Year: 2014

Steamy Nights, Christmas Lights

Hey, folks. Hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas. Perhaps you noticed the longer-than-usual break between posts — let’s blame the season. I’m not the biggest fan of December. I’ve traditionally associated it with searing temperatures too hot to walk in, lethargy, crass commercialism (I swear there was Christmas product in the stores this year not long after the Easter stuff had been taken down), over-eating, over-drinking, over-sleeping, bad TV, awful music (actually, there was far less of it this time after two Korean Christmases), endless, endless, endless sport and a weird feeling that I just don’t fit in. I always have that feeling, but it’s especially marked when I’m sailing solo through the Sea of Festivity. But it hasn’t been too bad, considering that this isn’t where I really wanted to be at this time. I recently changed my routine from an (insanely) early-morning stroll to a later start and more rambling around sundown. In part this was because I have more photographs of the planet coming to life than I know what to …

Topiary Reptiles: A Water Dragon Trilogy #3

Hey, folks. Some Goat that Wrote trivia for you: This is my 11th post to contain the word “dragon” in its title. You read it here first. You’re probably tiring of water dragons at this point, and that would be very sad, but with this short final episode we’re leaving our reptilian friends behind to bask and swim and otherwise squander their Summer in standard Queensland fashion. I’ll be back before long to catch up and share festive season stories with them — no doubt theirs will leave mine for dead. This was an interesting little visit to Roma Street… ..when for the first time I had a good look at the topiary garden. You don’t see much topiary in Australian gardens, although there’s no shortage of poorly pruned hedges. It seems very “eccentric English” and olde-worlde, and kinda ridiculous when it’s done badly — well, even when it’s done well (Stanley Kubrick omitted the topiary-animals-come-to-life bit from his version of Stephen King’s The Shining, probably a wise move), although there’s a quirky Australian take on …

Spiders in the Sky: A Water Dragon Trilogy #2

Hey, folks, so my Korean kitty-kat post a little while back has broken — vaporised, really — all my personal records on TGTW. As this post goes to the presses, the tally of “likes” from other WordPressers stands at 330, way more than 10 times my average number. Unbelievably, comments have reached about 75 and it’s been re-blogged a dozen or so times. Evidently there are a lot of cat people out there in the blog-reading world. If I’d known that, I would have carried a bag of dried fish with me on my Korean rambles. But without a zoom lens it was only due to good old dogged (catt-ed?) persistence (and having nothing better to do with my time) that I got the shots I did. Anyway, as a thank-you for all the nice feedback, here’s yet another picture of a certain devilishly handsome feline: Cheers, 山羊 *          *          *          *          * “I might grow old in Brisbane, but I would never grow up.” ~ …

Stalking Dragons: A Water Dragon Trilogy #1

Hey, so, it’s my blog and one of the biggest kicks it gives me is coming up with the post titles. I’m aware that “dragon” and “trilogy” are encroaching on fantasy novel territory, but there’s more than a touch of fantasy in this post (and the two follow-ups). (Plus I’m kinda hoping the post titles will turn up in occasional Google searches by fans of fantasy literature: folks feeding their love of all things Dragonslayer, Dragonlord, Dragon Hunter, Dragonpanties et al…) But the post itself: I’ve been so overwhelmed lately with a) general living and all its uncertainties and b) keeping my head above the constantly rising floodwaters of photos and post ideas (I have a dozen or more in mind at any point) that sometimes un- or partially edited pictures and post material get left behind and one day I come across stuff that’s relatively old, swamped by weeks of other stuff, forgotten. The other day I discovered photos from three excursions to Brisbane’s Roma Street Parkland: January 10, August 8 and August 28 this year. …

Seasonally Flamboyant Sandgate

flam·boy·ant1  adjective (of a person or their behaviour) tending to attract attention because of their exuberance, confidence, and stylishness. (especially of clothing) noticeable because brightly coloured, highly patterned, or unusual in style. flam·boy·ant2 noun another term for royal poinciana I’m closing in on my second documented multi-month thousand-mile ramble to take place largely in the Sandgate area. It’s cool, and I’m grateful I get to do it in such pleasant environs, but I do get tired at times of stomping the same footpaths (“sidewalks” in American), walking paths and tidal sand flats, month in, month out. But one thing about walking your own patch of turf for years is that you are keenly aware of how it changes throughout the year. You watch out for and relish the seasonal changes, the subtle tweaks and the stark transformations. Here’s a sample of the refreshing colour that’s enlivened my urban trails over late Spring and early Summer. If you happened to peer through the curtains to see the weirdo with the backpack leaning over your fence with …

