Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 30. Day 334. Feeling crabby

 I am my father's daughter in so many ways. Look at me and you'll know I'm a Hetherington. But it's not just the nature part of the equation. There's also the nurture bit. I find myself doing many things that if I stopped to think about it I'd realise were from my Dad.
But today I broke a dad habit of a lifetime. It's about holidays. When the holidays were done we packed up and went home. There were no detours, no delays. It was - to borrow a Monopoly phrase - go home, go directly home, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
I even remember one family holiday to Port Macquarie where he refused to stop to let us eat or drink. If the car hadn't needed petrol there probably wouldn't have been wee breaks either. He just wanted to get back to home sweet home.
I might not be quite so crazy rigid about it but I also don't delay at heading home. Questions about a car full of valuables or wet togs and towels or perishable food always bother me.
But not today. Today it was raining when the dogs and I should have had our last walk along the beach. I felt cheated. Also without a big run we would have a whinging Winkle to deal with all the way home. So with the car packed and the keys returned, the dogs and I hit the beach. Drama Teen stayed in the air conditioned car to help alleviate my normal concerns. The weather was threatening but the run was excellent (even if the car is now buried in sand).

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November 29. Day 333. Under the boardwalk

Well doesn't that suck. Today is our last full day of holidays. The weather was lovely - if you happen to be a duck. The morning walk was cancelled but we did fit in a quick stroll after lunch to collect a newspaper from the local shops. By later afternoon the rain hadn't actually gone away but the weather gods had pushed the pause button for just a bit. We decided to chance it and head to the river. The place was pretty much deserted but while the clouds kept threatening they never actually delivered. The dogs had a lovely old time running around and exploring. We were just happy to stay dry and to watch the dogs going off. It wouldn't be what we would have chosen but it was rather nice just the same.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

November 28. Day 332. Spirit of Adventure

I'm sure my mother loves me, really. But I do test her.
Mum traditionally joins us on holiday. She pitches in and does what we do.
I "reward" her with a few surprises. One year we went for a "short walk" through the Noosa National Park to the nudist beach. Anyone who knows the area knows that the reason this unofficial clothes optional beach is allowed to flourish is because it is well off the beaten track. You can approach it from two different park entrances. Neither is a short walk. But she did it. Today we took the dogs to the Maroochy River North Shore where the river meets the ocean. The plan was to start the walk at the ocean entry and walk around the headland and arrive park at the car park at the river entry. It's a fine plan. What I didn't mention was that although it is beach most of the way there are detours.
Fallen trees and the like mean that in places you have to head inland. In one section you have to wade through water about knee deep.
I'd done it a couple times on this holiday. Drama Teen has conquered it once. We both knew what to expect. My mum did not.
The dogs loved it. The humans embraced it. I think my mother, knowing my sense of direction, was just pleased that we made it back to where we started.
I rewarded her with Pad Thai for dinner. It's her favourite. She rewarded me with doing the washing up. Deal.

Monday, November 27, 2017

November 27. Day 331. The early bird

 Sleeping is something of a family specialty. I was trained in the fine art of snoozing by my mother. Mum doesn't only adhere to the idea of letting sleeping dogs lie but also thinks it is wrong to wake snoozing humans without good cause. If you are asleep, you need to be. Given that, there was no way I was going to wake her when the dogs and I went for our pre-breakfast walk on the beach. So she missed the butcher bird eating its prey and the dogs trying to catch and kill each other. She also didn't see the large number of mutton birds dead on the beach (apparently this is a seasonal thing). Mind you, I didn't see her taking on the crossword later in the day because it was time for my nap. She let me sleep. She always does. In the late afternoon we were both awake so we hit the beach with the dogs. Rumple and Winkle were happy to let Grandma share in ball throwing duties. Indeed they put on a classic display of why we all enjoy the beach so much. Still, it's considered most unlikely she'll wake to repeat it in the morning (and we won't wake her).

Sunday, November 26, 2017

November 26. Day 330. Sweet 16

My late cousin Dominic was born on exactly the same day as I was. Somehow my family has a way of being in sync. This latest generation hasn't quite managed to line things up quite so precisely but they are not far off. Sixteen years ago, my sister Marie and sister-in-law Karin gave birth to two beautiful little girls five days apart. Today Cleo and Jessica  celebrated at a combined Sweet Sixteen party. We are still on holidays on the Sunshine Coast but 100 kilometres isn't that far to travel for such an occasion (especially considering I commuted from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast for work for a couple of years). Besides I was able to make the most of the journey with . trip to the theatre by a trip to the theatre to see Scenes from a Marriage and have a chat to the production's stars. That's totally worth a 90 minute drive.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

November 25. Day 329. The silly season

Yes, I did take my dogs to sit on Santa's knee today. This is quite possibly an action which should be reported to a mental health professional.
But honestly I'm totally fine with Cute Canines cuddling with Claus. On my personal insanity scale, I don't think this even measures.
My dogs happily sat on the man in red's lap.
My dogs happily accepted a treat.
Many a toddler has shown considerable more distress at the Santa photo opportunity.
It's the silly season and it doesn't get much sillier than Santa Paws.
The silliness continued later in the day when we all trekked to the Maroochy River. 
There was splashing.
There was swinging.
There was sand EVERYWHERE.
There was mud throwing and barely a dry seat in a car on the drive home.

