just a little detailing…

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Here’s a little known factoid; many years ago I took a course in airbrushing vehicle designs. As in cars and trucks. Yes. I never intended to actually apply the skills to vehicles, it was just the only course available in Darwin when I first moved there 32 years ago. I wanted to develop my airbrush* skills and so I took the course. In those days, airbrushes were still being used in design and advertising, now it is all done digitally in computers. I had used it in my University studies but needed to advance my skills and no one locally was doing it, so I was having a ‘go’. That experience and my design background are why I have long appreciated high calibre detailing on vehicles.

Usually one is not in close proximity when seeing the primo examples. Driving down the highway is not the best way to get good photos–distracting for everyone involved. So when I looked up, I could hardly believe there was a very special tractor (Big Rig) parked on the side of the road near the walking path in front of me. Approaching from behind, what I first noticed was the Australian Military insignia. This being the 100th year of Australia’s entry into the First World War, there have been numerous special observances and I’ve seen it often.

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Three dog train traveling through Alice Springs                

The closer I got to the Rig the more fantastic I could see the detailing was. I hasten to add, I don’t believe the design was applied with airbrush, I’m certain it was decal, but it was still spectacular. There were a lot of cars whizzing past, wondering what I was so busy photographing, and then they would see the Rig and slow down to get a better look. It was a dead set traffic stopper. I can only imagine what it would look like with three dogs (trailers) behind!

Back of cab with Military Insignia

Back of cab with Military Insignia

The name ‘Bill Braitiling’ was painted in the design, so I Googled it–as you do these days. Bill was born in Alice Springs and joined the 2nd Light Horse Regiment at the age of 28 in 1915. Fortunately he lived beyond the war and died in Alice Springs at Mt Doreen Station in 1959. The Rig is obviously in his memory and the memory of others in that war.

Detailing is an art form added to street art, murals and tattoos which reflect our culture and give us pause for thought. Enjoy the gallery. (as usual, if you click on the photos you can see them enlarged, and scrolling over them in the gallery you will see the captions)

*(an airbrush was a small pen-like device with a paint pot attached and compressed air was fed through with the ink/paint to create shading and layers of paints and shapes)

the yellow challenge

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Along the way of my ‘365 photo challenge’ I have done a couple of sub-challenges. It helps me keep perspective, otherwise I wander along the same walks and routines and the ideas could get stale.

the photographer and her tool

the photographer and her tool (perhaps the ‘tool’ and her photo??)

The first sub-challenge was to take 3 photos over three days that I could post ‘straight out of the camera’, that is no edits at all, only cropping–because Instagram primarily uses square format photos. I’m sorry if this disappoints all my peeps out there, but I DO edit the majority of my photos. A photo seldom looks like what the eye has seen, so I endeavour to recreate my memory of the subject/scene—what excited me about it in the first place, and usually that takes editing. Occasionally I take a photo, maybe once a week, that I feel meets my objectives and so I post it ‘as is’. The #sooc (straight out of the camera) challenge went well. Magic happened and I was able to do 3 photos, three days in a row, that I honestly felt needed no editing. Whew.

So, recently I accepted another challenge, the ‘yellow challenge’. This one, for five days in a row, is to take a photo of something yellow or with yellow as a major component. The morning the invitation came through to me, it happened that my photo of the day had been a stunning one, of a yellow leaf. So I took this as encouragement to accept the invitation for four more days. No pressure.

Nanook of the South

Nanook of the South

Day two was exceptionally windy…Nanook-of-the-North windy. It was also cloudy and I took a beautiful photo of the subdued hues of clouds in early morning, but no yellow. I turned right to continue my walk–still with the yellow challenge in my mind. My eyes fell on flowers and leaves and bits of yellow rubbish, but nothing I hadn’t recently photographed or that seemed worthy.macdonnell-ranges-australia

And then…

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pink galah feather

Caught in the grass was a tiny feather, white of fluff and yellow of tip. It was the rarest of the rare. I see feathers of many colours on my walks, and have photographed a few—pink, green, blue, grey, black and white. But never have I seen a yellow one. It was my little bit of magic for the day, for the challenge, for ME.

Despite the strong winds the grass was holding it securely. Carefully I bent down and plucked it from its lodging and placed it in my pocket. For the remainder of the walk, I smiled the smile of the cat who ate the cream. Arriving home I unloaded my pockets—key, used tissue, glasses, iPhone, macro lens and yellow feather.

