Category: Musings


I know, I know, such a cliché…remember the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”? Well, it’s all about serendipity, choices, philosophy.

Today’s post is in appreciation of my humble bicycle. Yes, you read that right. My bicycle.

Here’s what happened. This morning I was going to dye my hair red, but when I took the box out of the bathroom cabinet, I realised the dye colour was mahogany brown. I’d wanted a rich red. Okay. I also needed to get a few bits and pieces. So I got on my bicycle and cycled over to my local shopping mall, all of 3 roads away. I parked my bike at the bile rack, secured it using my coiled cable bike lock, along with my helmet, and then I went into the supermarket. This was around 12 noon.

At around 1230 I came out. The bike was gone. For a second I thought maybe I’d made a mistake and had parked my bike around the other entrance to the mall. Then I saw broken pieces of black plastic on the ground. Then I saw the green coils of my bike’s lock. Then I saw my helmet and water bottle lying on the floor. That’s when the realisation sank in. I’d been robbed of my beloved bicycle!

The nice Security officer who took my details told me the barber whose shop was next to the bike rack had reported seeing 4 Aboriginal/Kiwi boys taking the bike. He said they’d probably used a hammer or pliers to crack open the plastic housing where the cable clicked into the lock, hence the broken pieces of plastic lying on the ground. I lodged a Police report and gave the report number to the Security guard.

And then I had to walk home with my groceries. As I walked, I wondered what were the chances of ever recovering my bicycle. I wondered if our household insurance covered the theft of my bike. I needed a bicycle to get around on…how long would the Insurance company take to pay up?

As I turned the corner to my street, I saw an Aboriginal family ahead with a supermarket trolley. There were 2 men, 2 women and 3 children. I noticed that one of the children, a girl aged about 8 or 9, was on a bicycle. Could it be? She didn’t look very steady on it. Was it MY bike?

It was!!!

I dropped my shopping at the gates to my house and ran towards the Aboriginal family. As I ran, I hit the redial button on my mobile phone to call the Police (having only done that not 15 minutes ago). When the duty sargeant answered, I told her to just listen.

At that precise moment, the family turned towards me when they heard me talking on my mobile phone to the Police. And the girl fell off my bike. I took advantage of the situation and went all Mama Bear on the family. As the adults were helping the girl up off the ground, I yelled at them “That’s my bike! I’ve reported it to the Police as stolen. Leave it right there and just go! Go now! Or I WILL press charges against you for theft!”

One of the men, who had shorn sides but a little ponytail under a red baseball cap, said “We didn’t steal nothing”. One of the women said “We just found it lying in the alley”. I yelled at them “I don’t care whether you stole it or found it, that’s my bike and if you don’t leave right now, the Police will be coming and you’ll get arrested for handling stolen property! If you just “found” it, you should take it to the Police Station, not claim it for your own use!” I picked my poor bike up off the ground.

The other man, a big fat guy in a dark blue sweatshirt and pants, mumbled some swear words at me. I stood my ground, held my mobile phone up to show them the Police were still listening to our exchange right now.

For a minute it looked like a Mexican Standoff. Then, thankfully, the family decided it would be wiser to just move on swiftly. As soon as they’d gone around the corner, I spoke to the nice policewoman on the line. I gave her the Police report number from a few minutes ago, described the suspect family, and asked her to kindly update the mall’s Security department that my bike had been recovered.

My heart didn’t stop pounding til an hour later.

Now I’ve put a protective spell on my bike and my son’s bike (he needs it for school). Oh, and just to be doubly safe, I also bought a heavy duty iron lock and cable from my local bike shop. No one messes with my bicycle! No one messes with me!

That scene of me flying up my street, mobile phone in one hand, chasing after that thieving family…worthy of a Cops & Robbers television drama!! The adrenaline! The excitement! The close avoidance of violence! Thank God for mobile phones and fast redials! One little woman against 4 adults and 3 children! I am one Fearless Mama!!

imageHome again, safe and sound!

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Rockingham Penguin Island

I’m proud to be able to boast that our little city of Rockingham, Western Australia, is home to a race of adorable tiny little creatures. These are the Little Penguins, so-called for their small stature.

