Friday, January 29, 2010

A Ramble

I hope you are all ready for this, but I am in a slightly rambling mode this afternoon

This week has (apart from Tuesday’s public holiday) been hectic. Things aren’t quite as mad as they were during the Christmas – New Year period. However, the side affects of us remaining open when other services were closed have been that some people who were not using our service have “discovered us” and have continued accessing us. This doesn’t necessarily mean longer days (although it can) but it does mean more, much more tiring days.

Roll on the weekend. I am mostly free this weekend, only having to work two hours on Sunday. Battery recharging is definitely called for.

I have been looking at what I want to talk about here on this blog over the next little while. This makes me sound terribly organised which is not actually the case. Usually it is more like a last minute “I did this today, people might like to hear that so I’ll post it.”

I began this blog saying I would talk about my publishing journey, battle, non-event, it seems like all three. I am still passionately involved in pushing my (first) book out there, but really in terms of posting it is only the occasional update.

I have raised the flag about posting a couple of things that I have not yet done.

A couple of people asked for my curry “recipe”. I am certainly planning to get that up and I have even almost written a recipe based on what I usually, or perhaps often do in the kitchen. Boy, is it hard to write a recipe when you’ve never done one before. To be totally honest I’ve had a slight crisis of confidence over it and I will not post it until I have a lazy enough afternoon to “test” it and make sure I haven’t forgotten to include something.

I have also said I would talk about the “armed criminals” who were mentioned in my previous post. Theirs is a fascinating tale which I think is well worth talking about when I get round to distilling it. I don’t want to declaim at great length in the style of my mythical “Uncle Harry”, but some stories need a bit of detail to remain faithful.

I also have a couple of nice things to say about work that I hope to post soon. Some of the things I have shared have been about quite harrowing events (and of course about some wonderful things). I always feel that there needs to be some balance and there are some really uplifting aspects about working with any group of people.

That is probably enough rambling for the minute.
I will wrap up by finishing with the things I was going to say on Tuesday evening before I ran out of steam.

To recap, we drove out to Mansfield on Australia Day.
From there we went a little further down to the north shore of Lake Eildon.
Deb and I had a very peaceful picnic sitting in the shade here:Lake Eildon is one of the areas that has really suffered after years of drought. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you will get a bit of an idea of just how empty the lake is. The water is maybe 30metres (about 100 feet) below full. Those patches of white spray on the left side are powerboats pulling water-skiers. The “twigs” in the water are the remains of huge trees that were drowned when the lake was formed, with the lake below 5% capacity they have been exposed.

As we ate we were pestered by this Australian Magpie and her almost grown chick. Did I say we went without any of our girls? A quiet day of just the parents can be most refreshing.
Mum is about to pop a chunk of bread in baby’s mouth.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t feed the wildlife, but I am a soft touch or I wouldn’t keep working for charities.
“Maggies” are normally very fetching glossy black birds with white highlights, but she is undergoing her summer moult and so looks quite ugly.

After our picnic we headed back into town where we stopped for coffee before hitting the road.

As we drove out of town we caught a glimpse of something through the trees.
We threw out the anchor and I waded through waist deep grass to investigate.

I was a little leery about the wisdom of what I was doing. I was wearing shorts and sandals. Normally when I bushwalk (hike) in any weather I wear good boots and usually jeans.

About the only dangerous wildlife in almost all of the Oz bush (apart from the places where you get crocs) are our snakes. So boots and thick pants are a good idea. As I have said before snakes are not interested in biting you. Yet walking through long grass without the right gear is probably not entirely sensible.

I took heart from the fact that despite our native snakes having incredibly toxic venom they almost exclusively bite idiots who are trying to kill them with a stick or similar implement.
By venom toxicity we have 19 of the top 25 most poisonous snakes in the world and 7 of the top 10 (including 1-5 on that list).
Despite this more people die every year in Oz from beestings than snakebite and I’m not about to stop looking at flowers.
Bottom line, leave snakes alone and odds are you will be sweet.

What did I find? This rather interesting (and I think quite attractive) Nineteenth Century industrial chimney. I haven’t done the research to find out, but I would guess this is the remains of a brickworks. Before railways came through in the late 1800s quite small towns often had their own brickworks. With the large distances involved it was usually more economical to build a local brickworks than to bring in bricks by cart.

Mansfield was connected to Melbourne by rail, but as with so many country towns the railway is gone having closed down due to competition with road freight in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Of course with increasing fuel costs the wisdom of shutting down railways now seems questionable.

Now after inflicting rather a long ramble I am going to finish with two points

First, my posts seem to attract an incredible number of comments (especially given my traffic is still quite low). I want to say thank you all, I really appreciate your contributions. I have come to the blogosphere quite late but it seems to be largely a wonderful set of communities.

