Saturday, March 31, 2012

Blinded no more!


Crossing this one off my 50 List has taken some time. Far too long really, as the process has been blighted  by a few shortage complications, but mainly, frankly, by procrastination.  But this week I hung the final drops of new curtains in my little lounge.
Butt ugly wooden blinds had adorned the windows since I moved in here, closing the already small room in, and gayly catching dust. I hated them, but this house is just a rental after all, so I put up.

Then a whole lot of family love came to the fore to relinquish me from my blinded ways.

Thanks must go to...

  • My brother Rik for removing the butt ugly blinds. I can barely wait until the next inorganic collection to get rid of them altogether
  • My lovely Uncle Kevin and Aunty Lois, who own Waikato Windoware, and who supplied me with brand new custom made rails, for a ridiculous mates rates price. AND came to put them up for me free of charge. Amazing.
  • My other brother John, for plugging the holes left by said butt ugly blinds. 
  • My landlords, aka my parents, for paying for new curtains.

I must also thank Briscoes for having half price curtains just at the right time. They are not the flashest of drapes, but are an immense improvement on what was there before.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Puppy Dog Eyes

Stirling at the ophthalmologists.
He was such a good boy.
Handsome Mr Stirling went for his annual vet check and vaccinations today. Part of this process for cavaliers is to check for known genetic disorders, especially if the dog is likely to be bred from in the future. I am hopeful that Stirling will someday soon find a love match, however no matter how lovely he is, I will not allow him to be bred from if he has any recognised health issues that could be passed on.
Like many breeds, cavaliers have some conditions that responsible breeders are trying to eliminate. Cavaliers are prone to a heart condition called MVD and the breeders I respect get their breeding animals checked annually. Stirling's ticker was great.
They also have eye conditions that can be passed on, and checks from a qualified animal ophthalmologist are recommended, though a vet can also perform these checks. When my own vet pointed out a small spot in one of Stirling's eyes, I did not take much convincing to get it checked out by a specialist, especially on the back of Reilly's corneal ulcer earlier in the year. Fortunately it was nothing sinister, so I got an eye certificate while was there.

Just as well cavaliers have big puppy dog eyes. They can draw the attention away from the fact that one's wallet can get lightened very quickly when their health is involved. Today has left mine almost floating away... A visit to a 'gourmet pet food store' added to the bills - tonight the boys dined on rabbit mince, and there's chicken and salmon mince in the freezer. I even bought some possum meat. Can't be any worse than green tripe...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bird Watching

Fulfilled another '50 Lister' yesterday, by visiting the Open Sanctuary island of Tiritiri Matangi with a group from the Manukau Photographic Society. Just a short ferry trip from Gulf Harbour (or a little longer from Auckland City - we chose to leave from Whangaparaoa to save central city parking fees!) is this little gem of a place which has been being developed as a sanctuary since 1984. I recall a School Journal story about the replanting of the island, and the development of the project can be found, along with heaps of other information, here.
One of the major goals of the project has been to develop colonies of NZ native birds in a predator free environment. Some are threatened, others not. Whilst we did not get to see any kokako, a drawcard of the visit to the island for bird watchers, our enthusiastic and learned volunteer guide pointed out many others.
The most 'frequent flyers' however, were the tui and the korimako (bellbird). They were especially prevalent at the man made feeding stations, and if you had your camera ready just at the right time, you could catch a shot! Had to be quick though!
The movie at the bottom is more for the 'soundtrack' than the moving pictures; at the final feeding station we happened upon, the bellbirds were in full chorus.
For a person who has not been especially interested in birds, this trip sure made me appreciate them and their qualities.

Female Korimako

Male Korimako

365 Week 12 - Patterns

Full sized iPhone images, and photo titles to explain a little more, here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

But am I hungry for more?

Well March's book is done and dusted - the current 'it' book for teens (though many adults I know have enjoyed it.) - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
To be honest I wasn't entirely taken with the idea of reading a book written for young people, where the plot was primarily concerned with a group of teenagers killing one another in a game. I still struggle with that concept. However it was a new idea and was no doubt designed not just for entertainment, but to evoke a reflection on society and human nature; authority, freedom, sacrifice, fashion...
It was an easy read - I liked how the story was predominately told in present tense, which did create some tension.
While I would happily read the next two books in the series, because it was teen fiction, it didn't really have the plot complexity to keep me guessing, and I found the mini climaxes along the way didn't really surprise or hold me (except maybe the tracker jackers) as they were resolved too quickly. Jury is still out on whether or not I will make the effort to see the movie. But I am sure many, many fans will.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Counting the Cops

