20 January 2024 9:54 PM Blog

Something we hear almost daily in the shop is variations on the following...

"How much is a bunch of flowers?"

"Is the $65 one on the website a decent size?"

"How much for a big bouquet?"

I have to admit that before I started my training, I didn't have much of an idea about how flower pricing worked, and I'm sure most people are the same. Here's a few things to note when thinking about what your floral budget will get you.

1. Be clear about what you're asking for. "A decent bunch" is not a physical size. "Big" is not even a size. Be specific. Do you want something tall? Something with lots of stems of flowers? Or are you looking for visual impact? Visual impact can be achieved in many ways, and a trained florist knows how to pull that off.

The tricky thing about our industry is that the components of our products vary so much in size and value that it's near impossible to market bouquets or arrangements as "Small", "Medium" or "Large" (like coffees are). A physically small design might utilise flowers that are $10-15 per stem and cost more than a physically larger design that utilises cheaper blooms. I think we're so used to online shopping where the options are physical sizes like the coffees (small, medium and large) that it's difficult to get our heads around anything else. More about website examples shortly.

2. Product availability impacts what we can produce and dictates the price. A bouquet that had a $65 price tag this week is unlikely to be the same price at another time of year, even if all of the flowers used are available.

Like all industries that utilise agricultural product we are at the mercy of the weather, and that impacts price and availability.

Seasonal availability effects some flowers, but not all in this day and age. We are able to import flowers year-round, which can give us access to blooms that are currently out of season in our part of the world, but this comes at a greater monetary cost.

For florists in regional areas "going to the flower market" is impossible, so we're ordering often sight unseen and having flowers and foliage freighted to us. At times what we're hoping will arrive is slightly different from what's actually packed into the box, whether it's colour, bloom size, or in some cases how well the product has survived the transit. Florists if nothing else are creative, and we can usually think of a solution, but it does make it impossible to replicate a website example, or even a design from last week if we simply don't have the exact same product (regardless of price).

It's for this exact reason that when you order online from the shop's website you aren't given a range of pictures to choose from. I understand that people like to see what they're getting for their money, so what follows might help.

3. Flowers and foliage are priced by the stem, but there's a bit more to it that taking one out of this bucket, two out of that bucket and one out of that one etc. to add up to the customer's price point.

Creating a product that is visually appealing utilises the elements and principles of design, and when selecting floral materials, a trained florist follows these guidelines. Usually, we use at least two or three of the same flower in a design, rather than one of these and one of those etc. I will say that some florists do, and do this well, however they use another of the elements of design to create unity, rhythm and harmony throughout the design, even though the form and shape of each flower might be different. For example, they choose blooms of exactly the same colour. This is not always possible in day-to-day floristry when we're working with whatever the wholesaler has sent us.

I wouldn't put one fire engine red sim carnation with a peach gerbera and a yellow rose because they wouldn't look as though they were part of the same design. Creating a design based on stem count and type of flower won't generate eye appeal. There's a lot more to floral design than that.

4. "If it grows together, it goes together."

What does that mean? Well, flowers that grow in the same conditions look as though they belong together and combining them in a design makes sense to the eye. Not only that, flowers that grow in the same conditions require similar treatment for longevity.

Some flowers have soft stems, some hard. Some require small amounts of water, and others are heavy drinkers.

A trained florist will know what works together in a design. You can trust them.

5. Even though it's a quite minimalist flower "throwing in some Baby's Breath" doesn't just add a subtle enhancement to a design. It brings with it at least an $11 price tag for one spindly stem. Bouquet budget blown!

It can be difficult to tell the value of floral material by their appearance alone. Gypsophila is not as cheap as it appears that it should be. If you really want Baby's Breath have at it, but maybe don't combine it with imported Columbian roses and expect to pay under $50 for a visually impactful arrangement.

As a guide here's a few flowers that we regularly have in the fridge (mostly) year-round with a rough estimate of what they're worth per stem (on average). (This is for the shop where I work. I can't say how much this would vary in other locations, or with other suppliers.)

Roses - these vary A LOT, but expect to pay $7-9 per stem, and at least $15 for larger headed imported roses. If you work on $10 per stem that should give you a better estimate year-round.

Gerberas - around $6 per stem

Oriental Lilies - $12 per stem

Carnations - Sims around $5 per stem   Sprays around $3 per stem

Banksias - around $20 per stem

Proteas - around $11 per stem

Leucadendrons - around $4 per stem

Snapdragons - around $6.50 per stem

Alstromeria - around $4 per stem

Irises - around $4 per stem

Chrysanthemums - around $7 per stem

Disbud Chrysanthemums - around $14 per stem

Sunflowers - around $7 per stem

Fill flowers, such as Emile, Golden Rod, Aster Lutea, Thryptomene, Geraldton Wax, Sweet William - around $4 per stem (sometimes a lot more)

Leather Fern - around $3 per stem

Monsterio Leaves - around $5 each

Gum - around $4 per stem, and these can vary in "fullness" too.

Also, "fill" (as in, greenery and fill flowers) has a price attached to it too. All products included in a design carry a cost. If you want a really "full" bouquet with lots of horticultural material that is factored into what you pay. A half dozen roses is not $60 (based on $10 per stem) because the design includes greenery, fill, paper and ribbon.

6. Choose a florist whose work you like and trust them. Just give them information to work with.

When ordering, if you can tell the florist what the occasion is, a little bit about the recipient and what you'd like the flowers to represent they will be able to put something together for you.

"Just something nice" doesn't really help because as a general rule professional florists aren't creating product that isn't nice.

We can work with variations on these...

"It's her birthday and she loves yellow. We want to show her that we appreciate her."

"Next week is our 20th wedding anniversary. She doesn't really like roses, but I want to send her some flowers that will last so she can appreciate them for a bit longer. She likes bright colours."

"It's Mum's birthday and I want something over the top. It doesn't matter what flowers you use as long as it's impactful and I don't mind spending over $200."

"Something in a cottage garden style in a pastel colour palette in a vase. She has a vintage vibe. I'm happy to spend $100, including delivery."

Many flowers have meanings, and in Victorian times they were used not so much to send messages but to convey intent. Sometimes using the "right" flower for the occasion and sentiment makes the gesture even more special.

Favourite flower, favourite colour, even things that you think have nothing to do with flowers ("she loves cats") can help us to create personally meaningful florals to convey just the feeling and message you would like delivered.

7. Order ahead if possible.

We need time to plan and create the magic.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

(Reminder that Valentine's Day is three weeks away.)

As it’s been over 12 months since the last blog post (OMG – that’s quite a while!) here's a couple of follow-ups in case you were wondering…

P. S. The shower has been replaced. We only waited SEVEN months. The bath tub is now used solely as a laundry hamper and a receptacle for watering the indoor plants because I no longer find baths relaxing or indulgent.

P. P. S. I managed the 52 weeks of 52Frames and became a “Weekly Warrior”, then immediately stopped. My submissions are still on the Two Togs facebook page if you’re interested. It was worthwhile doing, as I achieved what I set out to do, and now I’m working on an actual photography qualification to learn even more.  So much for being done with study!

It’s been quite a party, ain’t it

Purple Fairy

29 October 2022 4:15 PM Blog
It's been a minute since the last blog post.  I've been like a one-armed fan dancer for the past few weeks.  It's been a LOT.   Hopefully things will start to settle back into a manageable routine very soon.

At the time of writing it is Day Six of not having a non-leaking shower.  Fortunately the shower isn't over the bath, so personal hygiene is not diminished.  As much as I enjoy a bath (for the indulgence and relaxation) it is wearing a little thin.  Especially since the shower isn't likely to be replaced until the new year.  My haircut was timely.  I may have to invest in one of the visor things I had at Nan's place when I was a kid.  If you Google "hat that stops water getting in your eyes" you'll see the updated versions, which now come with earmuffs attached.  Mine was a foam thing (probably from Avon) that didn't quite keep the water out of my eyes.  Cody has been complaining about needing to lie down to rinse his hair and having to stick his feet straight up in the air because he's so tall.  I would just like a tub deep enough for my knees and nipples to be under the water at the same time without having to flip over.  Emerald friends, I may be knocking on your door with towels and my toiletry bag on hair washing day in the near future.

I had thought that using the tub instead of the leaking shower would cut down on the need to replace the bathmat daily because it was saturated.  I was wrong.  This may be too much detail around my bathing habits, but hear me out.  I pull the plug out, stand up, and towel off before stepping out of the tub.  From the state of the bathroom it would appear that Cody employs a different method.  I haven't actually witnessed it, but I suspect that he uses his paddle-like feet to ladle several litres of water out of the tub as he steps out of a full bath.  Either that, or he's reliving his wave pool style of bathing from when he was little.

Leaks seem to have been a theme around here this week.  I discovered that the loo was also leaking, and being the independent woman that I am attempted to remedy this situation on my own.  After a bit of telephonic advice from Dad that I could replace the seal thingo myself, a quick You Tube video and a trip to the plumbing supplies store for a replacement flush cone (after the first trip resulted in my purchasing the wrong size) I made the first attempt.  The leak was smaller, but nonetheless still present.  Back to flushing with a bucket.  Another trip to the store for a seal and attempt number two.  Still no joy.  Welcome back, bucket.  Cue professional plumber.  He rocked up the next afternoon and you should have seen the look on his face when I told him that I had a go at fixing it myself.  The eye roll was almost audible.  I know though.  I felt the pain myself just saying the words.  He did say that I almost had it, and showed me how to correctly fit the flush cone.  I guess that means I'm approved to attempt this in the future.  After the first go I was less grossed out about the toilet water on my hands, but I went through a lot of antibacterial soap.  I'm not sure that I would be excited about having another go.  I might be contented just to know I could and leave it at that.  I won't be hanging my plumbing shingle any time soon.

Not only did I learn that I could possibly fix a leaking toilet this week I also discovered that enforced silence is excruciating.  I invigilated a senior exam at one of the schools this week, and was not prepared for the agony.  I'm perfectly fine with silence when it's of my own choosing, but it was agony having to be basically a fly on the wall and not say A SINGLE THING about ANYTHING for a few hours, just watch people writing and watch people watching people writing. (Invigilating isn't supervising, it's reporting on how things are conducted and supervised, so basically a silent dobber.  To clarify, there was nothing negative to report at all, so not technically dobbing).  It took me a few days to recover.  I talked to EVERYONE to restore balance.  If there was ever any doubt that I'm an extrovert we can confidently substantiate that this is indeed the correct classification of my personality.  My introvert friends all laughed at my pain.  

Somehow I managed to keep up with the 52Frames challenge, and am now at Week 43.  I can't believe it!  This week is "Details", and that should be right up my alley, because attention to detail is kind of my thing.  I'm yet to find inspiration though.

