Sunday, July 31, 2011

P365 -Day 212 - the sound of music

As well as being a talented artist, my grandmother played the piano. When Lil Sis and I were young, one of our family traditions was that we’d all get in the car and drive to our grandparents house on Sunday afternoons.

They lived in a huge house in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, but was really only about a 15 minute drive out into the country. The house used to have a General Store attached to it that my grandparents operated, but as they got older, and (I assume) business declined, as it did in many country General Stores, they closed the store and converted it into extra rooms for the house.

My grandmother’s piano was in a room near the front of the house, and she used to give piano lessons there.  Lil Sis and I were two of her pupils.

The piano was a beautiful old upright piano and I spent many Sunday afternoons agonising over scales, trying to hold my hands correctly and playing basic pieces that bored me stupid. I don’t think I was very good. I remember hating doing piano practice at home (on our much less classy piano that doubled as a hall stand), and resenting every note of every scale that I played. I struggled along with it into high school and finally quit when I realised I wasn’t committed and wasn’t enjoying it at all.

My piano skills right now are fairly limited. I can read music and play it, as long as it’s not a very complicated piece and I don’t have to do too much with both hands at the same time. The terms ‘quaver’, ‘semi-quaver’ and ‘crotchet’ ring bells in my head, but don’t ask me which one is the shortest, as I have no idea.

I can also work out how to play tunes that I know on the keyboard, and I get the notes right about 90 per cent of the time, so I’ve been able to play songs for Juniordwarf on his keyboard without needing the music.

Juniordwarf has inherited my grandmother’s old keyboard (a very cool (for its time) Yamaha with an ‘Automatic Bass Chord System’), that approximately replicates 14 or so various instruments and has a range of rythyms that just make you want to get up and dance (or leave the room).

I wasn’t sure how old kids needed to be to learn music, but seeing how Juniordwarf likes to play the keyboard, I thought it couldn’t hurt to show him the basics – introduce him to the concept of naming the keys, and showing him how the notes in a sheet of music relate to the keys on the keyboard. Nothing formal, and definitely nothing forced. Whatever he’s comfortable with.

I went into a music shop to ask what they thought would be possible for a nearly five year old. The guy at the shop suggested buying some removable stickers that you can put on the keys to show their names and a music book with kids’ songs that show the music, but also have the letter of each note printed, so the kids can learn the names of the notes and their place on the stave, and relate that to the actual keyboard.

So I did that a couple of weeks ago, and every now and then Juniordwarf will come to me and ask if I can please show him how to play the keyboard. We only spend about five minutes on it at a time, and I’ve just been showing him how to play Mary Had A Little Lamb – because it’s the first song in the book. He’s been interested, but hasn’t quite got the concept that he needs to play the notes in the same octave, rather than middle-C, and then a higher D and a lower G, so we’re getting some rather interesting results. But I don't care. I just want to give him a bit of guidance, and let him work out for himself how it all works - when (and if) he's ready.

Today I was in the kitchen, and Juniordwarf went into his room, got his music book out and started playing all by himself.

It was very cool to hear  Mary Had A Little Lamb being played in his bedroom.

P36 - Day 211 - cherry ripe (30/07/2011)

This morning we went out for coffee and cake at our friends’ coffee shop. 

Juniordwarf usually gets a babycino (he has his own coffee loyalty card) and one of the yummy slices. His favourite is the cherry ripe slice. He used to eat it all, but recently has taken to just nibbling the chocolate off and leaving the rest of it.

As a result his face and hands end up covered in chocolate.

Last time he did that, we suggested that he have the chocolate slice (which is a gluten-free chocolate brownie) instead, since he didn’t actually eat the slice.

But he said no, he wanted the cherry one. Well, he wanted the chocolate from it.

It ended up looking like this.

I had the chocolate one, served warm so that it was practically melting, with cream. It was utterly divine.

P365 - Day 210 - cloud vs mountain (29/07/2011)

I thought this was a great view of Mt Wellington. The top of the mountain was covered in cloud, and there was another layer of cloud beneath that, but you could just make out the mountain through a few gaps in the second cloud layer.

Once I looked at the photos I couldn't help thinking that it looked like the cloud had eyes that the mountain was peeking through.

(edited in PicFX)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

P365 - Day 209 - pen amnesty

A few weeks ago, the wonderful people at NoteMaker  announced a Pen Amnesty, where you could trade in your ugliest, dodgiest pen for a shiny new one from their online store.

