No trip

 

 

I couldn’t quite believe I would not go on our planned trip to Iceland when my back was playing up. I thought the back would get under control before we left and could I look after it well while we were away. But no, once we got into the “no withdrawal/no refund” period of two weeks the bloody thing got worse.

So I had a CT scan and X-rays which showed that the disc between L5 and S1 (in the small of the back, where it curves towards the stomach), was bulging out in a big lump that would not fit back through the space leading to where it belonged. I decided to get some physio to relieve it but finally gave in and had a cortisone injection into the nerve root. I screamed a little but did not lose my cool. The radiologist was quite surprised I held so still he got it in first go! So now I can sit here comfortably and blog in contrast to my constant twitching, and getting up and down, beforehand.

Iceland would have been brilliant. Steve wants to do it in a few years’ time by car on our own while I still want an organised tour to take me to places I normally couldn’t go. A movie funded via Kickstarter was on Netflix the other night and showed the main tourist attactions very nicely but I’d like to see the bird colonies and geological hotspots. Named “Bokeh”, keen photographers will know what it means and labeled as “sci-fi”, younger viewers may be perplexed to find something slow and uncomplicated.

With full-on gorgeous cinematography you could believe was directed by the Iceland Department of Tourism, I didn’t have to worry about the characters and plot. Although they weren’t bad at all! There  were scenes of the hot lakes in the snow where you can swim until your hair goes all stiff with mineral salts, of gigantic waterfalls you can walk behind and view the world through a curtain of crystalline water, and geysers that whoosh up boiling water into the air at regular intervals. The two characters gallivant about on devastated black-sand beaches and over ancient lava flows covered in lichens, having picnics in the grass and swimming in a variety of settings. Very picturesque, both the young actors and the scenery.

The typical Icelandic golden horses appeared in the movie, abundant and friendly as reputed in our tourist brochure. It was a shame the movie didn’t permit a glimpse of the abundant nightlife in Reykjavik, but the plot didn’t allow for crowd scenes. If you are intrigued, there is a review at Screen Anarchy and I’m sure you’re perfectly capable of finding alternatives.

Meanwhile, I can cruise among the photos on Flickr and do some armchair travel while my various structural problems resolve. Look at this!

I took this in Adelaide, years ago and thought it looked a bit Icelandic:

Adelaide could be Iceland...I don't think so!

For the real Iceland, you’ll have to go to Flickr and enjoy the amazing pix taken by people who’ve been there (lucky sods).

Here’s a link to the tour we had booked:

https://www.odysseytraveller.com/tours/iceland-cultural-and-wilderness-tour-for-groups/

 

 

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When will things be RIGHT?

Over-wintering ducks

Over-wintering ducks

Hello Kind Readers (if any of you check back here),

I am in the grip of a two-year plague of procrastination and holding back from whatever I am holding back from. Somehow I am writing this, so I have now conquered a tiny section of it, inspired by commenting on Lori Stone’s piece, The hard work of fun. This was my comment on her struggles with perfectionism in everyday life:

 

  • I DO have trouble letting go and having fun! However the big block in my chakra is procrastination while in the grip of the Black Dog. Somehow the conditions for having fun – having anything at all – must be “right” before I can let go. My head is constantly full of ideas to create and see and do and learn but I can’t make myself DO anything because the conditions have not become “right”. Unlike you and your perfectionism, I don’t mind if things are out-of-line, messy, incomplete or whatever unless it’s something like driving the car or taking the correct dose of pills. But, yep, I’m having a lot of trouble having fun. When will things be “right”? 

The depression around the shortest day of Winter has been worse this year than for several years but I have been coping marginally by trying to practise some useful habits like mindfulness meditation, regular exercise, taking my pills and almost cutting out alcohol (normally I only have a few glasses of wine per week, but now I’m down to zero for a while). However I cry easily, quickly become irritated by certain people and things and spend a lot of time huddled under the quilt mindlessly playing word games on the device. I have managed to keep up with the washing, aquarobics (mostly), looking after my painful wrists, cat maintenance, preparing 50% of meals, going to Wednesday night dinners and keeping the bathroom mould at bay.

I won’t mention things I HAVEN’T managed as that would be allowing negative stuff to intrude on my achievements! I do confess to having missed one or two showers in the past three months but that’s it.