Cloud Avalanche: Green Mountain Haiku #2

Hi, folks. Some cool news: yesterday my recent post about Korean kitty-kats was featured on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page, where posts from a handful of W.P. blogs are hand-chosen each week by the editors for a bit of extra exposure. It’s really gratifying knowing that my words and pictures were deemed Pressed-worthy. This is the third time a post of mine has been selected in the three years or so I’ve been grinding out T.G.T.W. — roughly one feature every hundred posts! Each time it’s reinvigorating — with the walking, the picture-making, the uploading, layout fine-tuning and editing, one post can sometimes take 6-8 hours, and inevitably you find yourself asking if it’s all worth it. Guess it’s worth it! Best of all, it introduces the blog to a vast and diverse group of new reader-bloggers. It’s a real blast watching the wave of commenters and followers rolling in! So, welcome, new readers! Now, it’s back to the jungle with its strangler figs, vines, waterfalls, whip birds and pesky rainforest haiku poets, and the final part …

Stranglers in the Forest: Green Mountain Haiku #1

A couple of months back, before it got too hot for all but deranged masochists to hike anywhere, my friend Chris Lynch borrowed his mother’s car, I downed a couple of Kwells to head off the inevitable car sickness, and we drove south a few hours to O’Reilly’s, the famous “rainforest retreat” set in the midst of mountainous Lamington National Park. It was a last-minute escape plan, and we only came up with a rudimentary course while poring over a tourist map minutes before leaving my place: two nights in the Green Mountains section, at unimproved bush campsites (read: no running water or toilets), with lots of rainforest walking and waterfalls in between. The pills worked, I arrived mildly stoned but nausea-free, and we left the car at the resort to set off down one of the numerous tracks that intersect, start or finish there. It was a fantastic trip — sometimes the hastily prepared ones are the best ones. Early on, as I apologised for stopping for yet another shot, Chris remarked, “Take your time. This …

After the Ice Came Down

I was stuffing cameras into my daypack, readying for a trip up the road, when I heard it: a loud, sharp CRACK on the roof over the back verandah. Then another, and another. They started coming faster till we were under sustained attack, like a gang of vandals was hurling rocks from up the hill. But there is no hill to be up and the vandals around here are not that resourceful or organised. This was two afternoons ago. The forecast had suggested a storm, but I’d been disappointed before. Now with the temperature easing off and the sky darkening, I thought I’d try my luck at some very low-budget storm-chasing. I love the summer storm season here in South-East Queensland: rain, cooler temps, some much-needed drama. And I keep hoping one day I’ll fluke a nice magazine cover-worthy lightning shot and retire to somewhere dark and stormy with my earnings. I ditched the pack and peeked out from under the upstairs verandah. Leaving cover right then would have been suicidal. A few years ago I was way, …

A Korean Flashback #1: Where the Kitties Get No Pity

Lately a few fellow early birds I run into as I make my rounds between seaside sunrise and coffee shop have asked how the morning’s snapping went and then hit me with “So, what do you with the pictures?” And I always mumble something about the blog, and personal satisfaction, and more tangible options along the line when I have some money — but mostly what I do with them is edit. Delete and edit. Pretty sad, I know. But they give me a reason to walk, I guess… A plus side of all this downtime is the progress I’ve made with a ton of shots from my two years in Korea, which was when and where I really buckled down and tried to improve as a photographer, largely as an attempt at therapy, self-medication and diversion. And it would be a shame if I didn’t share some of them, so I’m going to do periodic Korean Flashbacks built around a certain theme — and this inaugural episode is about cats. Cats are on my mind of late, and Kate’s …

The Predator Above

Breakfast, when I’m living alone, is the only meal of the day I consistently enjoy. For months now it’s been taking place in the park here in Sandgate after a few miles of seaside wandering in the good light just before and after dawn. That hour or so before the summer heat (forget what your calendar says — it’s Summer) and glaring light reach intolerable levels is often my last taste of the outdoors until the sun’s low in the sky again in late afternoon. I’m a poor excuse for a Queenslander, I know. Even that early, I’m rarely alone in there. There’s a group of ladies with a small herd of mop-like mutts, and then there are the three or four locals who gather daily under the rotunda or on a neighbouring bench and routinely start drinking beer by 6:30am. Sometimes they even bring an esky (“cooler” in American); it’s a big esky. They’re a pretty quiet bunch, at least until the second can or so, and the only conversation I’ve ever followed was an entertaining discourse on the correct preparation …

Contain Yourself: Postcards from Off the Grid

I just had a couple of days helping my friend Frank paint his house and generally bum around his charming inner-city Brisbane suburb. It was delightful to walk some different terrain, and take pictures of things that hadn’t washed in on the previous night’s tide. Also, it finally rained, which made the hills and coffee shops and leg-waxing salons (it’s a very well-waxed suburb) all the more refreshing — it’s been hot of late. Yesterday, back here on the edge of the Bay, we got our long-rumoured storm: 70ml of sweet clear glory sloshed around in our backyard gauge after a mere hour; wind-whipped water poured in over the tops of my sliding windows even though they were closed. It was fantastic, and the local park resembled the Serengeti afterwards, ibis, egrets and other waders by the hundreds combing the lake-like puddles when I trotted up with my camera to investigate. More on all that stuff coming up. So, listen: I’ve made a pact with myself (and my girlfriend, who is one hell of a tough …