All you had to do is upload a picture of your offensive pen, and then you would get a redemption code either for a free pen Delfonics ballpoint pen or a 25 per cent cash rebate off any pen purchase, plus a free Rhodia notepad.

I have no shortage of dodgy, shabby pens lying around, so it wasn’t hard to find one that fitted the bill, and I dutifully entered the promotion.

This is one of my work pens. Note the snapped off clip and ink stains that rub off on my fingers.

Last week I redeemed my prize, and today my package of goodies from NoteMaker arrived. Here is my lovely new yellow pen, which goes beautifully with my stripy journal and is an absolute pleasure to write with, and my very flash notepad, complete with slip case.

So thank you NoteMaker. I do enjoy playing your games, and I’m looking forward to seeing what challenge you’ll come up with next time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

P365 - Day 208 - did someone say it was cold?

Well it is.

This was our thermometer this morning. I think it says -2 degrees. Not as cold as some of my friends in the US experience, but still cold.

Yes, it is a very old, extremely unattractive thermometer (and the full thing looks even worse than the closeup) but, in our defence, it was at the house when we moved here so we didn't actually buy it.

Here are a couple of other photos from the chilly winter day that was today (given some OTT Camera+ effects).

Pretty sunrise

Residual fog on the river

Cool cloud formation on the snow-topped mountain

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

P365 - Day 207 - . . . and biscuits

What else follows tea, if not biscuits?

On Tuesdays Juniordwarf and I cook biscuits for him to take to school for morning tea over the rest of the week. Ever since the start of the year, we’ve made ANZACs. Every single Tuesday.

He now knows the recipe word-perfect, gets everything out of the cupboard ready to make the biscuits, and has his own particular tasks – putting the ‘gold and sirrit’ into the bowl with the butter to be melted and licking the golden syrup  off the spoon, tipping the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl, measuring out the bicarb soda, and eating as much of the dough as he can while I actually make the biscuits.

I’ve tried to convince him to try something other than ANZACs, but he is a creature of habit and insists on ANZACs every week. Not even the idea of choc-chip cookies would budge him.

In a last ditch attempt, yesterday I asked if he wanted to use the letter-shaped cookie cutters that his aunt got him. He was very keen, so I thought we’d give shortbread a go today.

I made shortbread for the first time a couple of years ago as Xmas gifts. I had no idea how to make it, so turned to my trusty friend Google, only to be overwhelmed by different recipes.

The one I settled on was the simplest: 3-2-1.

That’s the ratio of flour to butter to sugar that you need. The actual amount depends on how much dough you want. We used 375 grams of plain wholemeal flour, 250 grams of butter and 125 grams of raw caster sugar.

(I can always remember the ratio, but I can never remember what the 2 and the 1 are for, so inevitably I have to re-Google it every time I want to make shortbread.)

Juniordwarf was very excited to be cutting out letters.

Correction, he was excited for me to be cutting out the letters. He supervised, and told me what letters to cut out. We started with his name, and then all of the letters in a random order that probably made sense to him. And finally the numbers 1 to 10 (or rather 1 to 1 and 0).

There was still a lot of dough left over and I didn’t fancy cutting out more letters, as they are quite fiddly, especially trying to get the middle bits out, so we used a dinosaur cutter for the rest of the dough. The final little bits (that he didn’t eat) became Zs.

It took a lot longer than it takes to make ANZACs, so I’m not sure I want to be doing this every week. I want to make choc-chip cookies! But I think I might just have created a monster, and it isn’t the dinosaur biscuits.

Monday, July 25, 2011

P365 - Day 206 - tea time

I went to the naturopathica today to stock up on some herbal teas. I am hoping the ‘cold and flu’ tea provides some relief from my head cold. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

sunday selections - hipstamatic

I thought I’d use the opportunity to participate in Kim’s Sunday Selections project to show off some of the Hipstamatic photos I took this week.

On Monday I wrote about how, at the suggestion of one of my Twitter friends, I was going to use the Hipstamatic app for my photos this week to try and add something different to my photo project.

You can read about how I went on my first photo shoot here

After a week of shooting, I haven’t changed my initial views on the app. It produces some really interesting effects on my photos, which I really like, if I choose the right lens and film combo.

