Kakadu wildflowers

I got very little in the way of creative work done this past weekend. I took my bicycle to town for serious repairs. From there I walked to the optometrist to get my eyesight checked (and she confirmed that my perfect vision is, alas, a thing of the past) SO I then got fitted for my very first pair of glasses…the cheapest frames they had, and still the bill came to 350 smackeroos…which stung, I tell you…OUCH!!!). On another day there were trips—on foot—to post offices, to the bank, and an all-day lunch with a friend…

Tomorrow, it’s off on foot again to pick up my bike, and another visit to the bank…don’t forget that I must take the tides into account, and this week the lowest tides are smack in the middle of the day, so if I want to be ashore anytime before 3 p.m., I have to leave the boat at 11:30 a.m., and find ways to kill all that time. *sigh* Where did my weekend go?

BUT! Look what I found in my flickr sets! Never-before-seen photos of a trip Kris and I took to Kakadu in late July, some years ago. Can’t believe I never posted about the trip, or shared these. Some gorgeous wild country out there…and lots of small wildflowers, as I discovered once I started looking for them.

a prehistoric home overlooking the wetlands

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Kakadu wildflowers

Kakadu wildflowers

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Darwin, Australia, Inspirations, photography, travel

Snapshots of the Northern Territory

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aboard the M/V sonofagun, amazing people, blogging, Darwin, Australia, Inspirations, life, photography

Here I am…

heron on the roof

Stop Press!

I heard this crane (egret?) walking around on the roof of our boat just as I was about to start this post. Not impressed, it seems, by rumors of a fierce and fat orange cat aboard? I climbed halfway out the window, camera at the ready, looking for the animal walking overhead…when this long neck snakes out from behind a pile of plastic tarpaulin, and I got this clean shot against that gorgeous wall of sky. Yessss!

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I was up late last night, reassigning new categories to my posts, and then making a rather overfull menu to replace my lost widgets.
I am so sorry if your feed readers are swamped with several dozen ‘UPDATED’ posts that—apart from the way they’re categorized—haven’t changed one bit.

Wish I could say it’s all done, now, and I certainly thought I was doing very well—bleary-eyed and squinting till 3 a.m.—but I’ve just worked out that there are some 200 posts left to sort! Blarghhh

And yet I can’t just leave them…it’ll drive me nuts knowing the posts aren’t under their correct headings! So please, please just bear with me another week!

☐☐☐

What else has happened? I have a new camera; my lovely little Finepix S7000 had one fall too many and broke into 5 (“Plastic? No wonder!”) pieces. I’d been talking about getting myself a grownup’s camera for years…the time had finally come. The Nikon that I’ve bought is my very first DSLR: can you believe it’s taken me this long to get one? I’ve been grappling with it for three weeks, now, feverishly studying how to use it and trying to get comfortable with all its buttons, dials, and functions. I really miss the familiar feel of my old Finepix, and I’m desperate to build a similar relationship with my new one.

evoking the sea

So I took the Nikon for a walk last Saturday to the Parap morning markets, where I very shyly and self-consciously took a couple of shots of my friend Jan’s market stall—her own gorgeous photographs (which made me very embarrassed to be holding a camera), as well as jewelry, gifts, and novelty items, all centered around the theme of the sea—and then met up with Darwin’s happiest painter, Marita Albers, and her daughter, Ginger. They took me to their home.

I love artists’ homes, don’t you? Paintings EVERYWHERE, shelves groaning under the weight of art and children’s books, stuffed and painted pillow creatures crowded on the lounge, homemade toys, little sculptures, and installations sitting on every available surface; mobiles of color, light and sound hanging from the porch roof. Marita’s playfulness suffuses the rooms and garden of her home; there is none of the sterile, minimalist interior decorating you might see in magazines and, importantly, no television in this creative home. It was a large playhouse for mother and daughter and their friends. It was so personal and unaffected, I didn’t even ask Marita if I could take pictures; I didn’t want to invade that fun-filled privacy.

Ginger was happy to have her picture taken, though, with Mrs. Feather, one of her pet chickens. Ginger LOVES chickens, and the chicken theme is everywhere in her drawings and paintings. Hurrah! for precocious and ferocious little girls who read, and paint, and build pink cities in the garden for chickens, and love to travel overseas, and think eating is better than television, which is “boring”.