Purple haze

Purple haze

Getting down to the nitty-gritty: What is stopping me from having fun? What conditions must be met before I can let go and enjoy my time? Should I go back and have some more counseling? But I know what the psychologist would suggest and I’m obviously not getting on with the job, so – duh.

Admittedly I have had some setbacks in my life the past few years but most of them have been worked through although some could use still more effort. Lack of cash stopped being an issue a few months ago which is the best and biggest boost to life I’ve had in decades! However Spotrick says my generosity has brought more troubles upon me and that is true to a certain extent, but why are people so demanding and judgmental? Disappointment in human nature is definitely part of my current low mood although that hasn’t been the problem for long. Before that I had some big hiccups around money, with the tax department chasing me over imaginary debts and then trying to fine me thousands of dollars for not reporting my non-existent income. I also have continuing problems with my bank where they keep cutting off online access because I am too slow (apparently) inputting my security numbers (my hands are not wonderful any more). It is so frustrating and I feel so helpless because I am being “punished” for a disability. After I get cut off things snowball as creditors start contacting me for automatic debits that have ceased etc etc I just want to relax and have a life. With no job, alone all day and no family I COULD be quite OK except for these money hassles I don’t need at ANY time.

We have green winters

We have green winters

When I Tweeted about not being able to start anything,

  • I’m definitely in the wilderness again. Empty horizons in all directions. How to escape?

    @LaLegale replied:
    Rather than “escape”, create. Imagine your life as a blank tapestry, which you embroider with the things that you do every day.

But that’s exactly what I CAN’T do – my life IS a blank tapestry and I can’t make myself start the bloody embroidery. Who would want to embroider on the topic of the washing or cleaning the floor beneath the cats’ bowls?

So, sweet readers, how can I start or get some enthusiasm for the various projects I would LOVE to do including photographing stuff, getting back into film (rather than digital), sewing, knitting, and yes, tapestry; also I almost wrote the first draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo last year, so when will I resume writing, blogging regularly here and on my Health for Humans blog; there are some songs to work on, bits of the garden to rejuvenate, yummy things to cook, places to visit, people I’d love to see more of, and holidays to plan?? Ideas, quick, please!

Finding richness in the shade

Finding richness in the shade

I’m Everywhere I’m Everywhere [in the USA]

HowManyOfMe.com
Logo There are
207
people with the name Kay Walker in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Since I’m Australian, the proportion would work out that there are probably 14 or 15 of us over here!

When I was on Facebook I had 7 Friends named Kay Walker. We used to wish each other Happy Birthday & Merry Christmas. I am keenly following the education and career of one of us who is a college student at a place oddly named [to me] Quinnipiac University & has a small photography business. My regular readers will know I’m also a keen photographer.

Kay Walkers of the world

Kay Walkers of the world

On Google Plus I have a Circle titled Kay Walkers of the World with 6 members so far! At one stage when I was a health researcher and publishing regularly, I discovered two other Kay Walkers in academia, both of whom were also in health: one in nursing research and the other in allergy. I know of three MALE Kay Walkers, but none have joined me on any of the social media sites. Where are you, guys?

While I was researching some health conditions in Australia, a person with my name presented themselves for an assessment interview, so Kay Walker interviewed Kay Walker. Another coincidence was when I was registering for the local artists’ festival [SALA] as a glass artist and discovered I had already registered as a print artist! That was a bit scary!

Cat by printmaker Kay Walker

The Cat Bed by printmaker Kay Walker

Lastly, there is also a TV director/producer in Australia with my name which explained a very strange incident where I was sent an urgent message to please contact someone on a TV show team in Sydney NSW. When I rang the number they were very puzzled to hear I was a health researcher from Adelaide, not the prospective producer they wanted to employ!!

 

Has anyone else had such amusing or alarming experiences with name-doubles?

By the way, although there are so many Kay Walkers, I have absolutely no problem with identity confusion! I know who I am. Who are those others??

Obviously lots of us die all the time, eg. there were at least ten pages of obituaries at http://www.iannounce.co.uk/United-Kingdom/23/Obituary/obit?_fstatus=search&keywords=Kay%20WALKER

We're dying everywhere!

We’re dying everywhere!

But I couldn’t find any new birth announcements- I think Kay is a little passe!