Actually, I’ve not been very adventurous and have stuck with the same film all week (boring! but in my defence, I have been sick), but I have tried out a few of the different lenses. Admittedly I’ve only tried the ones that came with the original app and a couple of freebies that were recently released, so I’m missing quite a lot of what is available. (Think of it as the cheapskate approach, until I decide whether this app is for me, and whether I want to shell out a hard earned couple of bucks for some more variety . . .  did I mention I have a reputation as a tightarse?!)

The hard part is remembering that there is no zoom function, so what you see in the ‘viewfinder’ is pretty much what you’re going to get – and if you want the cute little frame that the photos come with, there’s no option to crop later either.

The whole feel of the app reminds me of my very first camera. I got it when I was in primary school. I won $10 in a competition and decided to spend it on a camera. It was a gaf 100 XF (no, Slabs, it's not a Falcon) that cost me $9.95. (I can’t remember what I did with the change.) The camera, which I still have, took 126 film cartridges that produced square pictures. Oh, and used external flashes that you bought in packs of three four-sided cubes, each side of which had a bulb that flashed and then blew, as bulbs do.

Hipstamatic, as a 'retro/analogue camera' app has that same fixed lens thing happening, produces square photos, and has no ability to adjust the lighting – what you see is what you shoot is what you get. It has a range of flashes that are supposed to produce different lighting effects as well.

The beauty of the app that I never got with the trusty old gaf (which I used until I was 18) is the wide range of lenses (or filters) and different films that you can use to create different effects.

So first up today is a little montage of my camera, using the same Ina’s 1969 film in all shots, but with the seven different Hipstamatic lenses that I have at the moment, plus the one from the normal phone camera as a comparison.

And then some of the photos that I took this week.

Bear in mind that for the outdoors one, it was quite glary and I really couldn’t see what I was shooting on my screen, so it was very much point, shoot and hope. And at times, I couldn't get as close to the subject as I wanted to. As a result, the composition isn’t always ideal, but it’s certainly taught me a lot about this app and I intend to go back and try again soon. Unimaginatively, they were all taken using the John S lens.

I reprocessed this one, because the bird was just too
far away and was the whole point of the photo




I love the reflections in this one, but not the
side of the dock - lots of the photos had that
problem because I couldn't see what I was shooting.

Franklin Square

Juniordwarf - not sure I like the green tinge. Normal flash.


P365 - Day 205 - the scrapbooking shop is closed

Earlier this week I wrote about how Juniordwarf loves to describe the route to wherever we’re going in great detail. He does it in the car and he does it when we walk Sleepydog.

Yesterday when we were out walking with Sleepydog, Juniordwarf asked if we could walk to one of the streets we usually drive to. I said we could, but that it would be easier if we went without Sleepydog, since she’s not the easiest dog to walk.

He agreed with that, and this morning said he wanted to walk to that street, which is close to the centre of town, more than two kilometres from our house. I agreed and decided that since we were going that way we might as well do a couple of errands at the same time, to save someone driving.

So we set off, after me telling Slabs he might need to be on alert to come and pick us up if it got a bit much for Juniordwarf. Juniordwarf was very excited, setting out our route before we went, and telling me how we would also walk past the scrapbooking shop so he could see the sign in the window.

He has quite a thing for the ‘open’ and ‘closed’ signs displayed in various shop doors, and every time we drive past any of the shops that he’s become interested in (there are several regulars), he checks to see whether the shop is open or closed, whether the lights are on or off and whether the blinds are up or down.

The scrapbooking shop in our town is his main focus, but he’s also amused by the op shop next door (or in Juniordwarfspeak 'the dressing shop'), which has another sign in its door that partly obscures the ‘open/closed’ sign, giving the impression that the shop is either ‘pen’ or ‘losed’. This provides him with hours of entertainment.

When we got to the scrapbooking shop, he spent an amazing amount of time looking through the window ‘at the stuff’, and at the sign. A couple of people passing by gave us strange looks, and I wasn’t sure if they thought we might be casing the place (fingers crossed that the shop doesn’t get broken into any time soon, or Juniordwarf might receive a visit from the cops . . .).

He’s very excited because I’m going to print some photos of him and his best friend so that he can do his own scrapbooking page. I told him that once we get the photos he can pick out some paper from the shop to do his page, and he’s really looking forward to that.

Once I managed to drag him away from the shop, we did a tour down the main street, so he could examine the doors of all the other shops to see if they were open or closed, on the way to the DVD store to return some DVDs for Slabs.