Week 37 was Portrait of a Stranger.  I found this week by far the most difficult!  On my travels I had no qualms about documenting moments with strangers, but this week it felt odd, and time was not on my side for a leisurely stroll through town pretending I was a tourist.  I didn't want to lose my streak, so I submitted a half-hearted entry that I took with my phone.  I haven't included it here because I'm not at all enraptured with it.

Week 38 was one of the weeks that I tried something new.    The topic was One Light Source, and I even managed the Extra Challenge of "Use a Cookie", and that's not the delicious baked good, it's a device for casting shadows.  It would have been much easier with a model (and no doubt, more in focus), but that cable release is paying for itself.  An open lace parasol propped against the wall, resting on a pot plant, a torch Blu-taked to the door jam, and all the hallway doors closed created this lighting effect.
I tried it in Black and White, but felt that the colour version has a more appealing mood/story.  I think I'll be trying this again some time.

After four big days covering an equine event (ATRA National Finals) I actually didn't really want to see my camera for a while, but as soon as I got home I set this up for the theme "Letters" so I wouldn't lose my streak.  My son tells me that using letter tiles, or writing the letter combinations down is cheating when playing Wordle or Quordle, but I'm not convinced... On a side note, I somehow lost my Wordle streak through no fault of my own.  My phone decided to reset or something, and it went back to one the next day. (*sad face).  About three days later I got a word wrong, so it restarted anyway.  I was relieved that the streak wasn't about to surpass my previous maximum of 81, but I won't be "trying other words to start" in the future because that's clearly asking for trouble.  I don't care if ADIEU does have the most vowels!

Such a broad topic for Week 40 "Rule of Odds"! Pressed for time (as usual) I looked around the house for inspiration.  I have a lot of old stuff, & things that look like they could be old (like this basin & ewer my brother bought me because he knew how much I loved the one at our great grandparents' house).
I actually shot this in sepia in-camera (because I have yucky pink blinds & I haven't played with those in-camera settings in a very long time), but on import to Lightroom all the colours came back.  I tweaked the sliders a bit to help the blue glass bottle and Billy Buttons pop.
I wish I had more time and more opportunity to do something really fantastic with this theme, but it had been hella crazy around here (and I'm actually stunned that I managed to hang in there for 40 weeks! Go me!)  

Immediately when I saw the topic for Week 41 "Shoot through something" I knew it was the perfect time to play with shaped bokeh.  I love stars, but when I thought about foreground interest I decided to use my guitar, and change the star to a music note.  I hung a string of fairy lights in a bunch in the corner of the room, then cut a music note shape out of black card and secured it around the lens with a heap of rubber bands.  Focusing was a challenge because of the card and rubber bands (and the low light) but I got it done (kind of).  

Last week was Black and White Minimalism.  I knew I had some of these feathers somewhere, but the challenge was first to find them, and then to choose one to use... I wish there had been a more curled one amongst them. Minimal set up this week (see what I did there lol), and I think I really enjoy this style of clean, uncluttered imagery. I experimented a little bit with placement, and would have preferred it to look as though the feather floated down on the breeze (not sure I achieved that).

I'm hoping inspiration strikes for "Details" by Sunday afternoon.  It may be another job for the bellows and something shot in macro.  Wish me luck.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

16 September 2022 1:06 PM Blog
A solid weekend of working on assessments got me feeling like I might actually finish this certificate.  Go me!  I'll add a caveat that I applied for, and was granted a one month extension which takes the pressure off a little bit, especially since the marking turnaround is 21 days (but please allow up to six weeks - are you serious!?)

After two days of square eyes I thought I'd relax and treat myself to some time on the lounge in front of a movie with my boy.  The square eyed irony was not lost, but it was good not to have to concentrate quite so much.  Cody would disagree with this, as he can get a little annoyed with my questions about the plot and characters if I haven't been paying attention.  A little more irony here because he barely stopped prattling while we were watching The Bridge, and I was constantly winding it back to hear what I missed.  How fortunate that it wasn't on the free-to-air television of my youth where there was no opportunity to rewind unless you were recording it to watch later.  Is that even a thing now?  Do people still "tape" things off the TV?  How many times did people who were trying to be tricky and skip the ads forget to press record again after the ad break when the program restarted?  Happened to me a few times.  The best option was to set and forget, then use the fast forward button on the remote during playback.  Then, I'm sure we all wished we could do that to the ads while we were watching regular TV... unless you took the opportunity to go to the loo, or to the kitchen to grab a quick snack.

As a kid, television ads were a bit of a novelty for me until Normanton eventually got more channels than just the good old ABC.  We used to watch things that had been recorded for us by relatives who lived away, and we wore out the tapes watching movies and the same couple of episodes of shows like The Dukes of Hazzard and the over-dubbed carton Lucky Luke over and over again.  There was also this pearler...  (the subtle puns peppered throughout are quite witty and cleaver, although, I'm sure it didn't take off due to its cultural insensitivity.)

The shared experiences of these TV shows and movies became part of our family culture.  We seem to remember lines, and reciting them to each other is kind of our thing.  Out of context it makes no sense, but to us it represents shared understanding and in a way it bonds us.

When commercial television came to town we were taping shows and movies ourselves.  We had videos before that, and there was a local Video Shop from which to hire movies (and let's not forget, where we could also buy enough lollies to send us into a hypoglycaemic coma).

I don't know if it's because of the sheer volume of opportunities for audio visual entertainment now, or the fact that I have less free time than I did way back then, but I don't tend to re-watch movies the way I used to.
As a kid my favourite movie was a little Australian film that we had on video called Blue Fire Lady.  I watched that over and over.  In one of the scenes at the race track a punter asked, "Whadda ya reckon about Black Knight?", and when I saw a horse with that name was running in the 1984 Melbourne Cup that was my pick (I've been having a flutter on The Race that Stops a Nation for many years), so Mum put money on it for me.  It won.  I don't know what it paid, but I may have bragged about picking the winner at such a young age anyway.

There were a couple of other kids' movies that I loved as well.  Pete's Dragon and Black Beauty.  I was so pleased to discover that a live action version of the animated Black Beauty was made in 1994 that replicated the story exactly.  It's worth a watch, especially if you enjoyed Warhorse, Seabiscuit and Secretariat.  I don't have as high a praise for the Pete's Dragon remake unfortunately.

The movies we had videos of (some of them taped from the television) that we watched over and over (in no particular order) were: 
Young Guns
The Golden Child
Romancing the Stone


Robbery Under Arms
Jumping Jack Flash
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 
and the John Wayne classics The Cowboys, True Grit, Rooster Cogburn and Big Jake, but our family favourite, that we watch together every Christmas is Lonesome Dove. Cult classics like The Neverending Story, The Princess Bride and Dirty Dancing didn't make the cut.

Most of these movies I haven't seen for ages, so when it came time to introduce my son to them it was interesting watching them through different eyes, especially since the special effects, cinematography, and even acting has improved exponentially over the years.  Cody's review of the fight scenes in North to Alaska was particularly scathing.  He was keen to watch it after realising that there was a movie about the Johnny Horton song we had been singing in the car (or vice versa, I'm not sure which came first).  I haven't been able to find Jumping Jack Flash on a service that I have access to, so I haven't had the opportunity to show him why "the key is the key".  My Dad had a thing for Lawless and Hell or High Water for a while, and has watched them several times.  Cody has now seen them, so I can imagine that they will converse in movie lines for at least some of the upcoming school holidays.  "Have you met Howard?"

Last week's 52 Frames topic was "Golden Hour", and I didn't make it to the dam for a sunset portrait session.  There was an impressive mackerel sky one afternoon, so I looked around my street for something interesting to put in front of it, but couldn't manage that.  I did notice the Jacaranda across the road had a different glow in the afternoon light when looked at from below.  

This week is "Portrait of a Stranger", and I'm trying to think of the least weird/creepy way to ask someone if I can take their photo... because photographing a stranger unbeknownst to them, from a distance, paparazzi style is definitely weird/creepy.  I wish it was next week, and then I could have used a photo of a Wildhorse Cutting competitor that I don't know.  As it is I have to think of something for "One Light Source" for next week.  I'm at Week 37 of 52, so I feel like I have to stick with it.  It's certainly forcing me to think outside the box.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy

8 September 2022 10:08 PM Blog

I had every intention of being punctual with this blog post... and then life happened.  Never mind, I'm here now.

I spent most of the weekend photographing Working Dog Trials at Comet, so now I have another 2500 photos to sort, edit and upload.  I feel like I may never catch up.  (I'm exaggerating of course.  I will catch up.  Have no fear.  Your photos will be available on the website as soon as I can manage it.)

It was Father's Day on Sunday, so I gave The Gulf Grey a call, and he was heading out bush.  I'll get his present to him in a couple of weeks.  I'm getting him a new camp oven lid lifter from the awesome people at Cooking With Heavy Metal who were running a camp oven cooking competition at Comet on Saturday.  Dad isn't really into competitions, but he does do a bit of camp oven catering.  Dad won't know himself... no ash in the oven!  I suspect he might throw a bit in anyway for authenticity sake.  I bought him a Meater Bluetooth meat thermometer last Christmas, and now I might be all out of gift ideas.

Speaking of being out of gift ideas... it was Mum's birthday last month.  Lucky me, I have Mother's Day and Dad's birthday close together (occasionally on the same day) and Father's Day and Mum's birthday a couple of weeks apart - always trying to find two gifts!  I am now officially all out of gift ideas for Mum.  I put a facebook post up last Christmas asking for ideas. (The privacy was set so you can't see it, Mum, so you can stop wondering why you know nothing about it.)  140 comments and I managed to arrange something... and I'm hoping now that it's appropriate to replace outdoor furniture every 12 months.

We've had a few people in the shop this week searching for the 'perfect' gift for a friend or relative, and it got me thinking (panicking) about Christmas.  What on Earth am I going to do?!?  I'd love to buy my parents a new house, or at least renovate the bathroom, but that's currently waaaaaay out of my budget.  I could probably manage a bath mat and a new frilly curtain for the bathroom window...  Actually, there's probably several of those in the linen cupboard.

One of the gift suggestions was a cleaner to do the "yuck" jobs (all housework jobs are yuck jobs in my opinion, but anyway).  Knowing that no one would be allowed in the house to see the "yuck", much less actually clean it, that idea was out.  It dawned on me that I could possibly be the "cleaner" if I can manage enough days at home over the Christmas break.  Surely nothing says "I love you" quite like willingly doing jobs you distain.  I ruthlessly cleaned out the kitchen pantry on a visit home once, and found some of the things I had culled back in there the next day.  It would be more productive to clean/cull while no one else is at home.  I feel sure that the bathroom cupboard contains products that were put there when I was a baby.  Something will have to be done about that bathroom time capsule when we eventually get them a new vanity unit anyway.  What's the bet I find bottles of Mercurochrome and scented powders from gift packs that Mum has never opened, and the remnants of her days as an "Avon Lady"?  I'll be disappointed if there's not a bear shaped soap and an after shave bottle shaped like a chess piece in there somewhere.  If I do come across them there will be photos!

