Unexpectedly Delighted

Eli enjoying river views

Does it sound weird when I confess to being surprised with how much I love being an Aunty? I hadn’t put any thought into it; I mean who would, right? You become an Aunty with no effort on your part. All I knew was that I wanted to be the best Aunty I could be. However the more time I spend in the company of my nephews the more I realise how great it is to be an Aunty.

Jensen enjoying a slide & having his Aunty Kimmy watch him

We have heaps of fun doing all the usual kids activities like trampoline jumping, playing with blocks or toys, chasing each other, visiting the library, making art or baking. I find these latter two things bring me more joy than I ever could have imagined. Art & baking with my nephews mean a lot to me because they are important things in my life. To have Jensen ask ‘Aunty Kimmy can we make cupcakes?’ makes me smile inside & out. There really is no other feeling like it.

There are times when life isn’t all fun & games. Sometimes serious lessons are had about how to behave in the world but even that stuff I enjoy, although its often not until later that I realise it. Surely it’s better for the important lessons to be learnt in the loving home environment that somewhere else?

I’m finding I enjoy the experience of helping to guide a couple of small people to find their way in the world. I want to show them all the wonderful things the world offers & how best to navigate that world using the important guiding principles of empathy kindness & respect. Maybe one day sometime in the future I’ll report back here on how well that has done 🙂 I know they will be good humans in this world & I know I’ll continue to enjoy sharing the world with them.

Daily Dog Walking

Zena sitting in the hallway enjoying the morning sun

A little over a year ago I decided to start walking my dogs Zena & Cadel every day. I had been walking them about three times a week even though I knew they would benefit from daily walks. So propelled by the fact that I’d stepped away from the workforce I decided to begin daily walks. It’s safe to say Zena & Cadel adjusted to this new routine a lot quicker than I! Whilst I had always enjoyed walking my dogs I don’t experience the same exercise highs I get from riding my bike. There is always a moment when I’m riding my bike that I realise my mind is empty of all thoughts. There is no anxiety, no stress, not even happiness. Just simply a mind hearing my feet push pedals & the sound of bike tyres on the road. That emptiness does not come with dog walking. And daily dog walking meant I had little spare time or energy to ride my bike.

Despite this I pushed on with our new routine. I’d fall out of bed, barely awake as I dressed then I’d walk outside, dogs shadowing my every step to make sure I didn’t forget them. As if I would! They were the only reason I was bleary eyed & walking. Gradually I came to appreciate our walks. Expending energy first thing in the morning left Zena & Cadel happy & settled for the rest of the day. I’ve come to the realisation that the saying shouldn’t be ‘happy wife happy life’ but instead ‘happy dogs happy life!’ Sure it doesn’t have the same ring to it but it’s certainly true.

Twelve months on & I’ve returned to the workforce. With this has come a lot of adjustments for me as well as Zena & Cadel. I found myself unable to walk them daily; my body had fallen out of the rhythm of being at work. After a few weeks of this I’ve realised that I can’t continue not walking them daily. It’s become a much loved routine that has benefits for the three of us. I might not get the empty mind that comes from bike riding but I have benefitted from a mind that wanders. Suddenly a problem is solved without my conscious mind thinking about it. Or a photographic or writing idea will come to me.

I’ve missed not having these moments. So I’m happy to report we’re back at it. I’m again falling out of bed, finding some clothes to wear & getting the dogs. Then the three of us are off, walking, strengthening our bond & enjoying each others company.

If you could ask them in that moment both Zena & Cadel would say everything is right in their world. I’d agree with them. Things are certainly better when we’re walking together.

A foggy winters morning in 2019

Following Those Who Chased The Steam

Early this past Sunday morning I stumbled out of bed at a time of day I rarely see & did my best to wake up. When my sister-in-law Ashton asked me to be her photographer for an inaugural charity event that saw runners on land race her family paddle steamer the PS Melbourne I was quick to agree. I like to help her whenever I can & I thought this would be a relatively easy way to help out. If I’d have known that I’d be setting an alarm for 6:30am I might well have reconsidered! Anyway as I ate my breakfast I hoped that the early start would be worth it.

