jaydogblog

my life in the land down under


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I’d rather be… writing?

Yesterday morning I came across an older post from someone whose blog I follow. It was written in response to a WordPress writing prompt, regarding what her ideal space for reading & writing would look like.

I haven’t thought about what mine might look like – but it did remind me I’m meant to be writing!

Two days ago – besides being Valentines Day – was a work day for me, and the date of my annual performance appraisal. I had spent quite a few hours over the last couple of weeks nutting out a self-review, to cover every indicator of every sub-category of the four main ‘competencies’ or standards that my work practices have to meet. So you can imagine my disappointment when my boss let me know I needed to write stories or ‘scenarios’ to back up my bullet-point statements of ‘I do this / I do that’. She gave some helpful suggestions but it wasn’t what I wanted to hear – and was followed by a particularly busy and difficult shift during which I had the role of co-ordinator.

To clarify – my boss has no problems with my performance, it’s just that the self-review needed to be written in a different way to pass the portfolio assessment (that’s a 3-yearly requirement).

Due to a bad habit of procrastination over things I don’t really want to do, and having already requested a three-month extension for my portfolio – which ends very soon (where did the last 2 1/2 months go?!) – I only have a few days to rewrite & re-present my self-review, in time for my boss to add her comments, so I can add the final touches to my portfolio and hand it in by 1st March.

So I’m meant to be writing stories for work today, but I’d rather be writing blog posts – or sewing that Made with Love quilt, which has gone on the back burner again. 😦

This weekend we have a photographic project on, which I expect to be fun but challenging, and that will involve a fair bit of post-processing and the creation of a slideshow. We were also planning to travel away for a few days from next weekend to visit John’s sister (who is also a quilter), and weather permitting explore some of the cycling tracks in her area. Plus I have several work days between now & then. So there’s not a lot of time…

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Yesterday our 150th butterfly of the season emerged from ‘her’ chrysalis. Which also reminds me of John’s comment a few days ago that it would be great if we could withdraw from other commitments for a while, almost like going into a chrysalis, get some things sorted out, and emerge as something new at the end.  🙂

Butterfly #150

Monarch butterfly #150 (female)

Butterfly #150 Drying Wings

Butterfly #150 drying her wings

Butterfly #152

Butterfly #152 (male)

Anyway, back to work…

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One Word

As 2012 ended and 2013 began, I kept reading about the concept of choosing a word for the year rather than a set of goals or New Year Resolutions. I’m certainly no good at keeping resolutions, and gave up on them a long while ago. However I still find myself wanting to make some goals or a list of ‘things I want to achieve’ each time a new year begins.

As I pondered what word to choose for this year, I came up with ‘Focus’.

Some definitions of ‘focus’: (noun) a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity; (verb) to concentrate, or (of a person or their eyes) to adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

Some ways I could live this out in 2013:

decide on the right priorities and goals for me

keep my mind and heart on the goal(s) I’ve set

aim to complete things

don’t be so easily distracted by all the little interruptions and choices that take me away from the longer-term goals

avoid (or at least limit) time-wasting, both activities and thought patterns

be more mindful about what I choose to do (and not do), and how I use my time each day

be consciously moving forward

let go of past situations and relationships that have caused stress & anxiety

Appropriately to our interests,  focus is also a photographic term. What happens when you focus incorrectly? Maybe nothing in the frame is focused sharply – or maybe everything is equally sharp, and there’s no single object that stands out amidst the detail and clutter? Either way you could end up with a messy and confusing image, leaving the viewer wondering where to look.

Blurred Gum Trees

Blurred gum trees

Buttercups

Buttercups

Using selective focus and shallow depth of field makes the subject of the photograph stand out more clearly.

Monarch on Dahlia

Monarch on dahlia

Fuchsia

Fuchsia

I’m definitely not there yet. It’s so easy to get distracted from my goal(s) by a multitude of interesting or necessary things, and then reach the end of the day with tasks unfinished, and feeling frustrated at my lack of progress.

However, I will be doing my best to stay focused and move forward this year.

Are there more of you out there who are giving this ‘one word’ thing a go? I’d love to hear from you!

Related posts:

Ann Voskamp’s blog post on moving forward – When You Don’t Want a New Year but a New You

Hearing this song again last week – The Feelers ‘Stand Up’ – about letting go of the past and moving on.

Zack Arias’s video ‘Signal vs Noise’ – the need to simplify, and to decide ‘What is signal? / What is noise?’ in relation to my own life.