This week for 52Frames I have the topic "Golden Hour".  It's doubtful that I will photograph during the Golden Hour in the morning, so another afternoon shot it will have to be.  Now to find an interesting subject to shoot during Golden Hour.  A portrait is the obvious choice.  I wonder if I can coerce Cody into coming to the Dam and being a pensive figure looking over the water towards the setting sun?  Last time I got him out there was to play with fire.  I might have to pack the sparklers and steel wool as well.

He was helpful with last week's topic, which was "Edited by Someone Else".  What Jacqui and I were planning didn't come together in time, so I asked Cody to edit a photo for me on his phone.  I took the photo with the camera on a tripod and the cable release connected.  I chose myself as the subject because the Extra Challenge was "Self-Portrait", and that saved me having to think of a subject.

It's Formal Week in Blackwater, so we've been up to our eyeballs in corsages.  I can't wait to share some photos after the big night.  Here's a little something from last week, inspired by Game of Thrones.  If you squint you can see the Iron Throne (kind of).  Can you guess that I started watching House of the Dragon?

Also, I forgot to include this photo in last week's post of the wreaths I made for Vietnam Memorial Day, which incidentally is Mum's birthday (that's how Dad remembers the day). 

I have a big weekend of study and editing planned. If anyone needs me I may be found similar to this...

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

30 August 2022 9:31 PM Blog



the specialized part of an angiospermous plant that occurs singly or in clusters, possesses whorls of often colourful petals or sepals, and bears the reproductive structures (such as stamens or pistils) involved in the development of seeds and fruit.

I had never really thought of ‘flower’ as a verb, other than in the context of a plant producing blooms, but I’m adopting it in the same way I use ‘photograph’.  It’s what I do for a job.



to produce flowers; blossom

to become more successful and completely developed; flourish

to provide or create floral decorations for; to decorate with flowers

I have flowered.  I am flowering.  I will flower.

So much better than 'floraling' or 'floristing', and 'floral designing' really doesn't seem on-brand for me.  Also, I do feel as though I'm flourishing, so it has a blooming lovely double meaning!

It has been such a great few weeks in the shop in Blackwater.  I just love going to work in the morning, opening the shop, renewing the floor stock, and taking and filling orders.  Last week I filled an order for an arrangement that had to be:



Impressive enough to make her (the recipient) say, “Holy sh*t!”

This one stands over a metre tall (1.3 to be exact, and I am now officially limited to 1.25 because it was only special Tetris ninja skills that allowed it to be put into the car for delivery.  Oops!  I can imagine the colourful utterances that were coming from the two who loaded and delivered it).  I was up and down on the step ladder putting it together because that's an awkward height on the workbench.

I should have taken a video to get up closer to all the textures that were contrasting, yet united throughout the design...
Woody - pot, bamboo, Stirlingia
Fluffy - macrame cotton and the off-white Banksia
Bumpy - yellow Banksia and grosgrain ribbon
Smooth - Leucadenron and Geraldton Wax buds
Fuzzy - Kangaroo Paw, Acacia and Stirlingia

I sent photos to the customer when I had finished and he was really happy.  He even came into the store the next day to thank me again, in person.  That was so cool!  It made my day.  I loved creating it, and then I was humbled by having my work appreciated.  All the feels!  

I love that we can produce things that help augment an occasion.  We can provide that little bit of extra something to make it spectacular.  Flowers are for every occasion and in support of every emotion in all aspects of life.  They can represent a moment in time, a feeling, or an occasion.  Flowers are also a medium for creative expression, and sharing this beauty with others in personally meaningful ways nourishes my soul.  I truly love what I do.

The extra special part is creating personally meaningful floral designs.  Little details make the designs unique and help them fit to ocasion appropirately.  A couple of months ago flowers were ordered for a birthday, and because it was so far ahead of time and I was told a little bit about the recipient I was able to look around for what I needed to make it fit the occasion a little more than a shop floor stock product might.  I hope they were happy with what I created.  I was happy that I could use that little bit of extra detail that made it more personal.  I think that's what it's all about as a professional florist.  

Purple Fairy Flowers - professional bespoke florals that tell your story in creative ways.

(When you give me time to create the magic... and order direct from the shop, not online through an order gatherer that takes almost half of the flower value in fees.  End of today’s lecture.)

If you’re in Blackwater come and see me.  I will flower for you.

Last week’s 52Frames topic was ‘Peace”, and even though I’m having such a joyous time ‘flowering’ and all, I couldn’t muster enough peace to come up with a photo subject that represented it in the flower child, free love sense of the word, or even in the War and Peace context, or the zen mindset.  I went a different way.

“ Give peas a chance... please ”

I didn’t have much inspiration, but I did, however, have peas... and a pun… and a memory of a son who didn’t particularly enjoy eating peas.  I also had a dog who would lick all the gravy off the peas and leave them in her bowl.  They are the ruination of a perfectly good meat pie, so I guess I understand.

This week is “Edited by Someone Else”, and my mate Jacqui from Imagery Magic is going to do the honours for me.  I’m a bit excited about what we can create together.  (Mostly it will be her… I’m mainly the instigator, and will then bow out when it’s time to do the work.)  I just hope the weather clears so it’s bright enough for me to play around tomorrow after I have ‘flowered’.

It’s been quite a party, ain’t it

Purple Fairy

23 August 2022 10:09 PM Blog

There's a new reality show on Paramount +, and my brother is on it!  It's called "The Bridge".

Cody and I were super excited to sit down last Friday night and watch the first three episodes.  Now we have to wait until this Friday for the next episode, and the following Friday for the one after, and then the final episode will be the Friday after that.  Just spread out enough to make it impossible to watch the whole series during the seven day free trial before the season ends... unless you binge it all the day before the final.  I have a subscription, so it doesn't affect me that way.  It's the waiting that is less than ideal.

As is apparently the deal with reality television the winner of each season is kept secret until the final episode airs.  My brother has frustratingly kept stumm about this, so I have to wait like everyone else for another couple of weeks to find out if he will receive a portion of $250,000.  I say a portion, not because I'm assuming that he would share (he was a good sharer as a kid though), but (SPOILER ALERT) because $20,000 was taken from the kitty by two contestants.

The premise of the show is to gather a group of strangers, give them a manual task (build a bridge, of the pontoon variety), and watch how they interact.  What is still unclear is how only one of the 12 actually cross the bridge to open the crate of cash.  Do they vote, and the most popular one heads over (after promising to share), or does someone super sneaky go around and perform the sleeper hold on whoever is left (Spoiler Alert #2 - people elect to go home, or are "voted off") and duck off unchallenged across 300 metres of floating logs tied together with the rope they nearly ran out of?  It's obviously a tactical game, because you need the manpower to do the work, so you can't eliminate people too early.  It's probably more like corporate management than you first think, but with actual axes, rather than metaphorical ones.

We left Episode 3 with a decision to be made by two groups to each kick out one of the opposite group.  Anyone with delicate ears might choose to send my brother home (he uses a lot of colourful, no, fluorescent language), but, he would be an asset to keep... he can lift heavy things and can tie knots.

It seems that popular opinion (judging by facebook, so maybe not an accurate gauge) is backing Dean. He's a character. He comes across as real, which he is... yes, he is like that in real life. He's one of my favourite people.

When he and his wife were doing the working abroad thing a few years back I went over to Canada to visit.  People in the hostels would ask in astonishment, "Do you know him? Are you from the same town?"
Me: "Um, same gene pool.  He's my brother."
Everybody: "How did you get stuck on holiday with him?"
Me: "I came to see him... I like him."

Everybody: Stunned silence

Their families must be weird...

For the three weeks that Dean was filming in Tasmania and out of contact with the outside World I found myself wanting to tell him stuff with alarming regularity.  So annoying.

I feel like I got out of sync with my 52Frames submission sharing somehow.  Not sure what happened there.  Week 32 was Night Photography, and since I was at Mount Isa Rodeo I used a shot from the night performance.  It's Jason Craigie in the Open Bareback aboard Queen Bee.

Last week was "Water", and I was so uninspired.  I got Cody to throw water balloons at the brick wall and managed to catch one splash (only one though!), but the wall was too overpowering in the image.  If you really want to see it I posted it on the Two Togs facebook page.  (Honestly, don't bother - it was more about keeping my streak than having an image I am proud of.)

This week is "Peace", and I'm equally as uninspired at this point.  I might come up with something on the weekend.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

18 August 2022 8:48 PM Blog

Most people that you talk to will tell you that Mount Isa Rodeo lost some of its atmosphere and traditional vibe when it moved from Kalkadoon Park into town to Buchanan Park.  It was an opportunity to kind of rebrand and claim its rightful place as an iconic tourism event and cater not only for rodeo competitions and rural people, but also to showcase the region and attract spectators and festival goers from far reaching areas.  I don't remember ever going to the Rodeo at Kalkadoon Park, although I visited the venue many times, as the Mount Isa Gun Club was also there.  Personally, I love the Buchanan Park venue.  At certain times of day the light is sensational and produces epic photos, and the raised stands means that everyone can see the action clearly.  The only thing I don't like is that it's difficult to race around the arena to change positions between events as the programme rolls through so quickly and it's such a large area to cover.

Here's a phone snap of the road in to Mount Isa.  As a kid when we drove there we used to try and be the first to see the stack.  I think Dad would start shouting, "I can see Mount Isa!" just after we left Cloncurry.  I thought I'd share the Uncle Jack joke from my childhood that I reckon I heard every time we went to visit...  
What did the big chimney say to the little chimney?  (Appropriate because there are two chimneys, and one is bigger...)

You're too young to smoke!

(This windscreen WAS clean - I swear!)

This year the programme ran for over 12 hours on the second and third day, and 8 hours on the first and fourth day.  I've seen more sunrises in the last week than I have for the previous 12 months. So much of what makes what I do what it is depends on timing.  Not only timing the photo, but putting the photo out there.  It would be much easier for me to take all the photos, then sort and edit them at my leisure after the event.  If I did that there might not end up being much point in this instant, digital age, where we want the information in real time.  Therefore, during an event there's not a lot of opportunity for long, rejuvenating sleeps.  I think I may be tired for a month after this.

