Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stirling's Other Mother

As my FB friends may have seen, little Stirling is getting closer to achieving his Champion title. I am forever grateful to my friend Mignon, who bred not only my littlest treasure, but all three of my babies. Stirling lived with her until last June, when he came to reside with me, his Dad Reilly and Uncle Hugo. He still remembers her fully and today gave her a big, big cuddle!
She deserves every last sniff and slobber! (To be fair, thankfully my dogs aren't really 'licky')
We all love you Mignon!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

365 Week 8

This week my iPhoneography photo challenge met with my 50 List challenge to have a Coke Zero Free Week. I found some new drink to enjoy each day, and by in large I did. I have concluded that I am not a Coke Zero addict, but rather an habitual drinker.
Sure enjoyed the first burp after devouring the glass in Photo number 7 though!
Click on the here to be taken to Flickr for larger view.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Kiddliwinks





Photo opportunities today to capture some of my regular 'child models'. I met Joshua and his Mum at the Botanic Gardens (sans dogs - funny being there without them!).
Isabella (fresh from Rainbow Day at Preschool) and Jaime enjoyed their "bestie's" time while we grown-ups (workmates) had an after school catch up.

Things that annoy the $#!+ out of me!

This is a parody on 'Things I'm Loving', a regular posting by my good friend Kate - You are a far better person than me Kate!

So what got my dander up on a trip to the mall today?

1. Pedestrians who mosey, amble, saunter across pedestrian crossings. Walk purposefully people! We are waiting for you!

2. Drivers who don't indicate as they exit roundabouts or are turning left.

3. Drivers who take up two parks with their one car. Usually a people mover.

4. And my current most 'favourite' annoyance. Mall pouncers. The ones who want to share their wares or bits of paper with you. Who want to lavish you with hand-cream or vouchers or notices. I had to negotiate the same lot 6 times today as I walked back and forth. Avoiding eye contact doesn't always work. Neither does pretending you are deaf. Nor does tackling them head on - last year I stopped at a hand-cream seller's request, arms laden with the fruits of my shopping, and said "Do I look like I want a hand cream sample?" I then pointed out that I did not think they wree supposed to 'solicit' anyway, and she went off her nut and yelled at me as I walked away. I know, I know a polite 'no thank you' is the best way. Just hard to do when you are ANNOYED!

However if I was listing 'Things I'm Loving", it would be the flexibility I currently have, which enables me to be out and about on a Friday to experience the above annoyances.

The photo below I snapped as I entered the mall - a reminder that tomorrow ends my Coke Free Week - another goal, albeit a small one, achieved on my 50 List. Maybe not having had a Coke Zero for a week is what made me annoyed lol. "Can't Wait" till it's over tomorrow.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Painting With Light

We had fun playing with torches and flash unit last night  - Painting With Light - at our evening workshop with Three Little Wishes.

Fortunately one of the members of my little group was also part of the TLW team, and was more than happy to be the 'painter'.

Here are some of his creations that I managed to capture.

It's a technique that will be fun to practice with a friend, and fortunately I have one or two who may indulge me! (Hint hint, you know who you are :D )





It could have ended veeeery differently

I have had a little movie playing over in my head today of an alternate ending to a situation that occurred last night. Had the scenario played out as this recurring movie does, I would no doubt be sitting here nursing many wounds and a smashed camera.
It was the end of a most excellent evening photography workshop with Three Little Wishes. We had walked across the motorway overpass and were about to descend to the carpark at Westhaven marina.  Like many others, my camera was still attached to the tripod, and slung over one shoulder. The sloping concrete path morphed into stairs, and I reflected to myself how old age has made me less sure of myself when walking down darkened stairs, slightly unbalanced. So I took great care as I navigated the stairs and was grateful when it turned into a path again.
Than I made a decision that almost cost me my dignity and caused me many injuries.
Not looking where I was going anymore, I got out my phone, intending to use my GPS to find the most direct route to the motorway.
That's when I stepped and tripped - the path had turned into stairs again and my body was totally unprepared. Honestly, I thought I was a goner. In that split second I saw myself falling and being terribly injured. Instead I managed to see that instead of the 10-12 stairs there were earlier, there were only 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6 - cannot remember), and I jumped down to the bottom, amazingly managing to keep my balance and not drop the camera and tripod.
So lucky! SO. LUCKY!
The photo here was take from the afore mentioned overpass, of the motorway south and Auckland city in the background. Not the most stunning of photographs, but certainly an amazing opportunity and great fun playing with new techniques and settings.


