and then there’s the black dog…

23 05 2012

Black dog
Photo credit YouWall

the cycle of the seasons

21 04 2012

As Autumn approaches things are changing in the garden. The flowers on the Haemanthus Red have faded and died, but left seeds to create the next generation… James came by this morning and repotted the leafy bulbs into the old wheelbarrow which should mean we’ll have a great display next season when they bloom again.

Haemanthus bulbs

We’re getting ready to do some work in the front garden which is long over due. I’ll document the progress of the transformation from a field of Alyssum that it’s become, to a designed low maintenance garden. It will feature a timber wall, some iron rings, and a bunch of interesting plants…

Alyssum field 

So, hopefully by the time there’s another change in the seasons we’ll be all set for Spring to encourage some growth in the new garden.

Colour brightens up a dull day

3 03 2012

It’s the first weekend in March and cold, wet & dreary. A very stark contracts to last weekend’s hot (high thirties) and dry weather. Not to worry though, I’m inside, rugged up and enjoying coffee & donuts. I’m also trying to write up (and finish) a research report that’s been due for a few months. With the summer break and the transition to a new job this project has been on hold and I really need to get it done and out of the way.

So, what am I doing writing this short post? Task avoidance I reckon – but really trying out the Wrodpress for iPad app for the first time. We’ll see how it goes as I try to add a photo.


We’ve been surprised by the appearance of the flowers on the Haemanthus Red that’s been lying dormant in a pot in the old wheelbarrow. Over the last 10 days it’s bloomed and is adding some nice colour to the front verandah to brighten up the grey weekend. We think the warm weather last week may have encouraged it to get going, and I continue to marvel at how nature works.

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.




airports – a special type of micro/systo/eco/cosm

20 07 2011

On the road again…

Yep, heading home after a long week in Denver attending a conference and sitting in a bar at Denver airport killing time. I mean, what else can you do at an airport other than drink coffee or beer and eat. I suppose you could wander aimlessly wondering how you can spend that last $18 of local currency that’s not worth hanging onto. And it’s not worth worrying about the price because what else are you going to do?

Anyway, fairly easy trip in a shuttle out to the airport and then got changed into more comfortable travel clothes and packed the bag before checking in. Managed to get a window seat to LA and then and aisle on the jumbo for the 14 hour flight to Melbourne. I bought myself one of those travel pillows to wrap around my neck and will be very interested in how it goes. A few hours sleep between the movies will be very welcome.

Denver airport

Denver is a large airport and a significant domestic transfer hub and quite busy. Architecturally it’s special with a marquee type vinyl roof intended to reflect the Rocky Mountains. Actually looks a little like a Bedouin tent from the outside and provides a nice diffused light inside. So, people are busy eating fast food, hanging around, sleeping on the floor, browsing the stores, sponging free wifi (like me) and generally making the most of being captive in this closed system environment. Yep, there are rules and lots of security (particularly getting out to your departure gate), and I was impressed by the ‘ambassadors’ stationed around the concourses who seem to be retired people that answer questions and provide help if you need it.

I suppose the one thing everybody has in common at an airport is that they are all going somewhere – unless they are seeing someone off, or work there. There’s a mixed mood of excitement about heading off somewhere as well as one of frustration as the sense of movement is stymied by the processes and systems of security checks. I reckon fair enough, because I for one would like to be safe as I travel and recommend giving yourself some time between connections so you don’t get stressed.

Now time has been killed, and blog post written – might mosey off to my gate and then sit around to read my magazine and/or book as I’ve another hour till boarding. Oh, and hoping the new pillow will perform as advertised.

the dangers of living in the suburbs

10 04 2011

We’re very happy to live in an established neighbourhood with lots of trees. This ensures plenty of bird life, possums and recently a few fruit bats (or flying fox) enjoying the environment along with the residents. I came home in the evening mid week and spotted a Tawny Frogmouth on the wires above the driveway, raced in & got the camera and managed to take a snap before it flew off.