I began this blog entry whilst in Mount Isa, and had no chance to get back to it until I had been home for two days.  Thankfully the owner of the florist shop where I freelance swapped a day for me, and I was able to spend the first day back in front of the computer.  The more I do, the more I find still to do!  I can see that this coming weekend will be spent in the same manner as that first day back.  I discovered that it's possible for the arm connected to the hand that operates the mouse to fall asleep due to lack of movement from the wrist up.  I think I may have to look into a standing desk.  I sit on a gym ball instead of a chair, and this has been great for my posture, although I do catch myself getting distracted by testing out my balance when I should be focusing on something more productive.

Record entries at Isa Rodeo (almost 1000!) equates to just over 9000 photos to sort. Add that to the 5475 from Nebo and I have a lot to keep me busy for the next little while. I have to thank the Australian Junior Rodeo Association for having me at Mount Isa as their Official Photographer.

Week 31 of 52Frames was "Choose a Colour".  A random colour generator selected red for me, and as it happens I am brilliant at growing feral red fruits (strawberries, cherry tomatoes, rosellas, and occasionally a capsicum) or yellow flowers... most other things with markedly less success.  Anyway, I discovered a ripe strawberry. Rather than eat it, as I normally would at watering time I photographed... and then promptly ate it - no option to re-shoot!

Last week's 52Frames topic was "Night Photography", so I had appropriate subject matter without having to do anything especially for it. I submitted a photo from the Open Bareback section on Friday night.  I'll put it in the next blog... which will be in a couple of days, since I'm so late with this one.

This week the topic is "Water" and I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do. Hopefully inspiration will strike.

Overall it's been a good couple of weeks, even though my perm has fallen out and I lost my Wordle streak on Day One of the Rodeo. Hairdos and word games are not the end of the World.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

9 August 2022 9:22 PM Blog

What a weekend we've had!  I'm a tad late with this blog post because I spent the weekend buzzing around like a blue arsed fly... or like a one-armed fan dancer.  (I know a bloke with one arm, and to my knowledge he's not a dancer, although if he could be persuaded it would certainly be worth a look, with, or without a fan.)

Nebo Cutting Show ran 10 herds on Friday, 9 (and the Bareback Cutting) on Saturday and 8 on Sunday, and while they were smaller herds they were enough to keep me moving to (try to) stay on top of things.  Nominations were slightly down, but it was a fantastic weekend, and so good to be back on the sand.  Technically, I wasn't on the sand... I was on the concrete.  (I really like how the pen is set up at Nebo, with the fence right at the edge of the concrete steps, with the judges sitting on the outside.  It means that I don't have to watch multiple directions and be prepared to take evasive action should a frantic beast decide to run me over.  I've had a few near misses with cattle making for the gaps, including one that came underneath the judges' stand with me at Comet, having been undeterred by the potted palms that were also "out of the way" under there.  It's lucky that all the Skeet shooting has honed my reaction time.)

I got back to Emerald on Sunday night, tried to catch up on sleep, then had 2 days work at the florist in Blackwater around trying to sort out my photos and get all packed up and ready to head to Mount Isa.  I feel like this week is a bit of a whirlwind and I have so much to do that it’s exhausting just thinking about it.  On the plus side, they say that if you do something you love you never work a day in your life.  Well, obviously I'm really not working this fortnight at all… except for the driving.  Not loving the driving.  If I had a driver I could sort photos and edit on the passenger side while the driving was happening.  I don’t, so I had best just concentrate on the road and arrive safely.

I have recently downloaded an app onto my phone to record my voice notes as text, which I'm hoping will save some time and I can just do a bit of a brain dump and the app can do the typing.  I also have articles to write from this fortnight as well, and need to find the inspiration to write two different articles about the same thing.

I was a bit worried this morning that I wasn't going to get this blog post up before the next one was due but then I remembered that this is my own show.  I make my own rules, and no one's marking me on this or taking points off for being late or whatever.  I have to say that the talk-to-text app is fairly accurate, and seems to understand what I’m saying.  If I could only get it to upload directly to my website that would save even more time!  On second thought, I just read through what it recorded, and it’s probably best that it doesn’t!

Part of my preparation to leave was to drop Bo at the kennel. He was super excited to get in the car.  He rides with his face out the side looking forward.  I wonder if he thought we were going to Normanton?  He likes it there.  He was beside himself when we got to the kennel!  While he was excited to get to where the other dogs were he wasn’t stoked about me going in the other direction.  I resisted the urge to wave to him.  I did that when I left him at the Vet to have his tooth pulled out.  I couldn’t believe that I did it! 

Something else I couldn't believe I did was remember that my windscreen needed cleaning BEFORE I got in the ute and started driving away!  I even used glass cleaner - you could almost put your hand through it.  So impressed with myself.  I usually realise as I'm heading down the road, try and wipe the inside with my sleeve and content myself with whatever is in the washer bottle until I stop for fuel.  This time I even topped up the washer bottle and added Bars Bugs.  I'm still trying to work out what I forgot that allowed me to remember this...  

Another job was watering the garden.  I don’t think it will come to much harm while I’m away, but I will be disappointed to miss the first home grown Stock flower that’s beginning to bud. 

The surviving Geraldton Wax is beginning a stunning display (I hope I don’t miss it completely), but the Ozothamnus diosmifolius is pretending it’s just rice, and not flower, and showing no sign of ever doing so.  Each time I walk around with the hose I promise myself that I will make time to spend in the garden – it desperately needs a tidy!  The cherry tomatoes have engineered a coup and now control three sections of the yard… where I didn’t plant them.  Similar story with the rosellas that I didn’t get to do anything with before they were overrun by aphids.  I have proven under assessment conditions that I am capable of planning a garden, but in practice I seem unable to do so.  When the tomato seedlings appeared I couldn’t bear to pull them out.  I suspect that had I grown something intentionally it would require more care than I currently am lavishing on my garden.  Gardener guilt is real!

Week 30 of 52Frames was “Single Focal Point”, and I brought some poppies home from the shop and had a play.  I love the dynamic line of their stems, the fuzzy outer pod and the way they "pop" open and display papery textured crinkly petals.  So much whimsy!  This vibrant orange tone is quite eye catching against the black, so I feel it fits the topic well.

I raced around madly one afternoon to get something for Week 31, which was “Choose a Colour” before we headed to Nebo, and this week’s topic is “Night Photography”, so Thursday evening’s Indigenous Rodeo Championships will provide me with lots of opportunities to get the shot before I get run off my feet during the main event.

For the next few days I’ll be operating on coffee and sarcasm, but with a smile on my face.  After all, I’m heading North West, which you will remember is my favourite direction.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

31 July 2022 3:46 PM Blog

Well, here we are, one sleep away from August!  How did that happen?  The year is flying by, and for me, about to get really busy on the photography front.

2022 is passing quickly, but it somehow seems a hot minute since my last photography event (Blackwater Rodeo).  I'm going Cutting next weekend at Nebo (I LOVE covering this event - thanks for having me back again!), then head North West for the mighty Mount Isa Rodeo.  I haven't been to that event since 2018, so I'm super keen to get back there.

My first Isa Rodeo was in 2013 when I was selected to assist the then Official Photographer Ben MacRae. That was where I met Stephen Mowbray, who lent me a much better camera to try, and subsequently cost me a LOT of money in acquiring the kit that I now shoot with.  This image though, was taken with my 550D and 70-200mm f2.8 lens (I couldn't get back any further that this), at my first Isa Rodeo and it demonstrates how timing, position, and not a small amount of luck work together to freeze a moment in time.  
I really wish I had captured it with better gear so the image would have been less noisy. And, looking back on my editing from 2013 I always want to re-edit and do a better job (which I attempted with this image).  I guess that's the nature of the journey.

This year I'm covering the event for the Australian Junior Rodeo Association.  I have been working with them for a few years, and I'm excited to be providing more content for them during Isa Rodeo and the new addition this year, the Indigenous Championships.

September will see Wildhorse Cutting (my favourite venue, because it's outside where the light is wonderful) and the Australasian Team Roping Association National Finals at Capella, again, on consecutive weekends with no down time in between - no rest for the wicked!

So, when I'm not photographing and editing for the next couple of months I'll be a florist. This is the first time I've never had another job to supplement my "creative" pursuits, and I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about making that work financially.  My fingers and toes are crossed.  If you're considering purchasing any of my images I'd really appreciate it.

On another note, it's been a month of two minute noodle dreads, and I'm getting used to the daily taming of the frizz.  I happily had the opportunity to wear a hair pin (for want of a better term for this item) that I bought it at Mindil Beach Markets in Darwin.  It's crocodile skin, and previous attempts to wear it haven't worked.  It stayed in place in my now curly hair, but I underestimated the length of that wooden pin.  It's difficult to tell from the photo, but it's 24 centimetres long.  I kept getting caught in the foliage on the top shelf of the cold room, and I even had trouble getting into the car!  Ever seen a deer with antlers getting through a fence?  It was nowhere near as graceful as that!

Tomorrow I'm teaching a couple of Introduction to Floristry lessons on Zoom for my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.  I'm a bit nervous, and hoping very strongly that the technology works for me.  At one point it felt like I might never get to the end of this course, but it now seems like it might come together before I run out of time.  Fingers are crossed for this too.

Last week's 52Frames topic was "Common Object". I wanted to show a common object in an uncommon way, and eventually decided on a paperclip.

I didn't have enough hands for this set-up, so I had to roll a cone out of cardboard to put the torch in (to funnel the light into a smaller spotlight), and then Blu-tak that to the wall above so I could hold the camera at the level I wanted.  I liked the idea of a personified paper clip, and I hope its little sad head in its hands convey an emotion.

This week is "Single Focal Point", and I'm leaning toward what seems to be my default subject matter for this challenge... botanical material.  We had some poppies in the shop, so I felt inspired.  I just love them! They "pop" open in their own time and position themselves wherever they want in a floral design, so they add movement, rhythm, and a touch of whimsy to go with the crinkly texture of their petals.  I just wish they lasted longer.

If you need me I'll be parked in front of a poppy in a vase, waiting for it to open.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

23 July 2022 1:39 PM Blog

So, I decided to move some furniture around.  I like to make a change every now and then.  Inspiration will strike, and I'll feel compelled to follow it with all the mania of a pianist's fingers taking on Liszt's "La campanella" (Google it - it's impressive).  The result was that I have marginally more space in the studio in which to work, but I will need to recalibrate my spatial awareness when walking around the end of the kitchen bench.  If only I could just push a couple of walls a bit further out.  

