Category Archives: Journal

The meaning in things

This week my great Aunt died. While I hadn’t spent a lot of time with her in recent years, she was a big part of my childhood family-gathering memories. She is also the last of that generation to go, which opens up a whole plethora of feelings which I won’t be exploring here.

Next week my parents and I will likely go down and start clearing out her house, disposing of possessions that would have meant so much to my great Aunt, but to us are just things. It’s led to the inevitable review of my own life and all the collections in my house. How would my stuff look through the eyes of someone else?

I look at the biology text book that I’ve lugged from Adelaide, to Brisbane, to Melbourne and back to Adelaide as I’ve moved around the country. It’s well out of date, and I haven’t opened it in years, but every time I look at it, I have fond memories of all the hours I spent pouring over it for Uni when I still believed that I could work as a zoologist. No-one else will see that book that way.

There is the stuffed toy that was my favourite as a child, the framed drawing done for me by a friend at a time when I needed it, the glasses I bought myself as a gift to when I had my first paid publication, and of course the beautiful Archaeopteryx that I’d wanted for as long as I could remember and a special boyfriend managed to track down for me as a wonderful surprise.

All these things are just things, but they are the things that make up my past and colour my future. I just hope that I can give my Aunt’s things the respect and attention that they deserve.

 

Back!

I will confess, it was a lovely month off. I got to do a lot of socialising, family stuff, weekend getaways and lazing around. But that’s all I seemed to do. And if I’m honest, I could easily have fit the blog in around all those things.

What I noticed was that I felt no compunction at all to get to the computer. So, I didn’t just have a month off my blog, I had a month off writing. While I know I’ve said many times that I’d done no writing in the week, I did put out some flash fiction and edited stuff which I just didn’t count. This month I literally didn’t write any words of fiction.

And what was also strange is that I posted on social media less, not more. I took photos that I thought I should put up, but didn’t. I mentally composed ‘funny’ (IMO) tweets, and then never wrote them down.

It’s made me realise that this blog isn’t about getting followers or connecting with the big wide world; twitter, Instagram etc. do that now. This blog is about accountability, and clearly I need that in spades. Let’s see if anything else gets written this week.

Words vs Meaning

At the moment I’m working with a group of IT developers. Every morning we have a stand-up meeting where we go around and say what we did yesterday, and what we are doing today. It never ceases to amaze me how when the developers talk about what they are doing I can understand 99% of the words they use, but only about 50% of the meaning. It’s like they are using a whole other language, but a language made up of words from my language.

Sure, there are some words I don’t understand, something that sounds like nougat, stuff to do with pipelines, and a wiff, or waff, or woff (I’m still not sure what they are saying). All I need to know is that they have sprinkled their magic code-dust over the computer and it is now doing what I need it to do. But to get that answer I need to ask my own yes/no question.

Any change in job or career means a learning curve where you need to re-learn some parts of your own language. The context of the word can totally change its meaning, and part of that context can even be the people with whom you are talking.

No wonder language is constantly evolving. If these differences can arise in organisations and vocations, is it any wonder we can speak so differently across states and countries?

Perspective

We are at the tail-end of daylight savings, so the mornings are starting to be pretty dark when I walk down to the bus in the morning. Besides the odd funny encounter with possums that I mistake for the neighbourhood cats, the other pleasant side is that I now get to see the whole dawn show from last stars to first heat.

The other day, as the bus crested the hill and Adelaide opened up before us, I was struck by how similar the dawn sky behind Adelaide was to the dusk sky I spent so many photos on up at Lake Argyle. I remember the wonder and amazement I felt looking at the ever-changing hues of pink on that day on the lake, and yet I nearly let this Adelaide dawn go unnoticed. It was a beautiful sky and equally as beguiling as that Lake Argyle sunset.

Sunset over Lake Argyle. I have not fiddled with the colour in this picture at all. This is what it looked like!
Sunset over Lake Argyle. I have not fiddled with the colour in this picture at all. This is what it looked like!