 

Rather annoyed

I love looking at the photographic art shared via Google Plus. In fact, I have 1396 people to select from if I browse my Photog People Circle! What annoys me is the fact that there are people on Google Plus who display wonderful photos, but the photos have been taken by a third party.

The person who annoys me most is Nasrin Mohebbian, who posts many photos per day. Sure, some of them are reposts and so have the name of the original artist on them. Other posts can only be traced to their owners via url links on the images themselves and others are very difficult to trace except by performing a Google Image search.

I have reported this behaviour, but with only temporary results. Also, I have had an exchange with Nasrin about acknowledging the true artists, but that hasn’t made her change her practice towards always naming the person.

Today Nasrin posted a lovely set of images of autumn-toned roses, without naming the original artist. I managed to trace the owner through a Google Image search, arriving at *lieveheersbeestje on deviant.art

Here is *lieveheersbeestje’s photo Autumn Morning:

Autumn Morning

Isn’t that beautiful, gentle and finely executed? If I had taken that photo, I’d want people to know I had and I’d hope a few people might like to buy a copy to display, or as a card. Nasrin hasn’t entertained this possibility as she has made it too hard for the average viewer to reach the source.

What do you think of this sort of behaviour?

My mental health is interfering with this Mental Health Day post

I'm blogging for World Mental Health Day
I wanted to do a really interesting post, but my motivation is totally crap at the moment. This is what it’s like having depression and I continue to learn to live with it. The weather here has something to do with me not perking up as summer approaches [here in the Southern Hemisphere]. It has been fairly cool and grey for two weeks after a few very warm days of almost 30 degrees C! The gardens started growing madly, the depressed people cheered up and many started visiting the beach. Alas, it didn’t last and I have had a little hiccup in my climb towards January’s brightness.

Cool & cloudy at the beach

I’m at the stage in my depression where I know I CAN feel better but I can’t force it. I was really good last year when I was taking my pills and managing my thoughts while being occupied with study and other interests. Since  that time various delays have had their effects on me so that I can’t finish things to which I had committed. I have been having a rather hard time, in spite of the efforts of my partner and friends to entertain me and add some spark. However, I try to do the things that keep me more cheerful, like meeting friends for coffee or a meal, going on walks to keep a bit fit and having photographic excursions to the beach. For instance, last week I met two old friends from uni and had an extraordinarily cheap lunch at the Casino! We got lunch for $6 each, including a 600ml drink! One friend was feeling very down about her job, post uni as it is far too much being an unpaid social worker with indigenous people and no data crunching as she had foreseen. We tried to get her to focus on the money & experience for the meanwhile and think about changing jobs when she is performing well in this one. My other friend, an Indonesian pharmacist, is doing postgrad work with an established group at one of the local unis, so she just has to put her nose down and get moving! I was setting her straight on what to concentrate on so that she gets her proposal in quickly- she was trying to read the entire literature without putting pen to paper. I said she should make a list that said “Wanna know” and another headed “Quickest way to get there”. She thinks I saved her life!

Anyway, back to me. I really love photography and it is one thing I can make myself do even when I’m at my lowest ebb. When I can’t even be bothered getting dressed properly, I take photos in the backyard and inside the house. I take photos of odd things like rusty bolts or I take photos from strange angles to make it difficult to recognise the subject.

At the end of the jetty

Last time I ventured to the beach a girl tossing sticks and balls into the waves for her dog asked me why I was photographing them. I told her “This is what I do to make me feel happy. I photograph things and people at the beach”. She seemed OK with this, so I captured some more shots, then headed out along the jetty for alternative subjects.

Waiting for a stick

It was a cool, windy day, but the sun was shining often enough that lots of people had ventured out, hoping that Spring had sprung.

I was hoping the photos of this dog, happily jumping about in the waves would cheer me up a bit and I think they have.

Come on

Must get it

I’m hoping for more sunshine in my life so I can enjoy myself as much as him.

The Hunter

Day 10 NaBloPoMo: Getting ready for Christmas

As usual I have left if fairly late to do special things in preparation for Christmas.

Dangle moose

As a kid, there wasn’t much preparation and I didn’t learn to get into a routine more than a few days before the day! My parents and I lived in a coastal town hundreds and thousands of kilometres from any family- so I didn’t know about “Big Christmases” with several generations of family or piles of friends.

