Posted in Photography

52 weeks … a year in words and images

As you’re no doubt aware, I like to take photos. Some of them are even okay. Others are relegated to the ‘do not ever open’ folder on my computer.

I generally take photos of flowers*, and when I travel I take photos of buildings and gardens and bridges. And people. Especially people. As someone who prefers not to interact with people, I’m often bemused by my love of taking photos of people.

I’ll happily walk up to someone in the city and ask to take their photo and have a chat with them – but put me in a room with other people at a conference for instance, and I find a corner in which to stand awkwardly, avoiding eye contact with other conference participants in case they somehow, inexplicably, think it’s okay to talk to me. It never is. Ever. Standing awkwardly in a corner is fine with me, and because I’m so old, I can even do it without a phone in my hand.

So, photos of flowers and people. But I’m also part of a small group of photographers who are engaged in a 52 Week Photography Project (note the caps – that means it’s a ‘thing’, an important and significant thing), and that means I have to extend my range, photographically speaking, beyond people and flowers. And it’s often (read ‘always’) a challenge.

We have a theme each week and I generally spend the week thinking of ideas. Or at least knowing I should be thinking of ideas. By the weekend, when no ideas have fallen on me from the ideas generator in the sky (I’m beginning to think the ideas generator doesn’t exist and that I’ll have to do my own thinking!), I get desperate and take a photo of the first thing that crosses my path.

Well, there’s a bit more to it than that, but sometimes my creativity tank is very low and I feel pressured to find something to photograph. I have a few cringe-worthy shots as proof of my depleted creativity – but let’s focus on the positives shall we?

Our themes have included ‘blue‘, ‘still life with food‘, and ‘the natural world‘. We shoot a self-portrait in Week 1, Week 13, Week 26, Week 39, and Week 52; and in Weeks 10, 20, 30, 40, & 50 the theme is photographer’s choice (now, if you think it’s hard to think of something when you have a theme, let me tell you it’s VERY difficult to think of something to shoot when there isn’t one).

The weekly post is released each Sunday night on the 52 Week Photography blog, and we sit and chat (electronically, as we’re spread across the globe) about each other’s images. As my sister Debbie, her husband Grant, their daughter Melanie, my son Daniel, my husband Tim, and our friend Alison form the group, it’s a lovely way to end the week.

I love to see how each person has interpreted the theme and marvel at the photographic prowess on display, and commit (to myself at least) to trying harder next week, which, come Monday I promptly forget, only to be reminded the following week when I see everyone else’s shots.

And it’s already Week 21 (the year really is flying by) and the theme this week is ‘play’ … how would you interpret that theme? Feel free to upload your photographic interpretation in the comments.

[Using my readers as potential ideas generators?? Never!!]

[Please (please) feel free to play along!]

* I don’t actually only take photos of flowers. Sometimes I also take photos of lightbulbs! (This is a shot from last year’s 52 Week Project.)

Fun fact: I was contacted by an energy company in the UK earlier this week asking if they could use this image on their promotional material!

Posted in Life

Just when I thought I could …

As communicated in my last post, I can now jump.

At least I could.

Here’s the lowdown …

My jumping days came to a crashing halt when I tore the medial meniscus in my left knee. I didn’t even know I had a medial meniscus (I also have a lateral one which I didn’t know about either), yet I’ve somehow managed to tear it, preventing me from jumping on the trampoline at Rochelle’s place on the weekend with 11 of my grandchildren!

It’s also preventing me from walking too far (more than 10m and I’m done), standing on it, bending it (putting shoes and socks on at the moment is a source of some discomfort (for ‘some’ read ‘lots’)), and jumping.

Not that I did a lot of jumping it has to be said, but I liked the fact that I could.

And now, for the next few weeks at least, I can’t.

Not being able to jump won’t change my life too much, but it’s one of those things we do that we quickly take for granted, and then when we can’t do it anymore, our lives are changed and somehow (strangely, in this case) diminished.

