QUOTE OF THE WEEK (and some more of last week’s story)

it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world

Mary Oliver

You’re probably thinking I’ve gone on holiday, but no, here I am, back in my old apartment next to the Maribyrnong River and Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve.

Yesterday, this tiny female House Sparrow (above) reminded me of how lucky we are in Australia and how lucky I am to be content with the simple things in life.

2 apartment moves in 10 days was not easy for someone like me with a  heart condition, severe pain and other chronic health issues.   But I did it and it now seems like a distant dream (except for the packaging littering my lounge floor – the removalist company picked up the empty boxes yesterday).

My move to a south-western beachside suburb of Melbourne was a complete disaster healthwise and amidst a complete lockdown of suburban Melbourne due to a large cluster of COVID cases in several high-rise apartment blocks, I did some phoning and emailing and was lucky enough to just be able to move back into my old apartment block.

I had to move out of the new beachside ground floor apartment as quickly as possible.

 

Out of focus, but I like the shot anyway

It would have been almost impossible (without a car) and the current lockdown conditions to look elsewhere anyway.

I was welcomed back ‘with open arms’ by both the property agent and the landlord.  When I moved back in on Monday of this week, different tenants/friends I saw were so thrilled I was back.  Seems my occasional chats in this building had endeared me to more than one person.   I never realised how much I would be missed when  I moved out which was a big surprise.  A heart-warming spot in the day on Monday amidst the busyness of the removalists going back and forth making the pile of boxes higher and higher in my tiny studio-style modern apartment.

The first evening in my new seaside apartment, amidst a mound of boxes, I sat at my desk with 2 heaters on high, a coat…….and a woollen blanket around my knees.   I have never, ever experienced such mind and body numbingly cold interior conditions.

Even waking up on the Swiss-Austrian border in 1976 with my tent covered in snow was ‘a walk in the park’ compared to the icy chill that pervaded my bones right to the core that first night (and the subsequent nights last week).

The musty smell in the 2 carpeted bedrooms, which the property agent had said would disappear once the long-empty apartment was thoroughly aired, made breathing difficult at night (for me).   I have MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) among my long list of chronic health conditions and am allergic to mould (and damp?).  I suspect the carpets, having been steam cleaned weeks before, had not dried properly in the midst of Melbourne’s cold winter nights.

I had opened all 3 doors and the rusty, stiff window chains the best I could, but the smell never really left in the whole 8 days I was there.

I need fresh air to be truly alive.   I need to feel like I’m Living in Nature now I’m more housebound.

By the second night, my heartbeat seemed weak and erratic.  (I also have intermittent SVT – Supraventricular Tachycardia – which can be a weird sensation when the heart starts beating very fast.   It was diagnosed in 2007 & again in 2009, but seemed to resolve itself without drugs or a procedure to ‘zap’ the faulty electrical function in the heart muscle.

It reared its head last October when I was admitted to the Cardiology ward for 6 days with a mild heart attack, but again resolved itself naturally.   The fluttering sensation in my chest feels a little weird, but not as scary as a serious ongoing dramatically fast heartbeat experienced by some sufferers which requires treatment.

The tap water, of which I normally drink quite a lot, tasted disgusting and a faint chemical smell wafted to my overly sensitive nose each time I filled the water glass.   The lighting in the apartment, which I had expected to be fixed before my move-in, was obviously going to be a problem (even when it was fixed).

I need light.

I need warmth to help cushion my chronic pain and other symptoms.

There were other issues with the seaside apartment of course.   I don’t make hasty decisions in retirement, especially not decisions that cost $$$.   Last week was the most expensive ‘holiday‘ I’ve ever taken   😀   My bank account is still grumbling to itself every time I check the balance each morning.

Besides, I missed the birdsong which I wake to every morning here.   And,  I would have got obscenely fat on the wonderful hot fish n chips in which I indulged last week.

Why does hot fish n chips taste much better down the seaside?

I go with the flow and live my life Mindfully each day.   Enjoying the simple things and ‘stopping to smell the roses’, if not every day, then certainly each week at some time or other.

But my health comes first (in retirement).   I can’t afford to get chilled in Winter (or over-heated in Summer) with a serious heart condition, which was upgraded from mild to severe last October.

So I’m now back online with 101 seagull images to share – well not quite 101, but I did take a lot of photos of them in the 3 wonderful short walks I did last week.   They had to be short walks due to pain levels, but they were definitely ‘sweet’.

Oh, it was glorious to live beside the sea.   The smell of the sea air outdoors was a heady balm to my senses.   The screeching of the seagulls as they dived in when I threw my rapidly cooling chips in the air was really a delight. Twice, they even lined up on the old weathered pier edging waiting to pounce each time I lifted my arm.

But now I’m back home.   There are still all the issues that made me leave this riverside multi-story building, but I’ll just have to overcome them and make this tiny apartment ‘work’.

