the blur between the end & the begining

9 02 2012

Thought I’d write some words about the transition from 2011 to 2012 as it’s already February and I haven’t written anything for over six months. While time will not slow down for anyone (& I wouldn’t want it to) I’m wondering if there are any techniques that will help me sort of slow it down so it doesn’t all seem like so much of a rush. Maybe take more time out to be still? Anyway I’m disappointed that I haven’t been disciplined enough to set aside some time for writing and hope that things will settle down soon so that I can get back to some regular reflection.

Since July 2011 things have been busy and it’s been difficult to maintain routines. There’s been lots of work to do, travel and visiting, and changes in work circumstance. Late last year we were in Perth and presented at a conference & attended another later in that week & visited friends as well as family on both sides. I’ve been to the Gold Coast to attend a conference that I was part of the organising committee. I’ve attended some professional development seminars and participated in some workshops. I’ve been studying and completing a research project and also begun a new job early this year which meant finishing the old one and handing over before the end of last year. And that’s just the work side of things. There’s also been some holidays, family responsibilities, all that stuff that comes with having a home & garden, visits to the bush, as well as a few weekends getting wonderful doses of culture in Melbourne.

Under blackwood

Well, the upshot of all this is that a break was necessary and we managed to have three weeks off over Christmas & New Year. Down on Cape Otway we were able to relax, read, reflect, and also do a fair bit of work (clearing mowing, sawing & stacking) in preparation for a bushfire assessment that will influence our building plans. The weather was wonderful with a couple of days rain and only a few hot days that required the minimum of movement and sitting in the shade under the Blackwood (pictured above – taken with  15mm wide angle lens). We had family and friends visit and also discovered a number of new animals & insects. It surprised us that we hadn’t seen some of these critter before even though we’ve been regular visitors for over 10 year. We saw Black Slugs, a Bush Tick (that had finished feeding on a Koala, Possum or Wallaby), a couple of new bird varieties and a frog that we hadn’t seen before. The Magpies, Kookaburras, Koalas and Wallabies were busy and all had young ones and we even came across an Echidna digging around for some ants. I’m thinking we should start our own fauna & flora catalogue that records what lives and grows in our corner/patch of the world. It’s wonderful that we can be part of the environment that supports all these animals and look forward to spending more time there this year. Anyway – the break was perfect, and we came away refreshed, happy and ready for another year…

We also came across a (free) DVD called The Art of Walking that promotes the Great Ocean Walk that its wonderfully shot. Three interesting people reflect on their experiences of the walk and it includes some of our favourite places. You should check it out online and see if you can pick up a disk from a tourist office.

 

 

 



Summer holidays – a gift you don’t have to wrap

15 01 2011

Just back into that other dimension of regular life (and work) after a couple of (very relaxing) weeks spent in the bush. This summer, down on Cape Otway, we managed to have a wonderful time enjoying a life at a different pace with no pressures or timetables. What a gift to pause (stop doing some things) and indulge yourself in (sort of selfish) simple pleasures. Forest walks, beach strolls, reading, talking, eating & drinking, and even doing basic chores, make for a very refreshing time. A bit like chicken soup – good for the soul.

 

Good food featured quite a bit this year with puddings, soups, coq au vin, and roasts being crafted in the camp oven and wok. We were even able to quaff some home brewed beer which was brought down & chilled. There’s definitely something special about cooking & eating outdoors.

young-koala.jpg

The Koala’s have been busy finding ways to circumvent the polycarbonite bands I put around the trees. They climb up other trees & jump across as well as using the pads on their feet (rather than claws) to scrabble over the slippery surface. Looks like I’ll have to add another band to make it harder if I want to keep them from eating all the leaves & killing the trees. Also lots of birds, king parrots, wrens, cockatoos, kookaburras, magpies, wattlebirds etc. as well as a couple of different wallabies. Fun to hear the young birds practising their calls & generally squawking a lot in an attempt to get a free freed from mum & dad.

