Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A question answered

I posted a picture of a summery but deserted Tassie beach as my piccie of the day yesterday.
Which drew a question from Anne Gallagher:
“Oh wow, what a beautiful beach. If there was a beach like that here in the states it would be filled with people. Where is everyone in Tasmania?”

Well to answer your question there are some Tasmanians there down the other end about 6 of them. (if you click the piccie to embiggen it you can just about see them as dots at the far end)

Why only six on such a gorgeous beach?

There is a story to that.

Tasmania is the smallest state in Oz. By Aussie standards Tasmania is tiny at 90,768 square kilometres (34,042 square miles). Compared to Western Australia (2,645,615 square km) it is a baby.

But Tassie’s size should not be sneezed at.

To put it in perspective it is almost exactly the same size as Maine in the US.
It is about  a sixth bigger than all of Scotland in the UK.

Scotland which is considered to be sparsely populated by UK standards has 5,254,800 people.
Maine by comparison is sparsely populated with 1,328,188

Tasmanians are even scarcer than Mainers. In the whole state there are only 511,718.

So there are plenty of beaches to go around in Tassie!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sun and Wishful Thinking

The dreary winter weather that has been plaguing us recently relented for about half an hour at lunch time.
Working in a concrete jungle as I do I like to get out of the office and go for a walk at lunch time.
It was a real treat to have the sun on my face, even if only for a while.

It made me dream of summer weather too. 
So my piccie of the day is suitably summery.

Bay of Fires, Tasmania

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Port Arthur Church

My Piccie of the Day is of the convict built church in Port Arthur, Tasmania.

The church was destroyed by bushfire in 1884.

One bonus of the piccie is it reminds me there is such a thing as blue sky, Melbourne is a wet dreary place this winter!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Our Car

Given I posted about my first car the other day I thought I would post about one of our (two) current cars.  It is Italian! A FIAT Ritmo
I have to say I have nearly as much fun driving this as I did driving my old Toyota.
I take that back this pocket rocket is more fun, and it gets 38 miles per gallon (even with petrol-head Al driving)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cradle Mountain

It has been a really long week. I feel really uninspiring.

So my Piccie of the Day will have to step up for me.

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania (and the Dove Lake Boat House)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Not one but two Birthdays!

In another one of those “Oops I forgot moments”  I have realised that the birthday of this little blog has passed me by.

I started this little effort just over three years ago. To be precise my first post was on 8 July 2009.
Here in Oz we put the day of the month before the month so today is 26 July 2012 down here (not July 26 2012).

So as well as happy birthday Al I guess it is happy birthday blog!
Now to my “What, er Who is it Wednesday?”
Well all of you were kind of close-ish or on target!

Jennifer (aka Old Kitty) guessed - “Boy staring at the camera holding the half eaten bit of bread (back, second from left?)”
Linda G agreed - saying “tough one! They're all adorable. Hmm. I think I have to agree with Old Kitty.”

No that isn’t me, BUT it is my half-brother Chris (hippy families were strange things back in the 1960s) .

Marcy guessed - “I think you're the blond boy up front holding something up - a card?”

Nope that isn’t me either BUT it is another one of my half-brothers Murray (what are the odds?)

Lisa guessed - “Far right?”

And Kristen agreed with - “I choose far right too. I can see you in that face. :)”

Well Lisa and Kristen are bang on! The little ‘un on the right is indeed a 3 or 4 year old Al.

I honestly don’t remember the party (or any of the other kids) or whose party it was, but it was the house of one of my Dad’s ex-wives (Chris and Murray’s Mum) so I guess it was Murray, or Chris’. But I would have been around my 4th birthday at the time the piccie was taken so it might have even been mine.

Minette (Chris and Murray’s Mum) was just the sort of person to hold a party for her children’s half-brother. In fact she was kind of a second Mum to me until her death in 2003

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What, er Who is it Wednesday?

Well, until Deb reminded me I forgot it was Wednesday and actually posted a Piccie of the day.

It is my Birthday this week so in a little variation I thought I would ask.

Which of these little tykes is Al?

Piccie of the day

Abandoned rail bridge Yarra Glen

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Turton's Falls Gippsland

I am too tired for words tonight.
I spent all day running a training session for contractors who deliver the services I oversee for the State Government.
Apart from a half hour break for lunch I literally talked from 10:00am until 4:00pm. 

So I am going to sit back and think of more relaxing pastimes before I hit the sack.

Red Browed Firetail Finch

A fire tail  (Neochmia temporalis) trying to not have his piccie taken

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My First Car

Believe it or not my Piccie of the day is of my first car. 
A 1972 Toyota Corona Mark II

As I have alluded more than once I am a country boy.
I bought this car when I was 18 and at University the first time. 

