Happy 4th of July! ‘Murica! Blah, blah, blah, whatever.

5DSR4754Today’s Australia flashback is to Ripponlea. This is a historic estate with extensive gardens. We didn’t actually tour the house, as it was hosting a costume exhibit and we didn’t feel like it was worth paying the fee. But the gardens were free.

5DSR4774Pretty darn stunning, too. They contained a small lake with a bridge to a tiny island and a waterfall. Since it was late fall when we visited, there weren’t a ton of flowers blooming.

5DSR4778I would imagine it’s spectacular in the springtime and early summer. It was a nice way to spend a little time outside of our rental apartment on a day when Miss Nola was feeling a little cranky.

Still Feeling Cross

5DSR53845DSR5389A few more crosses, because it’s been one of those weeks. Between the road construction  and house stress, I really felt like I was about to lose my shit.

So on Thursday I just started reading books and didn’t stop until I had blown through four. There’s something about a really good book that just makes me forget the world. Plus, I have a pretty big backlog of books to get through.

5DSR5360I’m feeling like we’ve reached a temporary lull in our forward progress on the house. We didn’t have any meetings this week, as nobody seemed to have any updates. Our landscaper is behind schedule, the conservatory guy hasn’t answered my email from five days ago and our designer was out of town half of last week, so she won’t have anything new until Wednesday. It’s just so frustrating. Hence, the escape into fiction. Better than drinking.


Phillip Island of Escape

I woke up to someone knocking on our front door at 6:45 this morning. It was a road construction worker telling me to shut off our sprinkler because it was flooding the street. Because we have nothing but dirt at the front of our yard. Because they ripped out a large swath of our grass yesterday. Sigh.

5DSR4692So I’m going to escape from the ongoing nightmare that is now our life by returning to Australia. These images are from our trip to Phillip Island to see the penguins. It wasn’t the South Pole, but it was a much shorter drive.

5DSR4694Unfortunately, photographing the penguins is strictly prohibited. So I  had to settle for photographing the beautiful scenery instead.

5DSR4713We had a brief Skype session with the irrepressible Miss Nola last night. She had asked to see us, but still only managed to last about 10 minutes before pummeling the phone with her bouncy ball. She’s at the age where her attention span is measured in seconds, so I’m grateful we got the 10 minutes.

Grind it Down

Yesterday a large piece of construction equipment went down our street. At first it looked like it was putting down a thick layer of dirt. Then we realized it was actually grinding up the asphalt so fine that it looked like dirt. I think it took about four passes and then our street was completely gone. Fascinating, except for the totally shitty aspect that our road is now dirt.

This morning we heard loud banging coming from outside. They were busting up all of the curbs and the driveway aprons. Which left us with a small cliff off the end of the driveway. Even the Cayenne can’t handle that. So I called the city. They promised to give us notice when doing things like shutting off water and removing driveway access. Within 30 minutes of my call there was a dirt ramp at the end of the driveway. Nice response time.

We took the opportunity to get out and go for a walk. When we returned we didn’t even attempt to drive down our street, opting to park nearby instead. At least we know we’ll be able to get out again later. They had removed even more of our driveway (farewell, decorative concrete border), and now everyone had a dirt ramp. It’s going to be a long, ugly summer.

A Cross to Bear

I’m guessing you can figure out the location of today’s photos from the title. I just couldn’t resist.

5DSR53795DSR5385This is one of the last areas of the cemetery we photographed. I’m afraid I don’t know the significance of these blocky little headstones with the crosses on top. I just loved the photographic opportunities they presented. I wish there had been more of them. In this arrangement of three, I resorted to a tiny bit of Photoshop trickery to remove a small floral arrangement that was ruining the composition for me.

5DSR5390The lighting was tricky, but I tried to use it to my advantage. The image on the right only works because the cross in the back is strongly back lit, creating a halo effect. Without that, it would have been lost against the somewhat busy background. Isolating the crosses against the grass worked better, but I couldn’t always get the right angle to make that work.