I felt the same way last week when a water pipe burst outside #12 and as a consequence we had no water. I had been to the gym and as a consequence was on the pong, so went to have a shower. When I turned the tap on however, nothing poured forth. I trundled off to work unwashed, and sat there, in my open plan office, convinced gentle wafts of eau de Sharon were circulating to all and sundry. I admit to leaving sheepishly, and somewhat early.

Meanwhile, a plumber had been to fix the water pipe. When I returned home from work, even more ready for a shower and a cuppa (not, I hasten to add at the same time), it seemed that not all was fixed. The water pipe was, and #12 was happy, but when I turned the tap all that came out was a trickle of muddy water/watery mud – it was hard to differentiate.

We quickly sought shelter, and a shower, elsewhere for the night.

But that incident caused me to reflect on the ways our lives can be diminished by a small change in something we generally take for granted – in this case, the ready supply of water. I turn the tap, and water comes out.

But for one day last week, it didn’t.

And my life was somewhat diminished.

Imagine the ways we could change people’s lives by giving them taps to turn on, and even more joyfully change them, by having clean water pour forth.

It’s worth a thought.

Posted in Learning, Life

I think I can …

Actually, I know I can. Because I did!

Okay, I’ll back up a bit.

In February 2016, I went to the gym. Not for the first time, I hasten to add, but this particular occasion was quite memorable because it was my first ‘seniors’ class.

Yes, I snorted too – but it appears, in the world as we know it today, ‘seniors’ means those over 50. I had not, until that point, considered myself a senior and even though it’s a year later and I’m a year older, I still don’t consider myself to be a senior.

But I went anyway. I wasn’t working, the class was included in my gym membership, and it was on a Friday morning when I had nothing better to do with my time.

It may come as no surprise to you that I was the youngest person there (apart from the instructor) … by at least 10 years. And I quickly realised that’s a highly motivating factor. Here were all these oldies doing things, sometimes more quickly and with greater flexibility than I was doing them.

Yikes!

It got me moving I can tell you!

But I also discovered something important that day. I discovered that I couldn’t jump. I stood in front of the box I was to jump on to, and all sorts of thought processes went through my head but none of them helped get my feet off the ground and onto the box. While my mind was very willing, my flesh was anything but.

I simply stood there and stared. And then when we moved to the next exercise, I watched the old lady following along behind me nimbly jump onto the box, and off again, then on again as if she’d been doing it all her life. Well, let’s face it, she probably had.

But not me. I thought back to the last time I’d jumped and drew a blank. It wasn’t something I’d been called on to do in my professional life – metaphorical hoops are much easier, I learnt, than actual boxes, to jump through (or on as the case may be).

And it wasn’t something I’d had any reason to do in my personal life either.

So there I was … a non-jumper. I went home and in the privacy of my loungeroom, turned my attention to jumping, but to no avail. It seemed I was destined to be a non-jumper for life.

Fast forward to three weeks ago when I remembered my inability to jump and mentioned it to Josh, my personal trainer. “Josh”, I said as I was pushing 80kgs of metal with my legs on something appropriately named a ‘leg press’, “I can’t jump”.

He looked at me, slightly stunned that I would say something so outlandish. “What do you mean, you can’t jump?”

“I can’t. I just can’t do it. I try, but I physically can’t do it”.

He saw that as a challenge, and once I was vertical, he held my hands while I launched myself off the ground. With both feet. At the same time.

It turns out I can jump, and now not only can I jump, I can also star jump, and squat jump, and rope jump (as in skipping) and do burpees, and forward bounds, and I’m even getting the hang of running man (my coordination still needs a little work).

So there you have it. When you think you can’t jump*, hold someone’s hands, start out small, gain some confidence, and you’ll be jumping* all over the place in no time.

*Insert any other thing you think you can’t do here 🙂

Body by Josh; photo by me.
Posted in Life

Way better than never …

Life’s funny … and not always ‘funny haha’.

But funny, nonetheless.

In June 2014, I moved from Tasmania to Melbourne to live with my husband who’d moved here 5 months before. That move meant I stopped being a pre-service teacher educator.

I admit to falling into a bit of a hole. It took me some time to get used to the idea that I wouldn’t teach at university again.

