"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Final Photo Challenge: BALL

The final photo challenge, and I chose "Ball' to inspire me. And there was one, sitting right in front of me! I'm a bit of a rock hound, so this is my little crystal ball. Every now and then I give it a twirl, to see how it changes. At the moment, I'm seeing a snow covered landscape, a black and white cat, a bird in flight, and some clouds over a farmhouse. I think it's a fitting photo for this last week of the year, perhaps we'll need a crystal ball to find out what's in store for 2015.
I've enjoyed the challenge this year, thanks Asha for keeping us on the ball, so to speak.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Photo challenge: CALM

The brain works in mysterious ways! I started thinking about the challenge word - calm, and the connection was made to unruffled. Ruffled then made me think of this swan and its ruffled feathers. He was very calm, gliding  quietly across the lake and heading to see if we had any goodies for him.
So there's my ruffled, unruffled friend.

(for those who want to know - swans' feathers ruffle more in the breeding season).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Photo challenge: FISH

Didn't think I'd find something fishy, but I saw these fish at a restaurant today (only for display, not for eating). I thought they looked so colourful and pretty.

Friday, October 24, 2014

More good reads

I've had a few more play dates with my Kindle; it's getting to be an addiction! And to think a few years back I truly thought e-books would never catch on. How wrong could I be?! I must admit, nothing beats having a brand new book in your hand, but if you read by the kilo and haven't much storage space, nothing beats an e-reader.
I've come across some more thrillers I like, among them the Black house trilogy by Peter May. It's about a detective in Scotland who is sent from the 'big smoke' to his home on the Hebridean island of Lewis, to investigate the death of a former school fellow. The books follow this and other investigations, and tell the story of an interesting protagonist and the island that is and was. The books are extremely well written, bringing the Scottish landscape, traditions, and communities to life. I had to read them all in one go, they were so gripping! I've also ordered Peter May's "Hebrides", a photo book of the area, as I hope there may be some shots of Barra and/or Colonsay, where my ancestors come from. More about that when it arrives.
The other book I've been reading is 'Tatiana' by Martin Cruz Smith. Smith's books follow the career of Arkady Renko, a Moscow-based senior investigator who has trouble fitting into the new Russia. He hasn't quite given up on his job and seems always to find a reason to solve just one more murder. This time, he investigates the suicide of a notorious journalist. The trail leads to Kaliningrad and an amber mine. I've read most of the Renko books, and believe Smith has not only captured some of the paradoxes of the  modern Russia, but some of the soul of its people. I read his 'Havana Bay' recently and really enjoyed it.
Not a thriller, but quite a thrilling read, was Elliot Perlman's 'The Street Sweeper'. Perlman is an Australian author and can spin a good yarn. In the "street sweeper" he brings together people from very different backgrounds and teases out the political, historical, and personal circumstances that bring these people together, all on the streets of NewYork. It's a great book to read over a rainy weekend, with a supply of hot chocolate and some cool music.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Photo Challenge: MATCH

Couldn't think of anything that matched - so I thought about matches, as in lighting a match.
I've always been wary of fire, never struck a match until I was an adult, and then only with trepidation. I can now light a candle, but I prefer using the long matches, keeping the flame well away from me. Who knows - maybe I had a bad experience with fire in a previous life?!
So there you have it - my MATCH, and it's a long one!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More clouds

 Yesterday was a wild and woolly day, and perfect for chasing clouds. They brought driving rain and high winds, knocked a tree over, and were best observed from inside.Must have been cold up there!

One am

The stuff of dreams and language.
Ditch syntax,
discard the bonds of punctuation.
And yet
I long for verse and rhyme and meter.
Get over it!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Photo challenge: TRIO

This one had me scratching my head - until this morning, when I remembered this cute sculpture I saw in Montreal. The three bronze ladies are having a good natter about something or other. The TRIO kinda makes me smile when I see it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Good reads

This little spoof on "Downton Abbey" was definitely a hilarious read! Nothing is sacred, from the Dowager Catness to Mr. Matthmew Clowder and the scandalous behaviour of Lady Minxy. Special treats are the "uninvited but necessary words from the Dowager", who has a bonmot for every occasion.
Classic: "I have nothing against stage people. My great-aunt was the string of a cello."
And so it goes. Very funny.

