Friday, 31 July 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out

Sorry, folks, I seem to have mucked this up somehow. My internet connection is so slow I started to upload my photos last Sunday and have added a few more each day, rather than trying to do it in one go and getting frustrated by how long it takes. But the outcome of that is that my shoot out is not here where it should be but the third post below here.

Next week I will try to use the Scheduled thingy.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Welcome to spring colour

Every day I notice more and more colour returning to my winter world. With every sighting of another bloom my spirit lifts a little. Soon, soon it will be spring!

A pretty tree by the school gate

Now, I am not usually a great lover of spring. I think we get our most unpredictable weather in spring. It's the season full of nasty tricks. You are enticed into believing the worst of winter is over by a show of spring blossoms, then, wham, there's sure to be a nasty storm. Any show of the sun and feeling of warmth has to be treated with great caution because any minute it could all change. I have been known to mutter, "You can keep your daffodils and cute little lambs - I hate spring!"

But for now that doesn't matter. The colour is more than welcome.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Another foggy morning

There was another heavy fog this morning. I stopped four times on the way to work thinking "that will be a great shot" but only got one I liked and that was just after I turned out of my driveway. Just down the hill a few metres is a One Way Bridge sign. Every time it is foggy and I see the sign and can't make out the bridge I think it is funny. Guess I am easily amused!

When I first moved here I hated these foggy mornings, having to slow down to drive safely. I guess I have buttoned back a bit since then, both in driving speed and lifestyle. Now, when I first peek out the window each morning, if it is foggy I pick up the morning routine pace a bit so I can leave home 5 to 10 minutes earlier than usual. Initially it was simply to allow extra time for a slower trip but, as I started to see the beauty in the fog, I wanted to have time to try to capture it on film.

The day turned into our third in a row without rain! Another of those remarkable winter days we appreciate so much because we see them so seldom.

On the way home, while still on the sealed road, I came up behind two ladies moving half a dozen calves and a sheep down the road. The very sight of them brought a huge smile to my face.

I was reminded of the number of sheep and calves in this country that have an identity problem and remembered when my children were younger and we had animals like that on the farm.

Around the north (and I'm pretty sure elsewhere in the land) each year rural schools have a Pet Day. In the old days it used to be known as Calf Club Day but with the number of semi rural lifestyle blocks growing this has changed. Back when my kids were young, pupils at rural schools had either a pet calf or a pet lamb. They had to look after them and teach them to walk beside them on a lead and negotiate an obstacle course. It was easy to pick out which kids and pets had put in the training time.

One year my younger son had the best trained lamb I had seen. He had put in hours and hours, feeding, brushing and teaching his lamb every trick he could think of. It was a sure fire winner!

However, Calf Club day was unusually warm (usually around October when the spring animals are a couple of months old) . Bernie and his lamb performed like champions in the morning competition elimination round.

But when it came Bernie's turn in the finals after lunch his lamb just sat. Would not budge. No way. Bernie tried and tried and finally gave up in great embarrassment.

His father and I couldn't understand what had happened. This lamb adored this child, followed him as faithfully as Mary's had done.

We gathered up the childrens' pets and took them home in the trailer and the children came home a bit later in the school bus. Bernie came off the bus, walked up to his lamb, gave it a filthy look and a little kick, looked up at me and said, "You can eat it now!"

Trying to hide my amusement I asked him what had gone wrong. He explained he didn't have a clue, he'd been extra nice to it, given it a drink of lemonade at lunch time and even let it have a lick of his icecream!! (I really did have to turn my back and walk away then!)

All over the country there are animals that have been pets for Pet Day. Then, of course, they grow. Mothers get tired of them being in the yard, eating their gardens and generally being a nuisance and eventually they are turned out into the paddocks.

Trouble is, a child who lives on a cow farm (as we did at that time) might have chosen to have a pet lamb - and vice versa. So when the little creature is put out in the fields there are none of its kind around. They grow into adulthood thinking they are whatever it is they spend their time with. Like the imprinting that went on with the Canadian geese in Fly Away Home.

So when I saw the sheep with the calves this afternoon it was so obvious here was the same old story repeating itself. Heart-warming that so much has changed but some things are still the same.

I was bit slow getting the camera out and had to snap this out the front window of the car. Several calves have already moved off the road into their paddock on the left.

A few years after Bernie's lesson on what a lamb should eat, one of Justine's pet lambs became a real pest. We must have let her keep it around the house for too long because, although we lived on a sheep farm by then and it had a flock of its own kind to join, it had spent so much time around the house in the company of the dogs it had become convinced it was a dog. It simply would not stay with the flock, there wasn't a fence on the farm it couldn't get through to return "home". Time and time again we would walk it out to the flock and leave it there but it would always be back at the house by the next morning.

And the dogs had been trained not to both Lambkin. If we tried to discourage it from coming back to the house by getting the dogs to chase it away they would just look at us as if to say, "Are you mad? After the number of times you've yelled at me for barking at it?"

My ex was not in any way a soft hearted man and not known for giving in but that lamb beat him and in the end we let it live in the house paddock, the big paddock in which our house and yard sat. It used to sleep in the shelter of the dog kennels.

Every time we got the dogs from the kennels Lambkin would trot off at our heels along with the dogs.

And we discovered the easiest way in the world to move a flock of sheep. Instead of driving them with dogs from behind, I would have the job of walking in front of the flock with the pet at my heels and the flock would follow.