This weekend though, we’ve been distressed to see two magpies and a fruit bat hanging lifelessly from the power lines (there was also another dead fruit bat straddling the wires further up the street). Somehow they’ve managed to electrocute themselves across the wires. The electricity company has been called to get them down (if they down’t blow off before then) and we’ve asked them to check if the wires are too close together…

Magpies fruitbat

Seems such a shame that our suburban infrastructure can be so dangerous for the wildlife. I’m sure there must be ways to prevent things like this from happening.

a fun, productive Saturday afternoon

23 02 2011

Last weekend I took apart an old, dead commando (Victa mower that is) and enjoyed getting dirty and learning about carburettors. This broken mower had been disposed of at a rubbish recycling depot and salvaged to be sold at their shop for $15. I was after a mower the same as an old one we have and thought it would be useful for parts. It still had compression when I pulled on the rope so thought it might be worth getting.

Victa commando

On getting it home it actually seemed in better nick (wheels & frame) than my other one, so thought I should have a go at cleaning it up and seeing if I could get it going. I thought I might see if there was an online manual for the mower so I’d be able to get it all back together if I pulled it apart. I actually found a couple of videos on youtube where a young fellow (geoff390) had recorded his attempts at dismantling and reassembling one of these mowers. Watching this helped me understand what would need doing to return the carburettor back to working condition.

So, pulling everything apart was easy enough, and I worked out what parts I’d need to get it back into working order. It seemed that things were a little clogged up with gunk so I needed to clean the parts in petrol and to find an air filter, an o ring, some fuel line, and a set of blades. A couple of hours later I had it all back together (thanks to John for the parts) and tentatively pulled the rope. It started first go! There was a metallic click from the blades as it was running though, and I discovered I’d put the platter & blades on upside-down (a Murphy’s Law design problem) but fixed that easily enough. After parts, I now have a $31 mower that’ll go for a few years yet…

A wonderful (and successful) learning experience that’s got me thinking about purpose, intention, & passion in education. I’ll blog somewhere else about that…

chores, the essence & necessity of life as I know it…

31 07 2010

Well, there we go again. Just when I thought I’d had an afternoon off to catch up on some of my own plans, the sewerage gets blocked. Like, and properly. It needs un-blocking because it won’t take any more water etc. No flushing toilets, no washing etc.etc. …and we’ve got people coming over tomorrow.

Dang! After spending the morning on jobbies, I wasn’t in the mood to have to deal with this development. Anyway, had a think about and we rang a friend who said he’d unblocked a few and had a grubber thingy. So, grubber thing came round but it still took three hours to get it sorted. Very thankful that there’s now some flow, and that we didn’t have to get the (expensive) plumber out… Now to get some copper sulphate to send down the pipes to kill the roots…

I don’t mind chores as there is some satisfaction in getting them done and I’ve realised long ago that life is a chore. Things have a changes since centuries ago and the types of chores we do have changed. Even though life in some sense has become easier, there are still things to do, get organised, ticked off the list. The jobs may be different but they are a part of getting on with it. They are a part of living and making an existence, we need to move, otherwise we’ll die. So, next time there’s a list of things to do, I’ll just plunge in and tick them off, one at a time.

time for a holiday (with some adventure thrown in)

3 06 2010

a quick entry before we head off on a time of holiday travelling in Europe again. It’s been a very busy first half of the year and time for a much needed break away from the normal routines and demands. Heading off to the airport soon, and once we get through check-in and customs I’ll be sighing with relief and starting to relax. Looking forward to warmer weather and seeing some more of Italy (particularly Sicily) and a conference in Barcelona.

You can follow the journey at the Europe 2010 blog.

more farewells and glad to have been able to help…

26 05 2010

After finishing The West Wing last week, I’ve also finished something else…

Tonight I finished a three and a half year commitment and service in a volunteer capacity. I’m glad I’ve been able to make a contribution and make a small difference to the community I’m part of. Kind words were said (and appreciated) and I hope that work can continue in the vein that it has been commenced.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but then that can be expected in a community consisting of individuals. I’ve learnt a lot about leadership, communication and common vision & goals. So, while some frustrating times, it’s generally been fulfilling work and there is some sadness in walking away. but, it’s got to be done, others will fill the breach and the work will go on. I’m looking forward to a more hands-off role mentoring other to step up. As Benjamin Zander suggests – “What contribution can you make?“

Thank you for the opportunity to make mine…