pictorial splendour

…man, it’s stuffy in here. And did someone leave milk in the fridge? OK, that’s YOUR job to throw that out. Ew, spider webs. Jesus, get some windows open, we need some fresh air.

Or photos! Just as good as fresh air. Got the photos of my Christmas break off my memory stick, finally, yes it took me long enough. So I have hundreds of photos, but they don’t like being reduced down to 400 by 400 pixels and I don’t much blame them. So here are the few I deemed fit to post:

This is the beach. I am a long way up, and for this I blame my sister, who suggested the walk straight up a hill. She bought a new SLR digital and a wide angle lens, so if this was her blog, you’d be able to see more of the bay. Tough luck, suckers. You get my camera, and even worse, my commentary. At the bottom of the photo is where all the boats get launched, and you may be able to see all the old tractors which are used to tow the boat trailers. And the odd company car. Heh.

This is what the water is like. Clear with the odd volcanic rock and nice soft sand. In fact, this could be a shot of just about any beach in New Zealand. Yeah, I feel like going for a swim now too. Damn.

Well, I DID promise dog bums. This is the dog under one of the plum trees, which for some reason went batshit insane. The tree, not the dog. The dog was fine. This over-abundance meant that every time you went down onto the lawn, you had to eat a plum. Going to the beach? Pick a plum to eat on the way. Getting some milk from the shop? Eat a plum. Hanging out the washing? Eat a plum. Sitting in one place for too long? Eat a plum.

It’s ME. I know! How daring! It’s me in a wetsuit (water was cold, shut up) throwing sticks for my sister’s dog. Who never, never tires of fetching sticks. After about two hours of this, I thought with fond reminiscence of my own lazy dogs, who will look with interest as you throw a stick, then look back at you in the full expectation that you will then go and fetch it yourself.

Bee. On some sort of beach plant. This pretty much sums up the insect situation in New Zealand: you see them sometimes. If you are spectacularly clumsy, you may get hurt or stung. Note the glaring lack of animals which go out of their way to harm and annoy you, such as, I don’t know, HUNDREDS OF STICKY FLIES OH GOD.

i got the power

OK, you know how I said I was hot yesterday? I was wrong. THIS is hot. This is so hot that it’s over 40 degrees and half of Melbourne’s CBD lost power at 4pm. That would include my office building, which was suddenly lit only with the dim glow of laptops and emergency lighting. The official recommendation from building services was, “Stay here if you like, or go home, but our aircon isn’t working anymore, and public transport is also in chaos, so you might as well go to the pub.” This announcement was greeted with great enthusiasm, as you might expect.

I went home, having plans to meet a friend of mine, and encountered the first of apparently 1000 traffic lights which were out all over the city. Unfortunately I encountered this while trying to turn right onto St Kilda Road, which has eight lanes and two tram lines, and more than its fair share of insane and lunatic people even on a normal day. Anyway, I eventually turned right without dying, and the traffic lights started working halfway down St Kilda Road, so I was relatively confident that my house would have power. But not confident enough to park in the underground carpark with the automatic garage doors. SEE? SMART. I did have power though, so I WIN.

Then I went to meet my friend (who did not have power, but it turned on as I got there, I CONTROL ALL THINGS) and we walked down to Elwood Beach and straight into the water and we floated in the sea for a long, long time. The water was crystal clear because there hasn’t been any rain, and the sky was diffused pink and orange from the sunset coming through all the smoke in the air. Melbourne is an extremely strange place to be right now.

a little bit country

God, it’s hot. I am so hot. (“You’re not that great.”) If I were any hotter I’d move this hot laptop off my lap and open a window or turn on the air conditioner or something. Yeah.

So I was up at a friend’s holiday place this weekend. I took the Brown Dog with me, as her kids love him and her husband hadn’t met him. It’s up past Traralgon, in Gippsland where all the bushfires are. I told them I would come and stay before the place burned to the ground. They assured me this would not happen: no, if the house was going to burn to the ground, it would have done so last THURSDAY, silly, not this weekend. Comforting. Anyway, it was wasn’t too hot but it was very… heavy, I guess, because there was all this smoke and haze in the air and you couldn’t see the sky properly and there was no wind. (No wind is good, because it means the fires aren’t fanned. But first I typed “no wine”. No wine is bad.) There were lots and lots of birds, as they have all fled the fires: beautiful lorikeets and galahs hanging off balconies and trees. Also fleeing the fires and available in large quantities were, unfortunately, flies. Like Australia doesn’t already have more flies per square inch than I can handle. (New Zealand? Has big, buzzy blowflies, and not very many of them. Australia has thousands of small sticky flies which land on you and DON’T MOVE, argh argh THE FLIES.) More terrifying than the flies, however, was the small quad bike that the children got for Christmas. You don’t know the true meaning of terror until you are sitting on the back of a quad bike being driven by a six year old child who desperately wants to impress you.

The holiday house is lovely and is in a small town on a lake, but obviously because of the fires and the drought there is no water in the lake. So technically they are on a big empty expanse of sand. I think the lake is about 12% full. This is not a lot of water when there’s millions of hectares of forest on fire around you. Regardless, we did not burn to death. We went down to the lake, then we walked into the lake bed, then we walked and walked and walked some more, and then we got to the water.

Here is the Brown Dog trotting through the water.
Notice how nice and clean he is. This will change.

My dog is a terrible babysitter.
I, of course, take no responsibility for this.

Did you know that when you are walking back to the house with two children and a dog, all of whom are liberally covered with mud, that the flies will be attracted to YOU and ONLY YOU? ARGH.

brand spanker

Wait, it’s 2007 already?

And I’m back! I was away, of course. New Zealand was great, I was at my parent’s bach, just below the Bay of Islands. Weather was good (far surpassing Melbourne, where it apparently hailed on Christmas Day), and my activity level was set to Low, my mental level was set to Sudoku, and my eating level was set to Catch Of The Day. Can’t show you photos yet because of camera difficulties, please stand by. Be assured there is an intriguing mix of stunning scenery and dog backsides.

Back in Melbourne, the sky is again filled with bushfire smoke. My house, although clean when I left, has become a mysterious abode full of dust and, somehow, feathers. The Christmas tree remains alive – this and the peace lily seem to have enjoyed their three-week break from water, although all the other plants are unimpressed. I try to tell them that I’m just acclimatising them to Australian drought conditions, but they remain obstinately dead. I had 1400 emails and 3000 Bloglines entries to read through (actually, 1370 emails to delete and if I couldn’t be bothered opening a Bloglines entry, I unsubscribed… decluttering! That is probably someone else’s New Years Resolution, but I will help you!) I had to get a new toothbrush halfway through the holiday when we discovered my friend’s grandmother with Alzheimer’s was using it as a hairbrush. My knees are peeling but the cuts on my feet from rocks & oyster shells are healed. And that pretty much brings us up to date.

I hope you’ve all been well and enjoyed Festivus (or Newtonmas, which I may celebrate next year thanks to Kate). We will now return to our regular scheduled nonsense.