Aaaaarrgghh, WHERE WAS MY FEATHER?

It was as gone as yesterday’s lunch. Gone. I turned pockets inside out, unravelled the snotty tissue—at least three times. It was nowhere to be found.

It was my treasure. My beautiful little bit of magic and I had let it slip through my fingers–probably quite literally. Despite all logic to the contrary, I decided to go look for it, IN THE ROARING WINDS. Silly girl. You will never find it. But I believe in magic, so I looked. I walked up the street and beyond where I had found it, searching in the grass, along the roadside, everywhere. Notta. I was so sad I nearly cried. How could this magic thing have happened and then it was as if it hadn’t? Why? I suspected when I could answer that question, the real magic would happen.

Fast forward 24 hours…

Every so often my mornings are turned upside down like a snow dome and I have to rearrange the timings of coffee, breakfast, and walking to accommodate some unusual errand or event. This was one of those mornings. The walk came at the end of all the other things, including a trip to the grocery. The fact that the wind was once again blowing a gale straight from the Antarctic was just like a layer of Vegemite on top of a cake. Not that great.

It was very hard to take photos when the branches were swaying wildly and at times, gusting so hard it threw me off balance. Thank goodness for warm houses on cold, blustery days, I thought. Photos are very much a by-product of my walks. I walk because it is good for my back and heart, but most especially for my mind. It is moving meditation for me. Though it was late-ish and the sun was getting high in the sky, I set out, perhaps to take a photo or two. Too much overhead light makes for bleached out colours in photos, but I am ever hopeful.

I was wearing sunglasses, which generally I find a nuisance when photographing, but otherwise the light was so bright I couldn’t really look around to see things, including approaching bicycles and vehicles! Bracing myself against the wind I walked down our street, analysing the patches of shifting light and possible subjects to photograph. And then for reasons I have no idea about I glanced to my right, in the grass. There. It. Was. Yellow of tip and white of fluff. I was stunned. I held my breath and slowly reached down to release it from the grass. This time I took nothing for granted. I deliberately held tightly to it, and did not look away until it was safely in my pocket. Deep down in my pocket. For certain.

For the rest of the walk I was cautiously jubilant, and truthfully wondering if I was asleep and dreaming I had found the feather again. What if it had been another mistake, and was not real? Occasionally, and carefully, I stopped and peered down into my pocket, the way a small child does when they are carrying a treasure in their tiny cupped hands. Is it still there? Yes, still there.

Arriving home, I repeated my daily ritual of unloading things from my pockets. Finally, I looked for the feather. It was nestled deep down into the farthest corner of my pocket and waiting for me saying…

have hope, patience, and perseverance;

all things are possible, in their own time.

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yellow of tip, white of fluff

The gallery of photos from my yellow challenge:

(Posted on the occasion of my 62nd birthday. It’s good to be alive. Thank you for reading.)

when things come together…

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No one asks me how my 365 photo challenge is going. I think they are afraid I will have to tell them ‘I’ve failed’. There is no failure in such things, there is only learning. If I never learn another thing, these 128 days of taking a new photo every day, will have been worth it. SO…if you are wondering how my 365 Photo Challenge is progressing, here is an update…

Sunrise is over an hour and half later now than it was when I started my challenge. That means my morning walks are later, otherwise there is not enough light to capture my subjects. And light is everything with photography.

There are problems with walking later. I intersect with people doing other things, like playing golf on the course that is my backyard, and where I take most of my walks! It also disrupts my comfortable morning routine. Things are all topsy-turvy now.

It is a confluence of activities, re-creating the flow of my life.

Yesterday morning, in order to avoid the golfers, I left the house too early. The sun was not high enough to light the things I wanted to photograph. So I walked farther, to take up some time. This brought me to the Todd River. It lay in its usual state of benign desiccation, still waters running deeply beneath. Nevertheless, there was something pulling me into the riverbed.

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Dramatic sunlight and shadows.

I realised the siren song was the dramatic light and shadows. They created a different Todd River than the one I showed you a few months ago, at the beginning of my photographic challenge. It was confluence of a different kind, the two sides of the personality of the Todd.

(If you move your cursor over the photo gallery, you will see the captions revealed at the bottom of each photo. If you click on the photo you can see it full size)

The discarded.

Hidden danger.

The everyday.

