Monday, April 27, 2009

Child labour

I love my grandsons. They are energetic little fellows who need to keep active all the time. So at bath time, I equip them with the essentials and let them burn off some of that excess energy.
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Friday, April 24, 2009

I Saw the Light

Well, yes I did - quite a long time ago. But the light I'm talking about here is the light that my camera sees. It is the reason I chose the camera I chose. That and the 12.3 megapixels. Who wouldn't want that many megapixels to fool around with?
I chose my camera (Nikon D300) mostly for its dynamic range. That means that in very contrasty situations (like rainforests) I get a lot more detail in the darkest and lightest sections of the photograph.

The next one is my favourite.

These are photos that I just couldn't have taken with my little Canon Powershot A85. Not that my Canon hasn't served me well and continues to do so, but before I bought the Nikon, I had been getting disappointed with the limitations of the Canon. I knew what I wanted it to do and it just couldn't do it.

Mummy McTavish liked the prickly photo. It's a palm that grows as a vine (or liana) and can climb to the tops of trees. I can just imagine Tarzan getting a handful of those spines as he swings through the trees.

No flash was used for any of these photos. Just the beautiful natural sunlight filtered through the trees.
Oh, and I forgot to say that my 'excuse' (not to be confused with 'reason') for buying such an expensive camera was that Mummy McTavish needed a really good camera to borrow to take some photographs worthy of selling, so that her Bachelor of Photography degree is put to more use ;)
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A sad week

An eulogy for a dog. It's not really the done thing and those that you do hear or read are usually too sentimental or too anthropomorphic or too glorifying. I just couldn't let the week go by with saying or doing something.

Saturday was a bad day for Babe (a 15 year old dachshund cross). Having lost most of her sight and hearing and battling numerous medical complaints and helping to make our vet a rich lady, her kidneys were packing it in. She was in great pain. She never complained or whined, but she flinched at the most gentle pat and then she would give you a loving, but pleading look. By the end of the day she could hardly walk. I made her as comfortable as I could, but knew when I went to bed on Saturday night that on Sunday we would have to face the inevitable.

So after 15 years of being an important, rarely naughty and too often overlooked member of the family Babe has gone. For the first time in 30 years I had no one who was dependant on me to feed (and water) and put to bed and to reassure. It was a strange feeling. When the children left home I still had Babe, so I didn't experience any empty nest then and I didn't even realise the role Babe was playing in easing the transition.

When Mummy McTavish has her new baby in a few months I will miss Babe again. Babe seemed to think of herself as the nanny and appeared to have no faith in humans to look after their own babies. New babies were her particular concern and although she was rarely allowed very close to them, she hovered nearby and paced with anxiety when they cried. She would give us a look that seemed to say, "Why aren't you looking after that baby? If you would only let me I could care for her/him so much better. A good lick always settles them."

Security wasn't high on Babe's list of talents. A few years ago someone broke into the house while we slept. The route the burglar(s) took was through the back door, laundry, rumpus room and lounge. In the process they wrecked a screen, ripped a sliding door off it's runner bending and breaking the runners and door lock. They opened every filing cabinet and desk drawer. Our laptop computer was found slightly damaged in the middle of the living room. They stole the only can of coke in the fridge, bypassing the beer, wine and spirits. That was all.

Where was Babe? The laundry was her sleeping quarters. She couldn't have not noticed the noise and someone stepping over her. They even turned a light on. Maybe Babe did bark in the end, but we didn't hear. If so she would probably have barked to let them know they should be giving her a pat. At least they left. So we forgave her.

To cap the week off, today I went to a funeral for a lovely man who died very suddenly from prostate cancer. The end had always seemed so far off and then suddenly it was all over.

The week is not over yet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How good is this?

I thought you might like to see where we actually stayed on our little getaway to the tablelands.

