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.