That was just by-the-by, what I really wanted to write about was a couple of new mystery series I've come across recently. Since I've been having regular - and extended - play dates with my Kindle, I've been checking out the amazon offerings. One of the series I am busily reading my way through is John Lawton's 'Frederick Troy' detective series. I saw the author mentioned in a Sunday Australian newspaper, and thought I'd give him a go. Well, I was in for a treat! These are not your fluffy little detective novels, these juicy tomes pack in convoluted plots, an extensive, detailed knowledge of pre- and post-WW2 history, brilliant (and sometimes surgical) portrayals of the British, beautiful language, and a likable, multifaceted hero. Lawton's been criticised for 'too much history' in his novels, but it's what makes the era come alive. These are the sorts of books I never want to end. I do hope Lawton has a few more 'Troys' in store!
The other series I've started to read is the Inspector Gamache one. This amiable detective is a French Canadian who works at the Surete in Quebec. He finds himself drawn to a small village, Three Pines, by a series of murders. (A bit like Midsomer; soon there will be no villagers left to murder!). When I started reading Louise Penny's series, I wasn't so sure if I'd like her style, but now I'm hooked. The characters are interesting and I love reading about all the little Canadian things I encountered on my last trip to eastern Canada. Even Tim Horton's coffee and poutine get a mention! The books run to appx. 360 pages, so long enough to while away an afternoon.
Lastly, I just finished the latest Donna Leon 'Inspector Brunetti' novel. This is another series I can't get enough of. The inspector, a well-read (and well fed) family man, is a Commissario at the Venetian 'Questura', and solves murders with his sidekick Vianello and the mysterious - and slightly criminal - Elettra, always under the beady eye of their boss, Patta. I like how Leon brings Venice and its inhabitants to life, and the Brunetti characters are very believable. I just feel the inspector should have a cat.
If you haven't read these crime series, try them, you might just be entertained for a few hours.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Photo challenge: COTTON

I'm a little late, but inspiration for this challenge didn't strike until last night, so there you have my my COTTON buds! I thought a close-up of these everyday items might yield an interesting texture. Might play around in Picasa a little more.

Here it is with a little more processing...starting to look like coral.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Photo challenge: Blue

Actually, I'm quite glad not to have to look at that baby head any more! This week's challenge is BLUE, and here's a little BLUE wren that hangs around my garden. At the moment, Mr. Blue and his wife are looking for a good nesting spot. Every now and then they perch in the shrubs and peek through the window. I guess they see Pretzel the cat and think it might not be safe. Little do they know that Mr. P. only dreams of birds these days, doesn't chase them.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Photo word challenge: HEAD

Interesting choice of topic! Well, here's for something unusual - one of Ron Mueck's amazing sculptures. This was the head of a whole newborn sculpture. It was huge, and very lifelike. I found them fascinating but somewhat confronting. He takes everyday people and re-creates them in meticulous detail, but in unreal proportions.
My favourite sculpture was that of two old ladies. I love the expressions on their faces. I can just hear them: "Will you look at that guy! His pants are falling down, and his whities are showing!"

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Photo challenge - Lights

I'm a little ahead of myself - possibly to make up for the weeks when I didn't submit anything. But the topic inspired me; I love lights and using light in photography. So I was thinking of the bokeh effect, which I hadn't achieved yet but will make a goal for the future. In the meantime, I used an online post-editing program to achieve a bokeh effect. Bokeh, acording to Wikipedia, is a hazing or blurring effect achieved by a short depth-of-field, (hope I got that right). It presents as blobs of light, and can be achieved with aperture or manual manipulation or filters. I also loved the lights produced by these Christmas stars I saw at a Christkindel Market in Dresden. Every now and then I need a German Christmas and like to visit the Christmas markets. Seeing the picture evokes sounds of carols, and smells of Gluehwein, gingerbread, and roasting chestnuts.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cold Mountain

The weather report mentioned snow down to 600m today, so we packed the cameras and went for a drive up the mountain. We started off at 8C which quickly turned to 4C in Macedon and 1C on Mt. Macedon. There was a bit of sun about, so we didn't think there'd be too much snow, and indeed, there wasn't enough to build a snowman! Still, a dusting of the white stuff was quite satisfactory and produced some nice shots. I don't know why I get excited about it anyway, I moved here to get away from the snow and slush of Europe!
Whatever; it gave me an opportunity to put on my boots and warm mittens, wrap myself in woolly layers and pretend I'm braving the elements.... My Canadian friends must be laughing by now!
We weren't the only ones checking out the snow situation, a steady stream of cars made its way up the hill and back. I wish I knew somebody who lives up there and could tip me off when the snow's thick on the ground.
On the way back, it seemed appropriate to warm up with a nice hot cuppa, so we stopped at the General Store, which is a friendly place with lots of yummy things to eat and drink and look at. It was blissful just sitting on the window bench and feeling the winter sun on my back, while DH read the paper and enjoyed his cappuchino.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Word Challenge : RED

