn't in the windscreen.  Yes, I heard your giggle when I mentioned me getting a speeding ticket, but you see I wasn't in Larry Laser.  I was driving my sisters car and it is quite the mover!!!   I won't  even go into the debacle of trying to find my car in the Star City Casino carpark afterwards.  Pink C6 I remembered....  but what floor would you expect that to be on?  Well I can tell you it is parking level 3.  But it did take me some time to work that out!

It seemed Jamie was as pleased to see me as I him!  There were people everywhere, but when he approached me he was very excited that I had made it down.  There were hugs and kisses.   I had taken him a bag of jelly snakes as he likes treats!  He said they were his fave!  He had a good look at how my  my neck scar  had healed, he had seen photos of the gore after surgery.  I introduced him to my nephew Nic and they had a good old chinwag too.   Conversation flowed easily and time passed very quickly.  So with one thing left to do I got my gear ready for the Strange, NOT Stranger project photo.   Jamie had agreed to be photographed and I had the gear , albeit NOT may favourite 135 f2 lens.  I packed the 85 f1.8 cos I suspected we would be short on length.  The 85 is not my fave, but it is a good lens all the same.  So in one shot I captured him. More hugs and kisses followed and we disappearred in different directions out of the Maritime Museum where we had met.  The internet has made this world a very tiny place...and I am glad.

It is said that picture is worth a thousand words... so here is 1k of wordiness!

Friday, October 25, 2013

One more sleep!!!

I've been wanting this for 12 months and preparing for the last 2 months and I'm still not really ready for the onslaught.  The Garage Sale!

I have the majority of my "stuff"  priced.   I have my float of small change counted but I still need to check my sign, just the one,  and find me some nails and a hammer.

Tonight, with the help of a neighbour, we will empty the garage of the BIG stuff.  A couple of dining tables, a lounge, a dozen dining chairs and some chests of drawers.  And the 50 or so boxes of "smalls".  I don't think there is a single vase or plate for sale.  Platters, cheese boards, cutlery, picture frames, traymobile, rugs, water plants and camellias, books, cd's and magazine make up just a small sample of the "stuff" I need gone!  I need it gone because I can't get into the garage to get the lawnmower without tripping over "stuff".  There is too much "stuff" in my world!!!

This time tomorrow the tarps will come off and we will be ready for business.
A one day sale. I want it gone!

Here's what the garage looks like today....

I expect it to look vastly different in a few hours.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A studio to call home

As you have probably gathered I have a love of photography and even through the whole cancer thing I still tried to practice it as much as I could.  Sure for a while, especially when in isolation, all I could shoot was me, or flowers, it still was great to have a camera in my hands, even when it was impossible to wear one around my neck!  The desire to shoot with artificial lighting or rather with me controlling the artificial lighting has been smouldering in the background for a while.  It started with buying a hotshoe flash, then 3 more.  Then I looked at ways to trigger them to fire off camera.  I tried cables, till I got tangled up in one, then cheapy ebay triggers, till they failed more than they worked and finally I was fortunate enough to get my hands on some top of the range Pocket Wizards and then the fun really began! The failure rate dropped to next to nothing, the ease of controlling the ratios between lights became childs play and the results began to show.  So the next step on that ladder was to find a space in which to work!

I have a couple of backdrop stands. 2 metre and 3 metre in width and some fabric and paper backdrops.  All of which I can set up in the loungeroom here. I can even do a four light set up, triggered wirelessly and get an ok result..... but it is impermanent.  It's like a pop up shop.  Pops up and down in a matter of minutes, but still I want more. I want a permanent working space.

About 18 months ago a couple of us of similar mind looked at renting a space. We looked at a multitude of alternatives.  Reduced prices spaces in Newcastle,  storage spaces in Wickham,  shop spaces in Morisset and finally warehouse spaces in Westlakes.  For each alternative there was an issue.  For most it was the cost.  For some it was the location and for one it was size, or lack of it! So that idea died a sad and lonely death.  Saturday saw my renewed interest in a freestanding permanent studio space.  I attended an open day for a new studio for rent in Tuggerah and I liked what I saw!

