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.

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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