Ginger and Mrs. Feather

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photography, stuff i've made

Twinkle, twinkle, little porn star…sort of NSFW?

a porn star

I’m gallery-sitting The Goddesses of Small Things exhibit at the DVAA from 10 till 3 today. I took a book along, as you optimistically do, but haven’t even cracked the cover yet.

Instead, I’ve killed a good few hours by taking an old scan of a soft-porn magazine that was on my laptop (for research purposes, you understand), and playing with it in Gimp. Kept this one, because I kinda like it…looks like somebaroque flesh flower. A Carnation, from the Latin carn- ‘flesh’.

Interesting that what is revealed and what is concealed creates something totally different from the original. There actually aren’t any ‘naughty bits’ from the scan visible in this star…but the mind, looking for porn, will find images of porn in it, anyway.

These posts are a bit watery and undernourished, but I just haven’t had a chance to do something at home yet. Tomorrow my real weekend starts, and I hope to post some good making and crafting shots over the next three days.

So now I’ll publish this, and watch the porn-related spam comments pour in. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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blogs and sites, gizmos + light tech, Inspirations, photography

back from the dead, as Picmonkey!

When Picnik closed in April, bought out by Google, stripped of everything that actually made it great, and then moved over to Google+1 as their basic photo editing tools, I felt like a friend had died. I would wander around on the internet, bereft and hoping to run into Picnik, even though I knew it was “no longer with us”.

Even though I know how to use Photoshop and Gimp a little bit, and realize that anything I could do in Picnik could be done on one of those desktop image manipulation programs, I just really enjoyed using Picnik. It was fun, there was an avid community of users, and it was quick, you could do it on any computer with an internet connection (handy when I was traveling) and if you knew how to layer, layer, layer the effects on offer, it was amazing what you could do.

A few similar online photo-editing sites turned up, as Picnik neared its end…really horrible, lame versions, with crappy filters, crappy stickers, supermarket home brand vanilla-style features that just highlighted how much better Picnik was.

After I rushed eagerly to check out Aviary, the site that Flickr has partnered with for photo editing since Picnik died, and found something so crude and primitive that it could have been designed by Fisher Price for 3 year olds, I gave up looking. Picnik was gone, and nothing could take its place.

Until yesterday, that is.

Yesterday, I found Picmonkey. I Googled “the best alternative to Picnik”, and was flooded with Picmonkey love in the search results.

A couple of former Picnik engineers, a rabbi, and a monkey meet in a bar.

The rabbi realizes he’s not in the middle of a corny joke so he leaves. But the monkey. The monkey starts raving wildly. He’s slapping the Picnik engineers on the back, congratulating them for pioneering the online photo editing space 6 years ago, and for enabling a whole new class of photographers to create beautiful images and hang out together. And the monkey has more ideas about time travel, connecting people, light speed, and making Brussels sprouts taste better. The engineers, they’re listening, but they’re onto something new. They scribble furiously on the backs of napkins and the edges of sleeve cuffs.

Several months later, here we are. A dynamic duo became a small dynamic team. And the world’s friendliest photo editor got a chance to start again. If you loved Picnik, PicMonkey is back in town and better than ever. It’s faster, more powerful, and easier to use. It’s the real deal you already know, plus 78% more monkey.

…Here’s who we are: a bunch of dedicated, in-the-trenches people who just want to make this online photo editor experience ridiculously great. We’re getting PicMonkey up and running, and then watch out. Keep your eyes peeled for more. Because we’re gonna keep adding more features and more tools and not stop until you scream and say “Holy Macarena, people, go home and get a life because you’ve done. it. all!”

JOY! Not only is it ‘like’ Picnik, it has nearly all the old features, plus many great new ones. It’s got a much sleeker, beautiful design, and I am lovin’ it so much, I could hug a monkey right now!

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Darwin, Australia, life, photography

Rugrats and Old Biddies

 

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A speed limit sign on the wharf at our local yacht club, Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Association…

I thought I’d take a picture before some sourpuss complains to the committee and has it taken down.

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amazing people, food, Inspirations, life, photography, travel

around Georgetown with PC

Kopitiam crows

From an earlier kopitiam (coffee shop) visit comes this photograph of the large crows that sit under the eaves of the cafeterias, watching for scraps of food that they can swoop down and grab. It’s quite remarkable to be having coffee under the watchful eyes of half a dozen big black crows. I took this while having two black coffees along Jln. Sri Bahari.