The simple concrete warehouse had been transformed inside from grey slabs to 3 shooting areas, one with cyclorama.  There was a small, but useable, change room area and an array of chairs and props.  There was a green screen available too and some lighting gear for hire.  The prices were reasonable and the owners are catering specifically for people like me, the hobbyist that wants to control light.

Inadvertently there was a shoot going on at the time which was a great demonstration for the onlookers.  Strangely there were very few women photographers there.  There were lots of blokes and two female models.  Nice young girls who simply wanted a few good pics of themselves.  With about 20 photographers in the joint the likelihood of them getting decent shots was pretty high!

So until the lotto ball falls on me or I get my grubby little paws on my superannuation looks like I will be renting great spaces like this to get the shots I want.

I can and do still do table top stuff at here's some for you to enjoy.

What to shoot next???

It's been an unusually busy 7 days for me photographically.  First I photographed a funeral, then a wedding and last night... no, not a christening, a live concert!  Really the first time I have been this busy photographically since I got sick.   Haven't really had the energy, but the planets aligned this week!

Each photo opportunity provided its own set of challenges. Fortunately none insurmountable. And only 2 ended in sunburn!!   Light was the issue for each too.  Now that may sound  logical because no light equal no pics, but it was the direction, intensity and properties of the light that made me work harder to get the shots.  The concert was not the best lit gig I have ever experienced so I found myself shooting at 6400 iso and still waiting on bursts of light to get a well exposed shot.  Other end of the spectrum totally for the funeral and wedding.  The issue with the funeral was the long shadows on the beach, guests in shade but the ashes and rowing party in broad daylight.... and me on a lookout unable to control any of it with ancillary lighting.   The wedding was a midday show.  Hard light and hard enough to shoot, but made worse by the groom and his merry men wearing peaked caps and dark sunglasses, all day!  Flash exposure compensation became a steep learning curve at the wedding.  Never an issue with the pocket wizards and flash heads on light stands, but a whole different story for hotshoe mounted flash heads with speed straps and short board reflectors. Got a few shots that I was happy with.  The family seem happy enough with them too.

So what to shoot next?  It was to be 4 shoots in 8 days with today being the annual Scott Kelby World Wide Walk day.  I was booked in with others in Sydney, but after a few busy days and a late one last night I withdrew.  The city was buzzing with sightseers as the International Fleet Review sail past is on today too.  So a trip to Sydney was avoided.   Had the nephew Nic not been on duty on the HMAS Farncomb, the only sub in the review, I would have made the trip.... but he was on board today so I will catch up with him in a couple of weeks when they return from exercises off the coast.   Maybe some table top stuff later in the week will be the go.  Back working with the miracle that is the pocket wizard.  Soooo easy to use.  Soooo easy to control.  Love them! And a new smaller backdrop stand has arrived, so that might get its first trial run too.  But what to shoot?!?!? I'm sure something will come to me!

Anyway here is some pics of the funeral, the wedding and the concert to keep you busy.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The scattering of ashes

I've just been asked to photograph a funeral this  friday.  The scattering of ashes, a celebration of life. I said yes straight away.  The "guest of honour" was a damn fine man who loved a joke and a story and brought up two good, hard working, honest lads and made his wife proud everyday. A tight knit family with grandkids that adored their pop.
When asked if I could record the event I was never going to say no, but I was really happy when the "service" was outlined to me.   He was not a god fearing, church going, man. But a man who held the beach close to his heart so when told it was a beachside affair I was really pleased the family had chosen to avoid the trappings of the sad "funeral home" type service in favour of a community celebration of a life well lived.   The order of service is finalised......and it will be casual and comfortable.  Informal is a good term.   I have my role in the day organised, planned in a single phone call, set in stone.  From the shot list I know what gear I will need and where I need to be at what part of the celebration.  Planning makes it all very easy and, for me, it will be good to keep busy.

