Saturday, February 26, 2011

From this to this

It was time to return to NYC... the day dawned sunny and coolish. The morning light was inviting..

A few shots adjusting exposure and shutter speed- finally understood that lesson!
The flight was due to leave Melbourne at 1pm but was late and so late into Sydney a real rush to the plane and the great disappointment of no upgrade so I spent the flight in an exit row and managed to get around 7 hours sleep- as I have said in the past- sleeping is one of my greater skills.
We rushed from the LAX flight to the flight to JFK.
Began to relax in the business class eat and oh darn they needed to move some passengers to enable others to board the flight so we were upgraded to first class. Yay!
Finally got home in NYC earlier than expected- at 8:30pm- 25 hours after we left home.

We went from this ...
The bird feeder in the back garden

to this...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Last day

 It is the last day in a couple of ways... the last day of the conference/training and the last day of this trip home.

The view toward Melbourne CBD from the conference/hotel venue
It has been 12 great days that have flown by but lingered as well. I haven't managed to "catch up" with everyone I should have or wanted to but I have learned that one can't and still maintain one's sanity. If I have managed to meet up with friends during this time it has been a bonus.

Love the eucalypts
 I'll be back again in July and then there will be much more time for the usual catch up and run around.
View down into the street and part of the park opposite
I have had the chance to sample some of the things I love about being at home and Australia. Here's a sample of those things...
1. Family
2. Friends
3. Spencer- the dog
4. Being out in the garden
5. Hanging the washing out to dry
6. Cafe latte/ decent coffee
7. Theatre
8. Music
9. Shopping
10. Lamb, chocolate and reasonably sized portions of food

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The excuse...

 The excuse for coming home... not that I need one but it enables me to justify the changes in my work  and flying all this way for 12 days ... and so to the excuse... it was the re-accreditation process for the work in Victoria so two days of meetings.

Lesley and Sue kept me company

Day one, today, gave me the chance to catch up with former colleagues. All those trained or being newly trained with our company have worked in NYC... so we caught up with those we worked with last year and met up with those who are going through the training this year.

Cait and Leonie checking on allocations of schools

Ian and Michael helping with data analysis
It wouldn't beSue if the phone or technology wasn't involved.

Frank finally made it there and kept us company for a while

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


 They say variety is the spice of life and today held that very element. Michele drove me to the station and as all three of us were going in different directions during the day. I was meeting Anne Marie for lunch in the city. The train journey was different from those experiences in NYC. The frequency of the trains was not an issue for me as Footscray has a number of different lines that run through it and a train was arriving as I purchased my ticket. The cost of the ticket has seemed much higher than the $2.50 price that is NYC subway ticket and thinking about it is as $6.80 for a day ticket meant that I could travel all day in zone one which is a fairly  large an area but nothing in comparison to traveling from one end of Brooklyn to the other end of the Bronx for $2.50. The other big difference it seemed to me  apart from the trains mainly traveling above ground (the "loop" underground of 5 stations is so minor) was that people were talking to each other. The seats face one another and take up much more room it would seem but this seems to encourage people to talk and carry on conversations- not in loud voices but chatting to each other. In the compartment I was in there were about 4 different quiet conversations going on. Not many people were asleep either and only a few people had music devices playing- none were so loud that you could hear them. Other commuters were reading, doing crosswords and talking on their mobile phones but not too loudly. An interesting start and finish to my lunch journey. The lunch was lovely too- the company and the food.

A view not of the vege garden
 Michele had spent her time gathering gardening materials to begin work on the vege/herb patch.

The happy gardener with lettuce seedling
 It was Kate's 12th birthday so we all (Sue Michele and I) traveled to Patterson Lakes to join in the celebration. Kate had her favourite meal of roast lamb and a chocolate ripple cake- my favourite too so i was pretty lucky.

Some day I'll get a photo of Lynne when she is not cooking!

Getting the birthday watch working

The boys inspecting the pool developments

The shy birthday girl while we sing Happy Birthday

9 candles plus 3

Chocolate ripple cake- low calorie

The birthday girl, dad and brother

He thought I couldn't get a good photo. Ha!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another visit

Guess who?
 I know i know a tad besotted but he is cute!
I fly back to NYC on Saturday and with work etc it was one more chance to catch up with the Lovely Bridie & Sean and the gorgeous Dylan. So I did.