I went to Uni that first time in Armidale NSW about 110km (about 70 miles) from where I grew up.
A friend had rebuilt the car from the parts of three wrecks and was planning to use it for rally driving. But his plans changed and he decided to sell.

I needed a car and the price of $500 was something this poor student could just about scrape together. As it happened I gave Mike $300 and a Gold Sovereign coin I had in my coin collection.
Me (about 20) and Ian (about 18)
 Well that car did me sterling service. Being a young and silly person I drove it everywhere - Sydney 475km (296 miles) in six hours. Brisbane 464 Km (290 miles) in four and a half hours through the mountains  along the New England Highway (I said I was young and silly). Armidale is on the Northern Tablelands of NSW, at about 1,000metres (3,280 feet) above sea level. Because of the cooler mountain climate the first European settlers dubbed the area New England. I found  the highway was almost deserted late on Saturday nights and so the best time to travel.

My Toyota was the car I had when I married Deb. 
I'm the Baby on the left, Deb is my child bride. The groom's men are my elder brother Michael and Ian. The bride's maids, page and flower girl are Deb's siblings

We took it on our honeymoon, we were so strapped for cash that we camped  on the NSW north coast for our honeymoon.

About a year after we were married, we bought a newer car (a 1978 Holden). My younger brother Ian and I resprayed the Toyota so he could use the car now he was at Uni. 

Ian drove the car for another couple of years. Then he bought a newer car (a 1980 Nissan ute).

It then passed to my Mum because her car had broken down. Mum drove it for another three or four years between Armidale where she was working part time and the farm where she lives with her husband Stan (next door to the farm I grew up).

The car’s useful days came to an end when mum fell asleep at the wheel.

But maybe the car was looking after her, Mum woke up in time to avert a total disaster but the car was damaged to the point it was no longer worth repairing.

A frequent Oz bush tradition is to have a car graveyard on a farm and Stan’s place is no different (you just never know when a part might come in handy).

I half imagine that when I go back to visit, the car that was a part of years of our lives is kind of keeping an eye on us.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Piccie of the Day: Sunset in the Mountains

I took this piccie this evening in the Yarra Ranges on our way home from a drive.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Orange Skies

Well when I posted this piccie for WIIW I knew it would be a suitably tricky challenge. The colour is a misdirect and the objects are moving too fast to really be captured by the camera.

But I have to say when I posted the second part as a clue I really thought the shape of these objects would give it away.

But no it was still a mystery!

Linda I have to say yes the colour is very like Mars, but this piccie was taken out my back door.

Alas Anne, while “Christmas in July” is a growing tradition in Oz it isn’t Chrissy lights.
Kitty rivets? I can see that, but no sorry.
Marcy sorry you won’t take our winter weather off us.
Well Misha, I have to give you a good 60% you are in the right area.  It is light taken through falling drops of water. The Camera is pretty still, but the drops are accelerating the further they fall.
 Here it is I took this back around January. We had a wild summer storm with rain so heavy it was overflowing our gutters.

Then as the sun set it dipped beneath the murk and lit the clouds up with this eerie orange light

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A clue and a Piccie of the day.

Well there is no doubt about it there were some very creative guesses to yesterday’s WIIW.

Anne all I can say about your first guess is “my camera doesn’t take piccies of things that small”.

As to your second we call them “power points” down here and they aren’t parallel. They look like this-
Kitty, it isn’t button holes

Linda, it isn’t con trails and it isn’t a Martian sky!

Marcy, I guess honesty is the best policy, and this was a toughy.

Misha, we all seem to be working too hard don’t we? Nope not neon lights.

 Michelle, it is not Aliens. Definitely much closer to Earth.

Not worms fried or other wise. Hope you have had a chance to catch up on zzzzs

Now here is the clue  - another part of the same piccie. I think this should give it away, but we will see. Any more guesses?

Now finally a piccie of the day: How it feels down this way at the moment

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What is it Wednesday?

I am really tired this evening. I fell asleep on the train tonight trying to read my WIP back. Usually it draws me in and often serves to wake me up.
Not tonight. I am reading it through in preparation for beginning a rough edit. I have to say I struggle with editing my own work. I tend to see what I think is there rather than what is.
My only trick for getting past that is to read out loud. Usually if I do that I can focus on what is on the page not on what I imagine.
Well it is Wednesday and given I was AWOL on my family emergency last week I thought I should give you a tricky one this week.
So what on Earth do you  think this is?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Piccie of the day

I have brought a pile of work home with me tonight so...