I have photographed a few funerals in the past.  Some family, some work related and some just because the haze of grief is often so strong a physical reminder is needed.   I am usually asked to record the event when distance is a factor or aged relatives, too unwell to undertake the journey,  want to be a part of it.  The final images are a way for those people to see the crowd and give them, even in absentia, some closure.    I have also photographed the casket topper flowers to be made into thank you cards. There are printers here in Australia that will do a short quick print run and the card can have specific names and dates on the reverse.   I know a few other photographers who also have been asked to record such events, but I hope it never becomes a commercialised trend.

So if you see me pointing a camera at you on friday arvo don't hide.  Stand and be proud and know that  the family will be glad to see your face.

Monday, September 16, 2013


I have signed up for an ABC workshop on creative writing and given the task of writing a 500 word piece about failure.  When I read
the email about the workshop my first thought was ... oh dear god I'm going to fail at this!!!  I was very ordinary at writing at school and haven't done any study since that half baked attempt at a Combined Arts/Law Degree in the 90's. I knew it would be a struggle.   My mind began to wander back thru the last half century to see what failures I have endured and what was I prepared to admit to.  My first failure must have been as a seven year old when I pulled out of the ballet recital because they wanted me to pop around the curtain and tip my top hat at the end of the show.  I was way to shy to do anything like that so ...  FAIL!  Then there were similar fails in the Marching Girls display and my Flute exams.  Fail Fail Fail!  So before I hit my teens failure seemed to be a regular and accepted occurrence in my world.

My teen years were similarly smattered with more failures ...  High School Maths, the Year 10 production of Jesus Christ Superstar and mini bike races all delivered varying levels of failure.

As my working life commenced I can but assume there have been failures in my 30 odd years of daily grind. Strangely NONE  immediately sprang to mind.  That made me wonder WHY I didn't recall those important working life failures.  I'm sure there were failures, especially after such a opulent  and glorious start to a life rich in failure.   It was then I began to examine the concept of failure as it relates to me.

Having never really given my long and diverse list of failures much thought before, the more I rewound my life's failures, the more I began to consider failure to be a positive force in my existance.  Maybe better said I don't really consider failure to be a negative experience.  I began to see failure as more like a building block for success.  Foundation. Yes, foundation is a good word.  Without the failure there would have been no desire to improve, push forward, strive, continue.  Failure is a filter of my level of interest in a given subject.   If I fail at something, but continue to try, that must mean I find it interesting and worth having another go at!  Unlike Ballet, where I chucked my ballet flats in my white and pink "beauty case" and never went back!

So I guess this post on the ABC Workshop writing about failure is, in fact,  a failure in its own right.
I haven't failed in that I have written it, but it is more about the positive aspects of failure than the sad and negative connotations the word failure usually evokes.  Whether that makes me a "glass half full" rather than a "glass half empty" person, I do not know, but I do know I will continue to fail through my remaining days.  I also know I will continue to grow and learn from my abject failures.  As  should we all.   Anyone who says they have never failed has done so with those words alone!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The whiff of a garage sale...

Well as you might have previously read I am in serious de-hoarding mode.  Much of the loungeroom and nearly all of the kitchen has been "culled".  All that stuff I do not need, never needed and will never use is now boxed and downstairs in the screened room.  So the place still looks like a bomb has hit, but I can see the difference and that's all that matters.  Time now to start planning the next garage sale.  Thankfully there is an organisation who help in this process.   18 months ago they held the second National Garage Sale trail and I was a part of it.    It was so good, I'm doing it again!

The Garage Sale Trail has a website where you list your address and your goodies and they do the rest.  I registered last night and this year I get a web page to show my wares and encourage people to come on along. I kicked it off last night and will edit my page as I go along.  Last night I kept remembering things and I must have update my page about 15 times.  It is nowhere near complete, but at least I got it started.   I can upload pictures too, to show you my "junque" before the big day.

So when is the big day I imagine you are asking?   26th October it is and if you think that is too far off then you are either supremely organised or simply don't have as much "stuff" as I do.  Oh, and it's not just me.  Our last garage sale and this one is a 3 generation effort!!  As a result we also have 3 times as much "stuff" as most.