***

Pulling my car in to find a park I felt a jolt of excitement when I saw lots of participants milling about the starting area. I was sure this would surely mean the event would be a success. Making my way onto the boat I kept an eye on the runners trying to determine how many of them were serious about arriving at the end point before we on the boat docked. To my untrained eye most of them looked keen to give it their best shot.

***

From the water I knew there wouldn’t be many points where I’d be able to see the runners once the event was underway. It occurred to me that the best place to photograph the runners & somehow tie that back to the boat itself would be when they crossed over the Murray Bridge. Making my way to the front of the boat (excuse my ignorance of the correct boat terms. I don’t claim to know anything about boats & don’t see the need to go looking for the right terms because this website is not about the boating life!) I looked for something that I could potentially frame the runners with. I took a photo with the backs of people who were relaxing on the boat but knew immediately that it wasn’t the right way to go about framing. As we got closer to the bridge I realised sections of wood on the boat would frame a photo in an interesting way. I crouched down & took a couple of photos. The one above worked out exactly how I hoped. The lines from the boat intersect nicely with the lines from the bridge. The woman running may only just be visible but I think that she provides enough impact. There are more photos from the morning that I’m happy with but none in the same way as I am with this one. To me it feels like a representation of what I’ve been trying to do with my photography this year. That is to capture the everyday beauty that surrounds me, if I look close enough for it. This particular photo – or any of the others that I make on this personal quest of mine – might not represent ‘typical’ beauty but I don’t give a damn about that. I’m trying to photograph beauty as I see it. Hopefully others will recognise that beauty too but it’s ok with me if they don’t.

***

The event was a success. There were some pretty serious & fast runners, who arrived at the finish line before the boat arrived. We arrived somewhere in the middle of the pack although it feels kinda weird viewing it that way considering we travelled on water! Prizes were given out, breakfast rolls & coffee were consumed & kids ran around enjoying the sun. The trip back to the wharf was a lively affair with many participants celebrating with an alcoholic beverage or two & several more dancing to the tunes pumped out by a live radio broadcast taking place onboard. I suspect the dollar value raised during the event was high enough that it will go ahead again next year. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to observe & photograph the goings on second time round.

The Anxious Life

Practicing Elbow Ayesha

I’ve been berating myself for days because this blog post is late. When I decided to blog regularly I made a promise to myself that I would write weekly. Weekly posts felt manageable & for the most part I’ve managed to keep to the schedule. This past week has seen me return to working outside of my home. I’d forgotten how difficult it can be to work full time hours & have some kind of existence outside of work life. I’ve only used my camera once this past week, my breakfast art has taken a hit as has my daily dog walking. So far my anxiety has mostly remained under control with only a few small moments where I thought it might become out of control.

I’m taking that as a win, regardless of how small that win is. Aside from medication & regular GP & psychologist visits I’ve learnt what works for me to keep my mental health stable. Of course i cant control everything so sometimes I have an unexpected anxiety attack.
A week ago I had a mentally tough day. I hoped that attending a couple of pole fit classes would pull me out of the anxiety attack that I’d spent the day fighting off. Turns out I was wrong. I felt uncomfortable & out of my comfort zone & despite trying to shut off the voice that was telling me have terrible I was. Eventually it won & not for the first time I left a class mid way, unable to control the anxiety that was taking over.
I hate when this happens. I feel like a freak & have an overwhelming sense of self hatred. I wish that i could disappear off this planet, erase my entire being & cease to exist. As I write that now I realise that it might sound extreme particularly if you’ve never experienced anxiety yourself. But that’s how I feel after an anxiety attack. Thankfully with therapy, time & medication those feelings go away a lot quicker than they used to. But I write of them because I believe the more we as a society talk about mental illness the more likely it is that the stigma around it is reduced. Perhaps one day it might even disappear. If you’ve read this post & it resonates with you, know that you aren’t alone. There are people you can reach out to for help. Look around you, find who those people are & engage with them. It’s ok to ask for help.
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To end this post on a lighter note my pole fitness classes this week went a lot better than last. I was exhausted from work but happy to be among friends. I was again pushed out of my comfort zone but this time took to it with relish. I laughed at my fails & felt joy at my successes. The above photo shows me in one of the moves we learnt, where I actually managed to succeed. I know not all days can be like this when anxiety is part of my reality but I’m thankful there’s more good days than bad.