And the extraordinary.

The photo challenge is…challenging. Most days it requires at least an hour of my time, some days more. It’s a bit like ‘home schooling’ myself. I am learning new methods of editing, and practicing basic photographic skills as well as developing my eye. I have discovered a new application called Steller (click to see some of my stories), that allows a person to publish photographic stories. (I haven’t been able to figure out how to get it to show as a ‘widget’ on my blog, but stay tuned!)

After 23 years, I have also fallen in love, all over again, with the place that I live. The more I photograph, the more I see. Also, the additional walking and climbing, to chase the light, has forced me to become more fit (seriously)–and that is no bad thing!

Contributing influences—confluence–where things meet. If a person’s life isn’t this, I don’t know what is.

ANZAC in our memories

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  For those of you not living in Australia, the 25th of April is ANZAC Day. The acronym, ANZAC, was derived from persons serving in ‘Australia and New Zealand Army Corps’ (1914-1818). The two countries were brothers in arms when entering WWI, one hundred years ago tomorrow, at the landing in Gallipoli, Turkey.

Last year, my husband and I included a trip to Gallipoli in our tour of the Black Sea countries and Turkey. It stands out as one of the most memorable places I’ve ever been. To see the terrain the troops occupied, where over 36,000 Commonwealth  troops died was an emotional experience I had not expected. After all, I had no family in that battle, nor was I born in Australia, or even the Commonwealth. We visited the graves and read the sad inscriptions. We walked among some of those 100 year old trenches as our tour guide, who was Turkish, compassionately told us stories from both sides of the battle.

I wished my Dad was still alive to tell him about it, if he could have even brought himself to listen. He seldom talked about his WWII experience as it upset him. He was not quite 17 when he began his five years in the US Army; his mother lied about his age so that he could escape a miserable home life. And what he got was more misery. Hearing the stories of the ANZACS, as we have this week in the media, I was reminded. Young men signed up for what they thought was their duty, if not an adventure. Many paid the ultimate price.

The abject slaughter and loss of innocence of these gorgeous young men, not to mention the loss for their loved ones, is what I remember on ANZAC Day. The stories of their courage and that of the families they left behind is beyond anything I know. And wasn’t that the point? That following generations would not know such sorrow and sacrifice? And yet some still do. Whether ill conceived or not, the actions of these men were meant to preserve the quality of Australian life. That they retreated in the end, and lost the battle, makes their sacrifice even more poignant, and no less important. Perhaps it should be an even greater cautionary tale against war.

 Tomorrow morning is sure to be record numbers, for observance of the 100th anniversary. Rather than attend dawn services in a mass of people, I chose to climb ANZAC Hill by myself at dawn this morning. With every step I climbed up the rugged stone steps, I thought of the rocky escarpment that greeted the troops at dawn on the shores of Gallipoli. As I looked out, every beautiful view reinforced the fact of my fortunate life.

 The local effort toward this anniversary was to cover the words ‘Lest We Forget’ with poppies, the emblematic flower worn on Remembrance Day each year. The words have been erected at ANZAC Hill, greeting visitors and overlooking the town.

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From Anzac Hill looking to Heavitree Gap

Even if we never have another war, never lose another soldier, we should not forget the lives of those lost. We stand on their shoulders, like it or not. Taking photos this morning, and writing this blog is how I choose to honour my Dad and all the many soldiers and families who have given so much.

 Lest We Forget.

less is more…

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I even moved on my crown and sceptre.

I even relinquished my crown and sceptre.

The words in the title have never been more true to me than now. The idea of ‘less is more’ goes back farther than most people commonly think, but for the most part, we attribute the concept to architect and furniture designer, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969). He was trying to help people understand how simplicity and clarity lead to good design.

I’ve just been through the first two phases of trying to achieve more simplicity and clarity in my life…by clearing clutter.

Simple.

And yet not.

I didn’t want to ditch my husband, or get a dog, but something needed to change. At the time I even wondered if I wanted to leave Alice Springs and start a new adventure. It didn’t feel like a mid-life crisis, more like a renewal of purpose and consolidation. When I began my 365 photo challenge in January, I fell in love all over again with the Alice, so I knew leaving here wasn’t the answer.

Even before that, I had started following a blog written by Courtney Carver, Be More With Less.  Her advice made sense so I allowed it to inspire me toward the goal of lightening my load.

