Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for....

Zowie! The last blog. Really enjoyed reading everyone's blogs. There are some superb writers out there and some very interesting people. Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the trouble to comment. Really appreciated it. Cheers, Maureen.

ZOG  - as in the Planet Zog.

Completely bereft of ideas for the letter z,  I was making up silly words beginning with z and inspirationally "Planet Zog" popped into my head. Could this be an original idea. I zealously googled "Planet Zog" and waited patiently while Google zeroed in.
ZOUNDS! There were zillions of hits. It seems others had got there before me.
It would appear that if you "live on Planet Zog", you are in a place or situation removed from reality and what is currently happening. I think I've been there and certainly some of my friends have.

Nevertheless the Zog version of reality has its own website which promises info on all its habitat, but sadly delivers nothing. Is this a Zoggian thing?
It also has its own song recorded by the black metal band "Ad Hominem".
Now I have included the video of this but just don't listen to the words if you are of a sensitive nature.
As for the music, well let's just say I lasted about 30 secs into the clip before my brain tried to climb out my ears. But each to his own.

This is the sweet cute version of Planet Zog
From the series Welcome to Planet Zog (c) Quentin Blake

This is the black version, I am sure it's all very metaphoric.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for...

I always think of yellow as a happy colour.
It radiates such positive vibes. Not by chance was the ribbon tied to the old oak tree a bright welcoming yellow.
Some of the most beautiful flowers are yellow, daffodils, daisies, sunflowers to name a few. A splash of yellow on a dull day can lift the spirits.
And when yellow puts on its best dress and becomes gold it is sensational. Just think of the warm rich glow of yellow gold, the magnificence of the golden pheasant or the golden yellow of a sunrise.

The world would be such a dull place without yellow.

Australian Native Hibiscus

Sunrise off Exmouth in WA

Golden Pheasant at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Daisy from my back garden

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for....

X Chromosome
The X chromosome is one of the two sex chromosomes in humans. The other is the Y chromosome.
The sex chromosomes form one of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes in each cell. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have one X and one Y. So that is all that separates us girls from the guys, one microscopic scrap of genetic material?

While I didn't understand most of what I read while researching this post I did discover just how influential this x chromosome can be.
*If a male has one or more extra copies of the x chromosome in his cells he may suffer intellectual disability, abnormal sexual development and other health issues.(Klinefelter syndrome)
* In girls Triple X syndrome results from an extra copy of the notorious X chromosome and can result in abnormally tall stature, learning problems and other abnormalities.
*Now if a female is missing one of her X chromosomes the missing genetic material results in Turner Syndrome. This leads to short stature, ovarian malfunction and other symptoms.

So respect the X. It has a powerful influence on who and what we are.

(ref: Genetics Home Reference -

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for...

Someone remarked that I looked as if I had the "weight of the world" on my shoulders.
Well they were wrong, it's on my HIPS!
I have this theory, not backed by any data , but you will see its logic as I explain. The mass (ie weight) of the entire world and all its population remains the same. I mean the basic elements  are recycled, the ashes to ashes thing. Nothing drops off the planet. When someone loses weight another person gains weight. When one of those "Biggest Loser" contestants loses 10kgs and I can't fit into my "fat" jeans it is no coincidence. Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers  openly campaign for this weight recycling.
If we extrapolate this theory to world populations it is easy to pinpoint whole countries becoming renowned for the large size of their citizens and conversely whole countries where people are so weight deprived they are dying from it.

So, if we, in the weight advantaged countries, ate a little less maybe we could share more with the weight challenged ones. Then no one would starve to death and no one would die from the ailments associated with obesity. And I might just be able to fit into my "skinny" jeans. You think?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for ...

VERMIN - as in pesky little rodents that don't understand the meaning of personal space!
MY much-loved pet parrot lives in a large cage,  in our large screen-enclosed back room. There is always bird seed scattered everywhere and every rat or mouse within smell-shot of our place, homes in on this free feed.
When we had a cat who slept in the room they stayed away. Puss Puss was an ex-feral who'd lived life tough for the first 18 months of her life. She was an excellent mouser and although only small, I am sure she gave the rats a run for their money too. Sadly a little while ago,Puss Puss succumbed to a mystery auto-immune disease.
Now, let the fun begin.
Within weeks of her demise the vermin declared open house in our back room.
I like mice and my kids kept rats for pets. They are sweet, intelligent animals. I didn't want to kill them, but I didn't want them as house guests either.