I think the biggest difference was I was not looking with my tourist eyes, but my work-fatigued eyes. As soon as I started appreciating the beauty of the moment I felt my spirits lighten. I then got off the bus a stop later so I could walk through the mall and appreciate the dawn light in the city; something I rarely get to see.

And just for a short while, I felt like I was on holidays.

Adelaide's famous 'Mall's balls' at dawn.
Adelaide’s famous ‘Mall’s balls’ at dawn.

Still off balance

This week I didn’t find the solution to my working/writing conundrum, but I did continue to take lots of walks to the botanic gardens, despite the heat. In fact, if I’m honest, a little bit because of the heat. There is a little part of you that wants to pit yourself against that 40°C day, just to see how you’ll go.

So here is a selection of flower shots from the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, and maybe next week I’ll find a way to convert this creative stroll into something that generates some words.

Echinacea in the medicinal garden.
Echinacea in the medicinal garden.
Lotus flower - close up
Lotus flower – close up
Lotus flowers
Lotus flowers
Bee about to dine on the lotus flower pollen.
Bee about to dine on the lotus flower pollen.
And this is the end game: lotus seeds nearly ready to plop out of the pod into the pond.
And this is the end game: lotus seeds nearly ready to plop out of the pod into the pond.

Can’t even see the wagon!

I’m so far off the writing-wagon that I’ve wandered away from the road altogether and I doubt I’ll see another wagon to even be able to flag it down and hop back on any time soon. Okay, I’m taking the analogy a little too far, but I’m not even trying to write now.

Success in writing normally depends on… you know… writing.

Usually.

Sometimes it is better to get off the beaten track (how many clichés can I fit into one post?) and discover something new. I don’t mean a new pursuit (though I must admit I’ve still found time for some photography), I just mean the opportunity to come at life from a whole different angle. And that’s what this feels like.

So I’m not the least bit worried. My mind still wanders to the next story I want to write, and I’m pleased to say at least in that respect I seem to have made up my mind. November was always going to be busy, and December doesn’t look like it will let up much either, but come January, I think I’ll be ready to climb back on a wagon. Maybe a different one, maybe one I make myself, or maybe I’ll just run out of ways of trying to fit my life into this cliché and I’ll just start writing again.

P.S. Here’s the moon peeking out between the clouds.

Full Moon
Full Moon Rising

I’m back

I have to confess that my phone line got fixed much sooner than they told me, so I’ve been online for a while. But September was a busy month, so I decided to take it off. I’m sure everyone can relate to that.

Some exciting things happened in September, not only did the princess turn 10, but I got two stories accepted! I won’t say any more until the contracts are in, but they certainly reminded me that I need to send off more stuff, more often. Stories won’t get accepted if they are only present inside my computer.

I also started a new job, so that took up a lot of my head-space, but I’m starting to get used to it now and my mind is starting to wander again when I’m on the bus. There are two main stories that I keep returning to, so I think the next step is to choose one to be next year’s JanNoWriMo. Or who knows, maybe I’ll even get into NaNoWriMo this year?

So thank you for sticking with me regular readers (I know who you are!) and expect to see me back here every Sunday as usual.

The Princess working at the computer. She doesn't look 10!
The Princess working at the computer. She doesn’t look 10!

Adventure Tours – Broome to Darwin

(If you can’t see the pictures on this post, please click on the heading to go to the page).

Tunnel Creek, a 750m underground tunnel complete with a crocodile filled creek that you wade through.
Tunnel Creek, a 750m underground tunnel complete with a crocodile filled creek that you wade through.

It seems totally crazy to cover so many kilometres and experiences in one post, but I’ve been home for a month now, and I think it is time I moved on from the holiday and I need to finish this. So here goes…

The falls at Bell Gorge. You can hide down to the bottom and go swimming.
The falls at Bell Gorge. You can hide down to the bottom and go swimming.

We left Broome for the Gibb River Road through the Kimberley. The 4WD bus did a good job of managing the bumpy road, but I have to admit I was amazed to hear the whole thing had just been graded two weeks earlier. I imagine it would be quite a tooth-rattler at other times of the year.

