Monthly Archives: November 2007

The best news…

Dad

My Dad received the best news of all today: that the surgeons were able to remove the whole of the melanoma on his back. At this stage, only three-monthly check-ups are required; no chemotheraphy, no radiotherapy, and no more surgery. To say we’re happy would be an understatement of epic proportions.

Over the last twelve years, Dad has had cause to get to know the staff at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and they have been amazing. I know people are quick to bag the public health system, but I cannot speak highly enough of the care they have given Dad, and the consideration they have shown to the rest of us. I hope they realise how highly we regard what they do.

So, what photo to commemorate today? Not a phone pic, I’m afraid – despite this going against the premise of the blog. No, this photo is of Dad and the Rolling Ball machine he made and recently sold to a museum in Korea. Now that he’s been given the all-clear he is going to make another one. If you ‘d like to see it in action, you can see it here.

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My constant companions

poodles

Sitting here at the computer – writing, retouching photographs, emailing, or whatever – I have my constant companions curled up on the couch beside me, and consider myself really lucky to have their company. 

During the day, Bo and Cher – both around six years old – never leave my side (although I do draw the line when it comes to the bathroom). Since starting to work at home earlier this year, we’ve fallen into a new routine. Walks that used to happen at about six in the morning, now usually happen around lunchtime on cooler days. This gives me a chance to go to the gym after dropping Meg at the station, at least a couple of times each week, and is a nice way to break a day of solitary pursuits.

Being naturally gregarious, I found working at home really hard to start with. When it happened, it wasn’t from choice, but was necessary none the less. Now I find I am better able to cope with silence during the day – often not even having music playing while I work. I love the company of others, and I miss the badinage and camaraderie of working in an office, but sometimes that comes at a price that you just can’t keep paying.

These days, I’m happier, healthier, far less emotional, and I sleep better. My friends tell me that my colour has returned (not even I realised I had lost it) – my voice, which deserted me once for eight months – is strong and healthy, and I am very relaxed. Best of all, I am doing what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: writing and taking photographs. And I get to work with my dogs at my feet (almost)!

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Counting my blessings

City Square Christmas Tree

This Christmas tree, located in the City Square in the heart of Melbourne, is spectacularly tall. I wasn’t able to photograph anyone beside it, to give a sense of the scale, but, as usual, the City of Melbourne has really gone to town (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Apparently there is a lighting ceremony every night from Nov. 10th (last Saturday) to December 24th, with the lights having been sponsored by a prominent light-globe manufacturer. If you want more details about this, you can find it here.

You’ll know from earlier posts how much I enjoy the Christmas season, so it will be no surprise that I stood gawking at the tree for quite a few minutes yesterday. When I got home, one of yesterday’s batch of Christmas cakes was sacrificed so that we could be sure that they had turned out as hoped. The verdict? The whole thing disappeared in about two minutes flat, and was very nice with ice-cream (though not quite as good as the pudding will be on Christmas day)! I should have known that a CWA recipe would be foolproof!

Meg came home from camp, yesterday – she was only gone one night but the house was too quiet without her. She and I collected Dad from hospital this morning, stitched and a bit sore, but in good spirits. All of us are optimistic and sharing a laugh, and most of all, we are together – all reasons that I am counting my blessings…

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Friday again…

christmas cakes

Today is an auspicious Friday – it is the last day of my academic year, I got my last assignment back and I made the first batch of Christmas cakes.

Of course, not all is sweetness and light – I had to say goodbye to all my study friends until the new year, and Dad is having surgery as I type. The nature of melanoma means that there will be an anxious wait for the next week for the pathology results, even though we are optimistic.

I’ll be keeping in touch with one of my friends from the CAE – Bruce Clarke– through his blog Write On!. Bruce is a really talented writer; probably the most polished ‘new’ freelance writer I’ve ever come across. You should check it out when you get the chance.