Haven't been here for a while, what with birthdays, visitors, travel, knitting, quilting, physio....and so on. But this week has been back to normal (well, as normal as possible for me), so I thought I'd add to the challenge again.
This time the word is RED, so I figured I'd go through my recent pictures to see if anything grabbed me.
So here is my RED panda baby! His picture was taken at the Adelaide zoo, where he shared space with another baby and the parents, looking across to the big enclosure where the big pandas were. They kinda stole the show, but these little guys deserve attention too. They're awfully cuddlesome, dontcha think?!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Weekly Challenge: Comfort

This week's word is COMFORT. That didn't take too much brain strain, thankfully. I chose this quilt as something that gives me comfort. It was given to me as a gift from my friend Kathryn, a lovely handquilted dragonfly quilt. I'd never made a quilt just for me to snuggle up with, so this was most welcome! It does duty in spring and autumn, when a doona is too hot, and a sheet is too cool. Combined with a cotton blanket, it's just perfect, keeping me comfortable all night.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Weekly challenge: FELINE

I liked the word of the week - feline! Well, lets face it - I like anything that's remotely connected to animals. I've been owned by quite a few felines (9 at last count) and loved each and every one for their interesting purrsonalities. One thing that always get's my cute-vibe going in cats is their paws. There's just nothing sweeter than kitty-paws! I think these ones belong to Mitzi, now gone to cat heaven.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

An autumn walk

Today was a glorious autumn day, even the resident mob was out enjoying the sunshine! It was a perfect day for a walk around Gisborne, and it was lovely to see the trees turning colour. The pinoaks were just stunning, and the other trees in yellow and green provided a wonderful backdrop. Truly a photographer's dream, and our town at it's very best!
Lots of people and dogs were out and about, enjoying the sunshine. Met one intrepid dog owner walking her three "oodles", a 'spoodle' (spaniel-poodle cross), a labradoodle (labrador-poodle cross), and another oodle of which I can't remember the provenance.
I walked along the creek, which was pretty overgrown, although the "Friends of Jackson's Creek" apparently do some cleaning up there. Saw ducks, and I must go back when the sun is shining on the waterlilies and capture some of the flowers.

Found some trees with yellow fruit, not sure what they are, but they provide nice colour too.

Finally, I drove up to St. Andrews, which looked gorgeous with the late afternoon sun on the sandstone, and the colourful foliage in front. Indeed an hour well spent!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Weekly Challenge: Ball

Ok, so no dog to throw a ball for, no fur balls from the cat - what's left? And no, I'm not being rude! Aha! Here's my friend Chris and I having a BALL! We dressed up in our Bollywood outfits and gave our version of Bollywood dancing. Yay!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Red moon rising

Yesterday there was an eclipse of the moon. My camera didn't exactly rise to the occasion, and it was fairly cloudy. So I edited quite heavily on Picasa and came up with this rather gloomy shot. I found a new website called 'blingee' and it's quite fun once you figure out how it works. I thought a raven would look ok here and added this 'stamp' to my photo. Eat your heart out, Edgar Allen!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekly challenge: CANINE

Well, that was a pretty easy one this week. I was thinking about canines, both teeth and animals, and opted for this close-up of Claude. Dogs have such soulful eyes, don't you think?!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Week 12 challenge: FREE

We love all the birds visiting our place. We get the transient ones, the ones that visit regularly, and those that stay. The arrival of the black yellow-tailed cockatoo is always heralded by their loud screech. They look so graceful gliding across the paddocks, and keep our shrubs nicely trimmed. Nothing is as free as a bird!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dog's breakfast

Somehow, my blog settings have been totally muddled up! I can live with it at the moment, but it's not ideal. I need to reset the template settings somehow, but not sure how to do that. Anyway, it taught me not to fiddle with these things. It didn't help when the whole background went black for a few days. I wish I understood more about computers, and how to fix things. Maybe I should do a quick IT degree.... ooops, no forget that...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Week 10 challenge: STAR

A friend and I played around with night shots a while ago. We set up our tripods and took different shots of the stars. Then we set our cameras for looooong exposures and went and had a cuppa. When we came back, this is what I got. I tweaked the photo minimally with autofocus and saturation, and while it shows the progression of stars across the sky, there was an unexpected 'shadow' of a human form (if you want to be fanciful) among the stars! Is somebody watching us???