There will be the usual books, magazines, DVD's and Cd's but this year we are also jettisoning 2 dining suites, 3 Edwardian pine chests of drawers, some french doors with beautiful old float glass panels, a bedroom chair or two, some spare dining chairs, pine toy box,   an old rocking highchair, and box after box of china, glass and kitchen stuff.  Oh and clothes, shoes, bags, fabrics, curtains, rugs....the list is ridiculous and there is more to come!!!   So hopefully we will have less "junque"  on October 27!!!!

What about you?  Thinking you might like to do the same?   Try the garage sale trail if you want some help!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Of holidays and hoarding!

The opportunity arose for me to use the absolute last of my annual leave to have a few days off.  When leave was combined with RDO's and weekends I managed to accumulate 17 consecutive days off.  BLISS!!  Since being sick in 2012 I have not been able to settle back into work very well.  So many things had changed.  While I was off work sick I watched my workmate Jenny die after an horrendous battle with cancer and I guess 7 admissions to hospital, 3 surgeries and being made radioactive caused a shift in my priorities.  The work place changed too. New broom sweeping clean, my office was moved and all my pictures came down.  I am no longer proud of the work I produce.  In the past, a name or a circumstance would have me recall a matter with ease, but this too has gone.  Whether it be as a result of the radioactive ablation burning holes in my brain or whether is it because of a shift in priorities I simply do not know.   The people are still the absolute best thing about that place, but they too seem different.  I guess it is most likely just that I am different now.

So with 17 days to fill I embarked on a task I had been attempting for some time, but constantly failing at.  That task is ridding myself of the hoarding gene I inherited from my mother and making my home "easy".  Easy to live in, easy to clean and all round better than it has been for years.  Late in 2012 I bought a new bed and my DIVINE 1880's porcelain and nickel plated number moved to the garage.  With it to the garage was sent two Edwardian pine chests and a matching duchess and all the "antiquey" pieces in my bedroom.    I kept the bronze statue and a couple of good pieces of art and the curtains, but the rest was banished to the shed!   Replacements were minimal, two bedsides and a single tall chest in painted timber and a brand spanking new ensemble that cost me an arm and a leg!!!  Choice!  6 months on, the bedroom is still pristine. A place for everything and everything in its place!  I have added only minimal stuff.  A brolly and hat stand and a canvas on the wall.

It seemed prudent to use these 17 days to work the same magic on the lounge and kitchen areas.  They have looked like a bomb hit for some time now.  I have taken to sorting stuff into boxes.  Garage Sale, Keep, Dump and "Things I want to photograph" are the working titles.   So far I have worked my way around about 2/3rd of the loungeroom with reasonable success.   The curtains went to the charity bin and were replaced by 10 new blockout drops in "Mocha". A standard lamp was added as was a footstool to match the  super comfy armchair I bought earlier this year and it all looks good thusfar.  I still need to address the dining table.  Depending on what day of the week it is the dining table is either a dining table that no-one ever eats at or a macro desktop studio surrounded by lighting gear and a portable backdrop stand!  This is the area I am up to now.  I could not have made it this far with the assistance of my sister Nola.  She drove me forward when I was stalled and did the jobs I couldn't do while injured.

It's getting easier.  The decision making.  What stays, what goes and which box they go in.   The garage sale boxes are filling and the rubbish bin goes out each sunday with the proceeds of the "Dump" box.  The local charity bin is copping a flogging too!  So a date has been set for the next garage sale and hopefully on October 26 the excesses of my life will be taken to new homes!  Until then I need to keep sorting "stuff".  It's not really that hard.  Will I use it?  Have I recently used it?  Have I EVER used it?!?!?!  I need to keep some things like the nun's habit (ideal for fancy dress parties) and the angels wings (ideal for photo opportunities), but so much other stuff can go.  I simply do not need it, will not use it and want it out of my world.

The kitchen is next to be stripped bare.  You know that second drawer down in the kitchen.  Come on....  we all have one.  The one with the olive stoner  and the parmesan grater in it.  Well that is my next big task.  Sadly I do use both my olive stoner and parmesan grater on a regular basis, but I bet there is stuff I can dispose of!!!