I tried every soft option I could find to evict them. I donned gloves  and set live traps. These would be emptied under cover of darkness in the local park. I set an electronic device to zap them quickly and humanely. They sat and ate the food in it, totally oblivious to the electricity that was supposed to despatch them. As they got cheekier and I got more desperate my options became less soft. I put out traps, horrible springy things that snapped together with a deadly bang. Success, and then remorse. Poor things! But vermin are clever, especially rats. The traps soon remained empty.
Then I finally decided on "the blockade". I staked-out the back room every night and patiently noted the comings and goings, pinpointing where these critters were getting in. Then I systematically blocked every possible entrance. YES!. So far.

If they come back I am getting another cat, or maybe I will borrow my daughter's Aussie Terrier.

My husband says I am missing the obvious permanent solution. "Get rid of that noisy, messy  bird!" NEVER!

RIP Puss Puss - the Verminator. I miss you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for....


Wikipedia describes the meaning of ugly as " Ugly or ugliness is a term referring to a property of a person or thing that is unpleasant to look upon and results in an unfavourable evaluation."
Beauty is indeed, in the eye of the beholder. One culture's ideals of beauty are literally a world apart from another's. A plate in the lower lip or a blue painted face is considered an enhancement to beauty in one culture and dyed hair, pumped up collagen lips and skin stretched tight by face-lifts is the "norm" in another.
It is not in just people that "ugliness" has different definitions. Buildings, art, landscapes, clothes, animals et al, all present differently to different eyes.
Just as its opposite "beautiful", the concept of ugly defies true definition. In fact sometimes they can be one and the same.

Winston, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. His owner thinks
he is beautiful, many others have remarked on how ugly he is.
What do you think?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

T is for ...

"Tiger ,tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
(William Blake)

Will I ever see a tiger in the wild? I doubt it. But, maybe I have seen the parents of tigers who have been released back into the wild. Many Australian zoos are participating in world wide breeding programs. Symbio Wildlife Park just South of Sydney has a breeding pair of Sumatran tigers.
Deforestation resulting from the production of palm oil is a major threat to the Sumatran tiger.
These pics were taken at Symbio.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for....

I like spiders. Having said that I need to list some exceptions to these feelings of benevolence. I don't like spiders in my bed, on my bedroom ceiling and under the dunny (toilet) seat. I especially dislike them sitting on my dashboard as I hurtle down the freeway at 110kmh. I don't like spiders that sneak up on you and sit on your shoulder or get entangled in your hair.
I like spiders that are in my garden and right where I expect them to be.
The exception to all of this is the Funnel Web Spider. Funnel webs are ranked in the top three most dangerous spiders in the world. I don't want him or her anywhere, especially him.I have never hung around long enough to take a photo of a funnel web. While other arachnid intruders are ushered gently out of my house (after the obligatory "eek"), a funnel web is usually squashed flat within seconds of discovery, lest it run and hide and leave the household in a state of nervous paranoia until it is despatched. In heavily funnel-webbed areas it is unwise to leave shoes outside or on the floor and they are notorious for taking a swim in backyard pools and lying on the bottom for hours.

From Wikipedia- Male Funnel web, deadlier than his wife!

Above and below: Leaf-curler from my garden.
 Interesting to watch as it sets up house.
The male is so small  it usually goes unnoticed.

Huntsman - loves to come indoors and into cars. 
Huntsman spiders can get very big and although they are not aggressive or dangerous, their bite is quite painful. Having one of these on the ceiling of your bedroom is not conducive to sleep. Having them racing backwards and forward over your hands as you try to steer a car is downright dangerous. (True story) Closed doors and windows are no hindrance as they flatten themselves out and slip through the narrowest of cracks.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for........

RAIN. We've had a lot of unseasonal rain where I live, So much, that it's becoming a bit of a nuisance and people are complaining about the inconvenient weather.How soon we forget. Not that long ago we were in the throes of a drought, and complaining about water restrictions.
Rainfall is fickle. What nourishes and enlivens one day can turn into a raging destructive force the next.
Rain can cleanse. It sweetens the air and makes the landscape sparkle. It makes ducks happy, and frogs, well, they are ecstatic.

Rain, a reason for joy, a force to fear , a bringer of life - and death.

Raindrops - at their most benign

Jose Feliciano -Listen to the Pouring Rain
Some beautiful images

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for......

