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Allowing the Sadness to Surface

Allowing the sadness to surface, recognising the pain as acknowledgement of my love for my late mother, helps me to heal.

April was always Mum’s month, her birthday and Easter so intertwined that Easter is a tad difficult these days. Luckily for us we have Ruarigh now who is an April baby and my youngest grand son gives me much reason to celebrate.

In the year after Mum died, when things were so bleak and so hard, I photographed roadkill.

roadkill

I made work in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Plastication

Oiled bird bowl. Image credit. Robin Roberts.

Oiled bird bowl.Kim Foale. Image credit. Robin Roberts.

I met Chris Jordan in Hobart and fangirled at him and showed him the work I made in response to plastic pollution and his images of the dead albatross on Midway Atoll

albatross-chick-4

Dead Albatross Chick Image By Chris Jordan

dead-Albatross-bowl.

Through that meeting I became friends with Dr Jennifer Lavers who gives me plastic pollution that she has removed from the bellies of dead seabirds.

plastic-found-in-the-stomachs-of-3-Flesh-footed-shearwaters.

I put my camera away in the eighteen months after mum died as the images gave me no joy. When it was time to pick up the camera again my photography had changed.

I photographed my husband.

Fisherman

3

I photographed my son

David

 

David.

I tried to photograph my daughter but she hid from my camera or poked her tongue out at me. Except on her wedding day when she was distracted by the man she loves the most.

getting married

I chased eagles

Eagle

and seagulls

seagull

I went hunting dinosaurs

Urban Dinosaur copy

I photographed rubbish on the riverbank and took the rocks I found there home and melted them in my kiln.

a public hanging

I travelled to Kalgoorlie and let the colours of the desert seep into my soul. Reminding me that there was colour still.

train dreams 1

The Super pit confirmed what I knew in my heart.

kalgoorlie Super Pit.

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And I made more work

super pit

textured platter

Mud and Ink image by Veronica Foale (8)

Mud and Ink image by Veronica Foale (15)

head

My trees are dying and it is messing with my head. I need to photograph the dying trees and stare into the abyss, but I am avoiding it as their stories are so loud.

Until then I will revisit old images.

Of frogs

dead frog 1

and flowers

tulip series i

once were roses

Of stories told

bitter rose is bitter copy

rock bowl

and of stories untold.
fungi 5

water tank copy

bushfire sky

And through it all I miss my Mother

Mum and Amy

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I don’t remember handles being this much fun?

I started my 100 mugs in 100 days challenge yesterday and I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed pulling and attaching handles to three mugs. The trick of course will be persevering with this challenge when I stop enjoying it quite so much. So to that end, I have decided that once the shine wears off, I will make a mug as a warm up exercise at the beginning of my studio day and attach the handle at the end of the day.

I haven’t taken any photos of the mugs yet, as by the time I finished last night I was a tad chilly. The wifi juice just bounces off the roller door of the studio, so in order to livestream my handles I had to sit in a roaring draft. The things I do in the pursuit of glory, internet, the things I do.

Please feel free to join in the challenge with me and if you use instagram you can hashtag your images with #100mugsin100days and we can all SHOUT A JOYOUS HURRAH at each other through the magic of the interwebz.

Bettina who scopes as Dame_Sir _Beet has joined in and posted her first handle on instagram yesterday and I got a bit emotional looking at it, because it is such a simple thing to post a photo of a handle on a mug but also it is incredibly hard to put yourself out there as an artist.

Laura Howard, an emerging artist potter from The UK has also joined in and Laura has decided to really push herself with this challenge as she learns to blog, to make mugs and to photograph her work. Laura’s blog is Long Buckby Pottery

I livestreamed three scopes yesterday, which will be available on periscope for another couple of hours BUT for your viewing convenience I have also embedded them here.

The madness will continue on today and I will be scoping again as I want to attach some dolls feet to some mugs to see what happens.

100 mugs in 100 days. Day one. #pottersofperiscope

 

The app crashed mid scope and so I had to restart.
100 mugs etc. take 2

And I finished up by showing off my handles.

100 mugs in 100 hundred days. HANDLES 1. 2.3. #pottersofperiscope

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One Hundred Mugs in One Hundred Days

I have decided to set myself a challenge and the title of this post is probably a bit of a clue.

