Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dried Mango

I know. It's not a catchy title, but it gets the point across.

It wasn't just a case of showing off the fruit of my labour (lousy pun fully intended). I wanted to practise using flash compensation and white balance adjustment that I was reading about in my new camera book. These are not new concepts to me, but I haven't taken full advantage of them even though my camera is very well equipped to handle them. Too well equipped in some ways. It can do so much that I tend to balk at using some of the nifty stuff and just go for automatic settings.
I have no excuse.
My first 35 mm SLR camera was fully manual. You had to do everything yourself and understand focal lengths, shutter speeds, apertures, depth of fields, etc., etc., to take every single photo. My flash unit was just as basic and so I had to read the distance on the lens after I had carefully focused and use that as a guide to set the camera's aperture for every flash photo. The flash unit had no adjustments at all.
Somehow I found that easier than the automatic everything that my Nikon does. Strange? Maybe I'm just a product of my generation.
Anyway back to the mango . . . I'm not a food stylist, otherwise I would probably have sprayed it with glycerin to give it a nice moist shine. That might have helped the photo but it wouldn't have helped my mango. I would have several different light sources and I would have arranged the pieces very carefully like a hair dresser preparing a coiffure. Instead, I've just slightly tweaked the white balance (so that the colours are true to life), and added a tiny bit of flash to lighten the shadows. I think it could have done with more flash as the shadows still seem too obvious.
It's a start.
Nanny M D - this will be your mango as soon as I get around to vac packing it and sending it :)
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Post Christmas

This is one of my Christmas presents.  It came by a circuitous route from the McTavish clan.  Mummy McT obtained it kind of indirectly through the Book Depository.  They are similar mob to Amazon and I think MMcT would agree with me that they can be recommended.  This book came from the UK to Townsville in 9 days flat - no postage and handling cost, no hidden cost at all.  From a local book shop it was going to cost me about $72AU and I'd even paid the deposit which I later got refunded.  From the Book Depository it cost much less than half that.  It was even less than Amazon, so check them out if you are buying books.
I have been slowly working my way through it.  I don't think it will turn me into a much better photographer, but maybe a more efficient one with a few less stuff ups.  Already, I've learnt a few new things that I didn't know or wasn't sure about even though I've had my camera for more than a year.

Mr Sunshine and I were looking after the McTavish grandkids the other day and I took one or two photos.  (One of my cousin's daughters called me Mrs Kodak Moment a couple of years ago. I wonder why?)
Just as I was snapping this pic. Monkey gave that fleeting quirky little smile.  It lasted much less than a second, but the camera caught it by accident due to my lightening fast reflexes.
That is a remote control that Dragon is holding.  You can just see the tail of the car in the bottom RH corner.  Lion and Dragon love it now that they are old enough to understand the controls a little.  The car is slightly noisy, but not as noisy as the squeals of excitement from Dragon and Lion.  Believe it or not, that is Mr Sunshine actually sleeping on the recliner in the background.  I don't know how he did it.  The boys had a ball until the battery went flat, then we moved on to another game.

I played hide and seek with Lion and Dragon.  This was Dragon's first hiding place.  I'm not sure he has fully grasped the idea of hiding.

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One last photo: Lion wanted his photo taken in a super-hero pose.  I'm always happy to have grandchildren stay still long enough for a photo in whatever pose they want so here he is.  Note the beads of perspiration on his forehead.  Super-heroes seem to be able to work up a sweat even inside with the air con on.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas past

Now that it is all over for another year - here are some highlights.
Lion taking seriously the job of decorating the Dragonlady Grotto tree.  He held his arms way back for a big throw and follow through with the tinsel.  And here is the result. . .

Not bad, was he?

Of course everyone wants to see how much Monkey has grown.  With so many rellies to fight over him, his feet didn't touch the ground all day.  Since he is a long way from walking that doesn't seem right, but you get the picture.  Grandad got in plenty of cuddles.

Big cousin, Cheetah, is always special but since he got a cool iPod from Santa he got extra attention.

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Cheetah also did a great job as the official gift distributor.  The tree is to his left around the corner.

It looks like Monkey approves of Grannysaurus' gift from Romeo and Juliet.

The McTavish boys looked cool in their Christmas shirts made by their creative mum.

Dragon couldn't believe his eyes when he unwrapped his gift from Cheetah, Aunty Chimera, Uncle DH and Little Bear.  He had drooled over this in the shop and never thought he would own it.  It was serendipity.  His smile says it all and he didn't forget to say thank you.

After waking up with a fever (yet again) Little Bear was given her new medicine that worked like magic.  Christmas day was saved for her.  Later Christmas night she practised her feminine wiles on Uncle Romeo while Monkey, very discreetly, had his Christmas tea.