A trip to the airport was the start of the day- to farewell Tony and to meet Sue.

It was so lovely of Tony to fly all the way from Perth to see us all- we had some good times sharing all the things happening in our lives and plans for the future.

Having waved him off it was time to greet Sue arriving from NYC via LAX  via SYD. The board said the plane had landed. Last week when I arrived the plane landed I hurtled along the corridors to the immigration section and rejoiced in the fact that I have a passport with a chip in it- it speeds things up no end. One scans one's own passport then stands on the spot at a little gate thing and has one's eyeballs scanned or something along those lines. I knew Sue didn't have one of those fancy schmancy passports but fast as my exit had been the previous week it didn't account for the delay in her exit from immigration and customs.
Standing waiting for her to appear through the doors seemed to be taking forever. I had managed to get through in about 20minutes. After 45 minutes I was starting to wonder if I had missed her. I was privy to lots of scenes of welcome reminding me of the scenes in Love Actually. Unfortunately I wasn't able to recreate this great T-mobile ad but she did eventually make it through and we were on our way about an hour after she had landed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A day indoors

It has been cooler- cool enough to have the heater on to take the chill off the air. It is Melbourne after all and I think it (Melbourne) lived up to its reputation of four seasons in one day.
 I needed a day that was a little more solitary.
Photojojo had some links to people's photo pages that really require setting up Kids dreams and
Cats dreams

Time spent filtering junk doesn't make necessarily for a good blog post so a trip to the list blog and today's questions...

1. Any vacations you are looking forward to this summer?
The summer means that I come back for the break to Australia. This summer/winter apart from the work I have to do and getting my documentation in order (visa etc) I am going I hope on a trip to the Kimberley.

It is the north western "corner" of Australia
Michele and I are in the process of planning it now- when I say planning Michele is doing sterling work juggling dates and tour companies and I am being supportive and saying what is possible time wise for me.

Hopefully my photos will be almost as good as this
2. What is your favorite article of summer clothing (shoes are included)?
What is this with favourite personal items and these lists- in trying to catch up I reflected on this penchant for favourites- so selecting a favourite item of summer clothing would have to be sandals because they are the closest thing to bare feet and love walking around barefoot. I only put on shoes inside when I get cold- now if they had asked favourite winter item then I might have been able to say my purple cowgirl slippers.
The selection of a favourite something reminds of that scene in Miss Congeniality ...
Stan Fields: Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.
Cheryl "Rhode Island": That's a tough one. I'd have to say April 25th. Because it's not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket. 
3. What is your favorite summer drink (alcoholic or non)?
Still on the favourites thing... hmmm... a summer drink that I really enjoy is Matcha- I asked the resident Japanese expert (Michele) as she walked past to make sure I have the name right. According to another of my great sources (google) high quality matcha green tea differs from low quality powder in two ways.
First, it tastes sweet and smooth with just a hint of astringency. This is because it contains higher concentrations of theanine. Green tea powder tends to lack theanine, and so tastes more flat and abrasive.
Second, it is ground into fine powder using slow-turning granite grinding wheels. Friction is minimized and tea leaves are not “burned” in the process, allowing the leaves to retain chlorophyll.
In contrast, regular green tea powder is often pulverized using air pressure. The friction caused by this process “over-cooks” the leaves, rendering them yellow-brown.
 It makes up into a  thickish green sweet drink which is very refreshing. I'm not sure that Stabucks has it right.

4. Do you tan or burn?
I should try neither as with my fair Irish skin I burn as quick as look at the sun. Skin cancer is a high risk for all Australians- Michele has had more burnt off and cut out of her than anyone I know fortunately they have been discovered in time and removed.  A trip to the demratologists will be on the cards when I come back in July.

5. Any goals you are working toward this summer?
Goals? I always have goals I am working towards and this summer/winter will be no exception. By the summer I will have started my "60 Things in 600 Days" but I have yet to finalize all that so perhaps that is the goal I can say I am working towards. Intrigued? I hope so.