Those Small Moments Of Beauty

Svenja looking through her makeup

Photographing small moments of beauty has – over the past few months – become incredibly important to me. When I am anxious I find myself unable to see the world properly. Effort is needed, either medical or physical – often both – to pull my mind out of anxiety. For some time afterwards I feel as though I’m teetering between two realities: the anxious & the non-anxious me. It’s a weird feeling but I have become accustomed to it. During the time of afterwards it helps me if I can distract my mind to help ensure it doesn’t become anxious again.

The easiest distraction can be found by cuddling my dogs. I swear that they are therapeutic! They sit with me, lick away any tears that may be lingering & do their damnedest to keep me calm.

Irina talking about false eyelashes

My habit of taking my camera along to my pole fitness classes has provided me with countless opportunities to capture small moments of beauty. These photos are my favourite to take although I’m finding it difficult to articulate why. This is my fourth attempt at this post; I can’t find the right words to express how I feel when I take the photos of these women moving in beautiful & athletic ways, nor afterwards when I look back at them. The closest word I have to describe taking the photos is joy because as I look at the movements through my camera thats often what I see, but that’s not really right. Delight probably best describes my feelings when I look back at my photos but it isn’t really that either. Why is it so damn hard to describe these feelings? I suppose for you, the reader, my feelings don’t make much difference to my photographic results. Except I think actually they do. If I wasn’t enjoying myself when I was taking photos then I don’t think I would push myself out of my creative comfort zone. I wouldn’t be looking to improve my technique or try different things; I’d simply be happy phoning it in. Or not even bothering to try in the first place. Yet because I love what I am doing I keep striving to improve, to notice even smaller moments of beauty & try to capture them.

Vee applying makeup to Becky

The photos that accompany this post were taken as we were getting ready for Aerial Showcase 2019. Yes, I took part & yes I had my camera. I couldn’t resist bringing it because I knew there would be moments to cherish later on. I found myself having to put my camera away, lest I be late getting myself ready but I’m glad I had it with me. The photos (I’ll be sharing more in a portfolio here) make me smile. What I’d like to do with them next is to have them printed. I think it will be nice to be able see the photos hanging on a wall, reminding me that yes indeed there is beauty everywhere if you look for it.

Kangaroos & Cliches

I don’t have any kangaroo photos. I thought a close up of Cadel’s paw would suffice!

Of all the cliches that exist about Australia the one about kangaroos hopping down our streets infuriates me the most. The idea that the entire country is populated by so many kangaroos that they share city life with us is to me absurd. During our honeymoon in America we were asked numerous times about roos hopping down our streets. We were even asked if we could ride them!

I’m not sure where the cliche comes from. A quick internet search suggests that it may be born out of people’s confusion over the size of kangaroos: some people think they are small like squirrels so at that size it stands to reason they would coexist with humans, just like squirrels do. Another idea about the cliche offered up is that wild bears are commonly found scrounging for food in some parts of the US, so why wouldn’t roos be commonly seen in Australia? Getting to the heart of where the cliche comes from would probably take more time than its worth finding out about.

