Canon SX110IS and great kids make for a happy New Year

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Where ever you are – Happy New Year to you (albeit a little late).

I hope you had a good (and safe) time, and that 2009 brings you much happiness and satisfaction.

We (M & I) spent New Year’s Eve on the grassy bank bordering Birrarung Marr, watching the fireworks with Meg and five of her friends.

We thought we were brave taking six fourteen and fifteen year-old girls into town, where the crowd numbered in the hundreds of thousands, but they were a real delight – all skipping along arm-in-arm and having a lovely time. The worst problem we had was keeping up with them as they practically ran through the crowd!

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These (obviously hand-held) photos were taken with my Christmas present – a Canon SX110IS compact. I’m in the process of putting it through it’s paces, and must say that I am impressed so far. A (largish) pocket-sized camera with the equivalent of a 36 – 360mm lens and everything from fully auto to fully manual control is hard to beat, and Canon’s menus are consistently easy to navigate, making it easy to take advantage of its many features. I think it performed really well under difficult circumstances – I mean, who would try to take photos of fireworks without a tripod?!

Just wait til you see the photos of the hippos at Werribee Open Range zoo…

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The End of Singing Season

Well, ‘Singing Season’  is officially over for me for this year.

Unfortunately for all those who had put in an enormous effort, the City of Darebin’s ‘Carols in All Nations’ was washed out, so I only got to do two of the three big gigs we were working on on.

I must say, though, that it came as a perverse relief not to have to go anywhere yesterday.  After the effort and long hours associated with the preparation and performances for the two events I did get to, it was lovely to just stop. I even had a ‘nana nap’ yesterday afternoon, and feel much better for it!

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The photos I’ve included are from the rehearsal and sound check at BMW Edge, prior to the first public performance of the Women’s Anthem. This was written by Kavisha Mazella, in consultation with Mary Crooks of the Victorian Women’s Trust, to celebrate the centenary of women getting  the vote in Victoria. I wrote more about this here.

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The day before the performance, the ABC TVshow Stateline featured a six minute piece about the anthem. This can be seen here, until March 2009. (For those of you who know me, you’ll see me three or four times throughout the clip – don’t quite know how I managed it with more than 300 other women there…)

This really was an amazing thing to be part of – I’m still on a high whenever I think about it!  You can get an idea of how big the choir was from the  pictures – we almost out-numbered the audience! And, we did two performances (each time singing the anthem twice) to different audiences, and got standing ovations each time.

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So – the singing is done for the year – now to the Christmas cooking! The first batch of cakes and puddings have been made, and now I’m off to do the second lot.

Enjoy your day!

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Burrs and dogs’ feet

A quick post, just to show you what happened this morning when I decided to take the dogs to a different park for their walk…

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A trip around the lake to look at the ducks, who had just been fed with scraps of bread by another walker…

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A walk to the hill past lots of Willy Wagtails, Noisy Miners, Rainbow lorikeets and some unidentified swallow, and a never-before-seen (by me) sculpture…

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Then back to the car and home, at which point I checked the dogs’ feet for burrs and grass seeds, and this is what I found…

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I stopped counting at 80! Oh well, it was a lovely walk…

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Singing season

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I’ve renamed the period from the end of October to the middle of December this year as ‘singing season’, rather than ‘silly season’ as it is usually dubbed. Though maybe some would say I’m silly to be doing what I’m doing, at the busiest (crafting, studying and social) time of the year.

You see, a couple of special projects mean that I am involved in three choirs at the moment, and am taking part in a couple of really special performances. From my point of view, this is heaven.

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One project culminates on November 29th with a performance by a 472 voice choir (at last count!) at the BMW Edge theatre in Federation Square, here in Melbourne. This performance celebrates the 100th centenary of women getting the vote in Victoria, and the amazing work of the women who tirelessly strove to get us this right.

The Women’s Anthem was commissioned by the VWT and written by Kavisha Mazzella, and is really wonderful. It is reminiscent of folk songs from the turn of the (19th) century, and will be a fitting end to the year of celebration marking this momentous anniversary. And – what an amazing experience to be in a room with so many wonderful voices! The full choir hasn’t even been together yet, with many women rehearsing in regional choirs and joining us on the actual day, but even with 300 voices it is incredible. Gives me goose bumps just to think of it.

 

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The second special gig is a Roy Orbison tribute gig to mark the 20th anniversary of his death, and to raise funds for the “Close the Gap” project being run by Oxfam. This one is a Lipstick & Spurs gig, and we will have the great pleasure of singing backing vocals for Kutcha Edwards and Dave Arden, and not only will be raising funds for a very worthy cause, but will also be fabulous fun! Might have to borrow M’s tuxedo for this one!