6. What is your favorite summertime food?
I think of avocado and summer for some reason- perhaps that is when they are supposed to be ripe and available. One never knows now what is a summer food and what isn't. Although stone fruit always seem to be able to keep themselves pretty much to the summer. It wasn't until I couldn't get cherries for Christmas in NYC that I realized how exclusively summer they are.
We always had cherries on the Christmas dinner table (remember that is summer in Australia)- I guess because they are red- they look so red and shiny and inviting especially against the white table cloth. A danger, that is... the white table cloth ... the red cherry juice. We would "pick at the cherries" between and during the courses. One was already stuffed to the gills with lollies (candy) from the presents, stocking or tree- the only time you were allowed to eat lollies all day then at Easter the only time you were allowed to eat chocolate before or for breakfast.

7. What song most says “summer” to you?
Only one? I'm going for two- one is "Summer Holiday" which ends up being my summer  fallback internal sound track all summer long just as "Winter Wonderland" ends up being my winter fallback internal sound track- the one I am singing in my head when I am not singing something else. Do you always have a sound track running in your head? I believe other people do and some others have different things like mathematics equations or pictures they will paint/draw/create.
The second song that reminds me of  summer is Band on the Run. I can still feel the heat of the day and the scorching footpath and the location of the place where I was working.

8. Any home improvement goals planned for this summer?
We really are looking forward to summer aren't we! I have been doing those improvement things while home this time- cleaning out the junk in the bungalow- the skip is yet to be removed and I have managed to weed the old photo album collection in preparation for the development of new photo albums this time scrapped to within an inch of their lives.

9. What is one thing you hate to see at the beach?
"Budgie smugglers"- What am I talking about? Went to the source (google) and selected two explanations
1. Australian slang term for men's tight-fitting Speedo-style swimwear. The 'lump in the front' apparently resembles a budgie when it is stuffed down the front of someone's shorts. Ah, those crazy Aussies!!
2. Any item of male bathing costume or underwear that encloses the wearer's genitalia in a manner that resembles the concealment of a budgerigar.

Perhaps the more intellectual response to this would be my objection to people smoking on the beach- we know where the cigarette butts are going to end up don't we!

10. Did you ever go to a summer camp?
I used to go as a leader on holiday camps. It was a week out of my holiday and it meant that kids to get away from the city and have some time where they had three decent meals a day and were cared for as well as having fun. The camp I did this at  what was then called "Lions Village Licola" and is now called Licola Wilderness Village- don't know that it is much of a wilderness but it does take a very long time to get there. This question has brought a whole range of memories back of going as  a "leader" on the camp and caring for groups 6 girls getting them to and from activities and keeping them entertained and comforted throughout their week long stay. For a while there I was going every school holidays which meant at least three or four weeks out of the year. Really rewarding and exhausting.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Certainly making the most of it

 ...that is what I am doing ... making the most of being at home thanks to my family and friends.
Tony's generosity in coming to visit in Melbourne has been wonderful and today brought together friends of long ago. Eeventually that is, it was one of those arrangements that are made via email and phone, communications became a tad jumbled but we did get together without any real drama- the drama was later in the day.
And so it was that the "Bruce St mob" got together again. It was three of the families from the street in which we grew up. The street has now changed completely- houses sold and demolished replaced by monstrous places that no longer reflect the simpler life we had as kids.

Michele and Alan G and myself
We spent about three hours over lunch talking and laughing about some great times we had as kids growing up in an area where there was sea and the bush and lots of liberty to run around and be kids.
The age range seemed vast as kids but now looking at us all we are within 10 years of each other. 

Alan, Cheryl and Tony
Thanks to Sandy we got photos of the event and had a wonderful time.

As to the drama of the day- Michele and I drove to Williamstown Little Theatre and had tickets to the 5pm performance of "Two Weeks with the Queen". The playbill gives a great intro to the play is by Mary Morris adapted from Morris Gleitzman's book of the same name.