It was very private, very tranquil, very beautiful. The only noise was the rainforest birds and even their calls were muffled by the hills and the trees. What more can I say? Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's a sign

More photos from the tablelands.

I like to photograph unusual signs. The one above probably isn't all that unusual, but it isn't common either. The two below are absolutely Australia-only signs.

To tell the truth I have never seen a real tree kangaroo as far as I know. For one thing they are nocturnal and they are also not common. When we first spotted this sign from a distance, we thought that the paint had run, but that was just his tail.

For any overseas readers: this sign depicts a cassowary which is an endangered, flightless bird, nearly as big as an emu and with much more spectacular colouring. Click on the link to see just how beautiful they are. I have only ever seen one cassowary in the wild and that was about 25 years ago. They are battling for survival against wild pigs, vehicles, dogs and forest clearing.
The last sign speaks for itself. We have seen plenty of warning signs for heavy vehicles, but never encountered this one before. From a distance we both thought it was a motorcyclist. If you screw up your eyes and squint at it, you might be able to see why. (The grill of the truck becomes the front wheel).
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fascinating Fungi

Rainforests are good at doing fungi. Fungus is everywhere. That distinctive rainforest smell is from the breaking down of dead leaves, trees, insects, animals and shrubbery by the underestimated and overlooked little plants - the fungi. They come in all sorts of colours, even luminescent white which glows in the dark.

I would love to get a photo of one of them, but I'm definitely not about to start walking around in rainforests at night. Like I said yesterday, I'm an arachnophobe, and at night you can't see where the webs are. Give me deadly snakes any day, but harmless spiders. . . eeek! Mind you, I've overcome a lot of my irrational fear. Once upon a time I could not even look at a spider from a safe distance without breaking out in a sweat. I couldn't even touch a photograph of one. (Shudder. . . it's alright, I'm okay, really).
Anyway back to the fungi. They are very much NOT creepy, crawly. They perform a very necessary and useful role in the world and they are often very beautiful.

BUT, sometimes I'm in awe of the amazing mimicry in nature. You know, the trick of one organism to look like something completely different. The beautiful lacy fellow below is a member of the stinkhorn family of fungi (genus - Phallus, snicker, snicker) also known as maiden veil fungi. Mr Sunshine spotted it and probably wondered why I got so excited about it. They hardly last any time at all. So to find one so fresh and in pristine condition, not beginning to rot yet, was serendipitous to say the least.
Queen Stuss, I hope you enjoy my fungi. Fungi lovers are a rare breed!
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wild-ish Life on the Tablelands

Here are just a some of the delightful wild life we encountered on the tablelands. All the photos are my own so you can tell how close we got to them.
The shy pademelons - not a type of fruit but a nocturnal marsupial a bit less than knee high.

The elusive, also nocturnal, sugar glider. Another marsupial about the size of a small rat, but oh, so much cuter. They have a flap of fur covered skin that stretches between their front and back limbs so that they can leap from tree to tree like a paraglider.
From orb weaver
The golden orb weaver spider. This one would be about the size of a saucer from toe to toe. Their joints are fitted with bright yellow, red or orange knee-pads. If I wasn't an arachnophobe, I might think she was very good looking as spiders go. I use the motto, "Look up and live" when I'm bushwalking because these spiders love to spin their huge webs across paths just above head height and sometimes, not quite above head height. They are not highly poisonous but who wants to get close to one anyway?
The avocado-stealing rifle bird. It's not a great photo, but I didn't want to scare him away and I was trying to get that spectacular glossy plumage. You should see them when they fan out their wings and fluff their feathers to attract a mate. I think it was worth sacrificing one of my precious avocados to even get a bad photo of him.

Last, but not least, I became very attached to this little guy. Very! I had been marvelling that, in spite of all the rain and puddles, we hadn't had any leeches. Not a single one. Then I leaned down to scratch an itch on my shin and sat up with this little fellow attached to my finger. Being the nature loving conservationist that I am, I admired him before giving him to Mr Sunshine who squashed him flat, creating a little bloody patch on the veranda of the tea house where we were relaxing at the time.