Something Handsome This Way Slithers

So where were we? That’s right, in the bush half an hour or so from the northern New South Wales hamlet of Kyogle, visiting the container compound and incipient off-grid metal-box mansion of Alex’s brother and his partner. And I was just shaking off a bout of crippling car sickness, enjoying the trees and birds and quiet when the serenity of the pre-dusk Australian bush was blown to smithereens by — well, to borrow a line from myself (if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best): We were just settling into a cosy backcountry groove when Graham let out a tremendous holler, leapt into their little Suzuki Sierra 4-wheel drive, and went screaming down the track towards something exciting… I already had an inkling. I first met Graham, Alex’s little brother, a couple of decades ago or more. They shared an interest in the macabre, grotesque or just plain disgusting; if you’ve ever witnessed Alex’s housekeeping, you know what I’m talking about. And for Graham one manifestation (decorum in this family-friendly blog means a lot of self-censorship) was the keeping of …

Container Mania: Korea to…Kyogle?

Hey all, Before this post kicks off, I just wanted to proudly point out that it’s number… ..for me on TGTW! Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me on this highly erratic journey, and especially to Kate, my original and greatest fan, who’s kept me hitting “PUBLISH” even when I’ve been perilously close to throwing in the towel and doing something useful with my time. Cheers, and here’s to the next 300… *          *          *          *          * I flopped out of the car onto the grass and lay there with my head cradled in my arm and my eyes closed, opening them only to raise my head a few inches and greet Graham, part-owner of the property and its magnificently soothing grass. I listened as Alex embraced his brother and filled him in on my ailment — “A touch of car sickness, I’m afraid” — while I lay there luxuriating in the shady coolness and the levelness and especially the motionlessness. It seemed …

A Packable, Portable Halloween

Yesterday started weirdly even for me: awake around 2:30am and stepping out into blackness and perfect silence at exactly 3:30, since one of the features of my variety of insomnia is that I fall sleep easily but wake for no reason anywhere from a few to five or six (if I’m lucky) hours later. Wide awake, painfully awake. And it’s usually futile to lie there waiting for sleep to seep back in; might as well do something useful. For the last few weeks it’s been particularly bad. I do have a lot on my mind, and for part of every day there’s a knot of mild anxiety in my gut that vanishes completely when I’m lining up a shot, or enjoying a particularly sublime dawn, or thinking about long-term plans — even ideas for blog posts, believe it or not. Another annoying feature of my psychology is that my mind likes devising and settling into its own idiosyncratic rhythms. One day it figures, “This waking up hours before dawn caper is working out pretty damned …

New Day, New Beginnings

Hey, people. First off, you’re probably so taken aback by the uncharacteristic optimism in this post’s title that you’re checking whether you’ve strayed onto the wrong blog — a suspicion no doubt reinforced by this site’s BOLD NEW LOOK. Relax, you’re in the right place, and my usual dour outlook (I blame my Scots blood, and the vicissitudes of a weird life) should resume in the next post. Lemme explain. A week or two ago I decided to change T.G.T.W.’s theme — meaning the design and features of the site rather than the subject matter — and spent several days researching the plethora of alternatives offered by WordPress. I loved Linen, my previous theme, but wanted more flexibility with post layout, something that would let me approximate a simple magazine-style look, and also a way to give my pictures more prominence, which seemed fair given the ridiculous amount of time the picture-making consumes these days. Anyway, I looked at 20 or 30 and finally settled on this one, Zuki, a theme so new there’s not much info …

Dogless in Hound Town

Late September, Sandgate, Australia. A warm, sunny Saturday morning, and the dogs have brought their humans to the seaside. With a languid incoming tide lapping at the seawall, the walkway/cycle path that hugs the rim of the Bay from Shorncliffe to Scarborough is already well populated with cyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers, perambulating families and couples, the occasional wretched loner walking his or her own path. And there are the dogs. Dogs of all sizes, shapes, temperaments and religious persuasions, all in a state of high excitement. So many things to do, see, bark at, chase and roll in. Their humans sip their lattes and struggle stoically to keep up. Anyway, it’s exercise. We wretched loners slump grimly on, attempting indifference, inwardly acknowledging our sad and undeniable doglessness. ~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

Synchronised Fireflies

Sometimes your mistakes are the best things you take home. Last week I was scurrying about on the rocks below Shorncliffe Pier in the last useable twilight, trying to take long exposures with my camera mounted on a tiny Gorillapod (a flexible plastic tripod). The tide was lapping at my ankles; the rocks were mossy, encrusted with sharp-edged shells, and very unfairly irregular when I really needed a flat surface.  The things I do to keep you folks entertained.

This Post Was Cobbled Together

How many cobblers do you know? Not as in the dessert, but as in the shoemaker. I’m fortunate to know two. I met Jackie at university, back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and university education in Australia was free — must be about 30 years now. Adrian, her shoe-business partner, a few years less than that. Together they run — are — Pendragon, a two-person cottage industry that’s been going almost as long.