I want to make one hundred mugs in one hundred days.

I think that I will start off handbuilding these mugs but I will allow myself to cast or throw some as well if the mood takes me.

My handles will be pulled, or coiled or carved, I have no idea what will really happen until I start, because as those of you who know me, know I think by doing.

My 100 days will be work days, not 100 days in a row because of my weekend market commitments. Plus it makes sense to set myself a challenge that I can actually achieve without worrying that I missed Sunday’s pots because I was too busy or too tired.

On each Friday, I will line up my five mugs for the week and I will photograph them and post the image here, as well as onto instagram with a suitable hashtag, probably #100mugsin100days. At the end of the 100 days I will fire them all and who knows what will happen then. Who knows internet, who knows.

I am quite taken with this form at the moment and it will be an interesting challenge to build on this form as well as to find a handle that works, that compliments without dominating.

blue pot

This challenge of mine is loosely inspired by Neil Celani and at the end of it I will celebrate by buying myself one of his t-shirts, A mug life.

As I was plotting the finer details of my plan with Veronica yesterday, I realised that I was looking forward to documenting the progress of my 100 mugs and seeing where the process takes me.

As a student in 2006 I learned to pull handles at the wheel and spent quite some time with them, before deciding that my time at TAFE was too short to mess about with handles, when there was so much more knowledge to be absorbed. I pulled what felt like zillions of them, I attached them, and I ultimately dismissed them, because my students skills were not up to my personal aesthetic.

I am confident in my skill set these days, I have settled into my potters skin and most importantly I am much kinder to myself.

Anyone that wants to join in with me is more than welcome.

It should be fun.

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Livestreaming ALL the things.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have discovered periscope, a live streaming app, owned by and connected to twitter.

And by discovered, I mean I have jumped into periscope with both feet and I am having all the fun.

Periscopes are only available for 24 hours from broadcast and the transience of the medium appeals to me. BUT because I am also a hoarder, I decided to use a third party web based application, Katch.me to save my scopes.

I will be embedding some of my scopes here on the blog so that people can easily find them, rather than having to follow the links from twitter.

This scope titled, thinking by doing. testing ideas. everything is political. was broadcast last week from my kitchen table as I did not have a strong enough wifi signal in the studio. I didn’t know where I would end up with this broadcast because as per usual I was thinking by doing.

Once I had sorted out my wifi issues, I started to livestream from my studio.

Again I am flying by the seat of my pants here. The title of this *scope* is, experimental protest. slipcast doll’s head full of colour. waiting for the collapse.

The final scope in this series was going to be three mini scopes but because I am “livestreaming” I was encouraged by my audience to keep on streaming. This scope is titled, dripping slipcast doll’s heads. part one.

So, my dearest internets, this is where I am at the moment. I am lost in persicope land and I am having a fabulous time.

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Potters on Periscope.

Early this week, the fabulous Adriana Christianson popped up in my facebook timeline talking about Periscope, reminding me that I had a dormant account linked to my twitter. Periscope is a livestreaming App, Periscope.tv and you can download the app via google play or the apple store. While you are live streaming people can comment as they watch and give you little hearts that float into the ether. (I love the hearts) The streams are available for 24 hours and a new word has entered our pottery lexicon and that word is SCOPE.

I think that I have found my happy place. I really do.

Those of you that know me, know that I am a great advocate of social media as a tool for both your business and your personal development. Sadly here in Tasmania a lot of people do not see the benefit of social media at all and I often feel that I am shouting into the wilderness about how fabulous an online life can be. At a meeting in the city earlier this week, I was told about a failing small business that had decided to cut its online presence totally, as it couldn’t see the benefit of the internet. I just wanted to bang my head against a wall in frustration because this attitude is so prevalent.

Using Social media has negated my isolation, it has enabled me to tell my story my way, and the connections and friendships I have made are just fabulous. My social media presence has opened doors for me professionally and personally and NOW THERE IS PERISCOPE.

Oh My, Oh My, Oh My.

Internet, I do not think I am ever going to sleep again.