Zebedee Hot Springs at El Questro. The water comes out of the ground at about 29'C
Zebedee Hot Springs at El Questro. The water comes out of the ground at about 29’C

We stopped at several gorges along the way, all of which were stunning and all of which involved a hot and sweaty hike, a cold swim in freshwater-crocodile-infested water, then a sweaty hike out. It was brilliant.

The view from the campsite over Pentecost River at El Questro.
The view from the campsite over Pentecost River at El Questro.

I have to dip my hat to El Questro Station as the best campground in the Kimberley. I came to that decision not just because of the beautiful river than ran alongside us, or for the bar with wine that was listed by grape variety instead of colour (yes, one hostel had Red and White as their wine list), not even the washing facilities that allowed us to remember what clean clothes felt like. No, El Questro camp ground has fantastic showers. Right temperature, right amount of spray and (crazy concept here) somewhere to put your stuff so it will stay dry as you shower.

The domes of the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park.
The domes of the Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park.

Then it was back on the road and down to the Bungle Bungles. I say that as if they are half an hour away, but the trip was more like 7 hours. Totally worth it. Hiking through the domes was amazing, Echidna Gorge was amazing, Cathedral Gorge was amazing. And just in case I hadn’t had enough amazing, I did a helicopter ride over it all in a helicopter with no doors. A-ma-zing!

Bungle Bungles domes from the helicopter.
Bungle Bungles domes from the helicopter.

Then we made the dash to Darwin stopping at Lake Argyle for a sunset cruise (beautiful, I had no idea), then Katherine to see Nitmiluk Goroge and finally Edith Falls for our last sweaty hike into a beautiful waterfall-ed swimming hole.

Sunset over Lake Argyle. I have not fiddled with the colour in this picture at all. This is what it looked like!
Sunset over Lake Argyle. I have not fiddled with the colour in this picture at all. This is what it looked like!

Then like that the trip was over. We were in Darwin and I had my flight booked home the next day. I didn’t want to go back. And even after being back for a month… I still don’t want to be back.

Cathedral Gorge in the Bungle Bungles. Look down the bottom and you'll see a person to give you an idea of the size.
Cathedral Gorge in the Bungle Bungles. Look down the bottom and you’ll see a person to give you an idea of the size.

Western Australia was stunning, and confronting, and challenging, and beautiful, and awe-inspiring, and cold, and hot, and unforgettable. You need to go there. Put it on your bucket list.

No, Western Australia, thank YOU!
No, Western Australia, thank YOU!

Adventure Tours – Broome

(If you can’t see photos below, please click on the post heading to view in the post page).

I discovered that my tour was not actually a 22-day tour as I thought, but rather two 10-day tours tacked together with 2 days in Broome between them. I didn’t know much about Broome, besides the fact that they had more dinosaur footprints there than anywhere else in Australia, and that for some reason people felt obliged to ride camels on Cable beach to watch the sunset.

Sunset over Cable Beach in Broome, WA
Sunset over Cable Beach in Broome, WA

I hate to say this, but I didn’t love Broome. The history was great, but as a holiday destination, I didn’t find it very relaxing. It probably wasn’t helped by the location of the hostel I stayed in, which wasn’t near anything. To go to Cable beach was either a $20+ taxi ride, or a bus that stopped running soon after sunset. If you went out to dinner in the main town of Broome (where the hostel was located) you had to come back down dark streets with no lighting.

Tiny-tiny hermit crab on cable beach. I was getting changed behind a rock and suddenly all the shells got up and walked away!
Tiny-tiny hermit crab on cable beach. I was getting changed behind a rock and suddenly all the shells got up and walked away!

I’m also not really into pearls, which is the other thing Broome is famous for. Something I was looking forward to was the cuisine. Broom is such a melting pot of cultures that I had heard there were really novel and delicious combinations of food. I’m sure there was, but I couldn’t find it. I don’t think my hostel was really into food, because when I asked about where to eat they directed me to a pizza shop.