Occasionally in my frenzy I declutter a bit.  I'm a bit of a hoarder, because you never know when something might be useful, or there's a bit of emotion attached to a particular object that I'm not ready to part with.  I overwhelm myself with "stuff" and I just need to clear it out.  I can't get rid of everything because I like my things, but I do sometimes wish I had less of them.  I dread moving (whenever that will be).  Maybe I just need a big shed to store all my stuff in so I have enough room to live uncluttered.  I didn't actually manage to throw much away in this exercise, so I only feel partially cleansed.  I might need to go through the pantry and do a cull to feel better.  I'm sure the spices that are five years out of date aren't a necessity in anyone's book.  How do those little weevil things get in there anyway?

I do wonder now how I managed to fit all of my family day care stuff in this little unit.  It amazes me.  I was an educator in my own home for seven years, and over that time I accumulated quite a lot of bits and pieces, most of which I have since re-homed with my niece... luckily there's a shed at her place.

I toyed with the idea of opening back up because I miss my kids, and there's something special about the kind of relationships you build in family day care.  But, at the end of the day I was pleased to have my house back and fill it with floristry equipment in place of toys.  Cody was pleased not to have to share space as well, so that's that.  Seven years, 60 children and a lot of fond memories.  I was gifted a gorgeous book when I closed, made of reminiscences of my wonderful families and it makes me teary when I look through it.  It's one of the most special things I own.  I had a moment recently when I needed some reminding, so it was my go-to.  I cannot declutter that.  Any books it seems.  Marie Kondo made a pretty big call saying you should ideally keep fewer than 30 books.  I have more than 30 books' worth of joy to spark!  Perhaps that's my problem - I'm too joyous to be uncluttered!

This week's 52Frames topic is "Common Object", which of course, has unlimited possibilities. I wanted to present something ordinary in a different way (with a story, because, well, it's me, and I like that). Cody was not much help, since everything that I suggested was met with "That's not really a common object..." Lemons.  He said that about lemons!  Really?  Back to the drawing board.

Last week I knew I'd be pressed for time, so I took an image as a back-up submission, and was glad I did because my streak would have been broken otherwise. I wanted an image with a story, but I just didn't have time to pull it together, so this shot of the sunset down my street had to do.  Winter sunsets are the best though, and it's a shame to waste them.

I'm off to find a common object in a box of things that may or may not spark joy as I rearrange my newly relocated desk.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

18 July 2022 6:56 PM Blog

Working Mums might know this feeling... when you have a day off during the week and you feel as though you will achieve so much during school hours.  Perception versus reality can be a bit unbalanced on these days.

Days off during the week used to be a regular occurrence for me.  Not so this year.  Cody suggested staying home to keep me company on Friday (nice try kid), but I agreed to drive him to school.  He looked at my dressing gown and ugg boots and noted that I shouldn't get out of the car if I was going like that.  I had no intention of any such thing - it's cold!

I managed to get some work done on my Cert IV assessments, and prepared for (another) drive.  I picked Cody up from school and we headed to Townsville.  My boy is a pretty keen clay target shooter these days, so I dug out my trap gun and we went to the Townsville Annual Shoot.  You know it's been a long time when you have to think hard about the combination that opens the gun case (I managed to get into it without too much difficulty).  I haven't shot much Down the Line in recent years.  I was getting a stock made before I was even pregnant with Cody, then work halted (because body shapes can change thanks to pregnancy), and it's still not finished.  The amount that I use the gun suggests that it's not at all urgent.   I managed a win with it six weeks after Cody was born, so we decided it could wait.  The egg that I now have on my right cheek would suggest otherwise, but that's more likely operator error and my own stupid fault for lifting my head. 

Thanks to Phil Russell of Townsville Gun Club for the photos from the facebook page.  
I managed a couple of prizes on Saturday (here I am receiving my "Skeet" bag - it says Big Rack Designs all over it, and I love it!) which added to the enjoyment of the weekend, but the best part was that the four of us (Mum, Dad, Cody and I) were all squadded together.

My early memories of Townsville Gun Club were during childhood, when we would camp on the grounds in a tent.  I don't think I remember going there before my brother was born, but I definitely remember having to keep an eye on him when he was little while Mum and Dad were shooting.  It's changed a bit since then, but it still feels the same, and we always have a good time there.

Cody's first visit was when he was three months old, and this was his first trip as a shooter.  We haven't gone full circle with the camping though.  That first trip was when Cody first met Uncle Teddy - thanks for the photo Uncle Teddy.  Here's a presentation photo from that same event.  Thanks to Carol Betteridge for that one. 

I was working on this post along the highway between Charters Towers and the Belyando Crossing.  We were parked there for over four hours waiting to get through after the road was closed due to an accident.  It makes you stop and reassess a few things.  I have no idea what happened (we were way back in the line up), but it was serious enough for the Rescue Chopper to arrive.

It was a bit fresh stopping for fuel at Clermont at stupid o'clock - no need to splash water on my face to stay awake!  We eventually arrived home just before 2am, and neither of us moved especially quickly this morning.  I made it home from work as far as the lounge this afternoon and I could possibly be in bed with the chooks this evening.

Luckily I had shot a "back-up" image to submit for this week's 52Frames challenge, so my streak remains in play.  (As does my Wordle streak, which is currently 56, and I hope saying it out loud doesn't jinx it in some Beetlejuice kind of way...)  This week is "A Common Object", which I will give some thought to after a few REM cycles.

Last week was "Negative Space", and I wanted to include something botanical in the subject matter and story.  This little girl has made an appearance in a couple of my floristry projects.  She has so much presence about her, and there's so much story around her.  What I had in my head was a tiny figure walking through a forest of tall trees with negative space above and beside her.
I created something close to that and positioned it in the greenhouse, then lay on the ground to photograph her.  I really need to tidy that greenhouse...  Add it to the list!

I might not have had as a productive a Friday as I had hoped, but we made it to Townsville without incident, had a great weekend (which included Mexican food and Zarraffa''s coffee) and after which made it home safely (several hours later than planned, but home and safe nonetheless).  Someone wasn't as fortunate.

I'll try again this week for a "productive" Friday.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

9 July 2022 10:15 AM Blog

I'm not sure how the last 2 weeks went by so quickly! It was super quiet at home, and it seems that my boy had an absolute blast in Normanton over the school holidays.  I'm about to meet Mum part-way there to pick him up, so that means a bit of time in the car this weekend.

Usually car trips involve audiobooks and/or music.  I've been listening to a bit of The King since seeing the Elvis movie at the cinema last week.  I can't actually remember what I saw at the movies prior to Elvis - it's been a while!  Anyway, I got home and found a Spotify play list and have been listening on and off since.

I enjoy a variety of musical genres, and there doesn't seem to any particular rhyme or reason to my taste - I just like what I like.  Coming up with a Top Ten songs was super tough though.  It often depends on my mood, but I decided to list the first ten that I could think of that I will never skip.

1.  Biscuits - Kasey Musgraves

2.  Way Too Pretty for Prison - Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris

3.  You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive - Brad Paisley

4.  A Thing For You - Easton Corbin

5.  Out In The Parking Lot - Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson

6.  Takin' Pills - Pistol Annies

7.  Tennessee Whiskey - Chris Stapleton

8.  Whiskey Lullaby - Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss

9.  Pretty Bitchin'- Miranda Lambert

10.  Have You Ever Seen the Rain? - John Fogarty

Now that I've put those down I can think of umpteen more!  My "boppy" play list on Spotify (Purple Fairy) is over twelve hours long and is compiled of songs I will never skip (unless Cody in the car and takes over).  It's kind of random in that House of Pain could be followed by Johnny Horton, and then Dr Hook, for example.  I initially started putting it together as an alternative to the play list the videographer/announcer was using at a Cutting Show that I was photographing, so "slower" songs didn't make it onto the list.  I could easily put together three times that amount of listening time if I were to compile all the songs I like, and possibly even miss some on the first run through and have to go back and add another 10 hours worth.  I just love music!

I have thought about what it would be like to have a soundtrack to your day, like in the movies.  A song to accompany your walk down the street, tempo dependant on the mood of the walk, location, and purpose.  A song to add interest to the monotony of boring every day tasks like grocery shopping.  A song to build to crescendo and enliven and amplify an experience, or give you a few moments of wallowing in despair and sadness before the melodic strains of something hopeful and rejuvenating brought you back to being in the present.  In that former life many moons ago when I entertained the notion of creating for the screen I was excited about producing a story, and not just telling it verbally, but also with accents to enhance it aurally.

I've always been in awe of songwriters.  I can tell you a story, or explain something, using verbose prose that might even inspire a mental picture, but songwriters do it in time to music and with the limitation and challenge of the number of syllables, and usually some kind of rhyming.  Genius!  

I wish I was musical.  I attempted to learn guitar, but apparently it is near impossible for each of my hands to do something different simultaneously, especially without looking at them! Car Karaoke will have to do.  I sang actual karaoke in a pub with a friend last week, and while it was lots of fun I have to wonder if my voice really does sound like that.  Apologies to the people in the pub.  Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to get up there on my own, without my security blanket (thanks for that Chloe!), but until then I shall practice in the car.

Last week's 52Frames theme was Pattern.  Aside from the stripes and spots of zebras and big cats, lines in seashells and leaves are possibly the most commonly first thought of patterns in nature.  Lacking a local zoo with such animals, and having already photographed patterned leaves in previous weeks I hunted through my shell collection for a striking pattern that would convert well to black and white.  Both photographers that I had looked at during the "Inspired by a Photographer" week (Imogen Cunningham and Harold Feinstein) had photographed seashells as well as botanical material, and this black background, black and white image is a mix of both of their styles.

This week is Negative Space.  I created a plantscape for that, and got the photo taken a couple of days ago because I knew I'd be pushed for time this weekend with all the driving (and singing in the car).

Coffee, road snacks and play list ready, and I'm off.  On the road again...

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

3 July 2022 12:03 PM Blog

I've been quite homesick this week.  Homesick for Normanton, my family, and (I guess because my son is living them right now) the days of school holidays spent at the service station, and then heading out with Dad after work to do whatever he had planned for us.  My boy is having a wonderful time up there, and by all accounts has been a big help at the service station.  It makes me proud as a parent to know I can send him off into the world and he not only enjoys himself, but acquits himself well as part of that world.

It's been super quiet at my place this week.  I haven't cooked for myself once (unless you count toast... I don't).  Easily the worst thing about being the grown-up is preparing the evening meal.  Every.  Damn.  Night.  Thinking of what to have, buying the groceries, and then mustering the energy after work is exhausting some times.  Even when Cody cooks I still have to help and the dreaded clean up of the kitchen makes me wonder if it's worth it.  But, it's a life skill, and it will be helpful if he can feed himself when he leaves home.  This week though it's been minimal food preparation and clean up.  It reminds me of the fortnight when I was on prac for Uni I was so busy and tired that I was sustained primarily by avocado on toast and Girl Guide biscuits.