On the Christmas cake front, I think I’ve finally found the recipe I’ve been looking for! I’m so excited – all the while I was trying out ‘rich’ fruit cake recipes, and what I should have been making was a boiled fruit cake! This might not seem important to most people, but I do love Christmas cooking, and now that my Grandma has gone, it is left to me to hold the fort (a self-imposed responsibility, of course).

Due to one of those very unpleasant and unexpected things that happen when someone in the family dies (like one half of the family suddenly telling the other half that they never really liked them, and winding up the estate on their own), my Grandma’s cookbook went who-knows-where, probably in the bin. For the last six years I’ve been trying to find a recipe just like hers, and I think this is it – hence my excitement.

Cakes are one of the things I like to give as gifts at Christmas, so I’ve been saving large Tuna tins for the last couple of months. They make the perfect-sized cake tin for this. The recipe, for a boiled-fruit-cake, was one a friend pointed me to on the ABC Sydney’s website. The only variations I made to it were to omit the lemon and almond essence, and the walnuts – mainly because a couple of friends had nut allergies (and I don’t personally like lemon essence) – and to divide the mixture into smaller tins.

If you want to do this, I found that each tin takes 1 1/4 cups of mixture and that they need to be cooked for an hour and a half. The three tablespoons of extra sherry called for at the end of the recipe became four, because I put half a tablespoon onto each of the eight cakes.

Happy cooking – hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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There was a crooked house…

Crooked house

No posts for a few days, with no excuse other than life getting in the way…

The last assignment has been handed in for the year, so I’m free for a few months, but I’m thinking of trying my hand at something new – in terms of study, that is – for 2008.

There  is a photography course I’ve had my eye on for a little while, and I’m having an interview on Tuesday to see if they think my pictures are good enough, and if I show enough potential, to learn the business of photography. So, the next few days will be spent in preparing my folio for presentation, and in clearing away the papers that have accumulated on my desk throughout the term. It is satisfying to see a collection of photographs together, to see the range of work and the consistent style showing through.

The dogs are loving that I have the time for longer walks, although I have to remind myself that Cher’s leg is still just recovering from her knee injury back in August.

Yesterday, while walking around the back streets of Fairfield and Northcote, I found myself compelled to take this picture of a house I pass nearly every day. How I would love to restore it!

The angle shown in the picture is the true angle of the house (rather than it just having been poorly framed), so it would take an enormous amount of work to return it to its former glory, but it has such potential that I would really relish the task. Affording it would be another matter, of course, with the way house prices are around here! Oh well, I can dream…

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The heart of the city

Fed Square

I think Fridays, during term time at least, are my favourite days. There is always time between classes to wander over to Federation Square and join in the fun. Yesterday, that involved a unitard-wearing comedian/juggler pulling hapless german and dutch tourists out of the crowd to join in his act. 

Although, like a lot of other people, I was initially skeptical about the design of Fed Square, I’ve come to love it. It seems to have succeeded in a way that the old City Square never did, in becoming the true ‘heart’ of the city. Concerts, displays, protests, celebrations – everything happens there. It has given Melbournians a place to gather and be part of a community, no matter what their interests.

Perhaps it is the combination of public meeting space with galleries, restaurants, shops and the information centre that works so well? The City Square was certainly never as well-appointed, and – by virtue of where it was – didn’t have the space that Federation Square does. Whatever it is, I’m glad that the skeptics like me weren’t the decision makers, as I think the city would have been a much poorer place without it.

Flags at Fed Sq

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All Nations Park #3

cormorant

Another picture from All Nations Park, this time of a Little Pied Cormorant sitting atop the wall that forms one margin of the stage, and overlooks the lake.

The sky provided an interesting backdrop, as you can see, and my phone camera did a pretty good job considering I was shooting into the sun. As is often the case with photographs, if I’d been two seconds later the image wouldn’t have existed, as the cormorant regurgitated a pile of something unrecognisable at the base of the wall and flew off to the other side of the lake, just after I had taken this.

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