From CalmHealthySexy (a Christian marriage blog) – “Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you say ‘no’ to something else.” – Learn to Say ‘No’.

Others who have chosen one word (thanks for the inspiration!):

Paperkeeper – It Takes Just a Nudge to Budge

Katie Swanberg – 2013

Too Darn Happy – Your OneWord is calling – Time to Answer


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Looking Back / Looking Ahead

Its that time again, when we tend to look back at what’s happened over the past year, and look forward to what the new year has in store for us.

I’ve appreciated reading other’s summaries of the high & low points of their year, so I thought I’d write a list of my own. Rather than letting the year fade into obscurity it would be good to remember and appreciate what 2012 held for me (or alternatively, be glad its over! though thankfully not too much of that). Some of these I’ve already written about in more detail, others may become blog posts in the future. Here follows a mix of good & bad:

Shared meals during the year with family, celebrating birthdays, Christmas and ‘just because’.

Missing other family members who live overseas, and appreciating the technology that enabled us to make a Skype call to some of them last week. It was a nice surprise for my parents, who didn’t know why we had invited them around!

The sad loss of my brother and sister-in-law’s baby at two days old (Elijah had Trisomy 18).

Extended family (and non-family) dramas and confrontations that I could have done without. Hoping 2013 is a year relatively free of stress in this area, though realistically we expect some of it will continue well into the New Year. I just need to learn how to deal with it more calmly!

The occasional coffee outings with a supportive friend; very necessary at times to keep my sanity. 🙂 Looking forward to more of these in 2013.

Injuries of various kinds, which made us appreciate parts of our body we would normally take for granted (e.g. shoulders, toes!).

The privilege of holding my nephew’s hand as he went under anaesthetic for surgery on a fractured toe this week. Even though I’ve worked in paediatrics for a long time and in operating theatre for a year (way back), it’s quite a different feeling when your own family is involved. All went well and he’s back home now.

The children’s ward where I work moved to a new environment mid-year; hopefully the last move for some time.

I joined a beginners’ quilting class back in May and started to make my first quilt, then attended a couple of quilt shows and had my eyes opened to the amazing creativity, variety of patterns and colour combinations out there. Later in the year I learned what a Postage Stamp Quilt was and participated in my first swap as a newbie – see Treasures in the Post and Treasures from Around the World. Progress on the Made with Love quilt has come to a standstill recently, but I plan to have a more positive report soon.

In May I also started this blog and have since ‘met’ other bloggers from around the world with shared interests. I have enjoyed their humour and been inspired and encouraged. Thanks to all who have read my posts over the year, liked, commented and followed. You are much appreciated!

We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary in September.

Around the same time I joined a Christian women’s book group and read ‘One Thousand Gifts’ by Anne Voskamp; although I missed a few of the meetings I did finish the book and highly recommend it. I look forward to seeing what’s on the agenda for the group this year.

Early in the year I changed from a PC to a Mac computer, and felt as though I was learning a new language for a few months!

I learned how to use the movie capability on my Nikon D7000, and the Mac programme ‘Fotomagico’ for the first time to put together a fusion audiovisual (digital photo slideshow with music and video incorporated). Christmas in July has some of the images I used in the AV and gives the background story.

Over the year we have photographed hair models and family portraits, and learned more about drawing out shy children in front of the camera.

In early November, I attended a photographic convention out-of-town with friends from camera club, which meant being away from home for four days without my ‘other half’. The convention was great, but I missed him!

A Garden & Art Festival was held here in mid-November. Thanks to friends I received a free ticket for one of the days; we visited some beautiful gardens to which I did not do justice with my camera.

I resigned from the position of webmaster for our camera club website, after 11 years; the End of an Era.

I also decided not to renew my subscription to a B&W photography magazine after almost as many years. This doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest in B&W photography, just that I have quite a number of unread magazines and it seemed silly to keep buying them when I wasn’t keeping up!

My darling (he suggested I call him this rather than the impersonal ‘other half’) recently introduced me to the brain training website ‘Lumosity’ as an attempt to keep us young and sharp. Challenging but great fun. 🙂

With some help from a friend, we survived a swarm of bees which made their home in the wall of our house; see Bees in my Bonnet and Fake Rain.

Last but not least, we successfully raised and released a grand total of 128 monarch butterflies from caterpillar stage in November / December. I celebrated the 100th with this post. Our swan plant is slowly recovering and the next batch of caterpillars are growing up, but we’ve shut down the ‘nursery’ for now. I love seeing butterflies flying around the garden. 🙂

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So goodbye 2012, welcome 2013.