The beachside apartment never felt like home.   It felt like an empty freezing cold concrete shell to me (that just happened to reside in a fantastic location near the sea and 3 nature reserves).   Anyway, at least I now know how to get there in the summer via a (long?) 2-bus trip if I wish to.

I have some ongoing health issues to investigate, but I’ll be back online more regularly soon.

I’ll leave you with some wonderful images of a mural that was visible down a tiny side lane in the main shopping area.   I only had one camera over my shoulder – the Sony a6000 with its 55-210mm kit lens, so couldn’t fit the whole mural into the one shot.

 

# A PHOTO A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY – Day 45

……and here ends the theme of a photo a day from my archives (while in lockdown).

So what’s next you may well ask.  Probably some more photography, but not necessarily sharing every day.  I might even set up a new website as I quite enjoy changing themes and layouts and I have some new B & W images to upload to my old B & W site which I haven’t used in nearly 12 months.

I have some offline tasks to do also.   I’ve finished rejuvenating my TV table and now about to start on my dining table which got damaged in the apartment move 3 1/2 years ago and I’ve never found the time to repair the surface.

Tomorrow, some of our restrictions in my state of Victoria, Australia, are being eased and we enter a new stage of restrictions – a little looser than the last 3 months, but still keeping up social distancing and encouraged to work from home if it suits. Hopefully, some shops will re-open as I have a long shopping list.

From the archives

8th July 2012

SILVER GULL (Larus novaehollandiae)

THE PERFECT DAY (for photography)

It’s been raining on/off for a few days and today has dawned into the perfect photography day.   (I might add the herbs and tomato plants in my Balcony Garden have got some new healthy leaves too).

Blue sky with a smattering of soft cloud cover and soft light.   There’s barely a whisper of a breeze and I’m thinking I wish I still lived near the beach.   If you’re Australian or have visited Australia for a holiday, you’ll know what I mean by the perfect day.   Our sunlight in summer is harsh.   Nothing like the soft light in central Europe or the U.K. in summer.

(I’ve never been to the U.S. or Canada so I can’t comment about their sunlight and I can’t remember what the light was like when I travelled for a short holiday in central Asia).

Reminds me of the perfect day down at St Kilda Beach & boat marina back on the 23rd August, 2015.   This was a day I made lots of photos as the Winter light was so soft and I knew I’d get some ‘keepers’ (i.e. photos you keep and don’t delete).

One of my favourite images of all time. I love the way each person, couple or group is enjoying the day – each on their own – but all in the scene together.
I don’t think I’ve ever shared this shot before. It’s an old clock tower on the other side of the road. There is actually the main road behind this tower where the trams arrive from the city centre and the multi lane road leads on down to the rest of the bayside suburbs and beaches on Port Phillip Bay – the bay on which Melbourne is built at the northern end.
St Kilda is famous for its old bathing pavilion. There’s now a modern indoor swimming pool and some cafes and larger restaurants in the enormous building. This tower is just a small section of the building.

Regular followers will remember I’ve shared some of these images before, but this is (nearly) the whole series I took that day, so there may be some images you’ve never seen.

You can see I experimented with taking shots with minimal sky (emphasizing the foreground) and then the same scene with maximal sky (emphasizing the clouds and sky colour).   Since I can rarely see in the LCD screen on the back of the camera, I usually have to wait until I get home and download the day’s shooting on the large 27″ screen to see what looks good and what doesn’t.

I never ever knew where to put the horizon in the images until I read a photography book that said you can put it anywhere in the frame you like, depending on whether you want to highlight the foreground, background or sky.   The Winter light in Melbourne is nearly always soft due to the cloud cover.

It was probably the last day I visited this bayside beach which lies so close to Melbourne city.   I could still get there via about 3 connecting buses/trams and a walk, but it would take ages and too expensive to just catch a taxi there and back.

I wish there were apartments I could afford back on that south-eastern side of Melbourne because while I can’t get out and about much for a nature walk these days,  I could still visit these old photography haunts (Royal Botanic Gardens, St Kilda Beach, Brighton Beach, Melbourne Zoo, Port Melbourne Beach) easily if I had a car and could still drive.

So far, February, which is usually our hottest Summer month, has been relatively mild and the weather has included intermittent rain showers (and even heavy rainfalls) to help the firefighters still fighting the numerous large bushfires still burning (which will probably take months to burn themselves out).

Looking at next week’s weather forecast there is some rain still to come.

Looks like all the prayers for Australia from around the world are working.   Sad about the floods on the north-eastern coast where many places have had more rain in one day than in the usual whole summer month though.

But farmers are filled with joy after a 3-year drought in which there was no stock food even in the middle of Winter.  The creeks (small rivers) and rivers had dried up, so I’m hoping they’re back running again.

SILVER GULL (Larus novaehollandiae)

Silver Gulls are a large seabird and the most familiar of Australian gulls.

THIS USED TO BE MY FAVOURITE PHOTO AS IT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST IMAGES I MADE OF A BIRD WITH SHARP FOCUS ON IT’S HEAD/EYE AREA.
ONE OF MY RARE IMAGES OF BIRDS FLYING………VERY, VERY SLOWLY AS THEY CAME IN TO LAND (WHICH IS HOW I GOT THE BIRDS IN FOCUS LOL).