Remembering and Reflecting

I break from my studies to remember that never-to-be-forgotten moment in New Zealand's history. 12.51p.m. 22 February 2011. They say we always remember where we were and what we were doing in times of such significance. I first heard that Another Big One had hit Christchurch from my Principal, whose husband always has his finger on the pulse, and with family in Christchurch, quickly found out about this unfolding disaster.
We were about to leave for a conference in Rotorua, and listened to the radio on the way down. That's when we found out there had been deaths. This was shocking to hear after we had all patted ourselves on the back about how lucky it had been that no one had died in the earlier September quake.
It was not until we arrived at our accommodation and could see on TV the impossible devastation that had landed on Christchurch, that reality set in. I must admit to bursting in to uncontrollable tears. If this was unbelievable for me, how could it possibly be for those in the thick of it?
Since that time most New Zealanders have done what they can to support the people of Christchurch. After all, they lost so much, not just in terms of lives, but livelihoods and normal life.
As I watched the memorial coverage on TV, I became aware of one aspect I had not considered before today. I did not know that statistically, almost half of the victims of the Christchurch Earthquake were non-New Zealanders.
So today I reflect on how life has changed for their families too, and hope they have been afforded the same support that has wrapped around all New Zealanders affected.
This screen shot comes from the New Zealand Herald today. If you click here you can find the graphic, where each picture links to a small bio to remember each person who lost their lives as a result of this disaster, New Zealanders and not.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

TIck! Tick! Tick!

Hamilton's Gap 
I had a faaaaabulous afternoon/evening today. Went on a photography road trip with a new friend whom I met at MPS. It was a sublime day weather-wise, the conversation flowed like fine wine and I achieved more things on my 50 List. And took a gazillion photos. 
Our route took us out to Waiuku, up to the lighthouse at the Manukau Heads (where the clarity even allowed us to glimpse the Sky Tower in the distance), across to the east of the Awhitu Peninsula to 'Awhitu' itself, back to the west coast  to Hamilton's Gap, down again to Waiuku for a pub dinner before heading out to Karioitahi Beach to watch and capture the sunset. 

Manukau Heads


So... ticked of the list are...

Visit the Awhitu Peninsula

and
Photograph a sunset.

(I have also started another of my challenges - have a coke free week! Two days in and no withdrawal at all. Yet.)




Sunset @ Karioitahi Beach






Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Fear of the Fall

It seemed like a great idea at the start. Miss 10 decided she would like a turn on the giant slide at Clip n' Climb, which her 7 year old brother was receiving free as his birthday was the reason they were there. Dad duly paid the fee and Miss 10 said she would venture to 4m - half of the potential height. When the guide told her (tongue in cheek) that the rule was that 10 year olds needed to go at least to 51/2m, the bottom lip started to wobble... But she did go a little beyond her chosen mark and lived to tell the tale. Brave girl.

Dad then decided he would take up the offer of a free adult fall. His bravado seemed genuine, and he handled the pull to the 8m mark and the fall with apparent ease. Even purported to have enjoyed it. Here's the video I took of him - shows the true extent of the challenge!

video


Then it was Birthday Boy Mr 7's turn to get his free ride. All good on the pull to the top, then a downward look knocked his confidence and he was lowered a little before releasing himself. The last of these 3 photos shows him glancing back at the feat he had achieved, before melting in tears into his Mum's arms. He later told me that no, he would not do it again next time!