So, now have been back at work for a week and trying hard to keep the work/life balance in order – we’ll see how we go…

PS. Looks like I’m going to have to invest in MarsEdit – works a treat…



testing post from MarsEdit

15 01 2011

I’ve been struggling to have my images upload along with my post in the MacJournal software. It’s been a love/hate relationship as the functionality has worked – but not consistently and now it doesn’t work at all.

young-kooka.jpg

So, I’m trying MarsEdit and hoping that this new software will do the trick – this is my first attempt.



60 hours to sit still and smell the coffee

21 03 2009

At 9:15 pm. the kookaburras pause near us and do their thing where the joke’s on us. A quick cackle of raucous laughter and chuckling, and they’re on their way (they’ll be back in the morning). The evening noise begins and the animals in the trees are cracking in the bark. Koalas grunting and squealing, maybe an owl and an occaisional Sugar Glider. The end of the day is forced upon you with the daylight fading to darkness (accompanied by a brilliant view of the starts) and a special type of tiredness will ensure a good sleep.

The dawn chorus is amazing. Well, it starts before dawn at 5:30 and goes right through till 8:30. So much whistling, chirping, squawking, tweeting, and warbling.

Late in the after noon a mother koala with baby on it’s back climbs down a tree and wanders across ground near us. I jump for the camera and head them off and take a few photos. They are preoccupied with scrounging away on a couple of old stumps, eating soft bark by the look of it. The baby jumps of mum’s back and has a frolic on it’s own and comes closer to where I’m kneeling to take photos on their level. The baby sees me and suddenly it’s walking towards me and climbing my leg! Yikes… It’s too close to take photos of (had the 70-300mm zoom on) so I called Wendy to come and grab the camera for some photos. It’s all pretty amazing and I’m not keen on having the thing climb any higher, they have huge claws and I don’t want an eye out or a split ear. I had to walk around a bit for it to realise I wasn’t a stationary tree, and it climbed down and went back to mother who by this time was coming closer to see what baby was up to.

The rest of the day is reading books, brewing coffee on the fire, and cooking dinner.

The great thing about all this is that you close all those doors in your brain that are open to the rooms of ideas, work, family, church, problems, jobs to do, etc. It’s very nice having something else to do. Well, there is nothing to do, well at least it doesn’t feel like it. The only things that need to be done are those required to survive, or maintain and cater for a (reasonably comfortable) existence. Things like keeping the fire going, eating and drinking, etc. Then there’s the things you do when you’re reading, talking, walking, and maybe some chores like mowing, cutting wood etc. And the day turns into night, and then day again. Just like that. <found a lovely short video animation that reflects this cycle but from a different perspective. Check it out at website for Solar.>

I suppose the point is, that we need a break now and then to keep it real and grounded, to pause and look around and enjoy the simple things. Let’s do it again soon.



off and running for 2009, but making headway?

18 01 2009

Dear reader, it’s been a while, the postings haven’t been very regular, and it is that dreamy, lazy time between years, but I thought I’d better make start on my blog for 2009. Hopefully with this beginning I’ll feel like I making some headway. 