Being home alone this week seemed like the perfect time spend hours at the hairdressers.  I've been wanting to do something different with my hair (I've cut it, grown it, coloured it as much as I can since it's naturally quite dark), so I got it permed.  How I actually feel about this fluctuates.  I love that it's different, and you wouldn't believe it - bobby pins actually STAY on my head now instead of sliding out after five minutes!  I don't love that I can't brush it.  Sometimes it feels like a bird's nest and my two minute noodle dreads were a mistake, but a spray of water and some scrunching seems to tame them (a bit).  If you're ever looking for hand exercises scrunching thick permed hair is a workout.  I can wash it a week after the treatment, so that in itself may be a challenge - I am dreading the knots by then... perhaps that's where the term dreadlocks originated...

As I said last week I'm now halfway through the 52Frames challenge.  It feels good to have stuck with it this long, especially on the weeks where inspiration eluded me.  I've struggled a bit in recent weeks, as my entries have seemed more like stock photos than images with a story (which is what I like, in photography as well as floristry).  Last week was "What is it?", which lent itself to macro photography, so out came the bellows again to photograph a flower... there's a definite trend here.

This week is "Pattern", and lacking any large striking architectural features around here I felt like patterns in nature would be my area... again, possibly macro.  I'll have a play around with what I find and see if I can put a different slant on it, moving away from generic stock style images.

Next week is "Negative Space", so I'm already thinking of how I can tell a story with that entry.  Modern floral design uses a lot of negative space (as opposed to classical design where the botanical materials are placed very close together) - perhaps there's a way to incorporate that.  I'll give it some more thought.  For now though, I'm off to make toast, and not make a mess of the kitchen,

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

26 June 2022 9:49 PM Blog

Whoa!  2 days ticking over on the clock and 1930km ticking over on the odometer.  How was your weekend?  I drove for just over 20 hours to spend 18 hours in Cloncurry.

North west is a happy direction for me to be heading because it means I'm going home to family, and that's kind of what I did yesterday.  Well, almost home.  Four hours' drive from home (and luckily too, because those extra eight hours of driving would not have been good).  My boy is spending his school holidays similarly to how I spent mine in high school -  helping at the service station.  Mum, Dad, my brother and his family went to Cloncurry to compete at the Annual Shoot at the Clay Target Club this weekend and we met them there.  It's kind of cute that my parents refer to my son and I collectively as "The kids".  I wonder how many times over the next fortnight they will accidentally call my son by my brother's name...

During my 20 hour round trip I took note of how many roadside conveniences there now are on that highway.  It's been a while since I've travelled that way (and incidentally it's been a very long time since I've seen it so green for so far, with so many birds!), and now there's plenty of places to stop.  I made an observation... when it's five degrees outside those five degrees whistle breezily in through the many gaps in the structure.  I'm not sure it was the five degrees that I was noticing, (or more likely the absence of the extra 20 degrees that I require for optimal comfort) or the effect the breeze was having.  If your preferred public toilet procedure is to line the seat with loo paper you have a problem.  Said paper does not stay put under those conditions, especially when the seat isn't quite flat (seriously, do people actually choose those moulded rounded seats?).  I began to wonder whether ducking off into the bush for a comfort stop might have been a better plan, especially since I have an unrealistic, yet real fear of accidentally dropping my phone into the loo, but I do appreciate the hand washing facilities and the bins.  Thanks to the crews who maintain these facilities, and the respectful people who make use of them without trashing the place.

This week's 52Frames topic is "What Is It?", and I submitted my entry earlier this week, thinking that I would be pushed for time come the deadline (and I was right - I barely had time to write and post this, such that it is).  I actually played a bit of "What is it?" along the way today.  Travelling solo I was able to take advantage of many opportunities to stop and photograph plants to identify.  It was a good little break for me because usually by the time I noticed the tree/shrub, hit the anchors and pulled over I had to walk back to get a closer look.

Last week's topic was "Shoot from above", and lacking the motivation (and willing male child participant) to drive out to the Dam and take a portrait shot looking down from the rocks I shot eggs on the kitchen bench (and desaturated the horrid pink toned laminate).

Next week is Week 26, so in the challenge I'll be halfway there (insert mondegreen "woah lemon on a pear"). I'll make it I swear!

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

18 June 2022 5:32 PM Blog

"My birthday is coming up, so I'm buying myself a present."

Shopping for yourself considered to be self-care, right?
Self-care is a concept that I'm learning more about, especially since starting my new job.  We are regularly asked how we're managing our own self-care, because it is especially important when you take on a care and/or therapeutic role.  Fit your own mask before attempting to assist others, and all that.
I think we each have our own definition of self-care and what it looks like for us, but me being me, I had to look up an actual definition.
"Self-care - the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress," say the Oxford dictionary.
I think we've changed the way we view being proactive about what we need and what we want, and indeed being able to confidently identify and articulate those things.  I used to think self-care was taking half an hour for yourself (and maybe doing the grocery shopping without a child in the trolley), or sitting down with a hot coffee and a magazine.  I have learned that self-care is not a guilty pleasure, and its not selfish.  At least, it shouldn't be.

Spending money on ourselves seems to often have a connotation of something frivolous.  Financial situations notwithstanding it is one way of prioritising our own need over something else.  I recently bought myself a new pair of sneakers. I didn't NEED the sneakers.  I liked the sneakers and I wanted the sneakers, and on my current wage and with the great sale price that I happened upon I felt no guilt in buying them, and my son was not negatively impacted financially by my purchase. They made me smile.  I feel good when I wear them.  (They are purple - what's not to love?)  I spent money and time (the process of finding and purchasing was actually enjoyable for me too) doing something just for me, and it was okay.

Cody saw me doing that.  He weighed in.  He was interested in seeing them when they arrived.  I have never been more conscious than I have recently of letting him see what I now understand self-care to be.  Having a job is teaching him so much.  Not just about money and responsibility, but also about being accountable to yourself.  I've noticed that he is becoming more conscious of time management, what he needs, and when he can do those things.  He now says things like, "I need to move my body", and he will go for a short run or ride his bike.  He also sometimes says, "I just need some time," and will have 15 minutes in his room listening to music.  He has seen me take time for myself.  I have explained my reasoning, and he has grown up accepting personal space and boundaries and easily identifies them in himself and communicates those needs.

Self-care is more than spending money on yourself and drinking wine in the bath, (although that's not a bad idea at all).  It's about attending to your physical and psychological well-being.  This can be hard as a parent.  I recently read an article from Janet Lansbury about self-care for parents, and it gave me a different perspective.  It seems that I may have unconsciously been setting boundaries around my time for a while.
For someone who is so busy with a range of different things spending time on a hobby is difficult to manage.  I sometimes have trouble making time for feel-good things that aren't working toward a bigger goal.  I'm working on that.    Last week I opened this flower shop model kit (which I bought for myself for Christmas because tiny things are cute, and it's a flower shop - about the size I can handle right now).  I've been steadily working on it a piece of tiny furniture at a time.  I'm resigned to the fact that it's never going to look like the picture on the box, but I'm hoping that the little pieces that I've dropped and been unable to find aren't essential and I don't accidentally glue anything else to the table.  The perfectionist in me doesn't love that the table legs are wonky, but I'm going to hide it inside the shop and no one will ever know.  It may make an appearance in this week's 52Frames entry for "Shoot from Above".  I'm currently undecided on subject matter.

Last week I was looking for little people figurines to create a story for "Triangular Composition".  It was tough this week to come up with a story.  When I eventually decided on something it was lots of fun to put together.  I ended up with Harry Potter Lego characters instead.  Even Wizards need the magical potion that is coffee.  Lacking a ladder they are using books to get to the rim of the cauldron.  Hermione is reading the spell and yelling instructions, Ron is passing up the sugar, and Harry is tossing coffee beans into the cauldron.  If I had thought about it earlier I would have added incense to create smoke and qualify for the Extra Challenge, but it was an after thought and I had packed up by then.  I added a lit candle to the cauldron to give off a glow, and used my tripod with the camera suspended underneath, and therefore upside down to get the shot at the right level.  I'm hoping this week I can do something less complicated.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

11 June 2022 4:07 PM Blog

It's turned cold here in Central Queensland.  Time to break out the wool doona and the quilted cover.  What a wonderful purchase that was!  Even without the doona inside its a warm delight, and it's King sized on my Queen bed, so it covers everything beautifully, even when I roll over and take some of it with me.  On the "Am I a Grown Up?" screening tool I think I can confidently tick the "Excited by linen" item.

Another thing I can mark off is "Annoyed by supermarket rearranging".  Eggs, baking paper and vinegar seem to end up in the least logical places.  I wonder if big supermarket chains are beginning to understand that doing this doesn't actually put more product in front of you and encourage you to spend more?  In my experience it ignites shopping rage (similar to road road, on a smaller scale) and irritated people pushing trolleys up and down aisles, looking up at signs above the shelves, ducking around similarly disgruntled and confused shoppers and staff re-stocking or assembling orders clogging up the walkway does not a pleasant experience make.  When that happens I always go home with less than I came for.  No wonder click and collect or delivery is so popular!  I wonder if they will start rearranging the website to make it impossible to find things there as well?

Getting older is weird.  I honestly don't feel much different to how I felt after I left school.  My earrings still fit, for example.  Sometimes it still kind of amazes me that I'm allowed to do grown-up things.  How funny is that?  I remember how excited I was when I got my first cheque book.  For the Zoomers, (Did you know that's what Generation Z is called?  I didn't.  You learn something new every day I guess.),  they were booklets of vouchers that you filled out and gave to people instead of cash, but they had to take them to the bank to have the money transferred from your account to theirs.  If you were a responsible adult you kept track of the expected account balance on the butt, so you didn't bounce a cheque (which is the three-week equivalent of the "insufficient funds" message on the ATM).  It was a monumental day when I signed my first cheque.  So much trust and responsibility.

It's not until you really think back over what has changed that you realise that our day to day as kids was quite different to what children are familiar with now.  I've had lots of conversations with Cody recently reminiscing about my childhood, school experiences and pop culture references from the 80's and 90's.  It's kind of cool that we can look many of those things up online and he can see what I'm talking about.