The final event – the Carols in All Nations – will be on December 13th. This is the City of Darebin Christmas Carols event that takes place at All Nations park each year. Lipstick & Spurs will sing a couple of our own Christmas songs, and we’ll also sing with the Massed Choir for the main part of the festivities. The Rusty Springs will also be playing with Lipstick & Spurs on one song!

So – all in all, the next few weeks will be a blur of singing and happy exhaustion. Must find time in there somewhere to make the Christmas cakes and puddings, and finish all of the present making…

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The Audreys at the Dream Festival

The audience watching The Audreys perform

One of the things I did while I was absent from the blog, was attend the Dream Festival held in Birrarung Marr in early October.

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It was a beautiful day and The Audreys – one of my favourite bands – were playing. I’d never seen them live before, and they did not disappoint: they were every bit as good live as they are on their albums. Combined with the atmosphere you get from seeing a band on stage, their performance was a real treat.

The Audreys on stage, with Taasha playing the melodica

Taasha’s vocals were at their delicate best, and I got to see her playing both the melodica and the ukulele as they performed a mixture of songs from both albums. (If you’ve read Blogday before, you’ll know how much I love the ukulele and will understand why I was so excited about her playing one.) For me the highlight of the show was Banjo & Violin . The first verse applies to me so well, with my foray into country music over the last couple of years, that it makes me laugh.

Taasha Coates from The Audreys, stands at a microphone singing

For me, they sum up what I love in music at the moment – they’re local (as in Australian); their music sits across a number of styles that I love (folk, country, rock and pop), and they play a great range of instruments: ukulele, banjo, double bass, violin. Aaah – heaven!

Looking down the Yarra River towards Princes Bridge

As an added bonus, I caught up with someone I hadn’t seen in 22 years – one of my best friends from my university days. She was there listening to music and taking photos as well. I smiled at her as she walked towards me through the crowd, recognising that she was a kindred spirit (with the camera and everything), only to then recognise who it was that I was smiling at! The most bizarre thing of all is that we both have daughters named Megan!

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One less baby bird

I’m sad to say that I found a very tiny bird dead in the garden this morning. We had a severe storm last night that might have been the cause, but I don’t know how it got to where it was, as I found it about ten metres away from both of the nests I mentioned yesterday.

Nectarine blossom on bare branches, with a blue sky behind it.

There was a tense wait to be sure that the baby blackbirds were okay, because a rain storm hit just before we left this morning and we couldn’t check them out until we got home from school and work. I was so pleased to see that they were both there, and both looking really healthy.

I’ve got a soft spot for the blackbird family because they built their nest so trustingly low; I’ve loved watching the mother incubate the eggs over the last couple of weeks, and now get a real thrill from both parents swooping around the garden looking for food and calling to each other and the babies. I’ve even taken to leaving the lid off one of the compost bins for a couple of hours during the day, to allow them to forage…

So, it wasn’t a blackbird – or at least, not one of my blackbirds – and didn’t look like a dove (the occupants of the second nest), although the baby was so small, it was impossible to be sure what breed it was. Perhaps there is a third nest I don’t know about…

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In my garden

Here we are, November has come around again and the countdown to Christmas has begun.

Apologies for my extended absence. A couple of days away from the blog to work on assignments and book keeping tasks ended up taking five weeks!  Everything is finished for the year now, though, so I’m back in the saddle, and will do my best to post regularly.

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While I was away, Spring came into full force, and the garden is looking magnificent. We have two nests in the trees in the back yard, one of which is at eye-height. I’ll hopefully be able to get a photo of mother and babies over the next couple of days to share with you.  Right now, they are so tiny that they don’t even make any sounds (they only hatched on Tuesday).

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The vegie patch got planted, too, with three types of peas; golden nugget pumpkins (which already have fruit on them); butternut pumpkins (squash); capsicums; chillies; eggplants,  watermelon,  and, of course, tomatoes – lots of tomatoes.  Unfortunately, the silverbeet has gone to seed, so I”ll have to work out how best to replace it.

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The rhubarb re-shot…

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And the fruit trees are laden with so much fruit that it promises to be a bumper harvest. The plum tree, below, is in its third year of fruiting, and looks to have matured fully now. It has so many plums that it will look like a Christmas tree when they ripen. It looks like there might even be enough to make blood plum paste this year! Yay!

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I’m so excited that the garden is doing so well, despite the on-going drought, and despite the fact that the only water it gets is from the washing machine or shower (or the rain, but we can’t really count on that, even though it is raining as I type). The fact that we have birds nesting in it, and other visitors like geckos, means that it is healthy, and that is good for everyone. The fact that it is still so productive despite the drought, is a miracle!

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