We generally have a little Christmas tree, mainly decorated with reindeer and mooses!

Chrismoose

We have a potted pine in the backyard which has served us well for may years,

Tripod Christmas tree

Tripod Christmas tree with mooses

but the elements devastated it during the heat and drought of 2009. Instead we had my photo tripod decorated with tinsel and the mooses!

Over the past ten years I have done less and less for Christmas, firstly because of my deep depression and secondly because our household income has halved over that time.

Before that time, I would prepare Christmas edibles several weeks ahead and pre-buy ingredients that might become out of stock in the shops before Christmas- things like fruit-cake ingredients, summer berries, cherries, seafood and turkey breast rolls. In recent years I have rarely done any of these things, including failing to make my “famous” chunky individual fruit cakes. I used to bake several batches of these every year and give all my friends and colleagues at work an individual Christmas cake! They are yummy things and I should try to make them this year- onto the list they go! [I’ll put in the recipe if I can find it].

Other things I used to do were: making some assembled jewellery, eg. earrings, necklaces and bracelets, to give to female friends and random extra drop-ins; some lavender wreaths to hang on doors (made from our own lavender spikes from the garden tied to round twig frames from Spotlight); small framed prints of suitable photographs as presents; a few larger prints of things people had admired during the year; patchwork or knitted cushion covers for a few friends and similar stuff.

This year I have a list, but haven’t made many things on it! Perhaps I’d better do more than just start on two things and attempt to finish a few, LOL! I have the makings of a sewn vest for one friend (it is rather odd, but it’s her thing!); a sewn clothing item for my partner- can be made in 2 hours; wheat bags for warming and soothing aches ( I have the wheat, some special dried lavender to scent some of them plus bamboo velour, furry fabric for the outside casings!)- I’ll make some long snake ones for the neck and some rectangular ones for miscellaneous sore spots. Both men and women will like those! I also have some felt that I made myself, to be incorporated into a cushion cover for a friend with a new green-themed lounge room addition to her home. I also have several sewing projects to do for myself, which can be organised around other activities- one is a sort of fancy T-shirt with bamboo jersey and flock-spot voile in panels- all cut out and ready to stitch! Then I’m going to dye it yellow because I want to. It’s a bit like a Marcy Tilton design, but not- definitely NOT a copy of anything exactly either…

Tomorrow I will buy the ingredients for the mini Christmas Cakes, provided the shops still have some of the glace fruits involved. I’ve found the recipe, which is adapted from one in Gourmet Traveller magazine many years ago- he exact source lost in the mists of time! (Da-da da-dahhh…):

Grumba’s Mini Chunky Fruit Cakes

Basically heaps of fruit and nuts stuck together with a little cakey stuff!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of slightly chopped cashews, macadamias and hazelnuts. You can use brazil nuts also, but some people find them too hard when they cook.

½ cup of whole raw almonds, skins on

1 cup of dates stoned and chopped
1/3 cup roughly chopped glace peach
½ cup roughly chopped glace apricots

½ cup roughly chopped glace figs

Glace pineapple is optional- a few chunks won’t hurt!

1/3 cup glace ginger
½ cup raisins
1 1/2 cups plain/baker’s flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup dark brown sugar

60gms melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to slow … around 140 deg C.
Place some patty-pans or cupcake papers in a 12-hole muffin pan.

 

 

Cream the softened butter and dark brown sugar till light coloured. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for a minute or two.

In a bowl mix all the fruit and nuts together, sprinkling lightly with some of the flour to stop them clumping.

 

Sift the remaining flour and baking powder together and mix them into beaten egg/butter/sugar bowl.

 

Take this bowl off the mixer stand and add the bowl of fruit and nuts. Stir with a sturdy metal spoon- very tough on both wrist and spoon handle, so DON’T use a wooden spoon- I’ve broken heaps over the years!

If the mix seems runny, add some more raisins and maybe a teaspoon or two more of flour. If it is crumbly and won’t stick together, beat another egg and add it gradually- stop when it all clumps and sticks.

 

Wash your hands and nails thoroughly as this is where it gets really messy! Now pick up lumps of mixture, mould into rough balls and press into the paper cups/whatever. Make sure they heap up above the paper as they won’t really rise. Use all the mixture on the 12 holes.