Juniordwarf said he wanted to look at the numbers. Not being a regular in that shop, I had no idea what he meant, until he dragged me into the shop, to the wall where the top 100 DVDs are displayed. He then walked along that wall counting from one to one hundred (which Slabs says he’s done before), and then all the way back again counting back to one (which is a new development).

Then he was ready to go.

After another detour, we headed for home. We weren’t far from home when I noticed him lagging a bit. He said, ‘I need to be carried.’ 

I managed to convince him that he didn’t. My back would not have thanked me for lugging a four year old the rest of the way home. So we made it home under our own steam and I didn't need rescuing. All in all, about a five kilometre round trip.

Not a bad morning walk.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

P365 - Day 204 - they won't peck me

We went to watch our local footy team play today. Because there was a function being held in the area we usually go to, we sat on the boundary fence to watch the game.

Juniordwarf got a bucket of hot chips – as you do at the footy – which, after a mix up between him and Slabs over who was holding the bucket, mostly ended up on the ground next to our feet.

As you can imagine, this attracted some very eager seagulls.

The arrival of the birds freaked Juniordwarf out, and was somewhat untimely. Just today we’d been talking about how a time we’d been in a park when Juniordwarf was much younger, and a flock of ducks had descended upon us. He’d been terrified by them. He was asking about that day today, asking why the ducks had come near him (because we had food) and whether they had pecked him* (of course not).

So when the horde of seagulls arrived, he got a bit upset and pulled his legs up on the bench we were sitting on to get away from them. He was worried that they were going to peck him. He kept seeking my reassurance: 'They won't peck me?' he kept saying.

I explained that they were only after the chips, not him, and that they wouldn’t even come close enough to get the chips because they were more scared of him than he was of them.

Juniordwarf was eventually convinced that he wasn’t going to be pecked by a flock of seagulls (a task made easier by Slabs getting him another bucket of chips) and relaxed enough to watch the game. Or at least let us watch the game. He read his books.

And we threw the chips a bit further away so the seagulls could feast in peace and stop bugging him.

The game was a good one. Our team, which hasn’t lost a game all year, was quite a long way behind when we got there at half time, and made a good effort to try and catch the opposition during the third and fourth quarters. Near the end of the game our team had closed the gap, but I didn’t think it was going to be enough. Towards the end of the quarter one of our players scored an amazing goal that just got over the line before it was caught by the opposition defender. We were in the perfect position to see it had just cleared the line, despite the protests from the opposition supporters.

Hipstamatic - really doesn't work with long shots

Shooting into the afternoon sun (Camera+)

Action! (Camera+)

That goal put our team in front, and shortly afterwards our team scored another goal to win by seven points.

It was pretty good afternoon then. The footy team won, and Juniordwarf didn’t get pecked by seagulls.

* I think Juniordwarf's fear of ducks pecking him has come from a Dr Harry book, of all places. Dr Harry is a TV vet, and Juniordwarf has a book where Dr Harry walks around the farm checking on the chickens and ducks, and on one page he’s holding a duck ‘very carefully so she doesn’t peck him’. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

P365 - Day 203 - a (brief) walk in the park

I was home again today. The doctor told me to take the rest of the week off. My work colleagues were very keen that I not come to work and share my illness with them. I haven’t been able to sleep, and am still feeling well below ordinary. Another day on the couch was called for.

But I also had to get out, because I was feeling hemmed in and felt like the house was becoming a germ trap.

So at lunch time I decided to go to the park for a few minutes to get some fresh air. It was cold, so I rugged up as much as I could. I didn’t stay long, just long enough to have lunch, take a few photos and get a bit more practice with Hipstamatic.

Then it was home, back to the couch.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

P365 - Day 202 - view from the couch

This is the view out the window from the couch that I spent most of the afternoon resting on, trying to recover from my head cold.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

P365 - Day 201 - tissue box

Last night, at the exact moment I lay down in bed, my throat started hurting, my head started to ache and my nose got stuffed up.

Usually when I get a cold, there's some kind of warning it's about to happen - usually a lingering sore throat for a couple of days, or sometimes a headache or earache. But this time there was nothing. One minute I felt fine and the next I felt terrible.

I still felt terrible this morning, so I stayed home from work to rest.

I needed a lot of tissues today. This is my tissue box cover. I couldn't think of anything else to take a photo of today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

P365 - Day 200 - ham?

Juniordwarf and I took Sleepydog for a walk today. It's a habit I'm trying to get us into now he's bigger and I feel more confident he's not going to take off somewhere.