November 24. Day 328. Flying high

Recently a friend of mine said she didn't like the beach but went on to add that she did really enjoy the beach lifestyle. She liked the cafes and a refreshing drink overlooking the ocean. 
To me, that totally counts as liking the beach. 
You won't catch me riding a wind surfer. 
You are most unlikely to even catch me riding a wave. 
But I am in a happy place walking along the sand, watching the dogs romping and collecting shells. 
The dogs love chasing the ball and chasing each other. They sniff the bottoms of other dogs and chase birds and swim. 
For Drama Teen the joy is losing himself in a podcast while splashing in the shallows and throwing the ball to the dogs over and over again. However you find it, unless you a lifesaver or council inspector the beach is a place of relaxation where you can put work behind you.
It's a beautiful thing.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

November 23. Day 327. Up close and personal

I love pelicans. Anything that has evolved to have a mouth capable of opening that wide and fitting that much in has my total admiration. There's a kind of ugly elegance about the pelican. They are kind of big and awkward looking. Given their size, in theory they could be quite threatening. Having spent time almost nose to nose with one today, I'd say they are remarkably placid. We were on the bank of the Maroochy River very close to where the river meets the ocean. A couple of fishermen were trying their luck. A pelican decided to check out how they were going. Clearly they do it a lot. They didn't see humans as a threat. We watched each other until the pelican got bored, clearly having figured out there was nothing fishy about me. It joined one of its mates just up the beach closer to the fishermen. We continued the walk. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

November 22. Day 326. Working with my children ... and other animals

 It's nice to have a special skill. I believe the trio Susan, Winkle and Rumple are world leaders in the category of Humans who take Photographs of Birds while Assisted by Dogs.  The recreational activities of photographing birds and walking dogs (especially off leash) are simply not compatible and yet I insist on doing it.  You would not need to be an intellectual genius to work out why dogs do not make the best assistants for bird photographers. Dogs like to chase birds. Birds tend not to sit still and say cheese while being chased. This is not a match made in heaven. Still, if you have considered taking up the hobby, today I discovered an important safety tip I'm prepared to pass on. When you lift the camera to your face ready to go "snap", it's a good idea to not be holding a bag of freshly made dog poo. I bet you never thought of that. Despite the obstacles, today I added three new additions to the bird species I have photographed this week - a welcome swallow, a white-faced heron and a common tern. Yay us.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November 21. Day 325. If you build it ...

Some time today a village sprung up on Mudjimba Beach. My best guess is that some time between the morning beach walk and the afternoon beach walk, a school group descended tasked with building and decorating in sand. They looked great.
The dogs showed their approval by peeing on the constructions. I would have considered that most inappropriate except for the fact that the sand castles were clearly not long for this world in any case. It was a race against time and the elements.
It was hard to tell whether the incoming tide or the approaching storm would get their first.
Certainly the storm nearly got us. We had turned for home and had our backs to it.
A gust of really cold wind made me turn and ... holy crap, it looked like the world was about to end.
I did my best interpretation of a run. We made it home just in time.

Monday, November 20, 2017

November 20. Day 324. Hard to digest

Bloody annoying things cicadas. I'd rather not have to listen to them but at the same time I normally avoid watching them being consumed whole. Okay, the natural order of things dictates that noisy friar birds eat cicadas. They just do although until today I've never actually witnessed it. At this time of year the cicadas are swarming and when that happens an opportunist bird is going to pick off one or two. I mean, those little suckers don't exactly take steps to avoid detection. Just the opposite. The sound of the cicada is a sound of summer, just like like the cricket. Officially we are still a couple of weeks short of the start of summer but I'm prepared to go early. My evidence is as follows: 1. I'm at the beach. 2. Second semester marks were locked and loaded today. 3. The Ashes test starts at The Gabba on Thursday. 4. The Schoolies have descended on the Gold Coast and 5. The ads for mangoes and cherries have begun. Roll on summer. Just remember the insect repellent.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