THIS GULL WAS STANDING VERY FIRMLY IN THE SHALLOWS FACING THE STRONG WIND AND SEEMINGLY GLARING AT ME AS I SHOT THIS PHOTO.The adult has a white head, neck and body, pale grey wings with black primaries showing white tips at rest.

WHEN THE TIDE GOES OUT DOWN AT THE BEACH, SEAGULLS CAN BE SEEN ‘STIRRING’ THE SAND IN THE HOPE OF FINDING SOME TASTY MORSEL TO EAT.
IMAGE MADE AT BRIGHTON BEACH SOME TIME IN AUTUMN (GOING BY THE AUTUMN COLOURS OF THE LEAVES ON THE WET SAND).

The beak, eye-rings and legs are scarlet.

ONE OF MY FAVOURITE PHOTOS I’VE OFTEN SHARED ONLINE. THIS ONE WAS MADE AT PORT MELBOURNE BEACH WHEN I CAPTURED A LADY FEEDING THE GULLS ONE HOT SUMMER’S DAY.

Immature Silver Gulls are duller, with brown flecks on wings forming a conspicuous bar in flight.  Their beak is brownish and the legs blackish.

I see them everywhere, not just down at the beach.

On the old buildings at the Meat & Fish section of Queen Victoria Market in North Melbourne – waiting for the fish scraps to be thrown out at the end of market day…..

At Melbourne Zoo next to the pond in the Japanese Garden……

In the city square on the lawn area………

In my local area along the Maribyrnong River…….

You just never know when they’re going to take off……

or jump up and down at Port Melbourne beach…..

Or quietly sit down for a rest at St Kilda Beach (near South Melbourne) at dusk…..

BEING LED

I’m trying to cut down more and more computer work.  For some weird reason I can’t fathom, my astigmatism (double vision) seems slightly worse since my hospital stay last week and now that the days are getting a wee bit warmer and Spring is on the horizon, I’m trying to channel my energy into some  possible new hobbies or pastimes.  Don’t know what yet.

Over the past 18 months I’ve cut back to 60 blogs to follow (instead of 140) – many of which were no longer posting anyway.

Many of the interesting writer’s blogs have been in the cull.  I just find it hard to read much in one sitting. (although, funnily enough,  I can type long posts myself 😀  just have trouble proof-reading them a zillion times to rectify the typos).

This is not because I have no desire to fill my morning with these wonderful words of wisdom or adventure, but simply that energy, eyesight and health are starting to deteriorate a wee bit more.

One of the best blogs I follow is by Karl Duffy.  It’s not a nature or photography blog, but a Mindfulness blog and I find his daily quotes or book extracts are nearly always inspirational, positive and uplifting.

In a life filled with health restrictions, I need all the help I can get to remain focused on what I can do, (not what I can’t).

Karl Duffy’s post for today seems relevant to me.  Do take the time to check out his posts and see if his blog is one that you might like to follow ( Mindfulbalance ).

Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I have deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led — make of that what you will.

Wedndell Berry, Jayber Crow, A Novel

NOTE: The images in this post were made at Port Melbourne Beach (the shells and Silver Gulls) and Brighton Beach (with the colourful bathing boxes) – too far away now I live in one of Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Perhaps when the days get longer in Summer’s DST (Daylight Savings Time), the longer bus/tram or train (or all 3) might be fun to travel on simply for the journey and looking out the window (if not a long walk along the beach).

Sometimes the best photography locations I’ve found simply by getting on a bus or tram and going to wherever it took me (to).  That’s how I discovered Port Melbourne Beach and Station Pier (where the overnight ferry leaves for the island state of Tasmania – a place I’ve been many times as a child – staying on my Grandmother’s dairy farm during school holidays).

Selling my car in November 2003 was one of the best things I ever did in terms of getting a little more adventurous in urban living – one is forced to use the Public Transport system and travel through suburbs and bayside beaches I’d previously ignored.

(although I do sometimes wish I still had a car to drive up the country and mountainous regions in my State eg. The Dandenong Ranges National Park past the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne).

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ST KILDA PIER & BOAT MARINA

Around this time of Winter 6 years ago, I was down at the bayside beach suburb of St Kilda, (to the south of Melbourne city), and this day was the first, and only, afternoon in which I’ve ever seen the sea completely calm at low tide.  The light was dull, but looking straight into the sun gave the illusion that it was dusk and the sun was setting.  Occasionally the sky seemed slightly more mauve than golden.

The images below were made between 2.40pm and 4.20pm – both looking towards the sun……. and away from the sun.

(note: at this time of Winter in Melbourne, the sun goes down fairly early anyway, but 2.40pm………………such a strange and eerie afternoon).

This image looking straight out to the end of St Kilda Pier shows some of the eerie golden light and was actually made slightly later at 4.36 pm, just before I headed for home.