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The Little Penguin, or Fairy Penguin (I love that name!), is the world’s smallest species of penguins. They stand little more than a foot high. End to end, one would fit nicely from the crook of your elbow to your fingertips, that’s how tiny they are. They can be found along the coastlines of southern Australia. In New Zealand they are called Blue Penguins. Rockingham, Western Australia is about the furthest north these little critters go, and we are all the better for that. Penguin Island hosts the largest colony of Little Penguins in Western Australia.

image View showing Penguin Island in the forefront, and the Rockingham mainland in the background.

imageShowing Penguin Island and behind it, Seal Island. The large island with a causeway is Garden Island, Western Australia’s largest Naval base.

Penguin Island is called that because…well, obviously because it’s where the colony of penguins live. But not just penguins call the island home – on Penguin Island itself, and on its neighbouring islands are large colonies of pelicans, seagulls and seals. You can take a tour in a glassbottomed boat further out to sea and see playful dolphins, and even swim with them. On Penguin Island there are several nature walks (watch out for raucous seagulls guarding their nests, eggs and young!), a picnic area (bring your own food and drink), caves you can explore, even the occasional basking sealion on the beach!

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For both the ferry to Penguin Island and dolphin tours around the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park area, Rockingham Wild Encounters is the sole operator.

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There is a tidal bar or sandbar from Rockingham across to Penguin Island, and people were allowed to walk across until recently…the sandbar unfortunately does not go out in a straight line, like a bridge, but curves and zig-zags underwater, and is extremely difficult to see underfoot when the tide is rising or in strong winds. Step off the sandbar and you would plunge into the sea, or worse, be swept by strong currents onto jagged rocks.

I recall reading about an unfortunate family from India who had just had a picnic on Penguin Island on 28th December 2010. They, along with around 10 other tourists, had either missed the ferry or wanted to experience walking on the sandbar. The tide started coming in, so they quickened their pace to get back to the Rockingham shore. Unfortunately, the 2 Indian wives were swept off the sand bar into the sea, and their husbands jumped in to save them. The women and other tourists were subsequently rescued, but the men drowned. These days, there is a huge sign on the beach strongly discouraging anyone from using the sand bar.

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So, please, if you are planning to visit Penguin Island, do it safely. Take the ferry. The cost of it covers you to and from the island, and you can also combine it with the cost of the Penguin Island Discovery Centre Show aka feeding time for the Little Penguins. You can see them up close and learn about their habits, watch them swim, play and eat. They really are the sweetest little things.

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Penguin Island is closed to the public during the penguins’ winter nesting period, from June til mid-September each year. But the wildlife cruises are still operational all year round. During the breeding season, there are up to 1000 pairs of Little Penguins on or around Penguin Island. The penguins that you see on show are either orphaned or rejected and rescued and are now permanent residents of the Centre, or those found injured and nursed back to health.

Where I live, each morning at sunrise, large flocks of wild birds fly over my house: seagulls, pelicans, cockatoos of all colours – white, pink and white, green, black. The cacophony is unbelievable and enough to wake the dead! And the same happens at sunset each day. I absolutely love it.

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(All photos courtesy of Google images).

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Some ads from the 1950s and even earlier: (as seen on Pinterest)

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And who uses these appliances?

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That’s right! The lady of the house! Look at that beatific smile on her face as she irons, washes, hangs out the clothes, sews, scrubs and mops! Doesn’t she look like she’s enjoying every last second of it?

(Cue sound of DJ scratching record)

Luckily, you’ve come a long way, baby. Here are some household appliances, gadgets and innovations the modern house already has, should have, or will have in the very near future: (images also taken from Pinterest)

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All to make your life much easier…after you’ve just returned home from a long day at work and find that you’re still expected to cook, clean and tidy up after the kids and the husband.

Luckily, there are always willing slaves to help you out…The following images are from a witty little book called “Porn for Women” ;).

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Like I said, you’ve come a long way, baby!

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Take one old garden bench.
Add one found bookcase, minus the shelves.
Add 30 litres of potting compost. Scrounge around the house and gather together various succulent plants and what not.
Plant in bookcase planter.
Add smooth pebbles from old pond. Tamp down.
Water with watering can.
Add various plastic toy animals.
Stand back and admire.
Enjoy!

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Everyone has high and low periods in their lives, it’s only normal, as Life is constantly changing and never the same.

