Smack addicts

Market research on Youtube would suggest there's an audience for spanking videos

When I uploaded the six-second video below, I never thought it'd be the most popular thing I've shared online.

In 2018 I want to upload something that will make smack addicts clap for joy.

Kurkure Mango Achaari Triangles

Some months ago I wrote about Kurkure's snacks and recently I procured their chips

These Mango chutney-flavoured triangles have a beaut flavour combining lime, fruit and pepper.

Aside from the tannin-like bite, they taste a bit like lime and pepper crisps except it's a white pepper-like spice.

Hilltop holiday

One of the highlights of Christmas for me is spending time with my outlaws and seeing the landscape outside of Wagga

I've photographed sunrises and sunsets, as well as many blossoming plants. The Kurrajong trees, for example, were flowering like I've never seen before.

I was also surprised to hear a Grey Butcherbird among the more familiar birdsong, such as willy wagtail and magpie and crow.

I also saw this brown eagle, which was hanging around the chicken carcasses from Christmas lunch.

As I wandered about the land I saw lots of lizards and wondered whether they were, like the blossoming plants, having a good year for breeding.

I'd grabbed my camera to try and get a picture of this big skink, when I heard a rustle in the bushes and realised I wasn't the only spectator as the lizard basked in the afternoon light.

There was a brown snake -- which was a thrill to say the least!

You can see more pictures of wildlife that I've encountered on my Shotwildlife blog.


Staircase Stunts

Snake tears

Grey Butcherbird melody

One of the recent Disquiet Junto activities was to recreate a favourite sound from memory

I chose the song of the Grey Butcherbird because it reminds me of waking up at Burning Seed.

This morning, Christmas 2017, I awoke to peachy colours and arose to collect my camera to photograph the sunrise.

It was nice to hear the Grey Butcherbird's taunt among the morning birdsong.

Hope you're enjoying the festive season.

Postscript: I've learned the bird is actually a gerygone.

Christmas lights outside Wagga

This display is nestled in a rural mailbox

Brian started the Athol Street display of Christmas lights, then downsized with his move out of the city.

That's no moon

“Unreasonable Threat of a Contemplative” by Riccardo Mayr

Naan for you

Some months ago a Disquiet Junto project introduced me to a cache of Sri Lankan music

The folder of grainy recordings from old records contained a mix of sounds, particularly traditional instruments and some rock and roll influences.

It made me want to make a song that could be used for a toasted curry naan video.

For a while I'd listen through the tracks, picking samples and finding myself frustrated at the short loops.

Then the other week I saw a pack of naan on special at Woolies and knew I needed to realise the idea.

This week there was leftover curry and then, after the purslane sandwich, my partner suggested I might want to try a weed called Fat Hen that she'd spotted at the local park.

Purslane? Yes, please!

Common purslane turns out to be exceedingly tasty in a toasted sandwich

I'm starting to encourage this Australian weed to replace the kikuyu grass in my yard, which I've been killing with tarps during summer.

Recently read in the excellent Bush Foods and Survival Plants that purslane is rich in Omega fatty acids.

Hits of 2017

My Mum encouraged me to reflect on the year, which has offered many opportunities for the pursuit and development of creative endeavours.

The year opened with a resolution to write a haiku poem each day, a practise that I've maintained and published on my Whimsy blog. In hindsight I can see this decision contributed to the development of an exhibition in Narrandera.

In January I saw my video projections on Wagga Wagga City Council Chambers. It was the second piece I've developed for them and greatly improved from attending a workshop with Yandell Walton they'd run in 2016.

In March I acquitted my second CASP project with a series of workshops at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum's annual Action Day.

In April I was accepted onto the Western Riverina Arts Board and it's great to continue my relationship with the organisation, which began in 2009 when I wrote a letter supporting its establishment and continued when I worked as Project and Communications Officer.

In June I began an international collaboration with UK-based Naviar Records, with a series of workshops to encourage haiku poems for the Crossing Streams exhibition. It wasn't a good start as no one attended but I was able to generate almost a couple of dozen haiku with five of these being distributed by Naviar and also the Disquiet Junto, generating around five hours of original recordings.

This year I continued contributing to Cyclic Defrost and interviewed both Marco from Naviar and Marc from Disquiet, which were opportunities to learn about them and their work. I really appreciate and admire the creative prompts they share, as well as like writing for Cyclic for the platform it provides for my investigations.

The most popular video I uploaded to Youtube this year was the song above that was made from a toy that has survived my three children.

The Crossing Streams exhibition wasn't the first I've curated but was the first time I'd organised an opening, which generated some anxiety but ended up being a great experience. I am grateful for the support of Kelly Leonard, who ran a workshop and brought an exhibition to the other room in the Narrandera Arts and Community Centre, and also to Peita Vincent and Greg Pritchard for their contributions and workshops.

