QUOTE – Awakening

When confusion or pain seems to tighten what is possible, when sadness or frustration shrinks your sense of well-being, when worry or fear agitates the peace right out of you, try lending your attention to the nearest thing. Try watching how the dust lifts and resettles when you blow on it.

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

 

QUOTE – Happiness

 

How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea…..All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.

Nikos Kazantzakis

 

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…….and the story continues.

I’m still alive and enjoying the simple things in life at home.

My open-heart surgery on 3rd August, was more than eventful.   I went into cardiogenic shock and with my kidneys and liver failing, there was many a prayer said – even the lady who collected my meal order in the hospital told me she’d been praying.

As I deteriorated, with a liver count of 8200+, all of a sudden, the most extraordinary thing happened.   My organs stopped failing in an instant and I turned around and came out the other side.

8 days in ICU (instead of the anticipated 1-2 days), 4 days in a private room  and I was well enough to enter Cardiac Rehab. (which I’d actually booked ahead of time since I live on my own).

I was so fed up with the constant interruptions, uncomfortable bed (for me) and low unsupportive pillows, I asked my cardio/thoracic surgeon if I could go straight home.   After all, my neighbour had my spare key and we’d arranged that she would keep an eye on me and do whatever I needed.  I have multiple chronic health problems and need my beauty sleep at my age too.

People don’t realize the power of sufficient deep, restorative, restful sleep until it’s absent.   Us ICIs (Invisible Chronic Illness) sufferers find poor sleep and constant waking a ‘slap in the face’ (over and over again).

After an examination by the cardiac surgeon, my brother picked me and my luggage up and brought me home.   My car space is in the lower basement and after getting my luggage (and me) out of the car, my brother, Badger the wonder dog and I found the lift not working.   %&$@!

Ever resourceful, my brother repacked me (and the luggage) and went up and out the garage door to the front entrance of my building (which is 2 flights of stairs higher).   I went in and checked my mail, then sat in the foyer to wait.

S and I walked up the flight of fire stairs easily and while slow, I wasn’t even puffing when we reached my 1st floor (2nd floor in the U.S. I believe).

I wondered if I was supposed to be walking UP stairs after open-heart surgery?   😀

We ate our sumptuous Thai Takeaway and then when my brother checked much later the lift had been fixed so he brought up my luggage.

So late last Sunday night while I was watching TV with my feet up, it all felt surreal.

Was I really on the way out 13 days previously?

More than one doctor in the ICU and later the second week in my private room said the whole incident and turn-around was absolutely extraordinary.  (His words, not mine).

BUCKET LIST:

  1. Experience a miracle  (tick) ……this is the 3rd miracle I’ve experienced as an adult.

  2. recover from open-heart surgery (tick)

  3. Hear the Spotted-Turtle Doves coo at dawn (again) – tick.

  4. …….and so on

We’re back under lockdown and curfew here in Melbourne, Australia,  so staying home and doing my breathing exercises is a no-brainer.

Now, can I really restrain myself from household chores until my sternum heals?   I should allow 12 weeks the Cardiac Nurse Educator said.

You betcha  😀

Anyway, I’m having a holiday from WordPress – blogging & following.

Talk to you in Spring.

QUOTE – LIFE

If you learn to enjoy waiting you don’t have to wait to enjoy

Kazuaki Tanahashi

15TH JULY 2013 – THE ORNAMENTAL LAKE CLOSE TO THE NORTH-EAST ENTRANCE OF THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS IN MELBOURNE

……..and the black & white version of the same scene.

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I’ve been off the WordPress Blogasphere for just over a month now.

No blog reading (let alone blog post uploading on my own blogs).  Well, maybe one or two  😀

I am getting too fatigued to do much now and have (finally) got the date booked for my open-heart surgery – 3rd August.   I have the inherited version of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and the symptoms have gradually worsened over the last couple of years.

I have chosen to spend my current time in light off-line activities that don’t take up so much of my energy – mental or physical.  Yes, believe it or not, I find blog reading energy-sapping at the moment, especially the blogs that have a lot of writing accompanying their photos.

This heart surgery will have a long recovery time for me, as I have Fibromyalgia, CFS/ME, MCS and 3 other heart conditions.   The split sternum takes 6-8 weeks to heal and I can’t lift any weight for 3 months after surgery.  I haven’t been able to move forward with treatment/surgery for the constant nerve pain in my lower spine and right leg sciatic pain etc so that has been put on the backburner for now.   At least the total right hip replacement from last December is ‘done and dusted’.

I hope to be back online in a couple of months  🙂

QUOTE – Life

It’s like driving a car at night. 

You never see further than your headlights,

but you can make the whole trip that way.

 Doctorow, 1931 – 2015, American novelist

Note:  The series of images below were made travelling home in a bus from South Melbourne.   As I was sitting in the front seat I made random shots along the way on a very dark night and, at a guess, I would say I had the Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ on the Intelligent Auto setting as it takes great dusk and sunset images and I thought it had the best chance of capturing something.

In fact, capturing anything at all (was my aim).

I ended up with the camera automatically going up to a very high ISO and heaps of noise (or graininess) in the images.