By half way through the day, Monkey looked like he was sooo over smiling for the camera, but he didn't mind Uncle Romeo getting in lots of baby minding practice.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

As usual I had a bit of fun with photoshop creating this year's Christmas card for our business.  That's Mr Sunshine on the top left.  Romeo on the top right and Grannysaurus on the bottom right.  The other 3 are who we had left of our staff due to the global financial meltdown.  In fact the young woman bottom left has now found other employment also and I have had to learn to handle all of the clerical side of the business.  It has been a steep learning curve.  Office work and I go together like oil and water.  So now there are just five of us where there used to be eight workers - not counting myself as initially I had no role to play and I was still working for the church.
Fortunately the last couple of months have seen a turn around in demand for our work and things are starting to look more hopeful.  We are not entirely out of the woods yet and we have a huge amount of catching up to do to repay our debts (mostly to the bank, the tax man and ourselves - especially ourselves), but we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and we are hoping that it is not the headlight of an oncoming train.
The truth is that in spite of the dificulties, we have many, many blessings to count.  Five lively, lovely, healthy grandchildren and three great kids who have great spouses and are happily married and all of us healthy and only a five minute drive from each other is more than many families have and we are grateful for all of it.

Christmas is a little more austere than we have had for a while, but the good news is that we are not beaten yet.  And we are certainly not starving - too many friends and relatives for that :)
2010 is looking okay so far.
I hope the coming year is a good one for all of you and that 2009 will be looked back on as a just a nightmare, bad dream, an interesting learning experience. 
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Mango high

My house seems to be cocooned in a bubble of very sweet and delicious mango aroma.  Why?
Well, I'm glad you asked.  In the last week I have peeled and sliced more than three dozen mangos.  Where have they all gone?  I'm glad you asked that too :)
They have all gone into my food dehydrator.   All of those mangos have been reduced to a few (too few) tupperware containers of very yummy dried mango.  As you may know, mangos are a very sweet fruit.  Drying them intensifies the natural sugar.  That is, by removing the water content, the natural sugar concentration is greatly increased, producing one of the sweetest dried fruits you will ever taste.

If I can bear to part with any of it, I'll be sending some down to the mexicans (southern relatives).  That is a big IF at this stage.

I have become an expert mango peeler, slicer and drier.  I can tell you that about 5 mm slices work best; that the best way to peel them is with a knife and a large spoon; that you have to be very careful with the knife because peeled mangos are extremely slippery to handle; that drying them for several hours on medium and then turning the dryer down to low for another 12 hours creates the best colour and softest texture.
What esle would you like to know?
They are very more-ish.  My information says that they will keep for at least a year in the refrigerator.  Will I have any left in my refrigerator by this time next year?  I'll be surprised if I have any left this time next month week.
In the mean time I love the fact that as you approach my front door you are enveloped in intoxicating mango perfume.  Inside the house, you could have a sugar high from just breathing.
Sorry - no photos because I forgot to charge the camera betteries, but maybe I'll throw a "finished product" photo in a future post.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Those eyes.

I know I'm biased, but who could resist those gorgeous Lion eyes.
Photo by Mummy McT by the way.

Before I married, I belonged to a family where blue eyes were totally non-existant. We didn't just have brown eyes, we had quite dark brown eys - without exception. Then I married a blue-eyed Mr. Sunshine and we had brown-eyed children.
[Brown eyes are a dominant gene]
But our daughters married non-brown-eyed men and our grandchilren get a lucky dip in the gene pool of eye colour. I suppose it has something to do with double recessive genes, but genetics can get quite complex, so I won't make any pronouncements.
Bottom line - the mix so far has been serendipitous for the grandchildren. They all have gorgeous eyes.
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Heaven or . . .

One of our major local shopping centres underwent a huge renovation that culminated in a grand opening a few weeks ago. We didn't go. It was a madhouse on the BIG DAY. I guess everybody thought they would get a bargain.

When I finally was talked into going by Mummy McT and the boys, I took Lion and Dragon in my car. Part of the reno involved the construction of a new roof-top car park accessed by a pretty impressive ramp. We followed MMcT onto the ramp.

As we drove up the ramp we could see nothing but blue sky and Lion said (with AWE),
"Grandma, it looks like we are going up to Heaven!"

Well yes, it really does Lion.

When we got to the top, there were plenty of cars and, in the area we had chosen to park, someone had cleaned out their car and dumped a heap of litter that must have taken weeks to collect. As we got out of the car, I asked Lion, "Does this look like Heaven?"