Happy New Year everyone!

What’s on your list? I’d love to know! 🙂

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Century

Some people are interested in numbers; some are not.

However, today’s date is 12/12/12. There won’t be another repetition of numbers like this until next century, when we return to 01/01/01 (2101). I’m not sure if any of us will be around to see that!

Today we also made it to a century, as our 100th monarch butterfly for the season emerged from its chrysalis (along with numbers 97, 98, 99, 101, 102 & 103).

Last night I played ‘guess the 100th’ and marked one – and then later looked at the chrysalises again and made a second choice – from the seven that were expected today. My second choice was the 100th (a female), the other the 101st (a male), which emerged about 20 minutes later.

The following images show how our century played out.

butterfly-100_9.41.42

9.41.42 am

butterfly-100_9.42.26

9.42.26 am

butterfly-100_9.42.52

9.42.52 am

butterfly-100_9.43.23

9.43.23 am

butterfly-100_9.54.57

9.54.57 am

butterfly-100_11.23.15

11.23.15 am

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P.S. We are in the southern hemisphere, so the snow is courtesy of WordPress. 🙂

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Left over Right…

Many, many years ago 😉 I was a Brownie (junior version of the Girl Guide, also known as Girl Scout). Among other things I learned to tie knots, although the only one I remember well is the reef knot: ‘left over right and under, right over left and under’.

We appear to be running a monarch butterfly nursery here at the moment (see my previous post here for the back story on how this came to be!). This has given me little time to update the blog recently. It has also involved tying lots of knots; I can’t claim they are reef knots, but they do the job anyhow.

We started off with a small stand for rescued chrysalises, last season or maybe the season before. As you can see, it accommodates eight.

First stand

This year we’ve had to upgrade several times.

Second stand – holds 16 chrysalises

Third stand – holds 36 chrysalises

We had a large plastic container that was not being used; John cut a hole in the lid and replaced it with a fine net material to let light and air into the container. We have housed up to 25 caterpillars at one time. The pieces of wooden dowelling were intended as places for them to chrysalis, however the first group seemed to prefer the container lid! The second group have divided themselves about equally between the dowelling and the roof.

Caterpillar container

Caterpillar container from the top

Caterpillar inside container

At last count we had 87 chrysalises and two J’s inside; there are a few more outside that we are letting be. It has been very time-consuming feeding the fat caterpillar babies and keeping the container relatively clean; its a relief when each day a few more successfully change into ‘J’s’ and then chrysalises. A very small minority have not made it for one reason or another – one made its chrysalis on the house wall the other day so has a flat side, another did the same in our big container. We thought there was only a slim chance of a healthy butterfly developing so have euthanised these. One new chrysalis was very close to the edge of the container and sadly got caught in the lid when we were replacing it. 😦 Today we had a caterpillar that started to change into a chrysalis then stopped, and appears to have died. Thankfully, these few are the exception to a large number of apparently perfectly-formed chrysalises.

Our one remaining swan plant outside is now taking a beating – many of the upper leaves have been stripped – but may be able to recover before the next round. We’ve had to release a trapped butterfly on two occasions; it had obviously found it’s way under the net to lay eggs. We’ve also rescued a few fat caterpillars that were at risk of being walked on, as they went marching off at high speed across the concrete to find a place to chrysalis. If they go for the neighboring yucca plant we leave them alone, as it seems a secure place – the leaves are strong and won’t blow around in rough weather. I’m sure there will be a few in other places and some we may never find!

Swan plant – compare foliage with photo in previous post

Rescuing a wandering caterpillar

Caterpillar on yucca plant

Chrysalises on yucca

The good news, that makes it all worth it, is the resulting butterflies. So far we have had two emerge, both males. There are several darkening chrysalises today; it looks as though we will have about four new butterflies tomorrow and more later in the week. It’s warm here at the moment, and they are taking just over two weeks from the time the chrysalis forms.

Chrysalis about to hatch – the rings around the top start to stretch downwards and the shape changes

First butterfly of the season (male)

John releasing first butterfly

First butterfly (male)

Monarch (male) on swan plant

Second butterfly newly emerged, wings still crumpled

Second butterfly (also male) with wings fully pumped up

We have found the nursery chores a bit overwhelming, and John is threatening to pull out the swan plants when the season is over! Meanwhile we feel we’re doing our bit for New Zealand’s monarch population. 🙂

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Update (Wednesday morning): We have had two female butterflies emerge so far today. Have to get back to tying chrysalises – only about 30 to do! 🙂

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