Whenever I feel low, one of the things I do to help raise my spirits is to look on Google Images and Pinterest for affirmation quotes. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in the way I’m feeling, that countless others have experienced the same and lived to tell the tale. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

Here are just some of my current favourite affirmations or sayings, for a positive outlook on Life when it gets you down. (Courtesy of Google Images and Pinterest).

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So, whenever you’re feeling not so on top of the world, remember to Stay Positive. It’s only Change. Choose Happiness!

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Visarute Angkatavanich hails from Thailand and has a wonderful talent for photographing fish. I keep fish, but I can never get mine to stay still long enough to be photographed properly ;-). And my photos of fish never come out as envisioned. Quite possibly because my weapon of choice is a mobile phone camera and not a professional SLR with all the bells, stops and whistles attached to it. And definitely because I am not a patient person who’s willing to sit for hours watching for the perfect photo opportunity. I’m like that proverbial Panda that eats, shoots and leaves lol. Visarute uses specialised lighting and crystal clear water to shoot his subjects. (I have problems getting my fish tank water to stay clear and my subjects to stay alive long enough!)

Visarute is perhaps most famous for his portraits of Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta Splendens. A fitting tribute, for these fish originate from his own homeland and are part of a rich cultural history going back to the 19th century and Siamese royalty.

Here are some examples of Visarute’s glorious Bettas, courtesy of Google Images:

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To me, it seems almost balletic, the way the wavy fins appear to dance in mid-air. The Betta Splendens is a beautiful fish in its own right, and Visarute has managed to enhance its attributes even more, with his photographic prowess.

I also found on Google some examples of Visarute’s photography that are Not of the Betta Splendens. This leads me to believe that he is flexing his photographic skills and observing the characteristics of other types of animals, no doubt in the near future we shall see more of his astounding works.

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rabbit fish
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Portrait of Visarute Angkatanavich and his beautiful young family (from Google Images):

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I contacted Visarute on Facebook, and asked if he would like to add anything to my post here. He told me that his work is available on Amazon through this link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=art_artist_search?node=6685269011&field-keywords=Visarute+Angkatavanich

 

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Appreciation

I was leafing through the latest issue (August 2014) of one of my favourite home decor magazines, Elle Decoration, when this image caught my attention.

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It wasn’t so much the sofa itself that got to me, it was the caption on it. “I found this sofa on the side of the road”.

Two disparate thoughts struck me simultaneously. One was “Oh, how lucky for this person to have found such a fabulous sofa on the street”. The other, much louder thought was “Why would anyone throw out such a beautiful piece of furniture?”

Granted, that sofa might have become shabby from years of wear and tear. It might have been soiled or damaged by water or the elements, the springs in its seat might have been broken. It might even have been thrown out to make way for a more modern sofa.

What makes me angry is why the previous owner did not see it fit to repair that sofa, restore it to its former glory, give it another lease of life. Why was it summarily chucked out on the street? No doubt when that sofa was brand new, its owners loved and admired it, they sat on it and ran their hands over its velvet seat, carressed its detailed curves and carvings, boasted about it to their friends and family. Family portraits were taken on it with pride, it featured at christenings, coming of age parties, birthdays, weddings, funerals, Easter, Christmas. For years it was literally part of the furniture, like a beloved pet, a faithful retainer.

So, for such a wonderful object to meet such an ignominous end on the side of a road, that is the real tragedy.

But, luckily for it, someone with an eye for beauty and potential spotted this treasure before it could be carted away to some dump somewhere. Someone brought it home, cleaned it up, repaired it, gave it new padding and covers, filled in any chips, cracks or breaks. Someone gave it Love again.

It’s said that we don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. Well, here is a prime example. And what saddens me more is that this metaphor can be so easily translated to human relationships. Sometimes we take others for granted so much so that we fail to appreciate what they do for us, until they stop doing it.

Here are some quotes on Appreciation that I’ve taken from Google Images.
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We could all learn a lesson or two from that old sofa.

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You and I
We are like Water and Oil
We meet, we exchange pleasantries
We may even like each other
Or even fall in Love
And delude ourselves into believing
That our Souls may co-mingle

But in truth
We are like Water and Oil
We are two Oceans
Two Seas
Two Rivers
That meet but do not mix

We are too different
We are like Water and Oil
Put us together
Shake us together
- we may give the impression
That we are together
But ultimately
We will go our separate ways

You and I
We are like Water and Oil
The one Ingredient that
Could have forged us together
with strong bonds
- the Emulsifier -
Or call it Love
That is the one thing that we lost
Along the way
- You threw it to the winds on a whim
With someone else

You and I
We are like Water and Oil.