My hat goes off to all three of them. There is no way you would ever be able to entice me to do this. The fear of the fall is too great. So no shame here for my little niece and nephew - just a bit of awe and pride.


365 Week 7


My topic for the week was "Three".
Naturally my three dogs would feature. But my favourite representation of the theme would have to be the last in the series - a set of 3 posters advertising the upcoming 'Yes' concert. Titled "3 Yesses" ... or "Yes! Yes! Yes!" - whichever you prefer lol
Link to larger than thumbnail here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

True to Form


















Well another of my 50 List goals is half way to being met.
Took myself to a late afternoon movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, today. Loved it. With the book still fresh in my mind I was prepared to pick holes in its accuracy. There was actually no way it could include all the detail of the book, but all in all, a pretty true representation.
It was a little freaky however, that until the movie was just about to start, I was alone in the Deluxe Cinema by myself! Fortunately a group of four women came in at that time, and despite an empty theatre, sat directly in front of me. Luckily no one was tall and being the Deluxe theatre, seats were deep anyways.
Must do that again. And must keep going with the second book of the Millennium series. Tick, tick, tick off the 50 List.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Ringmaster

Him. The one in the middle. Mr Stirling.

Being a pretty crappy day weather wise, it was inside for me and my family today. The dogs did what I have discovered they must do every day when I am not here - sleep. I sat at my computer upstairs and busted out another 1000 words.
It did begin to clear towards the end of the day, but with wet grass outside, I had to coax them all out to even go for a pee!

However at about 6 o'clock they decided it was time to get active. Well Stirling did. These short clips were taken after he had led Hugo into the downstairs bedroom for a bit of light-hearted, very noisy argy-bargy, followed by thundering up the stairs, round and round the bedroom above me, and down again and round the lounge mussing everything up! That's when I pulled out my phone to record them. As they show, Stirling was calling all the shots! I love how he keeps the older boys young.

video
video

Monday, February 13, 2012

Back at the ranch, but not quite back in the saddle

Being on study leave continues to be a strange existence for me. Strange unfamiliar, not strange weird or bad. But it was good to pop back in to school today  - with a purpose. Also a time to catch up with staff and visit classrooms to make sure the kids don't forget me!

I have to get used to the fact that things are going to change whilst I am away. Today it was seeing the new raised gardens that have mushroomed from the ground over the holiday period. Also nice to see corner gardens planted last year flourishing. And a nice surprise to see some glorious sunflowers growing from where a dead tree once was!






Sunday, February 12, 2012

Progress

I am trying to make inroads into my 50 list. Some I already see are not going to happen. I am contemplating surreptitiously replacing these with things more achievable - I am sure no one but me will notice!
Today I made progress towards a photographic goal - doubling the number of photos on my Hall Wall. I began this project a year ago, not knowing how far I would go with it. This morning there were 18 photos up, tonight, 28. The photos are there purely for my own pleasure, and I reflect on the photos I have chosen quite often. There are certainly some I would choose not to put up there were I starting from scratch now, but they are all a reminder of my journey as an amateur photographer and I am grateful for that.



It has taken time some to get the most recent up, mainly because I had some printing issues... my advice is not to go to places like Harvey Norman when they have an offer on... I went back for 3 reprints as my prints were definitely 'green' in hue. Not what I wanted for my Hall Wall. One of the most affected photos is STILL not on the wall - I should always remember that I munt the first one I try to put on a block... this time it was my favourite pic of Miss Karissa - so that has to get done AGAIN!