Potters have discovered Periscope en masse and these last few days have been a glorious whirlwind of livestreams, hilarity, new friendships and a constantly whistling phone. What I am liking the most in this first week is the raw feel of the scopes (livestreams) as we knock over our phones, are interrupted by dogs or children, as we work out how to zoom in or out, and how the poo hearts (brown hearts) are now so highly prized.

Periscope feels real to me, it feels like blogging used to feel before the advent of facebook and the easy like. When we used to leave long comments on each others blogs because our phones were not smart. Conversation was all done via our computers and the comments were the only connections some of us had. Thank you so much internet for some of those comments, you saved me after mum died, you really did.

A lot of social media these days has morphed into a very slick promotional tool. Some instagram feeds are so highly stylised and impersonal, that the artfully arranged pots with their casually dropped flowers/leaves/petals/ shot from above, all begin to look the same. A lot of instagram and facebook has become boringly predictable and while I understand why it is so, I do not like it and have culled out the boring, cliquey feeds. I still like some of the people, I just do not like their public images and that is okay, as my opinion is of little importance.

I like my internet a bit more real, I like a bit of heart and I like a whole lot of honesty.

And this is where periscope hits the spot for me.

I have learned so much in the last three days.

Stefan Andersson from Sweden  is putting together a show this week and his thoughtful presentation is lovely to watch. Stefan also has inspired me to wedge some coffee grounds into my clay and fire a pot or two in a saggar in my electric kiln.

Cori Sandler from Vancouver Island has shared barking Sea lions that made Monty bark in response and we giggled together LIVE about this. Cori throws lovely pots and is a natural communicator and teacher. Cori shared a scope of a friend scoping Humpback whales swimming in Hawaii this morning, that was just lovely.

Didem Mert, a grad student is just hilarious and I want to reach through the screen and give her a hug. Her work is interesting and Didem is another natural teacher and communicator. It is easy to see why she was included on  C File’s list of 15 Potters to Watch in 2016 and I am going to make one of her POTATOES today.

Adriana Christianson is the only other Australian potter I have met, that is an enthusiastic about new media as I am, as Adriana is also a natural teacher and communicator. Her tutorial yesterday on using cobalt had me in my studio a few hours later playing around with some cobalt with really promising results.

Adriana has set up a public group on facebook called #pottersofperiscope, for all things periscope related.

I was going to list more potters who are all equally fabulous and inspiring but Monty keeps on nudging my hand off the mouse because we are late for a walk.

Go investigate Periscope.

Find me there as @KimFoaleCeramics.

Join.

It is fabulous fun.

But I warn you, you will never sleep again *yawns*

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Sharing Stories. A Wallaby Tale

About the same time that I started this blog in 2007, I read an autobiography of one of the Australian Officers held prisoner in Burma in the second world war. One of the morale raising exercises they did in camp was to have story telling sessions, the author was surprised at just how interested everyone was in each others stories. As the English boys who lived in villages were fascinated by the stories told by the Australian boys from country Queensland and vise versa. Those stories did raise morale, as it kept them connected as well as reinforcing their essential sameness, their shared humanity.

I often held onto that tidbit I gleaned from a story, as it helped me to think that I really wasn’t all that odd by sharing my own stories here.

Because, Oh Boy, once you start writing and sharing your own stories ON THE INTERNET, some people get really cranky with you. Luckily a lot more of you encourage me by saying nice things, so here I am again, this time my story is for my daughter’s friend Becky, who is by proxy my friend as well.

I shared a local news item on my facebook page about the serious lack of rain here in the midlands of Tasmania

I added my own lead in text to the article saying,

It is very dry here. The dams are empty. My topsoil is blowing away. The vegie garden is fallow as we simply do not have the water. My yard wallabies have been reduced to eating the sags (zero nutrition) as the scarab beetles decimated the silver wattles which are their go to drought food. It is hard country up here in the midlands and if it doesn’t rain soon we will be in big trouble.

Becky commented later that evening with,

“This is off topic, and for that I apologize, but I read this status out loud to my husband because it was just the…. the most Australiany status I’ve ever seen in my newsfeed
(drough notwithstanding).

Do you really have yard wallabies?”

I was going to reply to Becky on facebook with a photo of my ‘yard’ so that she could see where I lived and why the wallabies were in my backyard. As my backyard is not like Becky’s backyard at all. It is probably not a lot like your backyard either Internet, so after the longest introduction in the history of long bloggy introductions, I shall begin.

