Canberra Day Forty

[Thursday 20th October, 2016]

It is a wonderful thing to have friends. It’s been one of the most amazing things about being ill: finding out how many friends I have! I love you all!! Today’s plan was to have coffee with a friend, actually someone I knew before we moved up to Canberra. We caught up at a great cafe, coffee and cake for $10! At Canberra prices, this is a bargain. We have definitely found food prices are higher than Melbourne; maybe less competition? Or people on higher salaries? I don’t know. Anyway Cafe Injoy gets my recommendation. A brilliant catch up for a couple of hours; what better way to spend the day? Then I drove around the village of Hall checking out the Canberra tracks historical signs which was kind of fascinating; plus the scenery over there is gorgeous on a sunny spring day. Then I called by “home” to get yet another few things that we forgot when we moved! Then “home” for a nap, then out to a ‘create your own’ burger 2-for-1 deal and free sundae from Macca’s Monopoly, and home again, gig-a-de-gig!

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Canberra Day Thirteen

How can you not have a wonderful day when it starts with these gorgeous flowers and this much sunshine?? I am so loving the flower festival Floriade. It’s been open for 7 days and this is my third visit; YAY for free entry! This would never happen in Melbourne. And YAY for fantastic weather every few days that makes it such a pleasure to be alive and out in the sunshine soaking up the beauty of flowers; you know, in between the rain! And YAY for being well enough so that I actually feel joy and enjoyment of things, rather than hating the sunlight and covering my head in my doona. When the chemicals are balanced, magic happens! So as always I want to enthusiastically recommend my psychiatrist whose knowledge and skill has gotten me from not wanting to live life to loving life! If that isn’t a miracle…

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I don’t have much of a garden myself in Melbourne but I do love gardens. My hubby will tell you that I like the IDEA of a garden more than the actual gardening behind the garden. I tend to love high maintenance flowers but want a low maintenance garden filled with high maintenance flowers. It doesn’t really  work out…so currently I have a variety of succulents and geraniums, all pretty die hard stuff that I never water or feed or tend to in any way. But they flower for me which is delightful. And the rest of the time I get my fix from other people’s or public gardens. Today I got my fix from the ferris wheel, a great idea given by a friend. It really gives you an idea of the patterns of the gardens and just how awesome the whole garden is.

What else did I do with my day besides admiring flowers and taking another hundred or so photos of flowers? I went for another bike ride: 21km this time around the western (=hilly) and central (=flat) loops of Lake Burley Griffin; got some overdue blood tests done by another of the seemingly all grumpy phebotomists; chatted to my grandma on the phone for her birthday (one of the major things I miss about Melbourne!); got some scripts dispensed; mailed a couple of postcards; got some groceries; had a nap. Just another day. But another day where I enjoyed life and put in an effort to live life to the full. It’s a beautiful thing.

Canberra Day Eight

I can’t go for any more days without talking about Peanut.

We arrived a week ago last night (can you believe that it’s only been a week?!?) to our brother and sister in law’s house when they were away for the weekend on a fishing trip. We found the key and let ourselves in, and as we were doing so, the cat Peanut peered around the corner at us, decided we were okay, followed us in and that was that!

Next thing he was climbing onto our laps, and putting his paws up around our necks, while purring like a motor. He’s just one year old, and still up for chasing a paper ball around the room, getting scratched under the chin, and fake biting. He’s a gorgeous animal, and even has the two of us wondering if we should get a cat!! Except of course we’re renting right now. But he’s lovely, crawling up beside us on the couch and curling up for a sleep. He does have one unfortunate habit: he likes to be the centre of attention, so if you’re using a phone or laptop he prefers to take your mind off that by walking over it, sitting, or if it calls for desperate measures, lying on it!

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It’s hard to get a good phone photo cos he moves so quickly but you get this gist: sitting on hubby’s right hand so he can’t do anything, sitting on the laptop, giving a cat hug! His hearing is amazing, he knows when his parents are coming home and his ears twitch with sounds that I can’t hear. And he definitely knows when his chicken is coming out of the fridge!! He tries to talk to the birds, chirping and whistling…to what end I’m not certain. But after a week we’re quite smitten! Sadly our family are going on holidays for ten days and so the cat has gone to their parents! So no Peanut for 10 days! I’m already in withdrawals! Me, the outside pet only person! I may yet be wound around Peanut’s fluffy tail!

Magical Monday

New bird alert! New bird alert! Excitement, excitement!

And what a relief it is on a day like this, a week like this, to feel excitement!

I haven’t been having a very fun time of it, to be honest. Everything is a bit or a lot hard, tedious, effortful, difficult, troublesome, not worth it. Getting up is a drag, showering is a hideous ordeal, eating is just tiring, deciding to do anything is impossible! I’ve been sleeping a lot, avoiding thinking about my to-do list a lot, and just skimming through the days til bedtime.

It’s not fun!