I also ended up with many blurred images when the bus hit a bump in the road.  By the time I arrived home, I’d learned how many bumps and ‘potholes’ there actually were in some urban roads around Melbourne   😀

I’ve never shared them before as I thought ‘the noise’ reduced the quality and they were just not good enough (to share), but now, as I review them in June 2021, I love them for the moodiness they convey – almost looking like paintings, rather than photos.

 

In the image below, the bus had stopped at a red light and I managed to get a sharper focus on the shop window (with the trees and setting sun reflecting on the bus door window).

 

The images below were made as I left the centre of Melbourn’s CBD (central business district) and passed closer to Port Melbourne, eventually crossing the Maribyrnong River into the inner western suburbs and my home location.

While all of us amateur (and professional?) photographers like sharply focused images, perhaps soft focus is just as good in storytelling.

Life isn’t perfect and we all have our problems and unique stories to share.

QUOTE – Birds

Birds of a feather flock together

 

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Birds of a feather flock together’?

This proverb has been in use since at least the mid 16th century. In 1545 William Turner used a version of it in his papist satire The Rescuing of Romish Fox:

“Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.”

The first known citation in print of the currently used English version of the phrase appeared in 1599, in The Dictionarie in Spanish and English, which was compiled by the English lexicographer John Minsheu:

Birdes of a feather will flocke togither.

The phrase also appears in Benjamin Jowett’s 1856 translation of Plato’s Republic. Clearly, if it were present in the original Greek text then, at around 380BC, Plato’s work would be a much earlier reference to it. What appears in Jowett’s version is:

Men of my age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says.

Plato’s text can be translated in other ways and it is safe to say it was Jowett in 1856, not Plato in 380BC, that considered the phrase to be old. The lack of any citation of it in English prior to the 16th century does tend to suggest that its literal translation wasn’t present in The Republic – a text that was widely read by English scholars of the classics well before the 16th century.

Seagulls down at Altona Beach (on the western side of Port Phillip Bay – the bay on which the city of Melbourne was first settled in 1835).

The river behind my apartment block – the Maribyrnong River – was first explored in 1805……much earlier

NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)

For a change, I thought I’d do a post on each of the 100+ Australian birds I’ve photographed and identified over the last 10 years.

When I first spotted a Nankeen Night Heron on the bank of the Ornamental Lake in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens I was thrilled as I thought it was a rare bird.

It was early in my photography hobby and I’d never seen such a beautiful bird.   I seem to have lost that first image in a computer crash, but I’ve got plenty more photos taken over the years.

Over many months (and years) I discovered they were common, especially in winter on the large island in the middle of the Ornamental Lake when the trees are leafless and the winter sun shines directly on the bare limbs.

There’s supposed to be Nankeen Night Herons in the Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my apartment building (above in the lower left – photographed from the 5th floor) and somewhere in the parkland up and down the Maribyrnong River near my home (below) but I’ve never seen one since living in the area over the last 4 1/2 years.

I hope the image below is helpful for overseas followers to appreciate that I’m no longer living close to the city (of Melbourne) which is partly why I rarely go into the city these days and certainly never do street photography.    

The image is from a Real Estate advertisement but no mention of the photographer was given so unfortunately, I can’t credit that person with this image. Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve is about 100 feet from my ‘back door’. Not obvious in this image is the fact that my apartment building is built about halfway down a very steep slope on the western side of the river valley.  Melbourne city is shown on the horizon.

The images below are a mixture of photos made in the landscaping of Melbourne Zoo as well as at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

The mottled brown and cream pattern on the back and wings indicate a teenage heron.
This photo was made in what I call the Pelican’s lagoon at Melbourne Zoo.  Australian Pelicans and Cormorants congregate on the water around 4.00pm each afternoon when the keepers feed them from the boardwalk above.  I imagine the Nankeen Night Herons living on the lagoon island get their own food from the muddy water.
I think this image was of a heron on an unpathed area of the Botanic Gardens.
I’ve just cropped this image on 2 sides to make the heron’s body a bit larger within the frame.

This rather poor image (below) shows what I call the Heron tree in the Ornamental Lake.   The tree is dead and can be covered in 20+ Nankeen Night Herons warming up their feathers in the winter sunshine.

I’ve always been fascinated by the two slim white feathers adorning the ‘neck’ of the heron.   Why did Mother Nature put those feathers on the adult bird?  (I haven’t yet asked Mr Google that question).

I was kneeling down about 3-4 feet from the heron when I took these photos in the Zoo restaurant courtyard (next to the Japanese Garden).

NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)

NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)

The next minute the heron turned and started walking straight towards me and I had to stand up and move away from its path.

This heron was photographed on a small island adjoining the main lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Apologies to the long-time followers who followed my old nature blog and will have seen these images several times before.

QUOTE – Winter

December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory. 

 John Geddes A Familiar Rain

Obviously, this quote comes from the northern hemisphere, but it’s just right for Melbourne’s second week of winter.

TALKING OF GINGER LILIES (in the last post)

…..Talking of Ginger Lilies in the last post, I just came across another image I shot on the 28th April 2012 in Melbourne Zoo’s landscaping.