“Dear Your Majesty the Queen,
I need to speak to you urgently about my brother Luke. He’s got cancer and the doctors in Australia are being really slack. If I could borrow your top doctor for a few days I know he/she would fix things up in no time..…Please contact me at the above address urgently.
Yours sincerely, Colin Mudford
PS: This is not a hoax. Ring the above number and Aunty Iris will tell you. Hang up if a man answers.”
Want something done properly? Colin reckons you go straight to the top! If the Queen can’t help, who can? You’ll laugh till you cry, or, like Colin’s new friend Ted, cry till you laugh. It's a warm, funny, poignant play!

Congratulations Shirley Sydenham and Robert Harsley- the show is an absolute delight.  Tim Walker and Dylan Boyd are absolutely engaging as the "young" boys. Tim's performance as Colin is inspired and heart warming. We were totally engaged by the whole show and laughed and cried along with the Mudford family. 
The direction was clever keeping everyone busy including the talented backstage crew. The whole show complemented by Barb Hughes' set design which manages to be witty and functional. 
It was a great opportunity to catch up with my mates at Wlliamstown Little Theatre and to share a meal with Shirl after the show with not only some of the cast but my other friends who had come to see the show. 

Another day in Melbourne of family, friends and fantastic food.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lunch at Annie's ....

...and Ann made cake. Or so she said when she arrived.
It was a lovely long long long lunch. These wonderful friends arrived at different times which meant I could savour the moments and catch up on news individually and in detail- perhaps not enough detail as so much has happened for them and me in the 4-5 months since I have seen them.

Annie was hosting which was a great way to not only catch up on her comings and goings but also to see her in her "new" place. Her things from NYC have arrived so she is now really well established back in Melbourne, looking well and settled. It was lovely to see her things from NYC in their new locale alongside her treasures that had been in storage all the time she had been living in NYC.

The view from one of Annie's balconies
 Julia arrived having been caught up in traffic- on a Saturday! One forgets about traffic when for the past 5 years one has relied on the public transport/transit system. A lovely long chat over a lovely lunch and Ann arrived having made cake. Such a "busy" time she must have had making that variety of goodies and getting it into those little plastic boxes. It was time to catch up on her news-such a lovely time we had.
So talented getting them in the plastic containers

Ann made cake!
 It was late afternoon by the time I got home- just enough time to change and head out to dinner with Michele and Tony- the siblings having a night out in Melbourne together- lovely. We went to Paris Cat a new for us jazz venue. A great spot in one of Melbourne's many lanes.

We found a park on Lonsdale Street and checked out the venue location then headed around the corner to Hardware Lane. Now that was a surprise- I've been there to meet with friends early in the day a quiet spot... but it would seem it develops into a big cafe society area with people at the front of the restaurants spruiking for patrons, later in the day.

I cheated- found this shot, to give an idea of the area.

The dinner, the company and the music was great. 
The lunch, the company and the conversation was great.
A lovely day!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Finalizing some things

 A day spent getting things sorted in different ways... things like the financial adviser juxtaposed with clearing/sorting/storing the remaining clutter in the bungalow. I had to check how to use juxtaposed in a sentence I think I have it right.
When I say sorting it is a bit of a rough sort as at this stage as the sort has only been in the broad sense, that is to keep it our throw it out in the skip we have currently in the driveway. The finer details of the sort needs to be done but not at this stage.

The "before" photo of the great sorting expedition
I could actually post this photo again as the after photo all that would be different would be seeing what is in the upper layer and a couple of other bits missing. It has been a big task and still lots to be done.

We took things out to the skip and put some things on the nature strip for interested passersby to enjoy. Enjoy they did- the kids up the road now have a couple of my discarded snow domes- I have had to weed the collection which was looking decidedly sad and dried up. Cars were stopping and perusing the pile of "treasures". Spencer's barking was letting us know that people were looking. We went out to dinner at the pub and by the time we got home there was nothing left on the nature strip and lots of things taken from the skip.  Street shopping at its finest.

 A friend sent me this link to a lovely soul stirring Youtube "event" that not only raises the spirits but raises money too to help those who have been devastated by the recent natural disasters in Australia.
Queensland and the eastern states of Australia have been devastated by the worst floods in living memory. Variety WA and Storyteller Media got together to produce this Flash Mob video with the Variety Youth Choir performing 'I Am Australia' at the Karrinyup Shopping Centre food hall. Proceeds from the Google and YouTube ads to the flood disaster relief fund.
Variety is a childrens charity so the money raised will go directly to childrens needs.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Got one!