Juniordwarf usually holds my hand on our walk and he narrates where we're going somewhat in the manner of a NavMan. Actually he has the whole route planned in his head before we set out, which he describes to me in great detail:

'We're going to go right into Blah Street, and then right into ABC Road. Right into Lorem Ipsum Street. Left into Tuesday Street. Right into Labradoodle Road . . .' and so on, until we arrive back at our house. (He also does this whenever we go anywhere in the car. It's become something of an obsession.)

Every so often when we're walking, he lets go of my hand and goes to have a look at Sleepydog or to pat her.

Today, when we were almost home, he was looking at the dog, and he said 'Sleepydog's tongue looks like ham!'

He's come out with some funny statements, but this has to be one of the best ones yet.

I took this photo using Hipstamatic. I'm not really fond of it, for two reasons. One, because it's the best of a series of hideous photos of the dog - she isn't good at sitting still and posing, and two, because I don't really like the way the colour turned out (I had to boost the saturation quite a lot because it had a rather bleached effect) - one of the downsides of having to pick your effects before you take the photo. But I will continue with learning more about this app - it's early days yet, and I can't expect every photo to turn out beautifully.

Monday, July 18, 2011

P365 - Day 199 - a flower for mum

A couple of weeks ago I was having a moan on Twitter that I couldn’t think of anything to take photos of for this project and one of my Twitter friends suggested that I check out the Hipstamatic app. She’d been posting some really lovely photos, which were very inspiring, so I decided to devote this week to learning all about how it works.

Hipstamatic is different to the other apps that I’ve been using, as you select a film and a lens before you take the photo, then the app processes the picture with those settings, instead of you applying filters and effects after you’ve taken the normal photo.

It looks like a cool retro camera, with a little viewfinder. Cute hey!

Once you have the app, you can buy extra lenses, films and camera cases, and occasionally they release some promotional freebies.

For my first attempt at using this app I went for a walk down by the docks at lunchtime to see what I could come up with. I got some lovely photos and some really crappy ones too – mainly because it was quite glary and difficult to see what I was actually shooting on my phone. But the good ones were well worth the time I spent down there, even if I felt slightly ridiculous walking round taking photos. (Why is it that I feel so self conscious taking photos around my local haunts, but if I was a tourist I wouldn’t give it a second thought? It’s not like anyone cares!)

I was going to put some of the photos on here, but then when I got home, Juniordwarf presented me with a flower that he’d made at daycare today, and I knew that had to be the subject of today’s photo.

He chose pink because he knows it’s my favourite colour, and when I asked him where I should put it, he said it was for my study.

Slabs said Juniordwarf was so proud of his flower and it was the first thing he showed him when Slabs went to pick him up from daycare. It deserves pride of place in ‘my’ study.

Juniordwarf also drew me a picture. I asked him what it was a picture of, and he said ‘coloured squiggles’.

Of course it is. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

P365 - Day 198 - poser

Today's post was going to be a belated review of me reaching the half-way point of Project 365, but I'm struggling to find the words.

So instead, today's picture is my wonderful son, who I love absolutely, unconditionally, forever.

Even if he says he doesn't love me when I have my hair tied up, or am in my PJs or am wearing the wrong top.

The photo is blurry, out of focus, badly lit  . . . technically pretty bad overall, but I actually got him to (a) stand still and (b) not put on his cheesy grin. This is a victory, make no mistake about it.

P365 - Day 197 - date night (16/07/2011)

Today was a very busy one.

Juniordwarf had his swimming lesson in the morning, and we went to see our friends at their lovely coffee shop for morning tea.

Two Metre Tall held a mid-winter Farm Bar, so we went up there for lunch and some ale and cider, and met up with some friends.

Typical Derwent Valley winter's day heading up the
Lyell  Highway to the Farm Bar - foggy and cold.

What a welcome sight

The fog eventually lifted, but still hung around the hills

Forester Ale  . . . mmm . . .

Then for dinner we went into town, as Slabs and I had decided we wanted to have a night out together, just the two of us. My Mum had kindly agreed to babysit Juniordwarf for us, and we had a lovely dinner at an Indian restaurant with some divine Tasmanian wine (for me at least, some Riesling and Chardonnay from Derwent Estate).

It was nice just to have a relaxing night out together without having to worry about anything. It’s something we don’t do very often, and that I’d like to do more.