I didn't just spend my holidays in cleaning mode. I also took a couple of photos, did some bushwalking and spent a fair bit of time in the veggie patch.  I spent part time seeding dried chillies I grew last season and I am thankful I thought to wear latex gloves for the process.  I also had some work done on both cars and found a happy coincidence in both cars have the exact same 3 disc cd boxed set in them and both cars have disc 1 in the player! Yes, it is Faithless.  I managed to meet up with a few friends for coffee and cakie, but nowhere near enough of them. Did some family history research and debunked a few myths. Found that the marriage listed in the family bible from 1853 is a farce.   I also endured a heap of medical appointments (and they are wearing thin let me assure you).   In fact today at one appointment my phone rang, to confirm another tomorrow. I feel like I am on a treadmill and I can't work out how to get off!  Tonight I will cook up a storm and maybe even make some more choc mint fudge and chilli chocolate.  Going back to work tomorrow is going to be very hard.  Roll on retirement!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm no Costa Georgiadis or even Jerry Coleby-Williams

I'm no Costa Georgiadis or even Jerry Coleby-Williams.  I'm not even close to being a Jane Edmanson or a Sophie Thomson. Nor even a Pip Courtney,  but I do love to tinker in the veggie patch.  What started a few years ago with one 1200x900x300mm raised bed has become a bit of an obsession with 6 beds full to bursting with the freshest of veggies imaginable!   In the height of summer I have so much produce I give it away to family, neighbours and friends.  Now in the thick of winter I struggle to get enough out of it at all.  But that's not a bad thing. Winter is when I replenish the soil and build up the worm population.

I am trialling a 6 bed rotation system this year.  No two crops from the same family in a row.  Alternating root crops with leaf crops season by season yet still attempting to adhere to the principals of companion planting.  I don't use any insecticides or pestacides. I do make my own compost and I do use a mix of crushed up fish guts and seaweed as a deterrent to the white cabbage moth, but otherwise I hand pick pests off leaves and hope for good rainfall, sunny days and strong growth.  Season dependant I use chillies and marigolds to discourage bugs.  Fortunately the local possum population is not fond of broccoli or radish, so they leave me alone.

I've done a little experimenting too this season.  I planted spring onion seeds into a mini greenhouse and let them establish.  I transferred  them into a bed after a few weeks.   That same day they were planted I directly sewed seeds from the same packet into another bed and 10 weeks on the direct sewn spring onions are thriving.  The greenhouse crop, whilst older, is far less advanced.  Whooda thunkit!  So for spring onions at least I will buy seeds now, not punnets. Seeds are HEAPS cheaper and are always on hand so  I can zip out and plant a few rows instead of driving to the nursery and grabbing a punnet THEN planting!  Over time I will test that theory further with other veggies too.  

So with my 6 beds full or replenishing before a spring crop I needed to either buy more beds and get another truckload of soil delivered  OR acquire more space by other methods.  I'd like to increase the variety of plants I grow and so some extra beds are essential. The backyard here is massive, but massively overgrown.  It is just your classic quarter acre block, but I have left one area wild for native birds and animals.  Side beds are overgrown and have poor soil with neighbouring trees sucking the life blood out of them and being a mass of twisted tree roots.  The large lawn section is where I have placed the 6 beds I already have, but that still leaves me with masses of lawn to mow and realistically I could put another 6 beds in........  but then it wouldn't really look much like a backyard anymore!!  So in my quest for more space  I have acquired the use of a long narrow disused veggie bed that is divided into four smaller spaces at my sister home, just up the road.

That bed is in really poor condition!  Some worms, but a tangled mat of roots in the soil that will take me some time to clean out and build up.  I tackled one part of it yesterday and got it cleaned out and I planted spring onions to get something in!   Then I bought some blood and bone and lucern mulch.  Today I spent a couple of hours digging out what weeds and roots I could then treated the whole bed with blood and bone.  I covered two beds with lucern mulch and gave it all a good water.  I then planted garlic in the corner of the spring onion bed and tomatoes and capsicum in the far end of the bed.  The one remaining plant from last year is a rhubarb so it got a hit of blood and bone and a good water too.  It may well flourish again.

So what is a blog without images.  Heres some of the garden...... or should I say gardens!!!