A photo card reader that is so now I can upload my photos of the gorgeous Dylan.

This one was from last night - waiting for his dinner

Happy to play and chomp on his toes.
 We decided to take Dylan for a walk to the nearby strip of shops in Mont Albert. What a great little stretch of shops- It was a very short walk to the end of the street and across a main road there are the Mont Albert shops. Everything one could need practically. A choice of coffee shops and bakeries. 

A local having a coffee and reading the paper

A couple of second hand clothing/ goods stores so the opportunity for bargain shopping abounds.
Through the window of the op shop- great-uncle Tony and great-nephew Dylan
 A butcher, green grocer and supermarket- with bottle shop. The butcher is an old style butcher- I kept thinking of all those butchers we had access to in Beaumaris and Hathorne and other places. When I say old style- he was youngish but had the typical patter of butchers of old- "What can i do for you young ladies..?"
Reminded me of the joke about the woman going in to the butcher's shop...
Woman: Excuse me but do you have a sheep's head?
Butcher: No madam I always part my hair this way.

The butcher's shop was in fact quite up-market with not only great cuts of meat but fish and also gourmet cheeses and deli produce. As you can see I was quite taken by the butcher's shop.

The station provided opportunities for some interesting shots
 We walked to the end of the row of shops and had a look at the railway station.
 We crossed the road and looked in all the shops on the other side of the street and then purchased so fresh bread and bits like avocado, salmon pate and cucumber and made our way back home.

The view back down the way we came
 Dylan managed to entertain everyone we came across from the young man in the fruiterers to the elderly woman on the walking frame and the old Asian guy who was quite taken with the way Dylan nonchalantly rests his feet on the bar of his pusher (stroller).

Charming all and sundry!
We had a lovely day with him- he did what he does well- eat, sleep, smile and be placid.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Photos and no photos reader

How did I do that? I left the photo card reader back in NYC. I am sure I packed it leaving my new one on my desk and packing one for Michele but hunt as I may I cannot find it. It couldn't have been pinched from my luggage- I mean to say it is precious but not that precious!
And so inserted here would be photos from my lovely day out in Melbourne- my lunch with Anne Marie- friendships are great especially those where you pick up exactly where you left off.
I drove in to the city and parked in a car park- they are astronomically expensive but in the end I figured it was cheaper than parking at a meter and getting a ticket as I would have over stayed the time. One finds it hard to find a parking meter in the city that is for longer than 2 hours and that's how long I would have needed for our lunch. The lunch was simple but the conversation certainly wasn't.
The parking meters reminds me of the lateral thinking parking meter story...
the international lateral-thinking guru Edward de Bono said that he had a great idea to replace parking meters. De Bono argues that if you want to shorten the time parkers stay in one spot you should simply legislate to require them to keep their car headlights on whenever they’re parked. No need for meters, easy to police and you’re guaranteed to keep their stay nice and short!

After such a long lunch I caught up with other friends and colleagues- part of the reason I am home to get some of the review work organized. Then I headed off to meet the gorgeous new (almost 5 months old now!) great-nephew Dylan... oh yes and to catch up with Bridie and Sean.
Dylan is a delight just as everyone has been telling me- gurgles, chomps on his toes, smiles, grins, eats and sleeps. More time with him on the morrow. I got some photos but no photo card reader so perhaps a stop at a photo shop before heading elsewhere.

Drove back through bursts of torrential rain- I guess the drought is over for the moment!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Getting sorted

It doesn't pay to rush things, especially my blog! Earlier in the month I wanted to post my invitation to the Photography Exhibition which I did but in doing so I took the quick way out and inserted the table which i had used for the invitation format. In doing so I completely mucked up (I have to say I used far stronger words at the time) my blog- perhaps you noticed the ginormous font for some components of this witty little tome? And the choice of pink for the large declaration of "Followers". I was practically shouting all over the place. However you will notice I have it sorted and created a bit of a different look for the blog at the moment.
Now I still need to catch up on the days of February as I did so well in January-every date blogged.