This is my backyard, I have deliberately left the balcony rail in the image for context, I am standing three quarters of the way along the back balcony and I am looking southwest. Monty is lurking just on the edge of the bracken.

My back yard.

By the magic of the internet and the power of cameras, I am now looking up towards the back of my house, you can see how crunchy the grass is.

view of the back of the house from the bushline showing effects of the drought

Here is an image showing the dead and dying grasses. Mixed in here with the dead grass, the yellow patches are alpine cushion plants that are not dead yet, but they are close. Normally we have a good mix of native grasses, which are super tough, some native plants that look similar to a spagnum moss but isn’t a moss and native wildflowers. As you can see there is no feed left here at all.

dead grasses and nativce tasmanian groundcover

This is my front yard, looking north up to my studio, in this image you can sort of see the remnants of the new orchard, four plums and a cherry tree, behind the upside down bath. The green scarab beetles did a number on these trees and they are really struggling. I am keeping them going with the waste water from my studio and washing machine as I have about twenty plums on four trees, that I would really like to harvest but I reckon the currawongs will beat me to them.

view of my front yard looking towards the pottery

Here is a photo of the sags up by the front gate, Sag is one of the common names for a native tussock grass, the other is saw grass, it’s proper name is Lomandra longifolia. When I saw my resident Rufous Wallabies (Pademelons for the pedants) eating the saw grass, I knew they were in a bit of trouble, as there is very little calorific value in the grass. As an aside, you can eat the roots, they are a long white starchy tuber but they take a bit of digging to get at and are not worth the effort unless you are hungry and out of potatoes.

saw grasses

I do not make any decisions lightly, I gave my decision to feed the wallabies a lot of thought before I committed to it. I weighed the pros and cons, talked about it with The Spouse, who had already been throwing his vegie peelings off the balcony rather than putting them into the compost. I angsted at Veronica and I also rang a local wildlife conservationist to get confirmation of what I already knew. I have been actively involved with this bit of land for over 25 years now and I know it and its residents well.

I really am in a catch 22 situation here as it is drought that controls the wallaby population, the females will not breed when food is scarce. There is also a risk that I will be encouraging half the wallabies on the mountain to come into the yard. But the simple fact is internet, I can not just sit back and do nothing and let them die.

Another major factor in my decision to feed the wallabies, was the decimation of the silver wattles. The green Scarab beetles came in and just stripped the trees bare, wallabies will eat the wattles when they are hungry enough, as wattle isn’t their preferred food but the trees have been stripped back by the beetles.

These are the wattles on the edge of the bush at the bottom of my back yard, normally you can not see through them. The wallabies sit on the other side of the ditch, watching to see if it  is safe to hop out into the open. When a goofy black Labrador doesn’t appear out of nowhere to chase them away, they tentatively come out of the bush.

looking through the wattles

I have a couple of resident females, with Joeys who are often out in the daylight, hovering on the edges of the scrub and it is this family that I wanted to feed. On advice from Bonorong, I am feeding them Wallaby pellets each night, not enough to make them fat, lazy and dependent, just enough to keep them alive.

The Pellets need to be 18% protein and if you can’t get wallaby pellets (Roberts at Bridgewater has them, as does one of the animal feed places) Guinea pig pellets are the next best thing. The pellets are soft enough to not damage their jaws and at 18% protein, there are enough goodies in there for the Joey’s continued development. As all the dams are drying up, I have put out extra water. Normally wallabies get their water from the food they eat but as the moisture content of the vegetation lessens, the wallabies need to drink more than usual. This is why I am now seeing roadkill on the side of the road in the suburbs, as they are on the move, looking for food and water. As an aside, the snakes are also on the move, as I have seen more snakes here in the past month than I have seen in the past 25 years.