Poem by AlyZen Moonshadow

I was inspired to write this poem by personal circumstances and by these images, which show where bodies of water meet but do not mix. Scroll down to the bottom image for an explanation of this natural phenomenon.

imageRhone River meets Arve River in Geneva, Switzerland.

imageCaribbean Sea meets Atlantic Ocean

imageWhere the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean at Cape Leeuwin, Augusta, Western Australia.

imageJialing meets Yangtze in Chongqing, China

imageThe Rio River meets the Amazon River in Manaus, Brazil

imageGulf of Alaska

And the most famous one, perhaps, of the Gulf of Alaska (the one that went viral):
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I found the following excerpt from this site: http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/7748/is-there-a-place-in-the-world-where-two-oceans-meet-and-they-dont-mix

Kent Smith, a.k.a Flickr user kentsmith9 claims to be the original photographer of this image.

He writes:

I thought this was the most unusual thing I saw on the Alaskan cruise in the water. These two bodies of water were merging in the middle of the Alaskan gulf and there was a foam developing only at their junction.

I thought this was an example of a Halocline described on Wikipedia. A few people have commented that a Halocline is more of a horizontal phenomenon and this is more vertically oriented.

I am pretty confident that what you are seeing is a result of the melting glaciers being composed of fresh water and the ocean has a higher percentage of salt causing the two bodies of water to have different densities and therefore makes it more difficult to mix. I’m told they will eventually mix given enough time.

People have asked me if I just happened to look out over the edge of the ship deck and see this. Actually I had been on the deck for quite some time when I noticed what appeared to be a shadow cast by clouds over the ocean about 5 miles in front of the ship. As we approached the shadow I realized it was something different. I took many shots up to the point I shot this one, but never posted them until a year after this image went viral. I really posted them to convince people I did not Photoshop this image.

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Let’s just say I’m going through some upheavals in my life. Not of my own doing, mind, but it happened and now someone’s got to pick up the pieces and move on. And that person is me. I don’t know how, but I know I’ll do it.

I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves, for they do so far better than I ever could.

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All images from Google Image search results under “Epiphany Quotes”.

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Just a few ideas I found on Pinterest for gardening with recycled materials. I always believed I was cack-handed when it came to gardening…my idea of gardening has always been to “Just stick it in the ground and water it”. I’m clueless about perennials vs annuals, and about when to plant what and where. I live in Australia, most books on gardening relate to the Northern Hemisphere, our seasons are just as topsy turvy as our geography and this only adds to the confusion.

But, that said, many of my “Just stick it in the ground and water it” experiments have actually worked. I have had particular success with succulents, and they are my favourites.

I’m also a fan of recycling or repurposing objects. To combine the two, here are some ideas from Pinterest that you might want to try your hand at:

image Greenhouse or wind shelter made out of old drink bottles, plastic sheeting and a metal frame.

image Mini greenhouse made out of old picture frames.

image Bicycle tyre rims as a trellis for plants.

image Cut a drinks bottle in half and upturn the bottom half over a potted seedling, to use as a cloche.

image Stopped eating cakes? Turn an old glass cake stand into a terrarium.

image An old glass teapot adds interest to a terrarium.

image Find a use for CD spindles as a terrarium or mini greenhouse.

image Got an old chair that has lost its seat? Turn it into a pretty planter.

image The red of this old toy truck contrasts beautifully with the greens of the succulents.

image Even an old cake tin can become a lush mini garden.

image Row, row, row your boat. Or not, as the case may be.

image Old boots can still be useful.

image Retired! ;)

image Cut a drinks bottle in half. Fill the bottom half with water. Turn the top half upside down, with the cap off, and put it into the bottom half. Place compost into the top half, add plant. Self-watering planter.

image Got an old chest of drawers that you don’t use anymore? Turn it into this pretty tiered planter.

image Turn a broken vase or pot into a cascading garden.

image An old water cistern or toilet tank can be decorated with mosaic, or painted, and used as a pretty flower trough.

image If you have a transparent, deep umbrella or parasol and some stakes, you could make this greenhouse.

image An open-wire basket can be turned into a pretty mini garden.

image Old tea tins, biscuit tins, etc make pretty planters.

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