Secondly, I said above that there are a few things I want to post about soon.
However, I suppose I want to ask what is your perspective of how the blog is going?
Are their any things that you think I could do better?
Anything I could do more? Less?
Anything you think I could cover?
Anything that grates? (maybe a stupidish question, If you didn’t like the blog you just wouldn’t come back).
I would love to hear what you think.


Tiana Lei said...

I loved the picture of the chimney, I wish they had stuff like that here :) And our magpies look totally different (even without the molting).

As for your questions, I think you should just blog about what you want to blog about. Don't think about what people want to hear, because then you won't be happy with it.

Kristen M. said...

I appreciate your blog for being so different from everything else I read. It's quite refreshing -- even when the subject matter is sometimes heartbreaking. The photos of Oz are amazing and I definitely hope they keep coming. I'm a non-practicing zoologist so I especially love seeing your amazing fauna!

It seems that you had a pleasant Australia Day. I listened to a bit of Midnight Oil the other day in honor. ;)

Amanda said...

Oh I love your blog! I think it's because you've got an honest voice and I love hearing about the different aspects of your life: the work, the publishing, the family, and definitely the photos. My husband and I always dream of going to Australia for a few months, getting a vehicle, and driving/hiking/camping/etc. Thanks for sharing all your photos and stories!

Jenners said...

I love that one picture with the bright green tree!!!

And I'm a great believer that a blog needs to be what the blogger needs it to be. When you start writing to please others, it came become more like work and less fun. (Unless you are getting paid, which I doubt any of us are.) But that is just my two cents and based on what I've found to be true.

And I think it would be terribly hard to write a recipie. Good luck!

Lisa said...

What a great find that chimney was!

Love your blog just as it is; it's particularly wonderful for someone who doesn't live in Australia to get an idea of what life is like for you and to see all of the wonderful piccies!

Kathleen Jones said...

Just keep going Al! we're all still reading!
good luck.

Jemima said...

I love the chimney. (I also love pics of those old abandoned Aussie homes or sheds that have a rusted out tin roof. So look out for some rust for me!)

In general I enjoy your weekend day trips and accompanying photos. It is like little reminders of home for me. But I do agree with the others, that blogging seems to work best when you just write about what interests you. It is going great.

Al said...

Hi Tiana,
I love old industrial ruins. And to have it surrounded by scrub bonus!
Yeah I think our "magpies" were named by homesick Pommies in the early days simply because they are black and white. The Currawong which is a very similar bird but with less white retained its Aboriginal name.
Thanks for you advice!

Hi Kristen,
A zoologist huh. I'll try to oblige, most of are mammals are nocturnal so hard to photograph. But sometimes birds sit still long enough to let me capture them. I do have a few prints of reptiles from before I went digital. Hmm food for thought, thank you!
"The Oil" great band. I don' like them as much as I did any longer, the trouble is Peter Garret their lead sold out totally a couple of years ago and ran for Parliament. He has gone from a rebellious, social commentator to a government minister. He has lost all credibility.

Hi Amanda,
What can I say, thanks again! I always enjoy your updates too!
Sounds like a great plan, I hope you manage it someday. Your plan is the best way to see this big old place. It is so hard because the distances are so big (we are about the same size as the US (without Alaska) but very sparsely populated away from the South East.

Hi Jenners,
Great advice, I agree but it never hurts to fish for ideas!
It is soooo hard to write a recipe, especially because when I cook curries I usually follow the basic principles and fly by the seat of my pants.

Hi Lisa,
Thank you! I'll get you wearing an Akubra yet!

Hi Kathleen,
I will! I figured It couldn't be all bad given not too many of you seem to have run for the hills. Thank you to you as well!

Hi Jemima,
The chimney's great isn't it. It's just off the Maroonadah highway on the outskirts of Mansfield. I must have driven past it at least half a dozen times before and never noticed it. So much for my powers of observation!

I love rusty old sheds and the like too, so no problem.

I love travelling overseas, but I think I would miss this old place far too much if I settled elsewhere. So I am only too happy to remind you of home.
Thank you!

Mary said...

I'll second, third, fourth, fifth & etc. everyone else. Just blog what you feel like blogging. If you feel what you're posting is disparate and all over the place because social media "experts" keep giving the advice to pick one topic & stick with it, forget the experts. A pattern develops over time with those who write frequently and yours is already here.

I enjoy hearing about life in Oz and your familiar terms for things (like "Oz!"). I also appreciate your tales of social work and your writing endeavors. Keep going!

Al said...

Hi Mary,
Thank you for your vote of confidence!

The message from everybody seems to be write what you like. As I said above I think I can handle that.

I love colloquialisms from everywhere.

We use Oz because we pronounce Aussie as Ozzie. Americans (damn it I cant remember anything about phonemes) seem to say it "Ah-sie".