Here is a piccie of the day Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) Ducklings

Monday, July 16, 2012

Thanks, and my WIP

First of all, thank you all for your kind words about my Mum.
She says she has improved again today, and will go in to town to see her doctor tomorrow.

To say I am relieved is an understatement!

Changing subject I have managed to get to the end of another draft of my WIP.
As I said a while ago I have split my MS into two books which has meant developing some of my character’s stories more.

In celebration of another milestone here is another section from Petenka’s viewpoint. This is set a year after the scene I shared last time after my characters have been at war for almost a year.

Resignation: Russia - May 1942

Petenka Bykova
‘I hate to say it, but I don’t see how we can survive until the end.’
My words dropped into the well of light around a single precious candle that flickered on rough timber walls. The dugout was one we shared with Lena Kominskaya our regimental surgeon. Maybe five years older than us she had been a surgeon at the Moscow orthopaedic hospital before the war.
Svetlana froze, her spoon halfway between her mess-tin and her mouth. Incredulously she asked, ‘Have you really taken that long to think about it?’
‘No, of course not. We did get interrupted earlier.’
‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything.’ A click on the rim of the tin as she put down the spoon, ‘It’s an uncomfortable subject to discuss.’
I kept my voice light, ‘Why is it so difficult?’
Her brows knotted, ‘I don’t find it pleasant to contemplate my death.’
‘I don’t worry too much, but I do not believe death is the end.’
‘Because of faith?’
I peered at her through the flickering light. Even with all we had faced she looked as relaxed and as sure of herself as the day we met. I shifted uncomfortably.
Svetlana smiled gently, a knowing smile.
I threw a crust of bread at her, ‘I know, you’re a Communist, you think I’m deluding myself. We don’t need to have that argument again.’
Retrieving the scrap of bread from her shoulder, she flicked it at my head. ‘It doesn’t serve any purpose does it?’
‘Children,’ interjected Lena from the shadow of her bunk, ‘play nicely!’
As Lena went back to the letter she was writing, I felt for the crust and tugged it from where it had caught in my hair. I thought about throwing it again but dropped it on the floor, someone had to feed the poor rats. ‘That argument is tired.’
Sveta frowned, serious again, ‘I asked the question, because I realised how much I was afraid. I thought you must be too.’
‘You’ve been afraid?’
‘How could I not be?’
‘You always seem so calm.’
She looked at me impassively, ‘That’s not how I feel.’
‘How do you feel?’
‘I am terrified of dying. More afraid of being wounded. But…’
‘I am frightened of losing you. Frightened of how I would be if something happened to my Petenka.’
‘Nothing will happen to me.’
‘You don’t really believe that.’
‘I’, suddenly unsure I paused to consider ‘no, I don’t see how we can survive. Yet, somehow I can’t really imagine…’
‘I can, but I don’t want to.’

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Al Returns

Well I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth.

On Tuesday night my eldest brother Mike phoned me. He had heard from my Mother’s husband that Mum had been taken into hospital that day.

Despite being elderly Mum and her husband live on a farm in the sticks about 40 minutes from the nearest (small) town Dorrigo. Mum had woken to excruciating abdominal pain and after phoning their doctor called an ambulance. She was taken to Dorrigo hospital which has a small emergency department. I was told she would be transferred to the nearest base hospital in Coffs Harbour about 100km away on Wednesday morning.

Mike lives about 5 hours’ drive from Mum while I am about 15 hours’ away.

So I got on the first flight I could to Coffs the next day. From here in Melbourne it is an hour flight to Sydney, where I had to wait for another plane for the hour long flight to Coffs.

Fortunately, Mum responded to treatment and we were able to take her home on Friday. I got home late last night. She is well on the way to recovery.

Needing to relax after a harrowing week I went waterfall hunting this afternoon. The result: piccies of the Olinda Falls on the flanks of Mount Dandenong just outside Melbourne.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A building in a building

Coop's Shot Tower 1888.
Surrounded by Melbourne Central Shopping Centre

Monday, July 9, 2012

A misty morning

No explanation needed for this one!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Happy Wanderer

My piccie of the day is of Happy Wanderer (Hardenbergia violacea) flowers. A very common Oz native.

According to Wikipedia it is used as a landscape plant in the southwestern U.S. where it is commonly called lilac vine, and occasionally Mexican lilac vine.

It does originate "south of the border" but an awful lot further than Mexico!

I detected a slight air of disbelief when I posted about Emu sausages, well to silence the sceptics we do indeed farm Emus in Oz. When you think about it Turkeys are native to America and farmed, chickens native to South-Asia and farmed. We just do things bigger down this way!