Monday, March 17, 2014

Weekly challenge: SIZE

This week's word stumped me somewhat. I tried to think of something that was impressive in its size (big or small). I remembered this old black bear at Parc Omega in Canada; he was surely the biggest, baddest bear in the valley! He was HUGE, could have done with a stint on "Biggest Loser". I guess they have to eat themselves silly for hibernation, but this was the height of summer! Still, an impressive sight - and size!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Facebook magic

Some years ago, I noticed that people were posting their quilts on quilt group pages, complete with kitty! I thought that was a neat idea, and thought other might also like to look at quilts and kittehs. And so, "Quilting Cats" was founded. I thought we'd maybe have a couple of dozen members at most, but the page took off and yesterday we hit the 500 members mark! Not only have we gained so many new, interesting cat lovers and quilt addicts, but most of them have actually stayed with us over the years! As these things do, interest has waxed and waned, but currently the group is really going strong and bringing lots of people lots of fun.We've seen fantastic quilts, met interesting people, magnificent cats (and the occasional d-o-g), laughed out loud at some of these felines' antics, and cried when they went over the Rainbow Bridge. The group is always the first thing I look at every morning, to see if anybody has posted anything. I love looking at all the photos on Sunday mornings and choosing the banner kitteh of the week. We keep the group closed, friendly, safe (we have young members), and free of advertising (although the posting of gorgeous cat fabrics is ok). I often curse Facebook for one thing or another, but I wouldn't want to lose this group, it's brought me so much joy and contact with nice people. We make everybody welcome, if you have an interest in kittehs and quilts and are happy to share stories and photos. Now looking forward to 1000 members - as one member said "Think big!". Indeed!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekly Challenge: Happy

This week's challenge is 'Happy'. There never was a happier dog than Raff, our Samoyed. He always greeted us with a big smile, a wet nose and a swish of his feathery tail. He seemed to have a twinkle in his eye, that seemed to say: "What mischief can we get up to today?". Tummyrubs would make him smile even more. He made us very happy. Went over the Rainbow Bridge many years ago.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I was in town yesterday, just out for a lunch with Wayne (Maha Restaurant - highly recommended!).
We were in Bond Street, just off Flinders Lane, and had this excellent view of the Eureka Tower. It's not often one gets an unobstructed view of the city's tallest building.
 In keeping with the architectural theme, I like patterns on buildings (must be the quilter thing!), and this one looked pretty good to me. I liked the way the light played on the glass and reflected the blue sky.

Closeup of the windows. I wonder what it looks like from the inside.
City art. Conversation :
Me: "Oh, look at the bird!"
DH (looks up): "What bird?"
Me (points): "That bird!"
DH (confused): "Can't see it!"
Me (rolls eyes): "That big, white, bird across the road!"
DH: "Ah! I was looking for a real bird."

Perception is everything.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekly Challenge: FAST

This one was another tricky one! Then I thought of these little guys, and they're the fastest thing on four legs around here! This one's just skipping, but in full flight they're a streak in the landscape. Mr. Fox would have his work cut out to catch Mr. Hare on the hoof...or the paw!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weekly CHallenge: FLOW

I always wanted to know how to photograph flowing water with a 'soft' focus. Finally, on a hike in Alaska, our photographer guide showed us. First, adjust your ISO level if necessary. Ours was a fairly overcast day, and this was in the murky forest, so we adjusted the light to about 400 ISO. Then you set your camera on 'Tv', then set the time to approx 1/13th of a second (or slower). Use a tripod or make sure your camera is held very still while shooting. Et voila! Soft flow.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekly challenge: OPEN

In Greek mythology, Zeus gave Pandora (the first woman) a box with the instructions never to open it. Naturally, Pandora opened it and unleashed evil into the world. The only thing left in the box was Hope.
Sometimes, things are better left unopened.
"Open" immediately reminded me of this old tale, and I remembered a recent gift, which I opened with great anticipation. This Pandora's box contained only delightful things. Choose your boxes wisely!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Knit one, drop one.....ooops!

I'm in the mood for knitting. I've found some beautiful wool (Lincraft and our supermarket, believe it or not), and am looking for easy patterns. I've been knitting a few of these so-called 'potato-chip' scarves. I guess they do look a little like Pringles, and they are quite addictive. The one in the photo is made with some wool I found at Rose Cottage in Ballan.
Just found a pattern for a 'squiggly scarf', so I'll try that next. Perhaps I can make a few and sell them on Etsy.
Lincraft has some gorgeous wool, I like the textured wool, especially with alternating colours. I'm looking forward to our local quilt shop getting in some yarns. I also like to use the scarf pins. Found some really nice ones on ebay, made from bone, wood, and other materials such as paua shell (Javacentric).
YouTube has some good instructions for different knitted articles. What did we do without YouTube??

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Week 4: Instantaneous!

Mmm, that WAS a tricky one! Took me a while to come up with something.
In the end, it was one of my favourite pastimes that inspired me - photography! A photograph is an instantaneous thing, especially since digital photography has arrived. It captures an instant in time - often less than fractions of a second. Before and after the shutter clicks, everything is different again.
That instant can last for generations, in a dusty photo album or appear and disappear in seconds, on the web, in the cloud. It can be history, evidence, proof, memory, art, conversation starter...whatever the need. The instant will never come again.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cool clouds

Once again one of my favourite subjects - clouds.