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“Just an observation: it is impossible to be both grateful and depressed. Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

lonelyu girl in the woods

image courtesy of charadestyle.com

To say the past few days have been a trial would be an understatement.  Why has it been a trial?  I could start to list all the things I’ve perceived as being wrong, made me unhappy, not gone the way I wanted them to or cannot see how things are going to be the way I want them to be in the future.  Will this make them any different? An easy answer – no, it most definitely will not. Why? For the simple reason that it will not change any of them, for all of them are now in the past, if only just.

All the texts I’ve seen have stressed that the way forward, the way to make the most of the day you have, is to be grateful for the small things you have. So what happens when the “attitude of gratitude” seems to have flowed out of the “hole in your bucket?”  If you follow the lyrics to this little song you are led in a circuitous ditty back to the beginning again, which is of no value to anyone at all.  Perhaps the analogy is that you cannot fix what has already been broken. If one adopts that premise then the struggle to fix the broken, meaning whatever happened in the past to cause the unsettled or upset feelings, becomes, all at once becomes superfluous,  waste of time. It is an exercise in aimless stupidity.

Is this what life is all about? Is it the meaningless day by day trial of trying to make ends meet, watching the paperwork mount up because you haven’t the heart or will power to get in there and get it sorted out? Is it the wish that you simply don’t wake up this morning so the dreadful reality of the barrenness of your day cannot tear the heart and soul out of you yet again?

labyrinth

image courtesy of theage.com.au

No, I don’t think so, I can’t think so, I refuse to believe it is so! I refuse to accept this as my reality! I may feel that I am simply plodding round an endless spiral, going nowhere and achieving nothing, but that is not my reality, not any longer! It has been an aberrant thought which has crept past my defences, wormed its way past my reality of gratitude for the endless things which are occurring continuously in my life, day by day, all day and every day.  The reality may be that I am working my way through a tedious maze. Yet the maze has a beginning and an end. Curious that the end is the centre of the maze, the centre of all things. Interesting.

So, I may feel that life has beaten me down, I may find it difficult if not almost impossible for a time to see the wonders around me. I may feel that life has used a great big stick and had a really good time thumping me with it, but I am still standing. I’ve managed to get back up,  starred the blackness of despair in the face and yelled “Begone you woeful waste of space, let my sunshine back in NOW! I want my sense of gratitude back in place RIGHT NOW!”  OK, so I’ve picked a day when it’s overcast and looks like rain. That’s OK too. In fact hearing the rain thrumming on my roof, smelling the scent of wet dirt and freshly mown grass will be sweet nectar to my overburdened heart.

looking out rain soaked window
image courtesy of  rajdeeppaulus.com

In fact it will be truly healing. Perhaps the healing I’m searching for and not the information that I have this wrong or that wrong, but it’s ok now, until the next time and there is something else to be found. It’s finding that if “friends are flowers in the garden of life” , well my garden is bare since I don’t have any… flowers or friends. My garden is bare.  It’s coming to terms with the fact that my family has lost its way since my mother passed away and we seem to have lost the glue which held us together. I’m not sure IF I can fix it or IF I am meant to try to fix it. Perhaps it is also part of the change necessary for me to grow.

So for now, when it’s a tough row to hoe, I am concentrating on the small things, the simple things. The sound of the baby birds in the trees around my garden.

Beautiful and shy Koel making a home in my garden.

The appearance of shy native birds who like my garden as a place to call home. The Buff Banded Rail who is still shy and in hiding since the Magpies chase him unmercifully.  The Kookaburras, Pee Wits, Butcher birds and Magpies who sit on my balcony and tilt their heads as I talk to them.  I am surrounded by life and am grateful for their presence and company.  I am grateful for the Nikon my husband bought me because I can take photos of my visitors, perhaps not brilliant photos but they are blessings for me.

So if I start to think about  “Gratitude When the World goes to Hell in a Casket” I will look at my photos and think of my small blessings – with heaps of gratitude.

Buff Banded Rail shyly looking for Magpies as he crosses the garden

Butcher bird sharing my early morning balcony.

Kookaburra checking out the landscape.

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
James Herriot

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“From goulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!”    recorded in The Cornish and West Country Litany, 1926.

I’m still in recovery mode from my little medical procedure. As promised it’s not ‘quite’ as painful as before but I wouldn’t like to put a wager on it.  Aside from the fact that the entire neck is bruised from it’s assault by sharp objects and I’m sure you can feel it too.

Last night we decided to have a somewhat early night.  It is a misnomer of the grandest proportions since by the time we’ve checked emails, turned off computer, locked up, turned off lights and finally hit the bathroom for showers it’s not that early any longer. The problems begin with the emails, there is always one, if not more, to discuss or reply to and things snowball from there. The solution, of course, is to turn off the computer before we leave it and not go back to it. Easy!  It is also the penalty of working from home.  There is always the thought that something ‘vitally’ important may arrive late that we ‘must’ be prepared for the next day. I’m working on it!
nose to the grindstone

courtesy of  neesay.wordpress.com

After wobbling my way through the last minute computer turn off and shower (not together thankfully), I was thinking longingly of laying my aching head on my pillow when my husband laughingly reported we had a couple of possums in the nearby tree.  It actually sounded like a meeting place of mating possums. The noise, whilst not overly loud, was constant, and seemed to come from every branch of the tree.  A torchlit search finally found several culprits, doing what possums do, and we left them to their – own devices.

