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.


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…

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.

being there

25 11 2007

as is being somewhere else … a couple of days in the bush is good for the soul. Just being in another place to take you out of the regular patterns and situation of ‘normal’ life seems to be healthy. Just like a diet and eating well, ensuring you get some ‘other place’ in your life help maintain a healthy aspect on things. Probably goes for whatever you do, playing sport, going sailing, watching a movie or play, putting up a tent somewhere, doing your hobby etc.

So, it was down to Cape Otway and the bush, fresh air, sand instead of bitumen and concrete, trees, water and rocks. Did a great walk down to the Parker River (outlet) where we could see the old timbers buried in the sand of the Eric the Red which ran onto the reef and was wrecked in 1880. Walked around the headland on the rocks and saw a midden that looked like it was slowly been eroded away. It was set up high on the rock looking out over the river mouth and under a natural overhang. Further around the you come across old rigging timbers and rusting bollards and cable from the ship wreck. All goes to making you think about the treacherousness of the sea and how merciless it can be. Then further round to Point Franklin and the southern most tip with raging seas and views to the west of the Cape Otway Lighthouse partially hidden by the mist and spray from the ocean. Walking back up to the car it’s disappointing to see trees that have been killed by hungry koalas who don’t seem to understand crop rotation or sustainability.

Cooking dinner on the open fire and enjoying a quite, still evening is very calming and a great way to get ready for a sleep. The only noise was the occasional Koala having a grunt and a few Kookaburra’s laughing at the coming evening as it got darker … wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.