The process of getting sorted continued to be the theme of the day. Part of my goal while here was to tackle the bungalow.

Our bungalow is, as is tradition, is out the back of the house in fact it is at the back of the back yard and the back wall of it forms the back fence to out property- the line between our property and the neighbours behind.

According to Wikipedia ....
A bungalow is a type of house, with varying meanings across the world. Common features to many (but not all) of these definitions include being detached, low-rise (single, or one-and-a-half storeys), and the use of verandahs. The term originated in India, deriving from the Gujarati બંગલો baṅgalo, which in turn derives from the Hindustani बंगला baṅglā, meaning "Bengali" and used elliptically for a "house in the Bengal style". Such houses were traditionally small, only one story and thatched, and had a wide veranda.
The term is first found in English from 1696, where it was used to describe "bungales or hovells" in India for English sailors of the East India Company. They were known in Britain and later America, where it initially had high status and exotic connotations, and began to be used in the late 19th century for large country or suburban houses built in an Arts and Crafts or other Western vernacular style - essentially as large cottages, a term also sometimes used. Australia, the California bungalow was popular after the First World War. In Britain and North America a bungalow today is a residential house, normally detached, which is either single story, or has a second story built into a sloping roof, usually with dormer windows ("one and a half storeys"). Full vertical walls are therefore only seen on one story, at least on the front and rear elevations. Usually the houses are relatively small, especially from recent decades, though early examples may be large, in which case the term bungalow tends not to be used today. Later it became used for the spacious homes or official lodgings of officials of the Later developers began to use the term for smaller houses.

Fascinating? Forget all that and go back to the first part of the the description/history which uses the words "hovel' and "low rise" and "detached" because that is what our bungalow is. It could tell some wonderful stories as it has accommodated lots of people over the years we have lived here. It has two rooms and each room has a window out into the yard- they even open. It is accessed by traversing the backyard and in bad times avoiding the clothes on the clothes line and the "barkers eggs". It has electricity but no water so access to the bathroom facilities is gained by traversing the yard and coming in to the house. And so to my day and goal which was to help prepare the second room for Michele's god daughter Michelle to reside in. She is starting a Fashion Design course and needs accommodation. We really can't accommodate her until there is room for her things. So I spent 6 hours doing what I do best, well one of the things I do best- apart from sleeping (got 8 hours on the plane)- I tidied and sorted and extracted the junk from the treasures that have been accumulating in the bungalow. 
All that is left to do now is sort out my snowdomes- some serious decisions need to be made and sort out some of my books.  I have to admit I am a tad achy now- it was a very warm day and I kept myself at it taking advantage of the "fog" of jet lag where one's brain is quite numb.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday in Melbourne

Hired a car so got myself home and Spencer was very surprised and excited
After leaving the apartment at 12 noon and traveling to JFK to fly to LAX International time lines and transferring to a plane to Melbourne via Sydney I arrived home at 11:30ish am. Trying to calculate how long that is looks simple but given time differences and the International Date Line- it was actually 7:30pm Sunday night- so in all I was traveling for 31 hours. Admittedly I was early to the airport but they do recommend 3 hours before an international flight- tricky when the first leg of it is domestic. However I arrived home safe and sound.
You can tell this is an old shot as no wire door.

The purpose of the visit is to do the accreditation training next week so I had planned an extra week away from NYC and have taken advantage of it.

Now the running around starts as I want to catch up with people but also not over do it! But one has to eat meals each day so why not do it with friends.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The "exhibition" photos

These are the ones that made the cut.
The class project was to take photos each week to bring to class to have them critiqued and help us develop the skills we had learned in class. I learned so much - the change in the photos and my confidence in shooting them was very satisfying. I realized when I was putting them all together that each one represents some of the things I had learned along the way. 
The project I selected was "Grand Central"- getting the light right without using flash and on manual settings was my first challenge. 

Early in the class using shutter speed to effect

Taken during our week of portraits of strangers

Inspired by the work of Henri Cartier Besson

The depth of field class helped get the police and the travelers in shot

Looking through the window in the info booth- a different angle

I tried to get a photographer in focus the previous week and then this opportunity arose