In a very sad and disappointed voice he answered, "Nooooooo"

Confession: I added "TO HEAVEN" to the top photo. It may have been omitted from the original sign.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

DON'T DON'T DON'T Feed the trolls!

The ABC posted this news item today. (click to read) It is the best advice I've heard for all of those people who have been hounded by offensive, abusive, insulting, judgemental and usually anonymous commentors on their blogs.  They are like the schoolyard bullies who get their thrill from the response of their victim.  No response - no thrill and they go and bug someone else. 
People who do this are cowards hiding behind their anonymity.  They complain of censorship if they are ignored or deleted, but this is a manipulation because they do not respect other folks' rights to disagree with them. Freedom of speech is valuable, but it is not a licence to be offensive.
Trolling is obviously a growing problem if the some online news media are turning off their comments section.
The writer gives this advice:
"The good old motto is 'don't feed the troll'. Don't acknowledge them, don't give them attention, don't react because that's what they want."

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Officially it's still Spring, but we don't really have Spring here - just dry season and wet season. In the dry season it can get cool, never cold. In the wet season it gets hot. Not blistering dry heat but, but steamy, sauna-like, sticky heat. It's starting to get like that, but we've had some gentle breezes to make it much more bearable - very pleasant. It will get worse. Much worse. February is usually the most unbearable month.
There is some recompense to the heat. One of them is the Frangipani. About 200 years ago a botanist described them as a set of antlers bedecked with posies. They have been the subject of many artworks, but there is one thing art cannot show you. The fragrance. Every time I step outside the air is filled with their gorgeous scent. Frangipani-scented perfumes never do it justice.
The grandchildren love to pick up a fallen flower with brown edges around the petals (they seem to accept imperfections in flowers and people) and make a special presentation of it to me.
That makes them smell even sweeter.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dragon birthday post

I did it for Lion and intended to do it for his little brother Dragon. So better late than never :)  Dragon's 3rd birthday was weeks ago.

This is his birthday post from his Grannysaurus.
Honestly, I don't know why my family put up with me when I take so long to do things.
Poor little Romeo once waited months for the tooth fairy to remember that there was a tooth waiting to be collected because I forgot to let her know.  They must be a very forgiving family.

But on with this short picture history of our darling Dragon.

In the top pic he is one day old.  Already you could see what a spunk he was going to be.
Next picture is baby Dragon being cuddled by his big cousin Cheetah.  He is about 3 days old.  Not Cheetah, Dragon. Cheetah is 7 here. After that is baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph Dragon with Mummy and Wolf McTavish at the Stable on the Strand (an annual major Townsville Christmas event that unites churches and community) in December 2006 when Dragon played a pivotal role for a short time.  He played his part well, but doesn't Mummy McT look tired?
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I had to include a picture with his big brother Lion.  They are such good mates and the beach is one of their favourite places.  They were all dressed up for the beach wedding of Aunty Juliette's big sister.

Last pic is baby Dragon in the arms of Aunty Chimera getting his photo taken with his friend Ralph and Ralph's dad, King Rick. Ralph and Dragon and Lion are still all good mates and love to get together for a play as often as they can nag their long suffering mothers into it.
A belated Happy Birthday Dragon!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


In my last post in honour of Lion's birthday, I included a pic of a little Lion watching the heavy machinery in my street a few years ago.  It was strangely prophetic. . .
Today Lion and Dragon have their birthday party for their mates.  Last week was the family birthday party.  They live in the cul de sac of a longish street.  Two days before their birthday party the city council decided to dig up most of the street in order to replace the road surface.  The road had been so poorly made in the first place that they have removed at least 50 cm deep from the surface of their road and several surrounding roads. 
The result - Mums (and/or Dads) with little kids and toteing birthday gifts became confused due to "ROAD CLOSED" signs and have had to walk some distance. Aunty with twins expected in a few months also had to walk with panicy hysterical toddler in tow (possibly upset by the machinery noise?). 
Thank you City Council. Great timing!
Naturally it decided to rain today too, for the first time in months.
At least we won't blame the City Council for that.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lion's Birthday

It's Lion's birthday on Monday 26th and it's an important one - the big 5. That means that in a few months he will be a big school boy. In honour of his birthday I thought I would find some of my favourite Lion baby/toddler photos. The first one is Lion and Mr Sunshine at the TV towers on Mt Stuart.
The next was a really exciting time (if you are a little boy) when Grannysaurus' street was full of BIG machines because the city council decided we needed new curbing and asphalt.  There were many far worse streets around that didn't get fixed, but Lion was happy.

The bottom one is Lion at the beach. He loves the beach. Isn't he a sweetie?