The tides in Broome are massive, up to 12 metres. They were only 10 when I was there, but there is only about an hour between these two photos.
The tides in Broome are massive, up to 12 metres. They were only 10 when I was there, but there is only about an hour between these two photos.

Anyway, through amazing good fortune I stumbled onto one of the better mini-tours I have done. I wanted to see dinosaur footprints, but the tides (which are HUGE in Broome) weren’t right for me to be able to walk out and see them myself. The only way I could see some was on a sunset hovercraft tour. One of only three hovercraft tours in the WORLD it was great to glide over mudflats and ocean with ease in such a unique craft. The commentary was excellent and the guide clearly both knew and loved the place. The footprints were spectacular and plentiful, and the sunset was gorgeous. I think it was a much better way to do sunset than on the back of a camel!

You can see the compression of the 'soil' layers under this dinosaur footprint.
You can see the compression of the ‘soil’ layers under this dinosaur footprint.

I think I need to come back to Broome again and do it properly, not staying in a hostel next to the airport. If I do, I will certainly be booking myself onto the hovercraft sunset tour again.

The dinosaur discovery hovercraft tour ends with champagne and a sunset!
The dinosaur discovery hovercraft tour ends with champagne and a sunset!

Next week I’ll finish off with the last 10 days of the tour; Broome to Darwin. That’s going to cover a LOT!

Adventure Tours – Coral Bay to Broome

Just a quick note to let you know that if you are not seeing the photos in this post, please click on the post heading and go to the post page. For some browsers the pictures don’t automatically resolve on the home screen. I’m looking into it…

Coral Bay - the darkness in the water is the reef.
Coral Bay – the darkness in the water is the reef.

Coral Bay was where I got my first glimpse of Ningaloo Reef. It actually comes right to the shore! You can walk into the water and snorkel over the reef. I elected to take a boat out a bit further so I could get some deep-water snorkelling practice in before my big whale shark adventure the next day. I was glad I did, because it takes a little while to get used to breathing underwater. The reef was stunning, but lacked a bit of the colour that I’d seen in the Great Barrier Reef over two decades ago, sadly I don’t think it is still like that now.

Coral Reef Western Australia
Snorkelling over Ningaloo Reef at Coral Bay, WA

The next day was the big one. Whale sharks! I will never forget the moment when we were all bobbing about in the water wondering what was going on and the guide told us to look down. I put my face in the water and was almost eye to eye with a 7-metre long whale shark! I struggled to believe I was really there. The photo below is courtesy of Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours and if you ever find yourself up in Exmouth I would HIGHLY recommend you go out with them. The staff were amazing, and everyone had a fantastic time.

Kings Ningaloo Reef Tour - Swimming with whale sharks
Kings Ningaloo Reef Tour – Swimming with whale sharks

I had never heard of Karijini National Park, and if I’m honest I stopped reading the tour itinerary once I established I would see stromatolites and swim with whale sharks. As a result, I was not prepared for the amazing beauty that is Karijini National Park. I can only put up a couple of photos, but for the more adventure-minded this is the park to come to. The ‘paths’ test you out physically and mentally. You have to climb over stuff holding your weight with your hands, you swim through water crossings, and you clamber through slippery waterways. It is amazing.

Karijini National Park - The Sheep Dip. Yes, that is the path. You had to swim.
Karijini National Park – The Sheep Dip. Yes, that is the path. You had to swim.

The other bonus is that it is so far out in the middle of nowhere that the night sky is unlike any you have ever seen. It was almost hard to make out the main constellations because there were so many other stars around them. It also made for very chilli nights, and this was where I discovered that my sleeping bag might have been exaggerating a little when it said it went down to -5°C. I literally woke up shivering.

Karijini National Park - Kermit's Pool. Yes, also the path. And that water was cold!
Karijini National Park – Kermit’s Pool. Yes, also the path. And that water was cold!

From there we went to Broome, where I spent a few days, so I think I will give it a post all of its own.