On the home front, we’ve had a great holiday with two weeks down on Cape Otway. Nice weather and great to spend time with the family – had the boys down, Dad & Emmy (who had done a bit of a road trip and driven down from Qld), brother Andy and family, as well as Trynda, James & Samuel. Enjoyed sitting around in the bush and relaxing. I even managed to read a couple of (largish) novels – Snow Crash by Neal Stepheson and Matter by Iain M Banks, both science fiction. Also trips to the beach (picnic at Blanket Bay for Christmas day), walks through the forest and some hard yakka cleaning up around the place. Came back to go to work and then went back to the bush for weekend to chat to a tree lopper as we’re getting closer to building and need to clear a few more trees. Don’t really like doing this, but we need to make way for a house and make sure nothing will fall on it later. Highlights obviously the weather, food, drink, books and company, as well as spotting a couple of Twany Frogmouths hunting in the dark – very cool. Overall and excellent adventure and good for the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now it’s mid January already! I’m finding that a little difficult to comprehend but it’s true. I’ve been back at work for two weeks and gradually getting up to speed. There aren’t a lot of people around (it’s good time for academics to get their recreation leave entitlements down) and students don’t come back on campus till second week of March. Well, that’s not completely true. We’re running a Tri-semester 3 (instead of a Summer semester) and have quite a few students doing that but they are mostly off campus. Things for me so far have meant getting ready for Tri-semester 1 and covering the fort till other support staff come back from leave. So, been dealing with some business and catching up with people after the break. Looking forward to doing some writing and research this year and thinking about a research question that might sustain me during the time it would take to do a PhD…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, that’s fairly up to date with a fair bit of computer tinkering over this weekend. New operating systems on three laptops and restoring software applications and data. Wendy’s HDD failed and I needed to go to 10.5 and then Reubs wanted to as well. I suppose we’ll find out the week what we still need to do when things don’t work or we can’t find something. Oh, and we’re saying goodbye to Ash as he heads back to Europe for a while (at least 9 Months). He be heading to France (Lyon) to catch up with Pip who is studying there. It will be cold. We might be heading over that way too, and spend some Euros on the continent later in the year – we’ll see how things pan out.



a dirty weekend

30 06 2008

Well dear reader, this post may not be in the vein that the title may have alluded to…

We went bush for the weekend and had a relaxing time down on the cape. Were very surprised to find a Tachyglossus aculeatus in the annex hiding in a plastic crate. Thought might be best to leave it alone and went for a walk to take in the fresh air. It was a bit cool in the evening but the fire (which took a little while to get going) last night was excellent. enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner (cooked on that excellent fire) and sat up talking till the embers started to glow. A long (broken) sleep with the wind blowing through the tree canopy and no Koala noises (not many around). In the morning I noticed the Echidna had moved and while looking for it noticed that there were two hiding in amongst the crates and folded chairs etc! So, a little Echidna family on the way. Cool! Anyway spent a bit of time cleaning up the place of bark and branches and will need to get the mower out next we come down – soon I hope.

On the way home we were held up by a tree fall (blocking both lanes of the road) at the top of the Otways and helped to get it off the road as a local cut it up with the chainsaw he fished out of the back of his ute… It was damp and dirty but fun!

Home, tired (and dirty/smoky) but refreshed.



it starts again…

27 04 2008

Sunday evening and the work cycle starts again tomorrow. Nothing wrong with that, it just means the weekend is over and whatever I didn’t get round to doing will need to wait till the next one. It was a hectic week at work last week and I’m looking forward to catching up on a few things this week.

We headed down to Cape Otway on Friday and cruised though Apollo Bay with stopping for the Music Festival, well we did grab a coffee and muffin and shopped for some vitals. Caught up with some friends for lunch and then did the walk down to the Parker and round Point Franklin. I’ve never seen the sea so calm but it was very high so the rock scramble was tricky in between the waves.

On Saturday it was into Apollo Bay but straight through and up to Marriner’s Falls. There were some signs up at the car park to say the track was closed due to storm damage but that didn’t stop us (and a whole lot of other people). It wasn’t that bad, but there were a few trees across the track and you could see that it had been up a meter or two when it rained heavily a couple of months ago. Anyway, it’s a beautiful walk and lots of nice things to look at if you take the time. The falls are part of the Barham River which flows past the caravan park at Apollo bay and out to the ocean.

mushrooms.jpg barham-river.jpg

We stopped for a picnic in Paradise on the way out and enjoyed the company of three Kookaburras who (unfortunately they probably thought – but for their own benefit) missed out on some lunch. It was drizzling a bit (probably meant that we had it on our own people-wise), but not enough to stop us enjoying a very beautiful place.

Nothing like some fresh air and the sound of running water to refresh the spirit.



art on the road

22 04 2008

Last weekend we did something a little different. Well, on Saturday paid a visit to the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen. Strolled around the site that “comprises 16 acres of buildings, gardens and sculpture park presenting a dramatic combination of indoor and outdoor spaces” and we had a picnic in the gardens. Didn’t get to see the Rick Amor exhibition but would like to see his stuff. Saw a segment that features a conversation with him (Episode 10 that you can download) on Sunday Arts (it’s worth subscribing to the podcast…).