Courtney says–Having more stuff doesn’t make you more of yourself.

The useful ‘stuff’ is just what we use to illuminate our path, to show ourselves to ourselves. It doesn’t make us more, it just shows us who we already are, or can be. The other stuff is just in the way, and drags us down, holds us back.

To my friends, and any untrained eye, my home looked perfectly organised and showed no evidence of needing to be de-cluttered. I had/have a spare room with nothing in it but what a guest would need. I had empty shelves and plenty of room for more things; but still, I wanted less. To my inner eye, my life was cluttered. I was blocked…creatively…energetically. You see, physical clutter is but an outward sign of what is going on inside us. If we cannot mentally leave the past and move forward, we will also have trouble getting rid of things in our environment. We think of ‘clutter’ as mostly a condition of modern times, though I can recall quite a few old barns and sheds from my childhood that seemed full to bursting! It is greatly enhanced by affluence, to be sure, but it is also reflected in individuals who have a poverty of spirit, or fear that life won’t provide for them.

So, where did I start? Mental preparation was the first phase of the process:

  • I bought only minimal things to add to the load, and when I did, I adopted the practice of getting rid of something when something new came over the threshold
  • I inspired myself; reading about Feng Shui, clearing energies, organisation
  • I took mental note every time I opened a drawer or cupboard, paying attention to what I used and what remained untouched.
  • I evaluated which activities meant the most to me, and therefor the tools that I would need to pursue those activities.
Vestiges.

Vestiges.

In the heat of summer, I struggle to have enough energy to do the basics, so I always knew the task of physical clearing would have to wait for cooler days. Two weeks ago we got a cool precursor, followed by one last-hot-blast of summer. That was my cue. Phase Two–the ‘purge’, began. Things came flying out of cupboards and shelves. I became a fiend for a cluttered drawer, unrelenting to old papers. Soon, I had only a small path leading to the computer in my office, lined either side with once valued items from my life. I no longer felt attachment for them. I had assimilated what they had to give me, and now it was time to move on.

And then, suddenly, I stalled. Stuck in the mucky energy again, I was unable to figure out prices and organise things to sell or give away. Enter: Two. Good. Friends. They ‘double-teamed’ me, one helping with pricing and organising, the other helping with the nuts and bolts of tables, cash/coinage and advice. The day one friend showed up to help price things, she brought with her a little book…Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, by Karen Kingston. Only four days to lawn sale time–I read it cover to cover in 24 hours. Even though I had read much of what it contained in other sources, I’ve never seen it all in one concise, helpful place. Along with my friends’ help, the book renewed my resolve and helped me push ahead.

(If you think Feng Shui sounds too much like superstition, or good design, to award credence, then try to accept that the end result, ridding oneself of clutter, makes things work and look better!)

Kingston, who coaches people to help them clear the clutter from their lives, has much wisdom on the topic, but perhaps the observation that most affected me was this:

“…when we feel moved to collect a particular thing, or even when we ‘accidentally’ end up with such a collection, what we are in fact doing is responding to an intuitive need to gather a particular type of essence that we need for our own personal growth. It’s a specific frequency that we need to bring into ourselves at that time, and this is entirely valid. But life is constantly changing and moving, and we actually only need to collect that essence for as long as it takes us to spiritually integrate it into our life. Then we can move our focus on to something new.”

Letting go in order to move on, keeps us learning and discovering. It allows me to enjoy the things I have kept, that are still meaningful. I see them more clearly, not filtered through other things–or worse, stored away in a cupboard never to be seen. As I’ve cleared space, things previously stored away have come to light so that I can use them. And some were no longer of value, the way old thoughts that no longer serve us, can be let go. Mostly ‘things’ have never been that important to me. I left nearly all of it when I migrated to Australia 32 years ago. But of course, I enjoy beauty, and certain objects with emotional attachment remain. For me, it’s not about having nothing, it’s about choosing which things deserve my energy, and even renew me.

I know this– have known it for a long time.

We are all a work in progress. Sometimes the progress is slow, but it is still progress. Phase three of the transformation will be to continue the purge. I still have more things to shed. Even if scales don’t reflect it, I am lighter and more vibrant, without the weight of the ‘stuff’–that is the more of the less.

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less colour, more appreciation of the lovely shape of this little jug

traveling on my stomach…again…

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For our recent trip to Victor Harbor in South Australia, I booked accommodation online. We have been tremendously lucky with this method, though it could be that our extensive travels over the decades have given us a traveller’s intuition that helps.