QUESTIONS...In order to understand the world man has always asked questions. In  one of Rudyard Kipling'stories "there was one Elephant -a new Elephant - and Elephant's Child - who was full of "satiable curtiosity - and that means he asked ever so many questions."
In Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" trilogy a giant computer called Deep Thought is set to work, to discover the meaning of "life the universe and everything". After millions of years he comes up with the answer "42". Seems no one really knew what the question was, but at least now they have an answer!
Questions and quests for answers form the basis of mankind's acquisition of knowledge about this world.From the small child asking what holds the sun up, to the scientist  asking her husband what's for dinner. Some questions are small and need an immediate answer, some are astronomically complicated and will take many, many years to answer. 
The Elephant's Child got into a lot of trouble for asking too many questions. His aunts, uncles, cousins, mother and father, all spanked him very hard indeed. But he just persisted. How many whistle blowers, in consideration of the welfare of others, have put themselves on the line and asked dangerous questions? How many scientists have challenged accepted beliefs and questioned the status quo. Galileo, Darwin, and so many others dared to question and look at the enormous contributions they made to man's knowledge of the world.
Seeking answers to questions has led mankind to where he is today. And if you aren't happy with the state of things,  climate change,war, famine and catastrophe, keep questioning. That is the way to solutions.

This is an illustration from the original version of  Rudyard Kipling's "Elephant's Child" from his collection of stories entitled "Just So" stories. They were published in 1902 and were tales to explain how things came to be, in this instance, how the elephant got his trunk. And all the Elephant's Child's questioning got him something pretty darn useful, don't you think.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for.......

PUPPY LOVE -as in ..."and they called it puppy love" .. feel free to sing along and/or slow dance

And of course, there's PUPPY LOVE........

Meet Zuko, the latest canine addition to our family, my "granddog" . 
Seven month old, pure bred Australian Terrier 
and answer to the world's energy crisis. 
Caught here in a rare moment of stillness.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for.......

ORANGUTANs......beautiful orange Orangutans , man of the forest.

Sharing 97% of our DNA these large gentle apes are one of our closest relatives.
They reason and think, use tools, such as sticks to help them get food and use leaves to make themselves a sunshade.
Orangutans live in in Asia and are found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra living in tropical rainforests.
The Sumatran Orangutan is listed as critically endangered and the Bornean Orangutan as endangered.
The number of orphaned baby Orangutans is growing daily and those wonderful groups of people who dedicate themselves to saving them constantly need more and more support.
My photos are from Melbourne Zoo. I find it incredibly sad that one day zoos may be the only safe haven left for these beautiful creatures.


Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for.....

NITS! Nasty, nefarious little nuisances. Every parent dreads the discovery that they literally have lousy children.
"Are you scratching?" is followed by the painful and tedious fine tooth-comb-out. And if this produces evidence of six-legged livestock it is quickly followed by copious applications of expensive foul-smelling lotions and multiple shampoos and rinses. Unfortunately, the process of natural selection and adaptation means that these insects have become immune to many of the products meant to kill them. Consequently these chemical concoctions probably do more harm to the child and the environment than to the louse.

As a parent it was bad enough, but as a teacher it has a whole different scale of horror. Facing the parent who has received the call to remove her lice-ridden offspring from the school is never pretty. Not that we are unkind to the child or their parent. We ooze sympathy and understanding at the same time offering advice on the many weapons of mass destruction one can use on these little suckers (the lice, not the kids).
Most parents take the whole thing resignedly and there is usually a pleasant exchange of "when I was a kid they just dunked our heads in DDT" anecdotes. The "lice just love clean hair" is often thrown in to mollify their embarrassment even though this an out and out lie. They will crawl onto any head of hair regardless of hygiene.

Some parents just can't get past the injustice of it all. "They must have caught them from some other dirty little bugger"  is a frequent wail, usually delivered with venom and self-rightousness. Well, derrr, isn't that the way the little insects work? (lice not kids). Actually, that is the way the kids work, little tousled heads touching,  sharing secrets and livestock in the classroom and playground.
My favourite euphemism for head lice: "racehorses" -used to describe a really well-established infestation with critters of a good turn of speed and size.

Oh dammit, my head is itching as I write. I've just been visiting the grandkids.....where is that fine toothed comb? (I'm not joking, I'm scratching like crazy here!)