This is not one of my snakes, I took this photo with my phone last year at a reptile display, though I am feeling the urge to go camera hunting some snakes.

snake

Back to the Wallabies, here you go Becky, finally, here is a wallaby. These little brown wallabies are known locally as Rufous wallabies but they are actually a Pademelon, (Thylogale billardierii) We have two types of wallabies here at my home. The other species of wallaby that are found here is a Bennetts Wallaby they are larger grey wallabies, that are super spooky and impossible to photograph with the point and shoot. The Bennett’s also come in for the water but they tend to stick to the front of my property around the studio and as they do not stay for long or come down to the back yard, I am not currently feeding them. Or at least I do not “think” I am.

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Here is a male wallaby, you can see his malesness  on display resting on the ground by his foot, he has a huge set of knackers and spends all his time chasing the girls making a tchhk tchhk tchhk sound. The girls just roll their wallaby eyes at him and hop away.

Buck Wallaby sitting in front of saw grass tussock

There is a youngster living under the jasmine here. I think its mother was run over as it hung about in the open for a few days looking a bit lost. All I could do at the time to help it, was lock the gates so the dogs didn’t go down the back and hope it managed to survive. Which, surprisingly it has managed to do, but it is super skittish as it hasn’t learned the trick of squatting and pretending to be invisible. As soon as it sees me it gives a loud warning thump and vanishes back under the jasmine, which in turn makes all the other wallabies hop away in collective fright.

drought affected garden showing jasmine trimmed back to wallaby height by hungry wallabies

As I was wandering around the edge of my yard taking photos for this story, I noticed that the Kangaroo Apple had been well nibbled. This plant is a drop in, it was delivered to me by a bird about ten or fifteen years ago and is not a native to this area. It grows into large bush and the fruit are edible bush tucker when they turn orange, the birds also like them. The Kangaroo Apple lives on for a few years, then it dies and another one will pop up somewhere else. BUT it doesn’t seem to do any harm and so I leave it be.

detail of kangaroo apple plant showing signs of leaf damage from being eaten by hungry wallabies

Trying to photograph the wallabies as they hop out just before dusk for a feed is really tricky. These are wild animals that will scatter and run at the first unusual sound. I can’t use the Nikon as the sound of the shutter spooks them. Luckily my little point and shoot is silent and takes a decent enough photo.

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This girl has a Joey in her pouch, I was absolutely nailed by the mosquitoes taking this photo as I had to sit really quietly without moving for ages. I was interested to see that the joey was eating the pellets, whilst staying safely in the pouch.

Wallaby with joey in her pouch

The photos of the wallabies are the best ones I can get as I am  not a very good Ninja. My nose starts to itch the minute I have to sit still and that itch spreads and I begin to fidget and brrrrrttttt just like a bag of marbles dropped onto concrete, the wallabies instantly scatter in all directions.

The Joey in the photo above is now out of the pouch and it is hilarious to watch it learning to master its hopping technique. The full grown wallabies jump along with a smooth economy, a nice measured jump, long and low. The joeys like to JUMP REALLY HIGH. Sproing sproing, bounce, bounce, YIPPEE. I am trying to film it for you but as the Mothers are the most cautious, they come out later than the others and so the light is very low by the time they venture up to the pellets. It is also peak mosquito time and my fidgeting makes for tricky filming. I will keep on trying though.

So there we go Becky, the very long answer to your question, is yes I really do have yard wallabies.

 

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May Your 2016 be full of Unexpected Hilarity.

I think I am hilarious.

My daughter mostly agrees with me, I trust her judgement and so who am I to argue?

Being easily and often amused by the vagaries of my own brain is endlessly entertaining, as well as having the added benefit of making me a cheap shout.

I wanted to share a photo of a bird on instagram. I like this photo and I have shared it on Social media a number of times. But this is the first time this photo has given me an earworm.

As I typed out the title, Silhouette of a Wren”  Freddie Mercury popped into my head and refused to leave.

Because I am a generous soul, I give you the photo as well as a youtube music clip.

May your year ahead be full of unexpected hilarities and welcome earworms.

Love.

silhouette of a superb fairy wren

 

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Enter Title Here…

jolie b studios

Telling stories is hard work, telling those same stories on the internet is a form of madness. As once you go public with any sort of story, you open yourself up to all sorts of unexpectedness.

A funny story about how the food rules do not apply to Monty, after the rotten bugger ate a WHOLE KILO of cherries. Led to a flurry of  concerned messages telling me to take that dog to the vet immediately or the dog will surely die and I will be sorry. No matter that we had been keeping a close eye on the greedy fool and that I shared the story a good eight hours after the fact.