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During summer when the weather is oppressively hot I walk my dogs as early as I can in order to beat the heat. I’m not an early bird so I tend to be walking on autopilot barely aware of the beauty unfolding around me. The sun continues to rise, parrots are chirping as they begin going about their day & the sounds of traffic in the distance aren’t yet overwhelming. Occasionally we will be greeted with the sight of a single kangaroo or more typically a pair of roos. They have been drinking water used to irrigate fig trees or table grapes. The watering holes they usually drink from are dry. Mostly they see us before we see them & are bounding away when they are noticed. Once or twice however I’ve been lucky enough to see them first. My strongest memory is of a small pair of roos, standing close to a grove of fig trees. Water is spraying from sprinklers across the tops of the trees; next to the roos is small pool of water. I anthropomorphise them & decide they look content. Happy to have enjoyed a drink. They notice me & for a brief moment we are looking at each other, them no doubt determining if my dogs & I are a threat, me aching because I don’t have my camera with me so have missed an opportunity to take a beautiful photo. They are on the opposite side of the road to us however we are walking towards them. In unison they make a slight turn & bound across the road in front of us, continuing into the vineyard that we’re walking past. My dogs would really like to take off after them vocalising to me that we should take chase. Of course we don’t, instead continuing our walk home.

***

Walking my dogs this past Friday morning we come across a large dead kangaroo by the side of the road, taking up part of the walking track that we are on. We have no choice but to walk past it. My dogs glance at it but they aren’t interested. There is no blood in sight & there is no smell of death so I assume that it was killed recently, probably earlier that morning by a car or more likely a truck. Despite the location being on the outskirts of town it had found itself on a major highway when it met its end. I feel sad for it & hope that death came quickly. I don’t see a pouch so console myself a little knowing that there is no possibility of a joey losing it’s life too. When I drive past that spot the next day the roo is gone. I wonder whose job it is to take it away & where does the body go?

Finding Joy In A Public Library

Jensen enjoying a library book

Recently I’ve rediscovered the joy of using a public library. This has happened for a number of reasons. My list of books to read is large & grows faster than I can read. And I don’t really need to own all these books. I feel a little guilty admitting this because I assume that authors earn more royalties from books purchased than they do from books borrowed from libraries. However if I purchased every book that I want to read I’d pretty soon run out of room to store them. Buying digital copies of them doesn’t always work for me either. I buy them occasionally but still struggle to enjoy the process of reading a digital book. They just don’t feel right to me.

Borrowing books instead of buying them also saves me money which is something I’ll never complain about. Most important however is sharing the library with my nephew Jensen. He is four years old & loves everything about being at the library.

Together we return books using the return chute located on the library’s entrance. A metal opening in the wall is unlocked by the presence of a book placed in front of a scanner. This is very exciting! A beeping sound is made when the chute is ready to accept another book & it shines a green or red light depending on what stage of accepting books it is in.

Once our books are returned we enter the library, and Jensen excitedly runs over to the children’s section. I don’t remember being allowed to run in the public library when I was a child. I remember the library as a place to move slowly, almost reverently & to ensure browsing was done as quietly as possible. The building that housed the library was old & dark & it did not feel welcoming to children. It was a stark contrast to the building that houses the public library today. This building is large, open & full of natural & artificial light. Chairs & tables are placed strategically to encourage visitors to linger.

Jensen isn’t discouraged by the librarians when they see him run. They don’t shush us to be quiet; they accept that this is the behaviour of kids having fun in a place they like to be. What a blessing this acceptance is.

A beautiful children’s book I recently borrowed from the library, titled Where is the Frog?

The children’s section is full of bright colours & encouraging words about the wonders of reading. Sometimes we first pick books to sit & read, other times we play with the blocks before selecting books to borrow. I love watching Jensen as he decides what books to borrow. I honestly have no idea what his criteria is. About all I can say with any assurance is the the cover needs to catch his eye. He studies the covers quickly, in stark contrast to how I select a book; I take time to assess the cover then read the blurb on the back. For Jensen however if the cover image catches his eye with something fun or features an animal that he likes then it will be borrowed.

Once the books are chosen we go to the hold area so I can collect the books that I’ve reserved for myself. The excitement then kicks up a notch again as we go through the process of checking out the books. Jensen places my card on the computer bench so it can scan my library card. We then take it in turn scanning books & putting them in our library bag. Once done we collect the borrowing receipt that the computer spits out & then we make our way to the cafe. Because you can’t visit the library without enjoying a chocolate milkshake & something to eat!