 Travelling back and forth to Hamilton in a day is something I am becoming accustomed to, seeing as I chose to complete my Masters through Waikato Uni and therefore must meet my supervisor(s) there.  It did not take me long to realise the Waikato Expressway is a very popular spots for cops, and I have taken to counting how many I see to pass the time - and keep my eye on my speedometer.
I was approaching Huntly with my tally at 3 (7 having been my last high score), when I saw number four on the opposite side of the road, then number five, six, seven eight AND NINE, all stopped with a culprit in front of them, all within a 2km stretch, some within 150m of each other. In fact at one stage I had four in view. It was as if a swarm of cop cars had descended like tracker jackers (Hunger Games simile lol), picking off their individual targets. 
It actually freaked me out. I wondered if they were searching for someone or something, but they were all traffic police cars, not regular law enforcement ones. I saw two more in the Huntly township itself, (so new grand total for a one way trip = 11) as I drove gingerly on to Hamilton via Gordonton.
On my journey home I was too scared to go over 95km. Only saw 3 on the way back though.
Does anyone else think that this was overkill?

PS - the picture - obviously not mine. I was not prepared to stop and take a photo for my blog! This particular photo came to mind as I was driving home, contemplating this post. As it says, it comes from the NZ Hearld. It's a frequent flyer in the Herald online; they place it whenever there's a police story they don't have a real pic for. Anyone else pick that up? Probably not. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cavalier Portraits

Tiki C.K.C.S Club Ribbon Parade today, and I took the opportunity to snap some of the dogs on show. Most of them are people's beloved pets, and it was great to see kids out having fun with their dogs in the ring.

In regards to cavalier's appearances, I often hear from the non-cavalier owner that "they all look the same". But I hope the personalities of these little darlings come through and show their individuality. To me they all look so different, except perhaps when they are from the same kennel.

I wanted to add a caption with each go the dog's names, but I always find Blogger's formatting a pain in the proverbial, and it threw out my picture arrangement whenever I added one so...

From L to R, reading down the page we have...

Becky, Buddy (her litter brother),
Cashelle, Nadia and Sante
Zoe, Maria

And below,  Mr Stirling. Best Intermediate, Best Dog and BEST ON PARADE.

And I will leave you with the three stooges. Not my best family portrait moment.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

365 Week 11 - Trees

I thought this would be a boring topic but I am please that all my images represent a different aspect of trees. All but one were taken on my local dog walk.

Have a look-see on flickr if you are so inclined.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I Like Big Books and I Can-not Lie!

By the end of this year I am going to be so well read... within a specific subject, that is.
I cannot believe how excited I was when I received email notification from the University Library that 3 of my books I had reserved were on their way. I checked the letterbox 3 times this morning even though I know that they would not be there because I had not heard the courier van. When the poor man finally did arrive he must have thought there was some wicked kind of present inside my package, as my reaction was sadly joyous.

Seriously though, it has been a much more satisfying week study wise, as I have been giving my time and thought to my actual research, as opposed to my wretched final assignment for my Research Methods paper. Knocking that bastard off will be next week's excitement.

I have to keep reminding myself that I have other reading goals as well, like reading a book a month to satisfy my 50 List goal. March 16 and I am yet to start this month's book! So today I did something I rarely do - I bought a book. Well two actually. My first choice was the third in the Millennium series. but I figured that my previous experience with these books means that it will take me longer than 2 weeks to finish it. So I also bought the Hunger Games. If it's reputation is anything to go by, it's a rollicking read so I should be able to get trough it quickly. And of course if I ever want to see the movie I must abide by my self-imposed rule to read the book first.

I hope I like it. I don't have a good history with teen/young adult fiction. I only read the first 2 Harry Potter books, abandoning them when they became less child-like. And I only managed the first in the Twilight series. But then again, I did weirdly enjoy Lord of the Flies as a school set text, and can imagine similarities between the two.

PS My choice of blog title of course came from an infamous rap of a 'similar name'. Funny thing is, my eternal memory of that song is not Sir Mix-A-Lot, but Ross and Rachel on Friends. Worth the 5 min viewing time in my opinion...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Losing the Beginner Tag

It's official - I can no longer say that I am a novice photographer, or say it is a fluke when I get a good critique...

Tonight at MPS I won Open Image of the night!

My FB  friends may recognise it as the cover photo on my page. I called it 'Summer Sunset', and it was one of the images I took on my most excellent adventure to Awhitu.