But here is an effort, however tiny and minuscule, yet enormous and huge, to get out. Just for a little bit. Just to have done something other than be at home; unproductively, unsuccessfully, un-impressively at home.

It’s all in my new direction from the psychiatrist – getting outside, enjoying the sunshine. I’m trying to do my bit since he has turned my life around. I owe him that much.

I realise I also owe that much, or more, to my husband as well so here it comes Beautiful: I promise to try your caring suggestions and get a bit motivated and interested if I can!

Ah, IF. The stories you could tell…

So in the late afternoon on Monday I gathered myself up, stuffed myself into some clothes (hopefully matching!), got the car out and took myself down to my old favourite birding spot; Blackburn Lake Sanctuary.

I can’t believe how long it has been since I was down here last! I’m definitely going to make more of an effort to get here more often because let’s face it, in suburbia anywhere it’s a great privilege to have some green spaces nearby for an escape/retreat/sanctuary/reset.

And every time it rewards me so greatly. This time I didn’t even get past the car park for the first hour!

I heard some lorikeets, assumed they were Rainbows but then caught a glimpse and they had shorter tails and red on their head! New bird!!!!

They were truly beautiful, and fun, and acrobatic, and shrieky, and a challenge to get still enough for a decent focused photo!

Honestly I felt as much satisfaction from changing the settings to get a better picture as I did in finding a never-before-seen-or-photographed-bird!

I changed to shutter mode to still their actions after using the programmable mode gave me a too-slow shutter speed and was too slow to focus, and was too dark and too grainy! Then I had to keep adjusting the ISO and exposure as I followed the birds around depending on whether I was shooting up at the outside of the tree in full sun, shooting under the canopy up into the dark shadow or straight across at a neighbouring tree…etc.

I was pretty proud of some of the photos I got. I always recognise that chance and luck have quite a bit to do with the photos, but having purposely set the variables, I do take pride in the fact that the photo was taken by chance and the settings were perfect for that chance!

So here’s a few of my favourites! Hope you can enjoy looking at them as much as I did taking them!

We start in some gorgeous wattle trees where there’s some pretty fierce competition from cranky Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners, plus some quiet guests in the lovely Galahs.

New bird! The gorgeous Musk Lorikeet - vibrant red forehead, cheek and tip of beak, wattle

New bird! The gorgeous Musk Lorikeet – vibrant red forehead, cheek and tip of beak

Musk Lorikeets are apparently notoriously hard to find because like other lorikeets the only time they’re quiet is when they’re eating! Add to this their preference for eating on top of the canopy where they not only blend in with their green underbelly but are hidden by layers of branches and leaves! So I feel pretty lucky that they choose these low growing trees to feed from.

Pretty pretty pretty! I love the yellow patches just above the wing and the blue head!

Pretty pretty pretty! I love the yellow patches just above the wing and the blue head!

I always appreciate it when my birds kindly move to the dead trees and branches – it’s very convenient to me! Thanks for the photo op!

The perfect camoflage - despite the colourful patches, when the lorikeet turns its back it becomes invisible!

The perfect camouflage – despite the colourful patches, when the lorikeet turns its back it becomes invisible!

This is a photo that makes me really proud of what I have achieved! To shoot past all of the sticks and leaves to get a clear focus on the bird is a very tricky thing, and something I wouldn’t have been able to do before my photography course – kudos to Master Your Camera’s Wendy!

This is a photo that makes me really proud of what I have achieved! To shoot past all of the sticks and leaves to get a clear focus on the bird is a very tricky thing, and something I wouldn't have been able to do before my photography course

The dangling upside down antics of these Musk Lorikeets are so delightful! In this shot you can make out the brownish yellow patch on its back

This photo is typical of my excitement when I find a new bird. At first I just snap away furiously to get a shot, any shot. Then I realise they’re not going anywhere and slow down and start adjusting the settings. Then I can take a breath, stop and actually look at composing a shot for the best photos of the day – this is just about it!

This photo is typical of my excitement when I find a new bird. At first I just snap away furiously to get a shot, any shot. Then I realise they're not going anywhere and slow down and start adjusting the settings. Then I can take a breath, stop and actually look at composing a shot for the best photos of the day

Always dangling for the best bite to eat! Love all of the different colours.

One downside of shooting through the exterior is that you can get foggy patches in your photos!

I love this photo for the underbelly of the bird, something that isn't always photographed but I find it fascinating!

I love this photo for the underbelly of the bird, something that isn’t always photographed but I find it fascinating!

Then the Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners got too overpowering and my new friends all flew off squawking and squarking! Luckily they didn’t go too far and settled in a nearby eucalyptus and a different wattle tree. This was perfect as they were in the clear path of the afternoon sun which always makes everything look beautiful and good as new!

And towards the end I get this shot! Love it, this shows so much character of this bird!, gum tree, eucalypt

And towards the end I get this shot! Love it, this shows so much character of this bird!