This image has no lens data in my photo library so that must have disappeared in one of my computer crashes?   Obviously cropped to a square format, it’s a shot to be proud of early in my photography hobby.   Either side of it in my photo library is the data showing it was probably shot with my first Canon DSLR and 18-200mm f3.5 – 5.6 IS lens.

Eventually, this much-used general-purpose lens died from overuse after about 100,000 photos.   Now that….lens…..was real value for money.

I bought an 18-200mm Sony lens to go with my Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ camera on 24th February 2015, but it also died – this time in a fall in Melbourne Cemetery 26th June – 4 months after purchase.

…..and how do I know the exact dates you may well ask.   Well, I took a photo of the Sony boxes when I bought the camera and took a selfie of the gash from hairline to eyebrow when I tripped over a marble tombstone and ‘killed’ the Sony lens in Melbourne Cemetery.

If you’re new to photography and can only afford one lens to pair with your new DSLR, I can highly recommend an 18-200mm lens.   It’s good for close-ups, good for landscapes and gets you pretty close to a bird up in a tree.

I took so many photos in the early years of my photography hobby, I just have to view an image in my photo library and I can see where I was and what I was doing on that day – better than a diary.

FITZROY GARDENS – EAST MELBOURNE

I had an hour to spare on arriving at my appointment in East Melbourne on Monday 24th May.   I’ve been trying to find the names of 2 (common) flowers to no avail, so I decided to just share my photos anyway (minus those 2 common flowers).

The Fitzroy Gardens, located in East Melbourne,  was named after Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy (1796-1858), Governor of New South Wales (1846-1851) and Governor-General of the Australian Colonies (1851-1855). 

The heritage-listed Fitzroy Gardens were originally set aside as a reserve in 1848. The landscape is diverse and layered, following a classic Victorian-era design. There are extensive lawns and pathways lined with mature elm trees, plus a framework of garden structures and floral displays across the 26 hectares.

(Note: the Royal Botanic Gardens to the south-east of Melbourne’s CBD are 55 hectares and go back to 1846 and are far more interesting in my view).

Star attractions are the historic Cooks’ Cottage and the Spanish mission-style Conservatory with its magnificent floral displays.   I managed to find some images from The Conservatory in my archives to illustrate this post even though I didn’t visit The Conservatory on this occasion.   There are 5 seasonal displays per year – the four seasons and one extra.  Best to ring first before visiting The Observatory from a tourist point of view, as I got caught out one year making the long walk from the bus stop and finding The Observatory closed while they changed the display from one season to the next.

White Begonia
Calathea leaves
Looking through the Conservatory window, Fitzroy Gardens, MELBOURNE
Green HYDRANGEA FLOWERS – A nice change from the usual pink, blue or mauve varieties.   Or,  are all hydrangea flowers green before turning a soft pastel colour?
For years I’ve been visiting the area and always found this fountain dry. I never even realised it WAS a fountain – just thought it was a sculptured piece sitting in a raised base.  Just once have I seen it flowing with water and the checkered pool floor filled on what was probably the last photography excursion when living on this side of Melbourne.

Other points of interest include a miniature Tudor village, the Fairies’ Tree carved sculpture, myriad fountains and statues, and the Scarred Tree.

The Gardens have a long history of over 150 years, few other capital cities can boast such a significant garden so close to the City’s centre.

My appointment was in the nearby Grey Street and so my short walk included the Grey Street Fountain – a rather unimaginative name in my view.

The brilliant sunshine threw many flowers into over-exposure mode as I started my short walk and I couldn’t see through the viewfinder well enough to make some well-composed shots.

I quickly changed the target and photographed flowers in the shade.

There weren’t many.

The wind was also a factor as all you flower photographers will know and it  (the wind) is not our friend when it comes to photographing delicate blooms or grasses.

There were not many flowers in flower this close to winter, so I quickly restricted my walk to about 100feet and then turned and walked back to the side street again.   The only 2 birds in sight, were a pair of Australian Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata) atop a couple of rocks in the Grey Street Fountain pond.

First I captured some Cassava (Yucca) backlit by the sun.   I know this plant more by the name of Yucca (and have 2 really beautiful specimens at the top of my steep road near my home).

Then a lovely fresh bloom of this Fuchsia , (swinging in the wind so not sharp focus).

FUCHSIA (Fuchsia boliviana)
ORANGE FLOWERING GINGER LILY (Hedichium Greenii)
MORNING LIGHT MAIDEN GRASS (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’) – not the best shot I’ve even taken, but my brain was slow on the day and I should have increased the shutter speed.
MORNING LIGHT MAIDEN GRASS (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’)

The Agapanthus was at just the right opening stage for fresh blooms…..

AFRICAN BLUE LILY (Agapanthus)

And below, one of only 2 white Angel’s Trumpet flowers not brown and dying.

PURPLE CRANESBILL (Geranium x magnificum)

There were winter-flowering Salvia and Sea lavender (or Statice) budding and showing a few scant flowers but my photos were poor and not worth sharing.

This week it’s back to a cold Antarctic chill, with strong winds and very chilly mornings. Rain all day and/or overcast skies and rain showers will dominate the week.