Yesterday was a foodie day, spent at kopitiams and food carts around Penang Road.

PC Lim is the creative doyenne of the blog Meijo’s Joy, featuring crafty DIY projects as well as the chuckle-worthy antics that her two little girls are always getting up to.  When PC told me she lived in Penang, I asked if she’d like to meet up while I was there. My first face-to-face with a blog friend! I think we were both really excited.

We finally caught up yesterday, and as soon as I spotted her coming toward me, I felt as though I had known her forever. Many first meetings between slight acquaintances can be strained, or at least subdued. Not so this one; within thirty minutes of being together, PC and I were teasing each other like old friends. We walked around Georgetown arm in arm, PC pointing out all the authentic Penang shops and places to eat, and loading me with an insider’s knowledge of “the real Penang” that I could not have had from any guidebook. A friend who knows the city is worth her weight in gold.

I had nasi biryani with a squid curry, and another dish called “squid eggs” which were not unlike the sacs of fish roe from large fish. Then, at last, the long-desired bowl of ais kacang—not from any of those “famous” ais kacang places along Penang Road (PC says that ever since they’ve been featured in guidebooks, on blogs, and youtube videos, a lot of those “best source of” places have become arrogant, and careless)—but from a tiny wheeled cart down a narrow side street, where you eat standing up, from a little plastic bowl with a stainless steel chinese spoon. And it was sedap! Yummy! She also showed me where that Kek Seng Cafe is, though we were both too full by that time to go and eat again. Tomorrow, I’ll try and find my way back there! My hankering for durian ice-cream has not been addressed yet.

I feel like an idiot, photographing food I’m about to eat…it just seems so wrong to turn even your meals into some kind of National Lampoon’s Vacation documentary, as though life were nothing but material for your photo album…besides, I come from a culture that reverences food, and for reasons I can’t explain, photographing what you are about to eat seems disrespectful.

So you probably won’t see any pics of the food we had today…but I did grab PC’s arm at some point and ask her to stop so I could photograph the entrance of this fabulous building. No idea, once again, what it is…and if I hadn’t accidentally included the street sign, I wouldn’t even remember where I saw this (Jln. Sungai Ujong, and Sungai means ‘river’). As I said before, the streets are completely packed with old buildings, the whole city has been declared a historical reserve, and no buildings, not even the abandoned ones, can be pulled down. It is the most marvelous thing I’ve ever seen…and it’s not just one specimen road for the tourists! The locals still live, work, or run their businesses from these buildings. You could wander Georgetown for days, soaking up and photographing the architectural details.

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While a lot of major buildings have been restored, I find I am partial to the old, crumbling ones…I love the patina on stonework, the peeling paint, the verdigris on the brass, the mossy walls and dilapidated woodwork. I love the evidence of time’s hands having been all over the surfaces…the ancient signs and rotting tiles. All so utterly grand…I find myself feeling nostalgic for the days when Penang was this powerful hub of trade and culture, and here it isn’t even my own culture!

Lion door handles

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books + poetry, Inspirations, photography, stuff i've made

To have gold on your back deck and not know it…

marigolds

To have gold in your back yard and not know it. . .

I woke this morning before your dream had shredded

And found a curious thing: flowers made of gold,

Six-sided—more than that—broken on flagstones,

Petals the color of a wedding band.

You are sleeping. The morning comes up gold.

Perhaps I made those flowers in my head,

For I have counted snowflakes in July

Blowing across my eyes like bits of calcium,

And I have stepped into your dream at night,

A stranger there, my body steeped in moonlight.

I watched you tremble, washed in all that silver.

Love, the stars have fallen into the garden

And turned to frost. They have opened like a hand.

It is the color that breaks out of the bedsheets.

This morning the garden is littered with dry petals

As yellow as the page of an old book.

I step among them. They are brittle as bone china.

—Thomas James, “Tom O’Bedlam Among the Sunflowers”

from Letters to a Stranger. Copyright © 2008 by Thomas James.

marigolds

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photography

slow mornings : : rust & mustard

…Yellow as a goat’s wise and wicked eyes,
yellow as a hill of daffodils,
yellow as dandelions by the highway,
yellow as butter and egg yolks,
yellow as a school bus stopping you,
yellow as a slicker in a downpour…

—from Colors passing through us by Marge Piercy

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