Our main criteria is accommodation with at least a queen size bed, its own toilet and shower, and close proximity to either the area we most want to visit, or to transportation that is near by. The Anchorage suited all of those requirements, plus had the added pleasure of a sea view, which is also desirable if one is traveling from the desert for a brief ‘sea change’. As it turned out, it also had a really wonderful little café/restaurant under the same roof.

The Anchorage is one of the last, if not the last, remaining ‘guest houses’ in the Victor Harbor area, said to have once boasted nearly 30 guest houses. I’m sure if all of them had been as comfortable as the Anchorage more of them would still remain. Our room was upstairs with a view overlooking the Bowls Club and the sea, with a lovely long veranda from which to view. For those uninitiated, Bowls here in Australia is similar to Boules in France, and Bocce in Italy. I have played it a few times and if you are with a group, not too competitive (or gossipy), it can be quite fun.

Our room was on a corner, and had a small lounge and TV area with a bedroom separate and en suite toilet/shower as well. But there were no cupboards. Instead, we found hooks on the wall, and hangers on which we hung our few belongings. Very old school! The staff are as friendly as the stairs are steep, and there is no lift, so if you have dodgy knees, best to stay elsewhere, or see if they have a ground floor room.

But the star of the place is the café. Honestly. The best eggs benedict I’ve ever eaten, even if the menu did read ‘$2 for added spinach for the hippies’. I can never find enough vegetables when I’m traveling, so if that makes me a hippie to order the spinach, then guilty as charged! The slow cooked lamb was amazing, as was the free-range chicken. But…Honey…the egg and bacon roll was worthy of an award! It was also worthy of two people to eat it, but my hubby had to be brave and go for it alone! Of the eight available meals to eat while in Victor Harbor, six were eaten there. No need to look elsewhere! We only ate elsewhere during lunches when we were off exploring, and nothing compared in quality. They even roast their own coffee and it was delicious. It’s not often I would return to stay at a hotel or pub, primarily for their food, but the heritage listed Anchorage is at the top of my list.

Oh, Fleurieu!

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Aaaahhhhh–deep exhale. Here’s me, freshly showered (FYI),mostly recovered from the head cold, and in front of the computer with no urgent tasks to drag me away. Now I can share with you some of the photos from our recent trip to the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia.

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River Torrens, Adelaide, near Adelaide Oval

We flew to Adelaide to visit with our daughter, and to attend a day of World Cup Cricket at the beautiful Adelaide Oval. Very tired, I left early and was rewarded with the golden light just before sunset, as I walked the half an hour back to the hotel. Though I missed Australia’s victory at the cricket, I was further rewarded by a bit of extra sleep, having given myself some much needed ‘wind down’ time.

The next day we picked up our rental car and had a leisurely drive to Victor Harbor, about an hour and a half or two hours south of Adelaide. We stayed at the Anchorage, the last of the original ale houses in Victor Harbor, but I will share that with you as a separate post as there is too much to include in this post.

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Indigenous, mosaic lookout over Victor Harbor

Aptly named, we used the Anchorage as our base, and each day set off in a different direction to explore wineries or coastal areas. We love this kind of travel. Don doesn’t mind the driving and he is very generous about stopping when I see a photo that must be taken, providing it is not on the edge of a rocky cliff and there is somewhere to pull over!

Port Elliott is on Horseshoe Harbour, the original port along this part of the coast. It had its heyday in the mid-1850’s. Then suddenly it was abandoned for the more accessible Victor Harbor* in 1856, after severe weather caused several serious maritime incidents. Horseshoe Harbour was truly a highlight of the trip. Why? I’m not sure, but everyone we have talked to who has visited there has waxed lyrical about the place! First of all there was a place to buy fresh fish and chips—always a good start. The Flying Fish Café was full to capacity, which usually means the food is good. It was, though not the absolute best I’ve ever had, but the view was as good as any I’ve seen!

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Horseshoe Bay

After lunch, we sat on a bench, wishing we had brought a blanket and a book, so that we could emulate other couples lost in their books with the sea lapping in the background. It was an absolutely perfect day, and hardly a person on the beach, save a family with two young children who reinforced the idea that a ratio of one adult to one child is only barely adequate. Very funny. The local Surf Lifesaving Club was located nearby, as any iconic Aussie Beach would boast. There were young people eyeing each other and parading back and forth to size up the competition! So peaceful and perfect–a little jewel suspended in pale sapphire, forever in my mind.