One day I’d like to take Jensen & his brother Eli to the library, to read a book that I’ve written & had published. They have sparked my interest in writing for children & it would be a perfect day if we could read together a book that I have written.

Celebrating 15 Years of Marriage

A foundation built on

love kindness

empathy respect

strengthened by the desire

to move through life together

*

Tested by unexpected forces

proof we are better together

*

United by belief

in each other

in our friendship

in our love

David & I at our wedding reception October 9 2004

I have struggled to articulate in this blog post what 15 years of marriage to David means to me, so penned the above words in an effort to do so. They fall short of what I feel but I cannot keep writing & deleting or I’ll be at my computer forever! I did consider posting something totally unrelated to our wedding anniversary today but that would feel like I wasn’t being true to myself. We aren’t actually celebrating today; I’ve got dress rehearsal tonight for Friday’s aerial showcase so we’ve decided to pick another day in October to celebrate. Maybe by then I’ll have something decent to share in a blog post 🙂

Experiencing the cold wind outside of Las Vegas
Standing on the Golden Gate bridge

Taking Stock #1

This is my favourite tree to photograph

How is it already October? Where has the year gone? I find it hard to believe that my husband & I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary next Wednesday. 15 years! WTF? Two days after that & I’ll be performing in the 3rd Pole Fit Mildura Showcase. Yet again, WTF? It only feels like moments ago that I was doped on painkillers due to injury so I could participate in the 2nd Showcase. And it does not feel like I’ve been married for 15 years. What the actual fuck?

So considering all that I thought it a good idea to write my first Taking Stock post. As a way to feel like I’ve got some hold on life, sure, but also to take a micro look at my life & appreciate what I have. You probably don’t need me to tell you, but Pip from MeetMeAtMikes writes the best Taking Stock posts. She encourages others to take stock & kindly provides her taking stock list on her blog. Thanks Pip, I love the idea of doing this every now & again.

Here’s my list; perhaps you’d like to make one yourself?

Making Art gifts for two friends. I can’t say more, in case they read this post!

Photographing My dogs, my friends at pole fitness, the setting sun. These are my go to things to photograph at the moment.

Cooking a cake to enjoy on our wedding anniversary. Well, ok I haven’t baked it yet, but I’m going to next week.

Reading True Stories by Helen Garner. If you don’t know it, it’s her collected works of non-fiction. I’m really enjoying it. I’m also reading the latest issue of Flow magazine. It’s always an enjoyable read.

Sipping Japanese Sencha tea from T2. It ties for my favourite tea, along with their Melbourne Breakfast.

Looking into buying a new washing machine. Ours is 10 years old. It’s not working very well anymore. I have no idea what I want, other than a machine that actually works. So I’ll be doing lots of online research before laying down any cash.

Listening to Garbage, Amanda Palmer, Florence & The Machine and Lorde. I can’t get enough of these women lately. They’re all my favourites & I love listening to them nice & loud.

Wishing that we were living in our new home. Not long now, hopefully.

Black & White double exposure photo

Enjoying eating meals that I made in bulk & froze into servings for two. Makes life easy, although I don’t seem to always be organised enough to cook this way.

Waiting for daylight savings to start. Extra daylight in the evening is great, it always feels like I get a lot more done. I’m more productive of an afternoon & evening which is probably also why I like daylight savings so much.

Loving my A5 Cahier notebook from Pebble Stationery Co. It uses 52gsm Tamoe River paper which is so beautiful to write on. Pebble is an Australian company & I have the pleasure of interviewing the founder Lois Ho for an episode of the Art Supply Posse podcast. Which I am going to encourage you to listen & subscribe to 😉

The aforementioned Pebble Stationery Co notebook

Liking making the incredibly indulgent XXL Death by Chocolate Cookie by Sally’s Baking Addiction. I make these when I’m craving chocolate. Really craving it, but don’t actually want chocolate. Which seems like a misnomer I know. I make them as two larger cookies; the first time I baked this recipe I made it as one but couldn’t eat it in one sitting. It could probably be made into smaller cookies, but where’s the fun in that?