Reference and picture is from :

"Head lice are blood sucking ectoparasites of humans, from the family of lice Pediculidae. Adult Head lice are 2.5-5mm long, They have six legs, well developed eyes, small antennae and a flattened light brown body.
Head lice are usually found towards the back of the head and above and behind the ears.
A female head lice can lay 6-8 eggs a day and may lay 300 eggs in her life span."    

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for................

MELBOURNE....used to hate this city. As a young child we made many visits to our paternal grandmother in Coburg, an inner city suburb of Melbourne. I remember endless hours in the car and the frequent railway level crossings used to freak me out so much. I always gave an involuntary shiver as we crossed, imagining a train hurtling into us. To make matters worse I always disliked my Melbourne grandma. She wore lots of red lipstick and smoked all the time. My mother hated her with a vengeance and I probably picked up the bad vibes!!

Coincidentally , Coburg is where my daughter now lives, a few streets away from my grandmother's old house.
I make the trip from Sydney frequently and now enjoy the city and its energy. Even the railway crossings don't faze me anymore and I love the trams. Mostly I like the amazing mix of people of all ages and ethnicities. Coburg on a Saturday morning buzzes with people who actually look like they are enjoying themselves, drinking coffee, shopping, talking. It's funny that I am now more familiar with this city than I am with my home town of Sydney.

I usually travel by train, a long haul, but very relaxed and comfortable. It's a nice change from flying where one feels a bit like a steer being pushed onto a very crowded truck. (Actually I think cows on trucks have more legroom.)
On the XPT from Sydney to Melbourne there is plenty of room to stretch out and snooze, the service is good and the meals are (usually) edible.

Reflections of Melbourne

City lane

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for .......

LOST!  The older I get the more I lose things. My glasses, my car keys, thoughts that flicker in and out of my head and can't be retrieved a second later. I've lost my figure, what was once svelte and sexy is now soft and pear-shaped. I've lost my twenty- twenty vision. Not so good when you need your spectacles to find your spectacles. My hearing is fading away like the Chesire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Sometimes it's there and sometimes is disappears. Frankly I think I am a bit like Austin Powers. I've lost my MOJO!  AND my get up and go has got up and went. (Sorry , old joke I know, but blame the lack of originality on all the brain cells I've lost. )
Oh yeah   ..   weight ..... the one thing I can't lose no matter how hard I try!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for...........

Kookaburra, Koala, Kangaroo...iconic Australian fauna. I love the uniqueness of our native animals. It's a shame that some are so common that we take them for granted and even undervalue their place in the environment. For example, the kangaroo is often considered a pest in areas where it breeds prolifically and competes for pasture land with domestic food animals. It ends up on the wrong end of a culler's gun and becomes fertilizer, ugh boots or dog food. Does any other country do this to an animal that has pride of place on their coat of arms? I've heard all the arguments about controlled culling. I have read that a species that is hunted under strict regulations will ultimately benefit.....there are probably statistics to prove this, but I can't get my heart (or head) around this.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for.....

 JELLYBEANS - juicy joy in a jar! Giver of comfort to small owners of hurt knees and sore fingers, consolation administered by doctors after painful shots. Not to mention their use for the purposes of bribery, as in, eat all your yummy sprouts and you can have a jellybean to take away the disgusting taste.
I love jellybeans but am not usually supposed to eat them, unless I am having a hypo and need to get my blood sugars up fast.
It's almost worth the discomfort of a hypo when I first pop one of those forbidden little beans into my mouth and savour the delicious flavour and chewiness.
Darn, I really have a craving for one right now!

JUMP FOR JOY....look mum I can fly.

Monday, April 09, 2012

I is for...

IBIS, a nuisance to some a beautiful creature to others. We have a local park whose ponds have been taken over by Australian White Ibis. Great controversy raged for a while about their origins and claims to residence. Some people wanted to shoot them, poison them, drive them away. (Where have we heard all this before).
Thankfully common sense and understanding prevailed. A program of egg culling reduced numbers to more sustainable levels and the ibis can still be found arguing and fussing in communal nests in the park ponds.
The sight of ibis grazing in a soggy paddock after rain always makes me think of Egypt,  pharoahs and pyramids. They are elegant and graceful, but unfortunately have learned that the presence of man means food in the form of litter and rubbish and they more often than not frequent rubbish tips, their beautiful white plumage becoming soiled by the muck around them.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

H is for..