 

 

Slap it into the oven- don’t use fan-forced for very long as it will dry them out too much. After 20 minutes, take a look. Turn oven 5 degrees up or down to get them finished in roughly 30 minutes total. ·They burn easily because of all the fruit and brown sugar. You can go to around 40 minutes if your oven is a bit dodgy but be careful or you’ll end up with something you cannot cut or bite!

Serve them on their own with tea, coffee and optional whisky or sherry! We sometimes serve them chopped in half as a whole one can be difficult to eat in one sitting, especially when you’ve been indulging in all the other Chrissy stuff!

NB. Don’t give them to great grandmama who has false teeth!

Shopping and alpacas

As usual for a Saturday we did the weekly shopping- special ingredients this week were the makings for Turkish Wedding Soup (chicken meat to go with the carrots, capsicums, lentils and stock we already had in the pantry). I’ll put the recipe in when I get a photo of the finished noms.

Clean and quiet in their pens

Clean and quiet in their pens

A few hours of the afternoon were spent at the Alpaca Breeders’ Show at the Wayville Showgrounds- free and we parked in the street!
Loads of photos came out of this- the animals’ faces were so sweet and cute- such lonnng eyelashes (as I guess they ARE members of the camel group), such lovely fur colours and so soft.
Sweet alpaca face!

Sweet alpaca face!


We wandered freely amongst the alpacas in their little pens- all very clean and not smelly. I was able to take as many photos as I liked in there. However, when we came out to look at the “products” made from alpaca hair/fur we came across a strange group of women selling clothing who were very thingy about photography. They asked me to wait and ask the head person for permission to put the photos on Flickr- they were quite happy for me to take the photos but not show them to anyone. I waited and waited- the head person wasn’t making any effort to allow me to speak to her, so I have the photos, I’m putting them on Flickr and I’m NOT putting a link to their website, as I would have done if they’d been nicer!
Finished items made from alpaca yarn

Finished items made from alpaca yarn

What the f**k do they think I am going to do with photos of a few jumpers and scarves? Weird!
Unfortunately (and I think, unwise commercially for them) there was no ready spun tarn for sale to satisfy the knitters and weavers amongst the visitors. I would have bought a little of the lovely soft yarn if they’d had any- but alas, no opportunity.
I have purchased yarn from the Rare Yarns Company using their online service in the past. I absolutely love the look and feel of their products! The natural colours are varied and appealing, while the dyed yarns have some gorgeous rich shades. For example:
Rare Yarns Cherry Astrakhan Yarn

Rare Yarns Cherry Astrakhan Yarn

An internet rendezvous

Today I linked up again with an online friend who lives in The Netherlands. He once lived in Adelaide and worked in the Emergency Department at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, but I never knew hom then! Now he is a specialist anaesthetist and intensive care doctor back in his home country, where he still finds a little time to take some great photos, although with babies and his tough job he mainly confines them to holidays. I noticed a cute pic of his youngest daughter Jasmijn, and some shots from the latest holiday in Crete.

Here is little Jasmijn beaming her smile to the world:

Jasmijn van Straalen

Jasmijn van Straalen

Wouter then had a good blitz visit to my Flickr photostream, which made me pretty happy that he remembered me and he liked quite a few of my recent pix! I think it was great of him to take the time, since he doesn’t have much of it these days! Yayy!!

Flickr is less mesmerising


sand and foam..
Originally uploaded by itsbk#2

Wow! It’s difficult to imagine how close he had to get to capture this shot, nor how big the splash is… whatever- it’s awesome!

I bet this amazing photo doesn’t get onto Flickr’s Explore page for the day. This is because Flickr’s criteria for “Interestingness” have changed since late last year. I used to regularly get one or two pix per month into the Explore group since I started on Flickr several years ago. I assumed it was some sort of algorithm involving the number of views people made, the number of “Favorites” scored and the number of Comments gained- I was going to do a regression equation on the factors, but wasn’t that enamoured of it! There was a group of Flickrites who figured out some of the indicators and designed their Flickr interactions to mutually enhance each other’s probability of getting into Explore- and it worked. However, I had a look using http://www.bighugelabs.com’s Scout tool to find my total Explore/Interestingness photos for 2009 so far and there were 8. You can see them in my Flickr feed on the right hand side. In my opinion I’ve taken some much better photos this year, but they have been less successful! I’m not too worried- just intrigued.