Monday, 21 October 2013

Waiting ........

There is a thick pall of smoke over Sydney and the air is strong with the cloying smell of smoke, it is almost still and there is a sense of fear and dread, we are all holding our breath waiting.  It is 35c and the temperature is still rising; we have 38c predicted for today and 35c Tuesday and Wednesday with those NW & NE winds predicted.

There is a very real risk that the 3 fires in the Blue Mountains will join together and give birth to a mega-fire. Weather conditions for the next few days are perfect for creating a monster. NSW Emergency Service Minister Mike Gallacher says northwesterly winds could push the large fire at Bell into two others - and towards more populated areas like Katoomba and Leura, and western Sydney.  So we wait and we pray and we send our thanks to those selfless heroes striving to protect.

The view from my backyard - visibility is greatly reduced; it is like a foggy winter's morning except for the smell. It is so still so the smoke is just laying like a blanket across Sydney; but the wind is expected to pick up late this afternoon.

So finger's crossed Mother Nature takes pity and decides to send rain instead of wind.

So what to do?

No use going out anywhere - the risk of fires is everywhere so better to stay out of everyone's way and paint. But what to paint?

Sketching out a few ideas but nothing really takes my fancy; my last piece was this giraffe and her/his mum.

A couple elephant babies and their mum were the two before that.  

Got some good photographs from the Photo-a-day group; asked the photographers for permission to use them and each one has said yes.  One was of an old egyptian gentleman, another a giraffe head and one was different from my usual in that it was of an old door with a rusted lock & ivy.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Friends, Fires and a Firey Comet ......

Well my long weekend with my friends has been and gone and what a great weekend it was.

They arrived just after lunch time on Friday and left at a similar time on Sunday; we started talking as soon as they arrived and the conversation only stopped for sleep .... lol.

They shouted dinner on Friday night at the Royal Cricketers Arms (my girlfriend had read in one of my blog postings about me loving it) and it was absolutely delicious.

We had some Deep Fried Camembert with a cranberry dressing - oh my!!!  It was one of the most delicious entrees I have ever had.  We all agreed if we had known how good it was going to be with would have one each instead of sharing one.

Mains were a crumbed chicken breast, toad in the hole and an old fashion English beef and mushroom pie.  For dessert we each had something different and shared - so Banofee pie, Lemon Posset and a meringue and strawberry dish that was similar to an Eton Mess.

The remainder of the stay was spent with us sitting around the table talking, talking and more talking ....rotfl.  Just the perfect 3 days!

Been a busy week babysitting my 2 grand daughter's as my DIL had to travel to Queensland for business.  So a full on week.

Time to relax and put my feet up, have a latte and watch all the Doctor Who episodes I had missed.

NSW (my state) is a tinderbox; the state is so dry, it has been such a long time since we had rain.  Not sure how long it has been -we had a brief shower overnight last week and prior to that there was a day with a little drizzle but proper rain that made puddles on the ground and made you run for shelter - well my area has had only a few cm since March, in fact nothing was actually recorded for the area since March.

Unfortunately this Spring has erupted with bushfires, the first week of September we had our first taste of what this season would bring.  Then this Thursday the lower Blue Mountains burst into flame along with 100 other bushfires in NSW.  Lives and homes have been lost and even though the weather has improved Friday and Staurday; Sunday and Monday look to be in the high 30s.

On Thursday night the sky outside my house was amazing - I took this snap just to show how weird the sky was.  It looks as if the sun is setting behind the trees but in actually fact the photo is facing south; there were clouds and the sun was hitting them and bouncing off brighter.

Something else that might light up the sky in a much smaller way is seeing Comet Ison - of course the big questions is how it will go once it travels round the sun.  There is a chance it will be visible during the daytime on 29 November but of course, it could just be a fizzer and nothing to see.  On November 28, the Comet ISON can be easily spotted with the naked eye as well as the first week of December when it will be at its peak before making a close approach to Earth on December 26.  Sydney Observatory has a great piece written about it.  Just what we get to see from the Southern hemisphere remains to be seen but I will certainly be out there looking upwards .... lol

Arvind Paranjpye, director of the Nehru Planetarium, shared: "With its present positioning, it seems that the comet will be bright and visible towards the end of October. Having crossed Mars in the beginning of the month, the comet will start getting visible over the eastern horizon around October 30 and one can spot it through the telescope about 40 minutes before sunrise. As it progresses, the comet will be visible through binoculars between November 4 and November 9 and later, around November 19, it will be visible to the naked eye."