November 19. Day 323. The early bird

I think today's weather may have been decided by committee. It was like a compromise decision where no-one ended up with a satisfactory outcome. But it could have been worse. All night it rained. It would ease off and then bucket down. Repeat. By morning it looked like it may have cleared. It turned out to be a false dawn but the rain respite held up for long enough for a trip to the beach to allow the dogs to run wild and our young visitor Molly to jump in the sand and collect shells. And then we retreated before the rain returned - plus it was time for breakfast. The birds had a jump on us. On the path from the beach a grey butcherbird was already grazing. According to BirdsinBackyards, this avian preys on small animals hiding uneaten food in the fork or branch of a tree or impaling it. That explains exactly what I saw going on. I love it when I see a creature behaving exactly as the guide predicts. And then I went home and ate the food I'd hidden uneaten in the door of the fridge, just the way nature intended.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 18. Day 322. Soggy Saturday

I've found myself in weird positions in pursuit of "the money shot" but today's antics were right up there. The dogs and I made it as far as the front gate when it started to pour in the style of Noah's Ark. I don't mind drizzle on my walk but not torrential downpour. So we retreated. No beach photos today. But rain or no rain, the birds still need to eat so they settled in the bottlebrush outside. They were soggy and the best place to capture that was from the bathroom. It seemed kind of ironic to be taking a wet photo standing in a bathtub but there you have it.

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17. Day 321. Four and twenty black birds

I get terribly excited when I photograph a bird that I haven't shot before. I also get terribly excited when I christen a new lens. Yes, I have a sad life. Anyway, be that as it may today I photographed yellow tailed black cockatoos for the first time with a brand spanking new 70-300 lens.
I LOVE a zoom lens. It is my lens of preference and the one I use 95% of the time.
My old one has taken a battering.
It was near retirement. But the issue was forced yesterday when it went missing. Two weeks on the beach without a zoom lens felt unthinkable (although the wide angle works pretty well for the sunrise pic). Anyway, I bought myself an early Christmas present.
The universe applauded my decision by sending a very large flock of yellow tailed black cockatoos to play exactly where Drama Teen, the dogs and I take our afternoon beach walk.
And it's not as though black cockatoos are the type of bird you have to crawl quietly through the trees to spot. These guys are noisy, really noisy and big fat posers. Perfect.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 16. Day 320. Soaring

Hello holidays. For the next two weeks I will be at the Sunshine Coast with dogs. Other family members will come and go as their commitments allow. This is a break I booked in the middle of hepatitis hell. My plan is to walk along the beach in the morning and afternoon and do not much else. So I started as I planned to finish... with a nap when we arrived followed by an afternoon beach walk. The dogs agreed it was an excellent plan, Rumple even broke out one of his signature begs for nothing in particular as far as we could tell. He was just happy. This time we are at Mudjimba, a decision based entirely on the availability of dog-friendly accommodation near an off leash beach. The people who wear the pants in this family don't even own pants. No-one is complaining. It's how we all like it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 15. Day 319. Yes, yes, yes ... but it still bugs me

The postal vote results are in. Our nation has supported Same Sex Marriage. This is, of course, awesome. This is, of course, well overdue. But I can't help but feel seriously annoyed. Our politicians are weak and spineless. Our politicians are crazily cavalier with our $$$. We are somehow supposed to be over-joyed that the vote "only" cost $100 million. Sure that is $23 million cheaper than the projected cost. It is also $100 million more than should have been spent. The result was pretty much exactly what the opinion polls predicted and they cost the public nothing. But rather than except the public will, rather than do what they are paid for they outsourced the responsibility. Sure in a democratic system, the public's opinion matters bit we exercise that through the ballot box not the mail. Yes, we achieved the right result. But hell we went the wrong way about it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 14. Day 318. My Christmas crackers

 For retailers, Christmas seems to start in about September. Certainly as soon as the witches hats and spiders of Halloween are removed from the shelves, the tinsel and baubles are decorating the aisles. And those hideous Christmas carols start to assault our ears. I have a two-staged approach to the start of the festive season. Stage two is December 1 when the Christmas tree goes up. Stage one is the annual dog grooming with Christmas bows and subsequent photo session. So it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. The fur babies will have another trim just so they look nice not naughty for Santa but they have to get their awesome on early for the Christmas card photo. Once again, the nailed the brief.

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 13. Day 317. What a load of rubbish

They are aged between 9 and 16 and they are amazing. For a start, the things that they can do with their bodies are quite extraordinary, even allowing for the fact that they are young and flexible. These 12 young people are members of the Flipside Circus performance troupe. Between November 24 and December 2, the troupe will stage four performances of Wasteland at the Brisbane Powerhouse. Today they invited me in to check out their rehearsal and explained the philosophy behind their show. Exhibiting wisdom far beyond their years, the performers talked about using the physicality of circus and waste and reclaimed products rather traditional circus equipment to talk about the damage we are doing to the environment. We need to clean up our act - literally - or we will all have to leap over mountains of junk. Expect tumbling, aerials and juggling in a show about resilience, survival and the collective need to do better. And expect to see plastic shopping bags in ways far beyond what the makers intended. I'll miss this show because I'll be out of town. The rest of you shouldn't let the opportunity go to waste!