However, there was a small interlude before that happened. I recently received a beautiful burgundy Nikon P150 camera and I was hopeful of getting one of the possums (at rest)  on film so to speak.  Check lighting, check, check exposure, check, check shutter speed, check, you get the idea, it was almost a game of the blind leading the blind.  So, before they could move and I lost any chance of getting their presence immortalized I made a dash for the balcony door.
screen door  funny

courtesy of annacbowling.blogspot.com

That’s right, I walked right into and through the closed screen door, the one my dear husband had so carefully closed behind me after I ran inside to grab that beautiful camera! Being one of the “you beaut” Crimsafe doors I bounced back into the room whilst the door flew outwards at a great rate. OUCH!  Dignity and pride bruised and battered, not to say anything about my aching neck.  I guess that’s what happens when you interrupt nature at work.

brush tail possum

Image of brush tail possum courtesy of whyology.blogspot.com

Fortunately we were able to see the funny side to this.  With a backdrop of ‘hissing’ from the amorous possums Ray managed to get the door back on track, I massaged my bruised nose and toes, and contemplated the advisability of trying to take a photo.

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” Alexander Pope; an essay on criticism in 1709.

Dignity dented but intact, door replaced fully intact, possums still occupied, definitely intact, time to try for a photo.  I remembered to open the offending door this time and we took up position on the balcony.  Here we are twelve feet off the ground, Ray leaning way out over the railing to get some light on ‘the subjects’ whilst I, of much shorter stature than Ray, try to lean precariously over the rail to get the camera somewhere in the vicinity of the possums.

I can report, quite  definitely, that I need more lessons on how to operate my camera. It may not be my deficiencies at all but an impossible ask under the circumstances. Several blank shots plus several orange blurs were all I got for twisting myself, pretzel like over the railing, this after trying to rearrange myself as I torpedoed through a screen door.  It has not been my finest hour!

I am consoling myself with the knowledge that I caught  a beautiful shot of a spoonbill feeding in our pond the other day.  Sometimes you simply have to take your awards where you find them.

spoonbill

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Nikon P150I recently received a beautiful surprise, a terrific burgundy Nikon P510 with a marvelous zoom lens for close up shots. I should explain that I had a perfectly good “point and shoot” camera which I had used as I travelled throughout the Middle East and Switzerland,taking some memorable pictures which I am quite proud of. So the appearance of this new camera was more than just a little surprise.

It’s strange how much emphasis we attach to certain things when faced by a sudden change. I was thrilled by my first solo overseas holiday so it would have been amazing if I was unhappy with any photos I took at that time. I’m still really pleased with my trusty “point and shoot”, mainly because I didn’t have to think about focus, light and balance. Truthfully I wouldn’t have had the time to do all that and grab a photo, often on the fly. It served me very well and I can recognise everything I took a photo of. Not bad I thought.

So what happened to change the status quo with my trusty “point and shoot”? We moved house, again,but this time we have almost a quarter of an acre with a giant blue gum, an over abundance of palm trees and a gorgeous little pond. This pond has been the reason for the new camera. Each day since we moved here we have a variety of wildlife which comes to visit. Mainly birds, and, so I was told, the hardest of all to get good photos of. Why, you may ask?  It’s really quite simple, they move and fast! They wont take directions and head off just at the critical moment when you have finally set the light, focus and scene…. hence the frustration.

Yesterday we took the sane step of getting the salesman to come out and give us a lesson on the basics, at least to get us started with the camera. For a week I’ve been “playing around” with it, getting familiar with the zoom, and trying to get a few close-ups…. I have some adorable orchids which are a mass of flowers and duly deserve to be preserved in digital format. Not such a big ask I thought.

First we went outside… the lighting was just right and we went to get some good shots of the resident bird life – only there wasn’t any to be seen! Not to worry, we can pick a spot, any old  mass of flotsam around the fenceline and aim and shoot. Just practising our light exposure and so on – really good fun.  Not at all!  Have you ever tried describing exactly the same clump of rubbish attached to a piece of wire on a fence to try yo aim at? It isn’t very easy, especially when you admit to being geographically challenged as I am.  This means that north, south, east and west  are not the best way to advice me to point towards. I’ll inevitably end up facing the wrong way!   Next to the big cut off trunk in the corner of the next paddock, came the final piece of advice. Gret! I found it and away I went.  Not bad considering the frustration of trying to find it in the first place.

The good news was that by the time I had managed to take this one photo of a piece of rubbish some of the birds had heard my unspoken plea and arrived to have their wonderful selves immortalised en camera.

Purple swamp hen  It may not look much but when you’ve been standing, arms akimbo and the tremble has begun to shake the camera around like a flea looking for a meal on a hot summer’s day, you begin to appreciate how difficult it is to get a bird to play ball with you!  The hysterial laughter s I tried to get a bird in flight was just the tonic we all needed. The blur was indistinguishable and deleted after the laughter subside.  Next, in came the pair of wood ducks we think are nesting near the creek.  They are so flighty I almost stopped breathing so I woudn’t scare them away. However, the instructions continued and I managed to capture this….

Wood duck in back yard

Okay, it’s not much for a first effort, but I was rather pleased with it all the same.   I’ll take what comes along my way and practise some more and who knows… perhaps I’ll be able to photograph the moon like I want to next week. Now wouldn’t that be something!

Just to show how much I blurred it all… here is one of the best shots I missed

Blurry birds, courtesy of hypergurl.com I’m told it can be much worse, I know it can because I did it later.

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