That and an honours also for the Wind Power picture I posted earlier. But no recognition for my 3rd entry just to keep me honest lol.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bliss @ the end of a long weekend

Warning - Dog Blog...
I had entered Stirling in 3 dog shows in Cambridge this weekend, which resulted in a wee bit of travel and a very looong day today. Long for me, and long for my two home boys who, with me not going in to work daily, are not currently used to slumming it alone...
I was away for 12 1/2 hours, and of course with no web cams installed I really have no idea if they missed me or not.
Or do I?
Both Hugo (usually Mr Independent) and Reilly settled in for big, long cuddles when I got home. I think that told me they were very glad to have me back. It was delicious. I took the photo below with my toe on Photobooth as I did not want to disturb them lol.

And show results for the weekend? No CCs for Stirling this time, but happy with how we went nonetheless, with RDCC, RBOB and NZBOB Sat, IOB and NZOB Sun. It was great to see the CCs and RCCs being shared around actually, and a cavalier also went Best in Group today.
I also had the pleasure of handling Mignon's little tricolour baby, Romeo to 3 Baby Puppy of Breeds, and BABY PUPPY IN SHOW today at Central Toy Dog :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

365 Week 10

Look Up!

So often we spend our lives looking straight ahead. This was an attempt to view the world from a different perspective.

Flickr Link

Wind Power

I was not terribly inspired by the set subject of our upcoming MPS club night next week - machinery. I had one photo I knew I could enter, but was looking for a second.
I remembered taking this photo last year ( I blogged it here) and it always appealed on some level - mainly for the cloud formation - but I didn't feel like the bottom half  'said' much.

I had cropped it before, but tried a different crop this time, fiddled around with b and w and a few other things and I am really pleased with the result.
I am posting it here now before 'the judge' has a chance to critique it, because I am learning that however the pros react to a photo is not the be all and end all. Personal appeal also counts!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Catching Up

Time to chronicle a couple more achievements from my 50 List.
Well it took a few hours, but I have successfully done a major digital photo cull over the weekend. A good many hours went in to this! With each RAW image taking up over 20MB of space, this fledgling photographer and natural hoarder had accrued hundreds, perhaps thousands,  of images that were definitely not needed. I did however, transfer them ALL to an external hard drive - just in case...
My new goal is to be more discerning from the point of download, and as well, to cull those photos that I know I definitely don't want after looking at them on the big screen as well, straight away!
Dumping the photos and a few school movies from my iMac enabled me to clear around 100GB from its memory! I also felt it was necessary to do this before I took my machine to my best geek friend for OS upgrades. (Thanks John). I would have feared a big growling, because it was running like a pig.

The second goal that is ticking away is my reading goal, though I must admit that I finished my second book a little after the month's end. But then again February was a short month. With the majority of my day currently taken up with reading, it is not always a pleasurable prospect to hunker down with a book at night.
My second book was the second of the Milleneum series - The Girl Who Played with Fire. It took me a while to get in to it, but once I reached half way, it was pretty un-put-downable. If I had a criticism to make it would be that there was a major event on the back cover that took a long time to get to in the book, so I felt a bit like I was treading water until then.
Having seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the movies, I read this book visualising the (American) cast as the characters. While I really enjoyed the first movie, this plot did not seem to have as many twists and turns, and I reckon it will translate to the big screen quite easily. There are certainly some scenes near the end of the book that I have already created a my own screenplay for! Without giving anything away, one involves a fox... I hope they (Sony?) make the movie with the characters I am now familiar with (I know there is a Swedish version and that some prefer it) And WHEN this happens, I hope it does not let me down there by missing my vividly imagines scene out!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

365 Week 9

An easy subject this week - my 'littlest' boy, Stirling.

Go to my Flickr page for bigger-than-thumbnails, if you want to see his full glory, and read a short explanation of each photo.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Incubator

All summer my glorious swan plant has yielded only 3 monarch butterflies :(

Plenty of butterflies have visited, mated, laid eggs by the dozen. Heaps of babies have hatched and begun to grow, as the partially eaten leaves show, (can you spot the baby here?) but none grow to full size... I believe the blame lies with wasps.
Last week the wind blew two heavy branches off the 'mother plant'. I painstakingly transferred all the babies to this fledgling plant in the other garden.

And most of them have survived and flourished on the little incubator plant!

Today I counted eleven little dudes hanging; in there, and I suspect there are a few more lurking.

The odds might be stacked against them though - the food supply is dwindling and there's a 'weather bomb' on the way...

But I am hoping if I keep visiting them, and watching over them, some will make it! Grow caterpillars, grow!