Some of the new blocks before they went up

Speaking of having to go back for a 3rd time reminds me of another thing I am progressing towards on my 50 List - being more house-proud. This is not easy to achieve when the house you live in was built on the cheap, and you have 3 long haired inside dogs. Keeping the already grotty carpet clean is a perpetual battle.
I thought I had hit on a solution to avoiding vacuuming every day, when I decided to purchase an old-timey carpet sweeper. We had an orange one when we were kids, and I recall it being quite efficient for those in between times. So in January I got myself one. I loved it - perfect for brushing up the dog hair as many times a day as I liked. Until one of the small rollers fell out when I was cleaning it. So, I got it replaced. Replacement's central roller fell out on the first use! So today I have replaced it again.
A third item I am progressing towards is my reading goal. To 'make it' I must read a book per month. Having succeeded with "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", I am now on to "The girl who Played with Fire". Part of succeeding here is banishing myself from playing games on the iPhone when in bed. Have to change habits to make progress sometimes!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

365 Week 6

Fences.


As usual, larger images on my Flickr page, Week 6.

Enjoy!

I'm a Little in Love with Romeo

A friend of mine has a new cavalier puppy.  His name is Romeo, and I think he's Mr McDreamy.
If I ask him to be my Valentine, do you think my boys will get the pip?



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We've Been Waiting to Meet You!
















The Boys and I had a lunch time visitor today - our kind of second cousin Winston. His person is my Aunty Kaye. who passed by on her way back up North.
I have been longing to meet Winston (so named because of an apparent similarity to Winston Churchill) ever since puppy pics of him appeared on my Aunt's FB page some months back.

Winston is not quite a year old yet; a Lhasa Apso/Shih Tzu cross, and a cute bundle of delight he turned out to be, as predicted. He coped very well with three inquisitive cavs.  We all hope he will visit again soon!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Little China Girl

Viki's photo
The annual Auckland Lantern Festival occurs this long weekend at Albert Park in Auckland City. I went for the first time last year, trying to figure out how to take good photos of the lanterns, and at night. (I did not do especially well that night, and I still not have mastered this).
This year I was delighted to be asked to go with one of my rent-a-families, the Holleys. The timing was not good for night photography (being that we had a 4 year old to consider) but it was great for eating! Ate far too much but not enough, as there were so many things to sample. I did not have the best Pad Thai in the world, but I loved the Toffee Strawberries and shared some great rice paper spring rolls with Viki.
But attending before night fell did not mean no photos; I has my angelic little model to snap away at. I love the photos of her here amidst the flowers (though almost prefer the wide view Viki's iPhone pic captured; I did not have the right lens on for this view).


Isabella was enamoured with all the Chinese bits and bobs that were bought for her - I think her favourite was the pink umbrella.




Saturday, February 4, 2012

365 Week 5

This week's theme was Water.

As my photographic week began in Whangarei, I have a couple of images from there. But I am also lucky to be living by the water here in Wattle Downs, and 3 different waterways are featured: The man made ponds, which are frequently home to miniature motorized and sail boats, the Wildlife reserve opposite these ponds, which is home to many ducks, geese and swans, and the Pahuruhure Inlet, which I walk beside several times a week with my boys. Like this morning, when I took the final photo in this sequence.

The full sized (iPhone) images can be viewed via this link.


PS one thing missing on Camera+ App - a straighten tool!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Red Balloon


So, the photo is of The White Cross, but The Red Balloon has relevance, so bear with me.
I attended a funeral today, perhaps one of the saddest funerals I have been to. A young man I did not know terribly well, but I knew his family well, especially his aunt. Through her I spent a fair bit of time with his Mum, sister and grandparents.
A particularly tragic and sudden death that has left the family and those who knew him reeling, least of all his twin sister. What a brave woman - she shared a wonderful speech about her brother, which was both joyous and heart-wrenchingly sad.
A poem called the Red Balloon was read - I cannot for the life of me find it on the Internet (you don't often disappoint me Mr Google, but today you have). Following this a red balloon was released - particularly poignant for this occasion.
Times like these often cause reflection. Mine has not been an uncommon one; don't leave it until a sad occasion occurs to make contact with people you care about. I have not seen my friend, with whom I flatted for quite some time, for a good 3 years. I am determined not to leave it that long again. And I must act on a goal on my 50 listMake more frequent contact with those special friends from my past who still mean an awful lot to me.
I intend to make inroads to this goal this weekend.