Next post might be about the interesting fungi. . . I know, you can hardly wait. Right?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Getaway

We had been planning a weekend away since early January, but every time we decided that this would be it, the rain would come down. You know the rest. North Queensland had floods. Western Queensland had floods. Southern Queensland had floods. So we decided that we owed it to the rest of the country to stop planning a holiday and then the rain might lay off for a while. It worked. Mr Sunshine and I decided to give up and stay home and the sun came out and the floods abated. That is until Easter.

There had been very little rain for weeks, so, we thought - now is the time! We booked our getaway at Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges up on the Atherton Tableland, west of Cairns. It was great . . . but . . . of course, it rained.

Every time we got into the car the sun came out. Every time we got out of the car to do some bushwalking the clouds came back and it rained. I took very few spectacular photos because the weather was so hazy, but I did get one or two that I'm pleased with. The scenery was breathtaking. The wildlife was (mostly)more cute than wild and I'll share some photos of them next time.
These pics are just a little teaser to start with. For those who don't know, much of the tablelands is listed as World Heritage Area and we feel very fortunate to have it only a few hours drive from home.
Even though the air temperature hovered around 25 Centigrade, that water is icy cold because it comes from mountain streams. I swam in the heated pool back at the lodge.
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Little Man-bags

You can see the colour of the yarn that Lion McTavish chose and you can appreciate my problem. How to come up with something not too feminine in the way of a bag for him and Dragon for Easter given such pretty feminine yarn. I'm afraid that this is the best I could do. What you can't see is the little owl button on the top R.H. border of Dragon's bag and an echidna button on the top L.H. corner of Lion's bag. That's just in case they get them mixed up.
For Cheetah, I have a framed photo of him with one of his great-grandad's (my Dad) who passed away in February 2005. It is a lovely photo that I've been meaning to frame for him for ages.
I was guessing that he might pass on the bag idea.
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Friday, April 10, 2009


I've been helping to plan the Lutheran Women's Retreat for the northern zone and I promised to come up with a suitable image for our theme this year - "Grace Guaranteed". The preliminary sketch I did was received with enthusiasm which was great. My problem is that I often think that things are going to be easier than they turn out to be. I have delusions about my capabilities. This was one of those times.

I came home, sat in front of the computer, turned on photoshop and soon realised that, really I didn't have much of an idea of where to start. Not a clue. I knew how I wanted it to look. I knew photoshop could do it. I just didn't have any idea how to make it do it. A few hours later and with a trial and error learning curve I came up with the logo displayed above. It looks very simple and I'm sure it would have been very simple for many people to create, but I'm ridiculously pleased with it.

So I decided to share it.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter "baskets"

WOW! I can hardly believe that nearly a month has slipped by without a single post from me. I apologise to anyone who has missed me, but I must admit, you are probably in a minority group.
For a change, I've been very busy and my 'at home' time has been taken up with crochet instead of computer.

You see, I decided to crochet one of these delightful little rose hand bags for my little grandaughter, Little Bear. When I had some left over yarn, it seemed a pity not to keep going. So I made another. But when I thought about it, we didn't have any more little girls in the family. Only boys (sniff, sniff, not that I don't love them, but a few more girls would be nice). So Mummy McTavish has a good friend with 4 lovely little girls (one of whom is in heaven already and doesn't need a hand bag). I only had to make 2 more bags.

But. . . . I couldn't make something for one grandaughter and nothing for the 3 grandsons. Rose hand bags are out for them (even though Dragon and Lion thought they would like one). Instead they get a "man bag" partly knitted and partly sewn, but not finished yet. That will be another post and another photo because I'd better get knitting.
If you think you would like the pattern for the little bags, just leave a comment and I will post it or email it to you.

Have a blessed Easter everyone!

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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