The big day was Sunday when we checked out The Golden Plains Arts Trail – 45 artists in 20 locations. The Golden Plains Shire is a sort of rough triangular wedge between Geelong, Ballarat and Lismore. We did about a 350kms round trip from 9:30-5:30 and saw some new (and different) parts of the countryside like Steiglitz, Meredith, Garibaldi, Dereel, Napoleons, Haddon, Smythsdale, Linton, and Werneth. We ran out of time and missed out on Inverleigh, Teesdale and Bannockburn but can get back to these people another time.

We saw the wares of over 20 artists: painters (of all types), sculptures, crafts, paper, printers (lino), furniture etc. I never realised that there were so many people living in the bush around little settlements. They seem to be out in the sticks which is very dry and dusty, and up lonely dirt roads but still close enough to have electricity but need tank water. I suppose many are weekenders but most of the artists seem to be permanent residents. It was amazing to be driving along a lonely flat, desolate even, country road and then suddenly have to turn off into a farm and then walk into a shed that had some wonderful artwork hung around the wall and then have some lovely conversations with these people.

A fair bit to get around to in the one day, but a great concept. Watch out for it next year…



Happy New Year

4 01 2008

A slightly belated Happy New Year to me and you, dear reader. May 2008 be a great year for you and I wish you strength and courage as you fulfill those resolutions and tackle the goals you’ve set yourself. I’m getting fired up to take on a new job (still at the uni) which is a bit like the old one but from an academic perspective, and looking forward to the changes that will bring. The second half of 07 was not an enjoyable one work-wise, with significant change that was rushed through and affected a lot of people badly. So, I’m out of that frying pan…

The last couple of weeks have been rather crazy but very enjoyable. Lots of things to celebrate (including a 21st), catching up with family and friends, lots of food and drink, some presents, times of relaxation and chilling out (the bush was fantastic), and don’t forget a couple of very hot days between 2007 and 2008. Our few days on the the Cape (Otway) were very special, a couple of nice walks, beautiful weather, the beach to ourselves, and seeing a Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) or two, or four! They sat on that branch for most of the day, but couldn’t we find them the next day.

Otway Park Tawny Frogmouths

Crayfish Bay was glorious, nice and warm on the sand, the water was cold but once in for a few minutes, just perfect, and we didn’t see anyone for 3 hours!

I’ve been reading Yukio Mishima’s The Sea of Fertility which is giving me more of an insight into things Japanese and particularly Mishima’s bent on things political. Anyway, it’s been enjoyable and while I’ve still got 400 pages to go (I’m already halfway through!) I’m aiming to have it finished before I go back to work next week. Hope I manage it, I do have some chores to catch up on and then there’s the second test

… only 325 days till Christmas.



furry animals

9 12 2007

Had a couple of wallabies (Swamp Wallaby – Wallabia bicolor?) jump past whilst sitting around the camp fire recently – enjoyed watching them much more than the Koala’s ruining the trees. they are the (brush tailed) possums aren’t too bad – there doesn’t seem to be too many of them and they only come out at night. they do seem to have a problem with the fire at night – they stop right above us during their traverse of the tree canopy and take a leak right over the fireplace. so, make sure you’ve got a hat on! (we’ve actually had an invasion of these at work – they get in the roof cavity and bang around a bit, occasionally falling through ceiling tiles!) …and then there’s the occasional (yellow bellied) glider which is a special treat – magical even. you can hear them coming through the bush with their screeching and then all of a sudden they hit the tree. if they’re on the move they clim straight up and then launch off without a sound and smack inot another tree up to 100 meters away!

We’re also spotting some bunnies in the bush – suppose they’re everywhere, even saw one hopping across a carpark at North Geelong railway station that other night! We’ve also had a fox sniffing around the campsite in the past, but it has mysteriously disappeared to be seen no more…