And then, in 2015, I taught at university again – for one semester. And when semester ended I again stopped being a pre-service teacher educator.

I admit to falling into a bit of a hole. It took me some time to get used to the idea that I wouldn’t teach at university again.

And then earlier this year a former colleague from the University of Tasmania asked if I’d like to teach at university again.

I would. I did. It was great. One semester of interacting with students – students who were keen to learn, who were mature in their attitudes and capacity to think for themselves; some of these students I’d taught when they were in their first year of university. They remembered me, as I did them. It was great to reconnect, and interestingly, they thought so too.

And then the same colleague asked if I’d be interested in teaching the post-grad version of the unit in second semester.

I would. I did. It was great. Another semester of interacting with students – challenging their ideas about teaching, gently encouraging them out of their comfort zones, helping them see that they are more than deliverers of content, more than transmitters of what they know, and that students are more (much more) than empty vessels waiting to be filled.

I had marking to do, and I did it, and now I’m finished and the relief I feel is real and very (very) sweet.

So, am I a pre-service teacher educator? It appears the answer is ‘sometimes’ … and that’s way better than never!

Posted in Life, Writing

Life’s like that: On being a guest blogger

A message pops onto my screen as I’m scrolling through my phone one day last week. It’s an invitation from my sister, Debbie – an invitation to write a guest post on her blog in a new series she’s starting called ‘person of interest’.

If you’ve been a long-term follower of my blog, you’ll know that I blog for days and days on end, and then go quiet as other areas of my life take precedence, or as I search for something to blog about. Those silences have been known to last for months. I blogged yesterday, for instance, but it was my first post in a month.

Life’s like that. Fits and starts, slow patches where nothing much happens and you wear a dent in the couch, then suddenly it starts to warm up and still moments are hard to find.

At least, that’s what life’s like for me. A burst of energy, blog posts pour forth, images are taken and posted, creative thoughts engulf you and you make plans for projects and then teaching takes over, there are provocations to record, discussion posts to write, ideas to be shared and explored and challenged and questions to be asked, responses to student posts to be crafted to ensure warmth and encouragement and generation of thought, assignments come pouring in and feedback needs to be given that’s warm and encouraging and generates thought, and your daughter falls ill and you fly interstate to support her in her recovery and prepare nutritious and delicious meals like vegemite on toast to tempt her to eat again, and your dog is run over and you spend a week crying in the shower, while you’re walking to the station, in bed late at night, eating breakfast, and your dad gets sick and is taken to hospital and spends days not being able to talk walk eat stay awake and you hold your breath and prepare yourself for news you don’t want but know will come one day and days later he wakes up and is able to feed himself breakfast.

And then stillness, quiet, time for contemplation and an invitation pops onto your screen from your sister, inviting you to be a guest on her blog and you write responses to her questions and think about what those responses say about you but you send them in anyway, in the end knowing that you’re you and you own your responses and the person they represent.

Life’s like that.

And writing responses for my guest post sparks something in me that’s been dormant for some time and I figure if I can do it for my sister, I can do it for me too. So here I am …

… except more assignments have just poured in which means more warm, encouraging, thought-generating feedback needs to be written … and my blog will have to wait just a little longer.

I love the light in Tasmania. This image has nothing outwardly to do with my post, but I felt the calmness and serenity captured by the light suited my mood.
Posted in Flowers, Life

368

My aunt, mum’s younger sister, came to stay recently, travelling, for the first time, on her own from interstate on the train. We had a lovely week together – a mix of busy days and new adventures, and other days of rest and calm.

A few days after she left, gorgeous flowers arrived as a thank you. Aunty Jan had told the florist to choose the flowers carefully because the recipients were photographers ‘of note’. While that’s possibly over-stating things (but thank you AJ), I did spend some time photographing them.

The flowers were predominantly yellow and brightened the kitchen beautifully. Here’s just one of them in the late afternoon light…

Posted in Flowers

365

My aunt is visiting from country NSW so we ventured to Silvan today for the Tulip Festival at the Tesselaar Tulip Farm.

What a beautiful display of flowers!