Happy birthday Lion!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bring back the smile

I love the way her smile lights up her eyes in this photo.

Actually she can still smile some of the time. This afternoon she was even giggling as she placed a cold, wet face washer on grandma's bare belly. Of course I had to overact a lot about how cold it was -the air temp was about 27 Celsius.

But Little Bear is not well and hasn't been 100 percent for months. She really didn't like wearing the pee collecting gizmo in her nappy this afternoon. Being sick is the pits when you are two. Let's just hope that the antibiotics fix the unknown bugs that are causing repeat high fevers and night time vomiting and chest infections. Let's also hope that the high doses and extended time on antibiotics don't knock her immune system out of whack even more.

Let's pray that Little Bear can be back to her lively, happy, impish self asap.
I'm just greedy for more of that gorgeous smile.
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Dragon Dreams

I don't need to be told that this is NOT the most flattering pic of me, but any pic with our little Dragon is a good pic. He is so darn cute.
On Friday his Mummy was not feeling great so I picked up Dragon and he came to work with me. I can do that because Mr Sunshine, Romeo (previously Jingles) and I own the business. I didn't get much work done, but I was there and I answered the phone.

On the way to work I did my usual thing when I have grandchildren in the car - my racing car sound effects. You know, brrrrmmmm brrrrmmmm through the gear changes and eeeeeeeeeee around corners, making sure to include the Doppler effect and any other relevant stuff. Later in the morning Dragon came to me with a very serious look and tone and said in his cute deep voice, "Grandma, I'm a dump truck today". I told him that I love dump trucks and gave him a cuddle and off he went to do some more drawing. At no time did he actually act like a dump truck, but dump trucks don't have to act like dump trucks. They just are.

Later in the day we left work, went to the bank and went to my home for a nap - both of us. Dragon slept on Grandad's side of the bed and I read him a story or two and fell asleep on my side of the bed. About an hour later I was woken by a strange whining sound coming from Dragon and I thought he was having a bad dream. The whining sound was then interupted by brrmmmm sounds and then more whining sounds and another brrrrmmmm sound. When Dragon woke up I asked him if he had been having a bad dream. "No," he assured me, he was having a good dream. He was dreaming he was a dump truck.

I guess this dump truck was doing some pretty fast cornering.
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Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Work in Progress

I know it's taken me a while, but today I added Monkey to the header.  Then I accidentally deleted the entire header altogether and I couldn't retrieve it.  :(
I got around that by just putting the header picture back, but it's all wrong and looks very bare.  Also I couldn't find the width of the template I was using so that is guesswork and therefore not right either.
Oh well . . .   it's all a learning curve.  Eventually I will get it right.

Also, am I blind or is there no spell checker on the new blogger tool bar?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cheetah and Snoopy

I don't get many opportunities to do a post with Cheetah so here he is and he is holding his new best friend. Snoopy the dog is actually owned by Uncle and Aunty Jingles who will from now on be referred to as Romeo and Juliet.  Check out Juliet's blog here.

So far Snoopy is an only child, but I'm sure that state of affairs won't last forever ;)
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Loving Cousins & Siblings

Little Bear had just eaten a chocolate biscuit when she decided that cousin Monkey needed some loving -

Cheetah wanted to pose for a photo on the back of Grandad's ute ('pick-up' for those who don't speak Australian) when Dragon saw an opportunity to pose with one of his favourite people.

All of the children think it is special to play on the tray of the ute, while it is stationary of course. Little Bear and Dragon found they could beat out a cool duet rhythm on the roof of the cab.

Dragon getting gardening tips from Lion, the garden destroyer helpful little pruner -

In spite of occasional little jealousies over things like who gets to cuddle baby Monkey or Grandma or Grandad, they really get on well. The older ones are very helpful and tolerant of the younger ones and I feel really blessed to have such gorgeous grandkids.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Troublemaker Monkey

This is Little Bear.

This is Dragon.

and this is THE LOOK Little Bear gave Dragon -

THE LOOK means,
"Back off, I was here first!" or maybe,
"Nyah! nyah! nyah! nyah!" or maybe,
"Eat your heart out, Loser!"

And this is the cause of the dissension.

Troublemaker, Monkey.

Granny's tunes

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus


About Me

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Townsville, Queensland, Australia
I have worked as a Biology lab assistant, Pathology lab assistant, geochem lab assistant, land tenure researcher, hospital and prison chaplain, parish care coordinator and part owner of a small business. I have studied some science (no degrees) and have a theology and a chaplaincy certificate. I still love science of all types and enjoy studying theology. Science and theology belong together. At present I am a work-at-home Grannysaurus.

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