It's my birthday this month, and each year I reflect on what's been and what's ahead.  Since my last birthday I have made some changes that I wasn't expecting, and to be honest I feel less certain about what the next year holds.  Feeling like I'm still in my 20s (I don't yet have a "bad knee" with which to predict weather changes, although I did mention to Cody last night as we were watching a movie that it's lucky that I wasn't in it because I would have severely let down Mark Wahlberg in the action sequences) it didn't seem such a big deal to do more training and change careers.  I've done it twice in three years.  Apparently Australians have on average 13 jobs in their lifetime.  I feel it's significant that the stats use the word "job" and not "career".  A job is work you do for money.  A career is something more.  It requires growth, commitment and a genuine interest or passion.  You can enjoy a job, but it doesn't get into your soul like a career.  I'm a career person.  I don't seem to be able to separate myself from "work" and vice versa, and I always have the 'strive to improve' undercurrent.  For the last several years I have told people that I'm 29.99 plus postage and handling, so with that in mind career changes aren't the irresponsible folly of someone attempting to reclaim their youth.  If I mentioned my chronological age it might make people wonder, especially since the big picture is still a long way off, and by the time I get there I might be like a Jessica Tandy character from any movie (think, Driving Miss Daisy or Fried Green Tomatoes), minus the Southern USA demographic.

When I'm done with the two different types of training that I am currently involved in I think I will enrol in a photography course to get the official qualification.  To me, a course without a recognised qualification is a waste of time and money.  The longer I do this 52Frames challenge the more interested I am in learning what I don't know.  This week is really stretching me.  It's Triangular Composition, and it's so open that I can't hone in on a clear idea.

Last week was Everything in Focus, so I chose to shoot a landscape.  Cody wasn't keen to accompany me for a drive to the Dam, and he suggested a visit to the Weir instead.  It's not my favourite image, but I do like the contrast between the flat, reflective water and the cascade over the weir.  If a bird had landed on the branch in the water it would have made the shot better.  I was attacked by meat ants pretty much the whole time I was there, so I can definitely say that this was the least enjoyable entry so far.

This morning I haven't ventured far from under my warm quilt, and have been Googling for inspiration. There's something I couldn't have done in my 20s!

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

4 June 2022 9:47 AM Blog

It's an overcast Saturday morning, and after the longest four-day week ever I feel only motivated enough to crawl back into bed and let Caroline Lee's modulated tones draw me in to 1960s London or park myself on the lounge under a quilt and watch the last episode of season two of The Witcher.  Aside from the first thought that these are both lazy options and I could be doing something more productive (heaven knows, I have a to-do list!) I hesitate because I don't really want to come to the end of either the audiobook or the television series.

Avoidance is a habit I have discovered.  I've read that it takes approximately three weeks to establish a daily habit.  If that's the case I have a new one, and it's not of the procrastinating kind.

Wordle is for first thing in the morning.  I find that focusing on that mental task wakes me up.  As of this morning I have played it for 90 days straight (not first thing in the morning - that developed after I'd been playing a while).  I am yet to guess the word on the first attempt, and have made peace with that since I have a small collection of starting words which are highly unlikely to he the actual Wordle word of the day.  I'm working on a decent streak.  For the first 41 days I solved it.  Since then I have ended my streak three times in 90 days.  Once it completely stumped me, and the other two left me with a gamble as to which letters to play out of two options and I guessed wrong (such is my poor judgement).  My current streak being only 12 I have a lot of work to do to better the first one.  

My son tends to have strong opinions about things.  He believes that writing down letter combinations or using Bananagram tiles is cheating. 
Is it though? 
You're still using brain power, just taking the pressure off your working memory a little bit by using a metaphorical bookmark to hold the place while you shuffle letters.  I have only just thought of the analogy, but I will be sure to tell him if he mentions it again... it's like counting on your fingers.  I will say that since our robust discussion 
(mainly consisting of... 
"It's not."
"It is!"
"No, it's not"
"It's cheating!"
"It's not!"... etc along the same vein as the Monty Python Argument Clinic skit - look it up)
...I have resorted to the tiles only if staring at the screen and mentally rearranging the letters proves too much for the current brain capacity.  Wordle first thing in the morning helps with that.  For the record I do think that knowing the word before attempting the day's puzzle is the only way to really cheat.  Everything else is strategy.

Cody told me that you can create Wordle puzzles for friends, and he excitedly set me a few the other day.  His goal was to discombobulate me.  (Linda, I used that word just for you.) Fortunately for me the app only allows correct spelling, so I was able to solve the puzzles.  He got more out of trying to trick me than trying to solve what I set for him, but it was a fun way to spend some time.

I've always enjoyed logic puzzles.  There's something soothing about solving.  I think I've mentioned before that I like to feel 'smart' and finding the answer does that for me.  I used to have a book of logic puzzles that I took with me on shooting trips.  It gave me something to focus on between rounds and while travelling.  Almost everyone who commented on it (and my frown of concentration) asked me if I was studying ("Doing uni work?" or in the case of the South African shooter, "Are you doing Varsity work?").  When I responded that it was just for fun they would inevitably look at me as though the wheel was spinning but the hamster had died.
Wordle being once a day cannot contribute much to my habit of procrastination.
I shouldn't have too much difficulty getting started on my jobs list this weekend (gloomy weather notwithstanding) because a chunk of them are creativity based.  I might save them for after the boring housework jobs to keep myself on task.

Last week's 52Frames topic was "Inspired by a Photographer", and it got me thinking about my own style.  When I was just starting out I was working towards establishing a style that was uniquely and easily identifiable as my own.  That's difficult to achieve I found.  During this challenge I have asked myself if what I am producing is true to myself and my style, and I honestly don't know.  While researching photographers last week I was pleased to discover that many of them had varying styles for different subject matter.  I guess it's a constantly evolving thing, and as long as you maintain the level of quality and always strive to improve it doesn't really matter.

I looked for botanical photographers and was inspired by the clean, crisp images of Harold Feinstein, and the way he controlled light to show the viewer everyday things from nature in showstopping ways.

I showcased a canna from the garden.  In all honesty this flower is not high on my list of garden favourites (they are only there because they fill a space, grow tall, thrive on neglect, and the leaves can be useful for floral designs), so I generally don't pay much attention to them.  Perhaps I have underestimated them.

This week is "Everything in Focus", and I thought it was about time I did a landscape shot... if I can find an interesting vista.  Failing that I have a back-up flat lay story board idea.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

28 May 2022 9:22 AM Blog

I had nothing specific in mind to write about this week.  For some reason Nan (Mum's grandmother) has been on my mind, so I thought I could introduce you to her.  

Here's a photo of Nan and my Mum at Granny's house.  It's from the early 70's, but Nan really didn't change much.  Check out my Mum!  No wonder she won so many Belle of the Ball sashes!  Insert wolf whistle

As the first great grandchild, and the only one in Normanton for almost 8 years I pretty much had everyone's attention.  Nan used to say that ,"You can't spoil a good kid," but I'm pretty sure they were all pushing the boundaries there.  The sun shone out of me!

Growing up I spent time at my house, my grandparents' house and my great grandparents' house.  Nan and Pop even let me keep the kittens I found in the shed.  We weren't a cat family (I'm definitely not a cat person now) and I have no idea how that got past the Board of Directors, but I wanted the kittens, so they said I could have them at their house.  What I remember most is that they didn't house train well... perhaps that's why I'm not a cat person... 

I had "stuff" in all three locations and a ring around inquiry regarding the menu for the evening meal would often determine where I would dine that night.

I learnt to use the phone pretty early.  In those days we had an Exchange, and black Bakelite phones with heavy handsets and a handle that you wound to call the exchange.  (Granny's phone is in the photo, on the bench just over Nan's right shoulder.)  In a small town when you pick up the phone and say, "I want to talk to Granny," even when you're three, the exchange operator knows exactly who you are and which number to connect you with. Granny's house often offered "Stewed Chicken" or "Chow Mein", but Nan's house had a wider variety that included some form of sweets.  I have lovely memories of cooking with Nan.  Using egg beaters (which, incidentally I have only ever seen at kindergartens since, and they were often used to fluff up Lux Flakes slime, rather than beat eggs) and baking cakes, biscuits and baked custard in her wood stove. Vanilla essence reminds me of those times.  Nan wore aprons.  I remember the ones with hand towels sewn onto the band - great idea that - if there's one thing I need in the kitchen it's a hand towel in easy reach (that doesn't slide off my shoulder).  Nan also wore petticoats.  In Normanton.  In summer.  In a corrugated iron house with a wood stove.  Her body temperature must have been constantly above 37 degrees.

Nan lived with us when I was a kid, after Pop passed away.  I had her attention when I was little, and my brother had it while she was grieving.  She always said that he kept her going.  They had a very special bond.

To half the town she was "Nan" because I think she preferred that to "Mrs Whyte", and to the other half she was "Aunty Lulla" because she was in some way, shape or form related to them.  As a child her sister couldn't say "Eleanor", and it came out as "Lulla", which obviously stuck because that seemed to be her name for many, many years.

I've been missing her this week.  It's been almost 19 years since she passed.  Remembering her mannerisms and traits, amusing sayings and mispronunciations makes me wistful.  

She had been in hospital for three days before the nurses cottoned on to the fact that she couldn't actually see.  It was remarkable how she adapted.  I don't know when her sight eventually failed, but she had worn glasses for all of my life.  Her usual response when asked was, "My eyes are settled.  I had Sandy Blight when I was sixteen," and that was apparently the end of the conversation.

I ended up with her old sewing machine when the arthritis got so bad that she couldn't do much with her hands anymore.  I think of her whenever I sew (which, unfortunately, is not all that often).  I don't think I'll ever associate the scent of wintergreen with anything other than Nan's liniment.  When she lived with Mum's aunt in Mount Isa her constant companion was an old fluffy dog who was similarly afflicted.  I'll never forget the sight of them hobbling down the hallway together, bonded by their arthritis and easily keeping pace with one another.  She would often begin a conversation with me thus, "Eve, ah!, Di, ah!, Cherie..."  (This is particularly amusing to me, since my parents do a similar thing when talking to my son... "Dean, ah!, Cody...")  She used to call my Dad "Way-en" (his name is Wayne) and he always made her laugh.  Nan liked to keep up with the cricket, but was never sure whether it was a one day match, or a test, "Do they play again tomorrow, Way-en?"  All the good mangoes grew on the tree next to the well at her place, and every time it rained she would proclaim that the tanks would all be full now.  She was pleased that I was driving Pop's old Premier ("it's a good, strong, car"), and Dad always took "good, clear photos", although we're not sure how she knew because she wouldn't let on what she could actually see.

Nan didn't often talk about herself, even when prompted, so there's a lot that I don't really know about her life.  That makes me a bit sad, but I'm forever grateful that I knew her and spent the time with her that I did.  She was a truly special lady.

Last week's 52Frames topic was "Abstract", and I photographed an acrylic pour.  That might be why I'm now keen to paint and create this weekend.  I don't really know what I want to do, I just want to paint.  That won't help me with this week's topic though.