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Outdoor Food

Girlichef - Indiana really got me thinking a lot about this topic. "Outdoor food" - is that food that is eaten outside? And therefore photos of food? I thought photos of people taking their food outdoors would be easier. But is that cheating? Or maybe just me being too literal.

See, here is a photo of a picnic by the creek.
You can't actually see any food but you can see that Pam is eating

and a young family eating their food outdoors:

I came upon the remains of what someone packed for their outdoors lunch:

Whereas this, to me, is literally outdoor food:

we have lots of this stuff:

or this - a crop of maize grown to feed the cows. They look like they are enjoying it:

or food made especially for dogs:

Some outdoor food has to be shared with other outdoor creatures:

and we all need some garnish on our food:

This might be closer to what is expected:

Strolling ladies with icecreams

Our typical outdoor food

My mate, Marty - famous for his smoked eels

But before the eating comes the gathering of food:

Mud crabbing


Some wait outdoors for their food:

Sometimes you have to compete for food outdoors:

Plenty of outdoor food and food outdoors here - and all of it for me??

I dunno. I'm still confused! But it was fun anyway! :)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

They are ducks!

Yesterday, as I was driving home from the Arts Festival in Whangarei, a lovely day turned into one of those afternoons when the air is soft and the late afternoon sun captures shapes and hollows in the landscape that we often miss. I come around a corner and see this view every day but yesterday every poplar seemed to stand out.

Ahead is the little village of Maungakaramea which I pass through every day.

But on this day the hills can be seen between the township and cellphone tower (on the steepest hill in the background, you can just see it). This is the same tower that you can see above in my header, but from a different angle. You have to drive another 20 mins to get to my place.

Looking further to the right, this one of my favourite views on my daily drive. I love this uppity, downity range. It may not be precise English, but doesn't it look uppity, downity to you?

And now, we are coming to the highlight of my drive home. Remember I spotted what I was pretty sure was ducks last week? Not far from the spot where I saw them last, there is a little bridge. Yesterday I went over the bridge and saw them in the muddy water below! I stopped and pulled over as soon as I could, probably around 50 metres from the bridge. Now, I thought, how do I get back there and get a photo without scaring them off? Ah ha! Now this is commitment to a cause, the cause in this case being my determination to determine whether they are ducks or geese (I'm having a bit of fun with words here!).

Anyway, to demonstrate my commitment, I took off my shoes and in my socks I crept back up the road. Thank heavens, no neighbours came driving down the road to discover me creeping up on......yeah, right....ducks!

There were two of them paddling around in the creek

and another three sitting on the bank.

I walked back to the car in my socks humming happily, even if my feet were a bit cold.

Further down the road, at what I call Hunter's Corner, the late afternoon sun was still working its magic...

And then, about a km from my house, one last gift of the day.

The last rays of the winter sun.

Mid Winter Arts Festival

Right in the middle of a poxy winter, along comes a really lovely day! The mid winter Gods were smiling on Whangarei today for the Arts Festival.

Last night, having a phone catch up, Chris and I decided to go have a look.

Just had to smile every time we saw Miss Piggy and companion.

We didn't see many children around but I think we weren't looking in the right places as there were a number of activities for them. In a back room we found the "Circus School" where kids, young and old were having lots of fun. I saw a lady my age trying to outdo her granddaughter with a hula hoop but resisted the temptation to take her photo.

We stopped to watch these little people making masks. But what made me get my camera out was a little boy sitting at the same table as these girls. The girls were a picture of concentration and they were creating very pretty, glittery masks. The boy, on the other hand, was so obviously there under sufferance. He had managed a red triangle and a green triangle and was scowling at his creation was if he hated it. Which, in fact, he must have because just as I pulled out my camera, he pushed back his chair and walked away. Taking photos is just like going fishing, the good ones get away!

We found the belly dancers having a break in a quiet room but they leapt to their feet and struck a pose when I asked if I could take their photo. I know - I really do take crappy indoor photos.

We only went to two of the four venues but we were in need of coffee and sustenance, and it was such a lovely day, coolish but not cold and no rain (and there has been sooo much rain) that we headed down to the Town Basin. I had outdoor food on my mind for next week's Shoot Out but, as usual, was easily distracted.

Chris is front of the library as we strolled back to the car.

After we'd eaten we wandered along in the sunshine until we came to the playground. I think the kids were celebrating being outside in the sun, too.

And not just the kids.......
Align Center

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Getting ready for Friday Thursday

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Reflections

Thanks to Audrey for choosing Reflections as this week's theme.

I got off to a rocky start when I set out with my camera and my little grand-daughter last weekend. There'd been a storm overnight. We found lots of fast flowing, murky flood water.

A young bull keeping himself company

Lots of puddles in the paddocks

Then a puddle in the middle of the metal road:

A bit spooky - looks more like a ghost reflection

Gave up for the day, then Georgia drew my attention to her reflection in the car window.

On Tuesday after work I ventured down to the Whangarei Town Basin and, wouldn't you know it, it was windy!

I walked and snapped and walked and snapped, until finally I came to a relatively calm reach in the river

and what I was looking for, a mast shot.

Back at the car park I noticed dark clouds forming, firstly in the back window of the car parked beside me.

Checked in the side window - gotta love those dark tinted windows!

However, there was no rain and that evening the sky was a pretty, soft blue with lots of wispy cloud. I'd given up on reflections by then and went to photograph the sky. To my surprise, at my friend's house, this was the sight in her kitchen window.

I like how the little lights strung along the top of the window inside
look to be sitting along the top of the trees.

On a nicer day I tried the beach:

one bird

two birds

I'm including this last shot just because I like it

A pretty window

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!