Another memorable moment happened because of a photograph that almost didn’t get taken. We stopped at a lookout, not far from Yankalilla (don’t you just love the name?). It was the place at which the HMAS Hobart was sunk after it had been decommissioned from the Navy. It is used as a diving reef, and very good, by all accounts. A worker with a strong Irish accent was cleaning up the viewing area in preparation for ANZAC day. They are expecting families of those who had served on the Hobart to come and pay respects on April 25th for the 100th anniversary of our involvement at Gallipoli and in WWI.

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beach near Yankalilla, with beach house and rainwater tanks

The Irish worker wanted to have a bit of a chat, and gave us the benefit of his knowledge of the place. Much as I love a good Irish accent, we began to doubt if we would get away before sunset, and it was not even lunch time yet. Fortunately his phone rang, and we took our chance to escape. You have to appreciate a well timed phone call. At the very last second, something sparked my photo intuition to snap the scene above. I’m so happy I did. It is one of my favourite photos of the trip…and, again, I’m not certain why. Perhaps it is just that it looks so Australian, and I do love traveling in Australia. Oh, Fleurieu, I wish we had you to discover all over again.

xx Ardys

(*You will notice the name Victor Harbor spelled thusly, because that is mostly how they spell it, though we did see a couple of signs that used the ‘u’ version of the word, as did other ‘harbours’ we visited. I guess it’s a local thing and you just have to roll with it!) 

it’s an Instameet!

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Perhaps you know the quote attributed to John Lennon: ‘Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.’ It kind of explains why my break from blogging has been a bit longer than anticipated. Our time away was very good, but the small amount of spare time I had was used to relax, and I knew you wouldn’t mind! On our second day away I received a surprise invitation to something I had only recently even heard of, and never attended…an ‘Instameet’.

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camera man and participants–it made the weekend ABC news!!

As you know, I am engaged in a 365photochallenge. It involves taking a photo each day and posting it on Instagram @amosthemagicdog. Many of my photos have been picked up, with permission, by some of the Northern Territory tourism Instagram and Twitter accounts, as have many photos of others here in Central Australia. Through the efforts of @NTOutbackAus an Instameet was organised here in Alice Springs. It was to thank those of us who contribute to promoting our love for the place in which we live. It was also a chance for us to meet each other, as well as a few professional photographers who travel the country contributing from everywhere.

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The lads and their drone

The problem for me was the Instameet happened only about 5 hours after our plane was to land from our trip. As you know there are always many things to get back into place when arriving home from time away, groceries, unpacking, washing of clothes, etc. Part of me really wanted to go along to this unique opportunity, but the introvert in me, that person who hates crowds and gatherings, sat on my shoulder saying “you can get out of it, you have an excuse”…

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Andrew Langford takes a break from playing the didgeridoo

At 6pm atop Anzac Hill it was still very hot, 38C (100F) but I went along and found a bit of shade, and shook a few hands. Much to my surprise, some of the Instagram buddies, whose work I have enjoyed, were there and it was fun to meet them. Our hosts had provided local foods and some special guests from the local Desert Wildlife Park. In the background local performer, Andrew Langford, played the didgeridoo, which added to the very Central Australian feel of the event. People who happened along to view the sunset were intrigued, if not a little intimidated by the activities! There were even a couple of enterprising men with a drone! And then of course there were all those cameras! Who wouldn’t be a little intimidated? I’d guess about 20 or so photographers and contributors showed up, in addition to the Wildlife Park Rangers, the promotional people and other support staff. When will I learn these things are seldom as daunting as I imagine?

This, among other things, is part of the ‘adventure’ of my 365photochallenge.

 

(The day after the Instameet I came down with a heavy head cold which has kept me from the computer, but I have managed to struggle through the photo challenge. I will update you soon on that and our travels.)

 

 

light chaser and the moon

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Many of you will remember, I am a light chaser. I almost never sleep well when the full moon is in phase. This means I’m up early–‘sparrow fart’ we call it here. This morning was no different, so off I went in search of the majesty that flows when the moon is full.

I didn’t intend to chase it over hill and dale and around the outcrops, but it is a kind of drunkenness that overcomes me when I am chasing the light. So I jogged, at times, through rocks, prickles and spiky grasses to get every bit of light I could into my lens.