Buying a beautiful teapot from a store from a store on the Japanese website Rakuten. I accidentally broke my favourite teapot on the weekend. It’s no longer available, of course, so I spent way too long looking for a replacement. Warning: if you’re as in love with all things Japanese like I am, you’ll be tempted to buy all the things. You have been warned 🙂

Watching series 11 of Gruen, by the ABC. I love Wil Anderson. He’s one of my favourite comedians. This show never disappoints. I’m also loving the comedy panel show Insert Name Here, with comedian Sue Perkins. She’s great & so is this show.

Hoping that I get through our showcase performance uninjured. Last year I had a spectacular fall at the beginning of our piece during full dress rehearsal on performance day. It meant I had to pull out of one of the pieces I was to perform in. And I performed whilst on a lot of painkillers. I won’t post a photo here of my bruised & battered knees. They took the full brunt of my fall. It’s not a pretty image.

Needing more sleep. Its the story of my life at the moment

Wearing whilst unpacking (see below for more details) I found a bikini set that I bought a couple of years ago but haven’t actually worn. I think it will be perfect for wearing to my pole fit class. I shall wear it to tomorrow nights class.

Following I interviewed Jane Mills for an episode of Art Supply Posse, during which she talked about streaming on Twitch when she makes her art. I knew little about Twitch, other than that its a platform for gamers. Turns out there’s more to it than that. That chat led me to join Twitch & I’ve watched her art streams a couple of times now. I’m really enjoying it. If that’s you thing give her a follow. You won’t regret it.

Blossom on one of my peach trees

Noticing my stone fruit trees are all in various stages of blossom. So is the lemon tree. I love this time of year, the beauty of the blossoms & the promise of fruit to come.

Sorting through the boxes that we’ve had in storage for the last four years. Almost everything we own has been in storage in our shed as we build our house. As it’s nearing completion I’ve begun unpacking. A lot of it is going to goodwill or into the bin. It turns out there’s a lot of stuff that we own that we don’t actually need.

Getting excited to see U2 next month in Adelaide. I’ve seen them every time they’ve been in Australia since Popmart & I’m excited for the Joshua Tree tour. I know it’s going to be great.

Saving offcuts & scraps of vegetables, coffee grindings, used tea leaves etc & dumping them all into my new Bokashi bin. I had a voucher for Biome Eco Store & had to buy myself one. It feels good using all that waste to create good stuff for the garden.

Bookmarking various writing websites. Both as a means to look into courses to take to improve my writing skills but also publishers so I can submit my children’s stories to the slush pile. I hope to break through the pile to become a published children’s book author.

Coveting Fujifilm’s newly announced X-Pro3 mirrorless camera. I have the original X-Pro1, bought at a terrific price once it had been on the market for 18 months or so. I love it, but its time for an upgrade. I’m hoping when the price is announced in mid October, coinciding with it becoming available to buy, that I’ll be able to afford one.

Opening a zine called Scotland On Film. I purchased it from a guy who posted a thread on Reddit. It arrived today.

Giggling when listening to comedy podcasts. Or any comedy really. But comedy podcasts are my thing. Two new episodes of The Little DumDum Club & DYKWIA are waiting in my podcast app to listen to which I’ll do once this post is finished. Give them a listen too, once you’ve listened to Art Supply Posse 😉

Feeling a sense of renewal. It’s a bloody wonderful feeling, throwing away all the unneeded stuff we own. I highly recommend it.

Hearing the gentle breathing of Zena & Cadel as they sleep. I love my dogs 🙂

Obsessing about the aforementioned X-Pro3. Yes I’ve got it bad!

Well thats my list done. I’d love to hear if any of this resonates with you. And go write your own taking stock list. It’s a fun little exercise.