The Hubble telescope site recently released a photograph of Ison.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Books, Buddha, Bravery .... and Photos ..... oh, and Music

Still trying to find a new author to read; re-read a couple of old favourites - 2001 Space Odyssey and Hitchhikers Guide to the GalaxyTrilogy in four parts - but now scouring the Internet trying to find something new.

I am a member of Goodreads and have found some great reads through that but just not being successful at the moment.  They have 'lists'  .... so if you are interested in Scifi you can see heaps of lists of Scifi books, if romance rocks your boat there are lots of lists on those books.  So I have been searching through the lists of murderers and thrillers trying to find something that piques my interest.

I started reading Lisa Gardner's Alone; read the first 50 pages but just can't get into it.  A Karin Slaughter or Kathy Reichs she isn't .... lol
Day #20 - Stairs ...

... it was a stalemate on the book siege....
... Chewie decided to take the stairs up to the next level in hopes of finding a way to send a message for reinforcements. The Chase was on, he needed to find The Navigator before he ended up The Gulag Archpelago or worse - in Purgatory so it was Cross Country to find the Lost City ......
I was given a book by it's author to read and review .... he suggested that I would like it because I had read Dan Brown's works and had given them good reviews.  Sadly I never made it past the first 40 pages .... lol.  He actually overdid it; too many technical descriptions, to much background information, in fact there were even too many bodies in the first few pages.  You lost the characters in the description overloads.  Consequently I gave it a 'thumbs down' review.

Funny how you get locked onto favourite authors and then compare others to them.  You expect your favourites to churn out books each week instead on yearly ... lol.

Some of my favourite 'serial killer' authors include - John Lutz, Karin Slaughter, Kathy Reichs, Jeffrey Deaver, Thomas Harris, Cornwell, Patterson, Kellerman and Kava.

I have come to the conclusion that Mr Spot was a Buddhist monk in a previous incarnation - the amount of times I find him sitting alongside one of my Buddha statues is amazing.

He seems to like sitting with them; mind you some are not in a comfortable place but the fat cat manages to fit ..... lol.  Weighed him the other day - 8kgs (17.5lb) - he is certainly a big boy and yet he doesn't look fat.  Cali, on the other hand, would be lucky to weigh 4 kgs - she never eats much; think those early years living on the streets and then being so badly abused have taken a big toll on her.

Still she is getting very brave lately and had taken to sitting on the roof; mind you if I go outside while she is up there she started meowing and expects me to climb up and get her down - it doesn't work..... lol.

She is still so terrified of people, except me; I don't think she is going to change now - I have had her about 3 years - she still hides as soon as she hears the doorbell or another person's voice.  Sad really because she is so affectionate and she would get lots of cuddles from visitors, wish she were just a little braver.

Going to be fun when my girlfriend and her hubby come down to stay for a few days; I bet we don't even glimpse her ..... lol.

When my son and his family came down from Queensland for a few weeks last year they saw a brief flash as she raced across the room to hide toward the end of their stay.

In for another month of Photo-a-Day ... some interesting themes this month.

 Bit concerned about the Depth of Field one - I always have trouble trying to photograph that.  Usually when I try to it never works; the times I have had success were when I trying for something else .... lol.

The other I may have concern with is "first world problem" - these are generally sarcastic views on the material society that we live in; typically they are tongue-in-cheek to make light of trivial inconveniences.

But I thought about going serious, something like a Macca's or some other fast food sign but I have a suspicion that others may go that route also.  The other is the waste at the local tip but I don't know that I want to drive out to the tip and pay to go in just to take a

Don't think I will have any problems with the rest; my main problem is finding something a little different than my usual hum drum.  I need to think outside the box when thinking of things that suit the day's theme.

Downloaded some more music for my Ipod - this time music from Doctor Who (295 'songs') - there is some amazing tracks in it.  Some are so beautiful, some sad, some very moving and others snappy; you only hear a brief stanza or two during the show so to hear them in their entirety is great.

Also found Nitin Sawhney - he is a British Indian musician and composer.  His work has elements of jazz and Asian influences; and explores multiculturalism and spirituality.  Some tracks I am not that keen on but most of it is fabulous. If you like 'world' music take a listen, there are about 40 songs in this track list; a good cross section that I am sure you will enjoy.