HERMAPHRODITE...particularly the kind that eats my vegetables, chomps my seedlings and leaves silver trails all over the back doormat.
How do they find my stuff? Lettuce planted in a container on the top shelf of my greenhouse were  midnight snacks. Seedlings, surrounded by piles of allegedly deadly snail killing pellets, were chomped down to the roots.
AND this myth about the "slow snail" is totally misleading. While no one is watching I reckon these molluscs are fast! How else could they climb shelves and walls and get around my entire garden in one night?
And another question. Why don't the slimy  little sods eat weeds?
I can't bring myself to stomping on them either, they have such cute little heads. Obviously I am not relocating them far enough away.

Tiny, tiny snailshell in my birdbath, 
caught the early morning light
and turned into gold.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

G is for ...

GREENDANCER....I called him this because as I took pictures he swayed and bobbed to music only he could hear.

GORILLA - I am in Melbourne for a week. (Melbourne is in Victoria and is about 860 km from my home in Sydney) I always visit Melbourne Zoo when I can and they have a wonderful primate display.
This handsome fellow was definitely deep in thought....who knows, locked in that intelligent head there might be solutions to all the "big questions" that have puzzled mankind for centuries.

Friday, April 06, 2012

F is for.....

FROGS, glorious frogs! I built it and they came! (Sorry Kevin)
Wanted birds, planted trees, yearned for amphibians, put in ponds. Now I can't put down a glass of water for five minutes without a bug eyed resident depositing hundreds of eggs in it.
And don't talk to me about tadpoles! Scooping one's hand into anything with water in it will gather a squillion little black squirmers. And the cacophany when the come- bonk- with me serenade starts! The common as muck brown striped swamp frog sounds like dozens of tennis balls being pounded down the court, while Peron's Tree Frog is most aptly commonly called the "maniacal cackling frog". I shall leave it to your imagination but he wouldn't be out of place in Luna Park's House of Horror.
Strange as I may seem, I love them all.

 Romancing the frog.. a lot of this goes on in my garden
they don't call him common for nothing.

 Peron's Tree Frog , above and below..shy, elusive 
with a voice to shred your eardrums.

My garden - there really are ponds underneath all that shrubbery. 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

E is for.....

EXQUISITE - the things my macro lens can see and I can't.
 Floating in the mist of a day lily.

 Heart of a grevillia

anonymous beauty!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

D is for DRAGONFLY...............

Helicoptering around my garden, a flash of red in amongst the green.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

C is for......

CORELLA ..Oscar by name, parrot by nature. A mixture of sweetheart, clown and homicidal maniac. Tara eat your heart out, this bird is the champion of avian multiple personality syndrome. That long beak can nibble your ears ever so gently while whispering sweet nothings or make mince-meat of your fingers in the blink of an eye. He can make you laugh with his acrobatic antics or bring murderous thoughts to your mind when he emits eardrum shattering screeches nonstop for minutes on end.

And you never know when.....!!!

 He was a rescued bird and I blame his dark, unknown  past for his personality disorders!
There are no two ways with Oscar. People either love him or hate him!

Monday, April 02, 2012

B is for...

BALMY... not in the weather sense but as in eccentric. Which is what my neighbours probably think of me as I wander around the jungle that is my garden,camera ready to invade the privacy of any creature that catches my eye.

BEE MIMICS - this cross-dressing insect is a hoverfly, who, for reasons only known to entomologists, masquerades as a bee.

BUGS- yet another sap-sucking enemy of my lemon tree...grrr

BOTTLE BRUSH - looking stunning after the rain.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A is for............

...APHIDS! Greedy little suckers sapping the life out of my lemon tree. Totally in cahoots with the other "A" scourge of my garden..ANTS!  I am sure they have an important part to play in the environment but what can I say. Not in my backyard guys.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Been a while.....
Decided to start blogging again and try the A-Z April Challenge.
Will be posting lots of photos with a few words thrown in!
Still spending obscene amounts of money on photography equipment. The truth is if you have a true photographer's heart and eye you can take photos that elicit emotions and tell wonderful stories. And you can do this just as well with an old Box Brownie.
PS This is a Box Brownie for those too young to know. The first models made in 1900 were made of cardboard. Of course there are older cameras than these , but Box Brownies (not the 1900 models) are as far as I go back..ahem..some may dispute this. Ignore them.
The camera underneath is my Nikon D7000. With all its whistles and bells I love it as a piece of clever technology but it hasn't made me any better a photographer!