Morning at the Prom

Time to head back to Australia again. These are some additional photos from our trip to Wilsons Prom. 5DSR4536After we spent one night in our somewhat rustic accommodations close to the park, we went back for a slightly longer hike than we had managed on the prior afternoon. Essentially, we walked from one beach to another along a ridge with spectacular views of the ocean and several bays.

5DSR4560This one, in particular, was stunning. As far as I could tell there was no way to reach it. Apparently it is possible to climb down to it, if you are part mountain goat. Way beyond my skill level, so I settled for photographing it from our high vantage point.

5DSR4674We had to hike the same trail to return to the car, so I took advantage of the return trip to put on a longer lens and photograph some details of the rocks along the shore line.

Military Headstones

We’re back in the cemetery today. Well, I am, anyway.

5DSR5359This time I’m featuring the simple headstones found in the section of the cemetery devoted to military veterans.

5DSR5367This is often my favorite part of any cemetery. There’s something about the repeating lines of modest, identical headstones that I find compelling. St. Mary’s doesn’t have a very large section like this, so it’s nothing like taking photos at Arlington (which I’ve done) or even Ft. Snelling (which I haven’t) but then it’s a relatively tiny cemetery. You have to work a little bit harder to get something good, which just makes it all that more satisfying.

5DSR5370I’m pretty close to finished with my posts on St. Mary’s. I’ve got one, maybe two more left in me before I move on. Then you’re stuck listening to me drone on about the house stuff, which is occupying the majority of my waking hours these days. It might be awhile before I break out the camera and take any new photos. Enjoy the break.

Wilsons Prom Redux

Today’s Australia reboot is Wilsons Prom. This is the national park we visited on our second road trip. It’s a gorgeous place, but much of it is only accessible by hiking. Which gets tricky with a cranky toddler and her middle aged aunty and uncle.

5DSR4362We arrived later in the day, but had enough time for a little hike down to the beach.  Along the way we passed this wide swampy area filled with bushy grass. When we reached the beach, Nola immediately plopped down in the sand and started making castles.

5DSR4432She wasn’t very happy when we told her it was time to go. On the way back to the car she dawdled, running in and out of this little stream that fed into the ocean. It gave me plenty of opportunity to photograph these awesome boulders.

5DSR4476We made a quick trip to another beach. This time Nola insisted on being carried. Her dad obliged, but of course she wanted mom so she screamed bloody murder on the way there. There were quite a few people on the beach, but I managed to get a few shots that didn’t include any human presence. This is one of them.

Living in a Construction Zone

When I left the house this morning there was a backhoe on our front lawn. Always a fun way to start the day. We’ve been under siege ever since returning in mid May. Our neighborhood is currently undergoing major street renovations that include replacing gas lines, water mains and sewer lines. That will be followed closely by replacement of the asphalt and curbs.  Invasive is an understatement.

They are doing the streets in two phases. Technically, our street doesn’t start until phase two, but they are using it as a staging area for equipment and supplies because we have a park across the street. So in addition to having huge holes dug in our lawn, we get to dodge heavy equipment every time we want to leave the house. It really makes me not want to leave the house. Actually, it makes me really wish we were in our new house already.

Now my goal is to get out before they hit us with the assessment for all of this work, which is currently estimated to be about $12,000. The final number won’t come out until Fall of 2017, at which point we hope to be long gone. We are planning to put our new house on the Artisan Home Tour, in June 2017. Right now that feels like a ridiculously ambitious goal, but I’m clinging to it.

Silent Sentinels

5DSR5282We’re back in the cemetery today. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. I was trying to go with a theme of cemetery statuary today, but I could only come up with two images. For some reason I have this need to include three, so I just broadened the category a bit.

5DSR5288Okay, so maybe this large monument doesn’t really qualify as a sentinel, but it’s not the first time I’ve stretched a theme past the breaking point. “Vertical Compositions Featuring Large Monuments” doesn’t really make for a snappy title. And on the internet, a snappy title is everything. That’s why clickbait works. We all fall for it.



Actually two of these images aren’t even that vertical, they’re closer to square. So I guess this just becomes three more random images from St. Mary’s. How’s that for an incredibly non-catchy blog title?