One of the surprising outcomes this year was a recording I made at Poison Waterholes Creek in response to Peita's haiku. The idea to have the wind play my guitar came from an earlier collaboration with Garlo Jo when he sought contributions to his Vent de Guitares website.

My recording at the site was going to be part of Crossing Streams but didn't end up in the exhibition. It did appear in the Land. Home. Country. exhibition at Griffith Regional Art Gallery, who invited me to talk about it at an event, as well as being part of the soundtrack to Nomad Films' contribution to the ABC's Createability series.

2017 has been a good year. I recorded over 100 videos and you can see snippets from 60 of them in one minute above. I also shared a mix of my recordings from 2016 on Cyclic Defrost and now wonder if I should attempt this again.

One regret is that I still haven't started compiling new albums of music. I have a lot of material to draw on but need to commit to revisiting it.

I have some ambitious ideas for 2018 but, until then, all the best to you.

2017 with Murrumbidgee Landcare

Here's a reflection as I end 2017 as the Local Landcare Coordinator for the Irrigation areas north and south of the Murrumbidgee River – specifically the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and the Coleambally Irrigation Area

It’s a region that stretches from Coly up to Rankin Springs, and from Narrandera to somewhere west of Griffith.

Much like you I expect, the start of a new year is greeted with a sense of disbelief and a few of those awkward moments when writing the date requires a correction.

It’s also a time of reflection as I’ve been in this role for less than a year.

My first day with Landcare was spent at the Riverina Field Days in Griffith, where I found familiar faces from my time with the Murrumbidgee CMA as well as an opportunity to hear about the interests of landholders in the region.

It was heartening to hear from those wanting to establish native gardens, as well as those sharing their observations of the native birds they knew from their gardens and farms.

These themes continued when I attended the Henty Field Days more recently.

There in the Landcare shed I hung posters to promote the various groups I support, while taking the opportunity to research ideas from my colleagues and, again, hearing all you switched-on and passionate community members discuss the achievements and challenges across the region.

It really is inspiring to meet and hear your enthusiasm to improve our landscapes.

Another part of my role has been convening the Landcare Irrigation Area Collective, which is an informal gathering held a few times a year where various stakeholders share news of their programs, network and brainstorm ideas based on their shared responsibilities in the region.

Our most recent Collective meeting, for example, revealed many synergies in ideas for programs to develop for the Smart Farming funding round.

It will be exciting to see these come to fruition in 2018.

Another part of my role has been acquitting projects developed by my predecessor Kerri-Anne, including speaking as a sponsor of the Drone and Technology Day held in Yenda. In the picture by Hannah Higgins I am with Regional Landcare Facilitator Julie Bellato.

She ran a couple of well-attended events for World Wetlands Day around Leeton, including attracting over 70 people for a breakfast at Fivebough.

If you haven’t visited that internationally recognised spot, you’re missing out on seeing the jewel in the Riverina’s crown when it comes to bird-watching.

Kerri-Anne’s background as an educator made it natural to develop programs with schools, however I confess that it left me with some dread when I stepped into the role.

This turned out to be unfounded as my ‘Hollows As Homes’ visits were characterised by exciting conversations with primary school-aged kids, including identifying local bird colonies and emphasising the time required for gums to develop habitat for native fauna.

Another project this year will be workshops to combat Sliverleaf Nightshade, a poisonous weed that poses a threat to livestock.

2018 looks to be another beaut year in the Western Riverina, so keep listening at this time in weeks to come as our plans develop.

And, if you’re short of something to read, have a look at the wonderful newsletters produced by the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists.

Knitted octopus

Had to buy this knitted octopus when I spotted it sitting on a shelf at a local opp shop

Oscar's self-portrait

Oscar produced this self-portrait during his art classes at high school this year

Apparently it was his idea to use only straight lines and it's a distinct result.

Bad Horsie Billy by Neve

Clearly Neve is signifying Billy is bad because he smokes a pipe

Mona Lisa remix by Neve

From the school work Neve has brought home at the end of the year

Double double entendre

Most writers can manage a double entendre but it's exceptional to slip two into a single headline

Visit to Lake Cowal

It was exciting to visit the "heartland" of the Wiradjuri Nation today, which required driving through water over the unsealed road.

I'd been interested in seeing Lake Cowal after meeting Uncle Neville "Chappy" Williams at Burning Seed and hearing about his efforts to stop mining at the site.

The mining is extensive and is in an area rich with Wiradjuri artifacts, including scar trees and ovens and a burial site.

This image shows a high-watermark on a tree near the Lake.

Glam And Cheese with Kimchi

The second toastie shared by Glam & Cheese sees Ash and Chase joined by Tania, who brings the spice.

Flashback to Henham Rd

Thought this photo at The Irrigator looked familiar

I took it in 2014!