A light hearted dig at the ridiculous Stoner Sloth ad campaign leads to a messaged accusation that I am glorifying drug use.

People do not read a story in isolation, they never consider the words on their own, because of course they read  through their own lens of experience. And you will always upset someone, no matter how innocuous or well intentioned your words are, someone will always be pissy.

As a long time writer of words published on the internet, I have become used to some people not understanding what I have said. Even when I know my words are as clear as day, people still miss crucial bits and I am left baffled as to how on earth they managed to arrive at a conclusion poles apart from the point I was making.

When I was elected President of the Tasmanian Ceramics Association in 2012, the outgoing President gave what I thought was a lovely speech at the AGM. My favourite speeches are the short ones that stick to the topic at hand and this President was a whizz at giving good speeches. Later on I was taken aside by X and quietly told all that was wrong with that particular speech and to remember X‘s advice when I gave my own presidential speeches. As X thought it was dreadfully remiss that the committee had not been thanked at length. So of course, the following year, I had a list of all the people that needed to be thanked. I made sure I spoke gratefully and honestly about my appreciation of the effort and time spent running the association. Later on I was taken aside by Z and told that my gracious speech thanking everyone, was in fact a terrible speech, as it made those people who had not dedicated any hours feel very guilty, and in future speeches I should be careful about who and how I thank people.

For Fucks Sake internet, you can not win. Once you do anything publicly you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I try and keep sections of my life compartmentalised, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. I well remember the dislocation and horror I felt when Mum was dying and her boss at Brighton Council gave everyone the link to this blog. Mum and I had decided that the best way to disseminate information quickly was to publish it here, we assumed it would just be close friends and family reading, not zillions of people. That decision certainly stopped my telephone from ringing off the hook but it also catapulted frog ponds rock from being a semi anonymous space where I spoke mostly to other internet users, to a very public record of a hitherto unknown side of Kim Foale.

One upside was that one particularly aggressive local stopped trying to run me off the road because his wife now read my blog and discovered I wasn’t a radical green feral trying to ruin his livelihood, I was an artist and that is why I was a bit odd. One downside was that everything I wrote was then commented on and dissected by people who were not my target audience. People would get furiously angry with me for writing about them, when in fact I was making sweeping generalisations, or commenting on society as a whole, not any individual in particular.

I do not write my words on the internet lightly, every post I publish is carefully crafted and edited. I think about what I am saying and what I am prepared to offer. I weigh how much pain the reactions will cause me versus my need to clear my head. Sometimes I press publish, sometimes the simple act of writing is enough and I save the words to my drafts file.

Perception is a strange thing. Ego is even stranger. I am not responsible for your interpretations of my words, I am responsible for telling my stories honestly.

Sunflower copy 2

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The Colour of Destruction is Green

I have swarms of Green Scarab Beetles (Diphucephala colaspidoides) here at the moment.

They are super destructive and seem to come out in plague proportions every four years or so, probably the reason that one of my elderly neighbours calls them leap year beetles.

I am about to lose this years, cherries, raspberries, red currants and josta berries because the beetles have managed to sekletonise the trees and shrubs in a couple of days.

raspberry beetles

raspberry beetles 5

raspberry beetles on the cherries

raspberry beetles 4

raspberry beetles 3

raspberry beetles 2 copy

The last time we had a plague of beetles like this was the drought of 1998 or 99. That year was when the mature eucalyptus trees on the sides of my hills began to die back.

The dams here are nearly empty. The paddocks are February brown and now these buggers have come along in huge swarms and are finishing off the last of the greenery in the garden.

Bastard things.

We need some rain.

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Skylines

I mostly use the camera in my phone these days as the images it captures are good enough for facebook and instagram and my poor old Nikon is quite neglected.

Until we have a glorious sunset and I know that the phone will never ever in a zillion years capture the reds properly.

I blew the dust off the *proper camera* and had an enjoyable five or ten minutes daydreaming about trying to transfer the cloud marks onto some pots.

Such fabulous delicate brush strokes in the sky are simply too nice to not share.

red sky with cloud lines

cloud marks 2

cloud marks

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