Here is the chase…

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6:18am, the chase begins outside our front door

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from a nearby rocky outcrop, the moon and Mt Gillen

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playing hide and seek

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Saying farewell until next time, as it dips behind Mt Gillen

And I will say ‘farewell’ for a few days, perhaps 10 or so, depending on internet connections, as we take a short break from our beautiful Alice.

in my kitchen, March 2015

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Firstly, and most importantly, thank you to Celia for hosting our monthly kitchen get together! And to so many who read and commented with wit and wisdom about my kitchen and garden adventures last month, thank you as well! There were many helpful suggestions and I will update you quickly.

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what the well accessorised fruit is wearing this summer

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limes on mosaic table

Grasshoppers are still around, but have mostly moved out of the courtyard where most of my edibles are grown. There are still many around, but these later ones at least have a sense of style and colour!

It is lime time. We’ve had to empty the tree because the mealy bug has moved in and we needed to treat that. The limes are delicious this year and I wish I could send you all some. It has been a bad summer for growing a lot of things; insects we don’t normally have, in proportions we don’t normally have, and either too wet or too hot for a number of things. Welcome to Australia.

lady bug IMK!

lady bug IMK!

On the last day of February, I walked into my kitchen to find this lovely little creature poised on the edge of the kitchen bench. After taking her portrait, I gently assisted her to a nice fresh, green basil leaf that has regenerated after the grasshoppers cleaned most of them off!

The efforts to save my Bay Tree seem successful. I gave it a hit of Seasol once I could see it was shooting new leaves, and it has come on beautifully. I’m still scraping the occasional bit of scale, but once the weather cools I will treat it again, and that should take care of things.

new growth on bay tree

new growth on bay tree

The cast iron pan has gone for a test trial to Aunt B’s kitchen, where we have deduced the trouble is definitely operator error on my part (never was much doubt), and we will endeavour to correct that. Stay tuned!

I’ve been having some delicious breakfasts, and main course salads continue a favourite while the weather is still quite warm.

mild-chili

homegrown chili, the thing grasshoppers won’t eat!

bacon-lettuce-tomato-salad

bacon, lettuce and tomato salad with green dressing (I know this would be wonderful with Celia’s sourdough croutons!)

stuffed-mushroom-breakfast

leftover stuffed mushrooms with egg and cherry tomatoes for brekky

I’m currently on a broccolini* binge. I have it in omelettes for breakfast, or steamed for lunch and dinner with a variety of modifications from bacon to cheddar or Parmigiano Reggiano. I’m sorry I can’t be biased, I love it all.IMG_6212

Here is a recent discovery of something clever that actually works; a way to remove shell from hard boiled eggs. I usually use free range eggs, as fresh as I can get them, which means they can be difficult from which to remove the shells when hard boiled. But if you place them in a jar of water, and shake gently, but enough to crack the shell all over, 5 seconds or so, the shells will actually come off pretty easily. I shook one harder, just to see what would happen, and it peeled alright, but took a layer of egg with it! So, the shaking will be a trial and error thing depending on your own strength and style!! Do let me know if you find it useful, I certainly do!

approximate ratio of egg to jar to water

approximate ratio of egg to jar to water

shake-off-eggshell

shake, shake, shake, shake it off!!

works as well as anything I have ever seen.

works as well as anything I have ever seen.

oops, don't shake too hard

oops, don’t shake too hard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though insect plagues and heat have ravaged my courtyard garden, I still enjoy looking out my kitchen window at it each day. The light is ever changing and inspiring. Wishing you light and lovely-ness in your month coming.

*Since one of the comments below alludes to the origins of broccolini I thought I would look it up to find some additional information for you. Here is what Wikipedia says:

Broccolini (original Japanese: ブロッコリーニ[1]) is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks. Often misidentified as young broccoli, it is a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan, both cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea. It was originally developed by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan, in 1993 as “aspabroc”.

The entire vegetable is consumable, including the occasional yellow flower. Common cooking methods include sauteeing, steaming, boiling, and stir frying. In Japan, it is highly popular as a spring vegetable, and usually eaten steamed. Its flavor is sweet, with notes of both broccoli and asparagus,[2] although it is not closely related to the latter.

The above is what I was led to believe were the origins, but it is useful to double check these things. Happy eating :)

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