This week's theme is "Inspired by a Photographer", and I really wanted to use Allan Arbus as my inspiration.  I didn't know he was a photographer until I started researching - I just knew him as Dr Sidney Freedman from M*A*S*H.  He was mainly a fashion photographer for Vogue, Glamour and Harper's Bazaar.  Lacking the kind of fashion items his models wore, and indeed an actual model, I had to find inspiration elsewhere.  Having no baby to dress in plant material, or as some kind of cute animal I had to discard the Anne Geddes inspiration.  Botanical photography is where it's at for me this week.  The challenge will be getting the light right, and accessing interesting flowers (the ones I want are out of season).  Wish me luck. 

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

21 May 2022 8:09 AM Blog

It's a sad weekend for me this weekend because I really want to be at home.  By home, I mean Normanton, and more specifically the Normanton Gun Club.  It's the Annual Shoot this weekend and while a hectic time for the Reeves clan it's an occasion of good fun, good company, good targets, good food and the source of many good memories.

If anyone up there is marvelling at the lack of weeds in the area I can shed some light on how that came about.  They were removed.  By hand.  All of them.

As a kid, after a shower of rain when Dad asked, "Do you want to come for a drive?" you didn't need a crystal ball to see weed pulling in your near future.  Thinking back now I swear I can smell the rain splattered, refreshed earth with top notes of crushed weeds.

Me: " Do you want to come over to my place?"

Childhood friend: "Yeah. (Pause) Wait, do we have to pull weeds?"

I have been conditioned. To this day if I see nut grass or mustard weed I immediately bend and pull it out.  No thought, no hesitation.  Muscle memory kicks in and it's Pavlov's dog without the food...  or the dog.  I spent so long resembling a half shut pocket knife (that was a Dad-ism) it's a marvel that I didn't develop a permanent curvature of the spine.

I digress.  It's been raining in Emerald, and I was unable to stop myself from using the opportunity to remove a few weeds from the yard.  Back to the shoot.

It's been a couple of years since I've been home for it.  I should make an effort next year.  My job for the weekend is usually taking out the scoresheets to the layouts (whilst driving Nanna's golf buggy "too fast"), making sure the scoresheets come back to the office, keeping a running sheet for shoot-offs and attempting to keep Nanna calm(ish).  We have a great team of people who all pull together to keep things rolling along.  I especially love how they do what they say they'll do, do it well and in a timely manner.  Thank you to each and every one of them.

The club is almost 40 years old, so we might be looking at another milestone event in the near future.  I have vague recollections of shooters in the middle of the racecourse when I was a kid, and then the day that the current clubhouse was relocated from the old Hospital to its current location.  (It might be the old photos that jog that particular memory.)  I was there for a lot for Dad's bricklaying, some concrete pouring, general construction, and installation of traps.  My first job was as a "Trapper" who loaded the trap machine by hand.  I spent pretty much all day in a Besser block box with one electric fan on the machine and one on me.  It would have been a bit toasty in there without them, and it was definitely cosy surrounded by cartons of clay targets.  Having a walkman was essential to pass the time, so naturally there were trap house karaoke sessions (luckily the shooters all wore earmuffs or plugs.)  I began shooting around the time that the first trap machines with hoppers were bought, which meant that they could be filled with clays between rounds and no one would have to stay in there are load them one by one.  How lucky was that?

I learned to drive at the Gun Club. At one stage there was no water being piped there, so Dad used to fill a huge tank on the back of the old Dodge and use it to fill the water tank.  I clearly remember driving that truck down the hill, sitting right at the front of the seat, with legs stretched out as far as they could go to get to the pedals, looking through the steering wheel, with the driver's door open so that Dad could stand on the running board.  

Carting water was a recurring theme out there.  Dad used to load a trailer with 20 litre drums, which he filled with water, and then drive around all the trees that he had planted and give them a drink.  I may have jackknifed that trailer a time or two doing laps in Dad's ute (when I forgot that I was towing it).  I had a flashback of such a time earlier this year when I hired a cold room for my flowers. Let's just say that I prefer not to tow anything, and reversing sends me into a cold sweat.

You will notice that Layouts 3 (left) and 4 (right) have signs.  Layout 5 also has a name, but I don't have a photo of that sign.  There's a bit of a yarn as to how and why these came about.

Before construction of the third layout could start there needed to be some earthworks.  The levelling of a slight mound to be exact.  A knoll, if you will.  It had grass on it.  Dad, being the history buff that he is, and someone who appreciates a good turn of phrase began referring to it as "The Grassy Knoll".  I mean, why wouldn't you call it that, instead of "that bit of a hill"?  Following on with the JFK theme you would naturally expect Layout 4 to be called "The Book Depository", which it is.  When Layout 5 was in the planning stage there was some discussion as to what to call it to be in keeping with the other two.  It is called "The Basement".  Fittingly, it is down the slope from the other layouts.  That's not the reason for the name, however.  Lee Harvey Oswald (the man who was to stand trial for the assassination of President John F Kennedy from a sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository) was himself assassinated en route to the county jail by Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas Municipal Building.  So ends this history lesson.  

These photos are from a couple of years ago when the traphouses got a new coat of paint.  They are pink and blue because of the Pink & Blue Initiative that the Northern Zone put together to raise awareness and funds for breast and prostate cancer.  Over the course of a few years the Northern Zone raised $30,000 for the fund, and it was donated (half and half) to the McGrath Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.  We were all pretty proud of our efforts.

This year is the first year that Normanton is awarding the Jim Edmonds Medal in honour of a wonderful man who gave a lot to the sport of clay target shooting in North West Queensland.  The inaugural Medals were presented at the Cloncurry Annual Shoot last year, as the two clubs have teamed up to create this additional award for their main events of the year.  My fingers are crossed that a Reeves gets to take one home this weekend.  Good luck Granddad, Nanna and Uncle Teddy!

I shall sit at home and sulk, catch up on how everyone is shooting on the My Club My Scores app, and hope that things are running smoothly up there.

Last week's 52Frames theme was "Architecture", and lacking any interesting buildings that I could think of in the area, or indeed, inspiration for interesting angles to shoot a 'normal' building from I opted to create my subject matter.  Some time with the Lego box resulted in these little hootchies.  This weekend I'm shooting something "Abstract", so I'm planning on creating that subject matter as well.  It's going to be something soothing to spend my time on.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

14 May 2022 9:20 AM Blog

A few days of glorious rain in the Central Highlands has necessitated the postponement of the Comet Agricultural Show, so I unexpectedly have the weekend off.  I'm torn.  The rain is so welcome.  I'm disappointed not to be spending a busy and enjoyable weekend covering a great event.  I'm relieved that I don't have to do that in drizzle and slopping around in the mud.  I hope there's an opportunity to reschedule so we don't miss out.

Today is my Dad's birthday, and also Bo's birthday.  Bo is 5 today, and the rain has been traumatic for him.  He's not a fan of water, and having it constantly falling from the sky makes him uneasy.  It's like someone is trying to bath him and hiding isn't forcing them to give up.  He had a tooth removed earlier in the week so the birthday gift of a bone is on hold, in favour of soft food until he heals.  I made him a cake for his first birthday (one of those dog safe recipes), but he wasn't a fan, so meat related gifts have been the norm since.  He got to spend the day inside with me, so he seemed as though things were okay in his world.  When we heard that Bo had been born on my Dad's birthday Cody toyed with the idea of naming him "Granddad" - I'm pleased that didn't stick.  I can't believe he's five!

"Gwanddad" is a bit more than five.  As usual, when I called to wish him Happy Birthday he was working.  This year he wasn't fixing a truck tyre.  He seemed to be offering advice regarding the painter's high pressure cleaner that they had pulled apart.  It sounded technical, but he assured me that said painter would be responsible for the box of extra pieces that they ended up with after reassembly, since he was "helping".  "The Gulf Grey" (the name bestowed by a friend in the context of Gulf Grey Safaris pig hunting expeditions) is always busy.  That's probably where I get it from. 

As usual I haven't sent a gift ahead of time.  Most years I do Mother's Day and Dad's birthday gift giving at the same time, when I next see them.  The problem that I have is that anything that I would love to buy them costs more than I can afford and/or is too difficult to arrange as a surprise and if they knew they would shut me down because they "don't need anything".  For a while I was contributing to Dad's "Next Overseas Hunt/Taxidermy" fund, but thanks to Covid there are currently no confirmed plans for that.  I wonder how much a defibrillator is... He's fit for a man in his seventies, but walking through the mountains on a hunt can take it out of you.  Last time he took along an Ambulance officer.  (He chooses his friends wisely.)  One year I bought him a pair of compression pants to help with driving for two days after walking for three.  He looks like a frog standing on it's back legs in that gear, but I think they helped.

I wanted to send him to a concert once. It was John Fogarty (who he loves), but he refused, saying that he much prefers the DVD that my brother gave him because he can pause it, rewind it, watch it every night if he wants to, and go to bed if he's too tired to watch till the end.  He doesn't really use his Netflix subscription, preferring to watch YouTube clips of Billy Etbauer riding broncs in the 90's and early 2000's or skits from The Two Ronnies.  He still watches free-to-air TV, which is usually "Do you want to win a million" (Mum's grandmother used to call it that, so that's what we all call it) or re-runs of M*A*S*H.  I know that he watches these because he will occasionally ring me to tell me how a contestant didn't know the answer (he watches it on mute so that he doesn't have to listen to the supposedly relatable stories - he's only there for the questions, and I am in complete agreement - my reality TV rule of thumb is 'Do the thing and move on' - we've all got other, more interesting things to do), or remind me of a particularly amusing episode that's been on for the umpteenth time.  Cody and I have been watching the early seasons of M*A*S*H lately and he is amused, annoyed and impressed in equal measure that I remember some of the lines from most of the episodes.  I think it's the most aired series in the world, and watching those early episodes again I marvel that it's the case, given the attitudes around women of those time periods (when it was set and when it was made).  The paradox of that is probably a topic for another day.

Back to Dad. It's impossible to come up with a gift idea that reflects how much we love and appreciate him, so we'll probably settle for a few cartons of wine when I next go home, as many tins of dolmades and olives as I can get my hands on and enjoy spending time together.  I'm one of those people who really likes hanging out with their parents.  I hope it's been a good day Dad and there was enough cake.

Last week's 52Frames topic was awesome for me timing-wise.  It was Flat Lay, and was a two birds, one stone situation for me.  Here's the contents of my dried flower frame workshop kit.  I was thinking of adding it as a product to sell if the workshop went well, so now I have images for advertising.

This week is a different story.  Architecture.  With the rain around I didn't like my chances of getting out and about to find interesting subject matter.  Luckily I insisted that Cody not sell his Lego, so I'm going that way instead.  I think it's going to be a good way to while away some of the weekend.

It's been quite a party, ain't it

Purple Fairy 

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