Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Diary of a Desperate Housewife Part 2. Jak, Reflections and Fly Spots!

Jak has a lot to answer for. He has over twenty people dementedly wandering around praying for a calm day to take photographs of reflections in water,  taking photographs of windows, sunglasses, anything with a reflective surface. Click on the link to see what Annie was up to on Hydra

The pressure is on. At our last photography workshop, Jak went from singing our praises and telling us how wonderful we were to telling us we had disappointed him with our  " Shadow" homework. It wasn't creative enough.

This one passed the test. I "borrowed" the idea from  Darek Grabus, I found it on Pinterest. The original I tried to recreate is here

Shadow or reflection? This is the shadow thrown by a wine glass. I was holding the glass in my hand. I never thought of shadows in terms of  colour so maybe this is a reflection?

I got approached by a member of staff  outside of Carrefour moving these trolleys around to take their photograph. I told him I was doing a photography project so avoided being arrested for being crazy!

It is not our fault if we set the bar so high in the beginning. We were bound to hit a wall somewhere. So we had three weeks to redeem ourselves with our "Reflections" homework.  We were warned to submit good work. He knows what we are capable of. He has seen some of our pictures in mirrors. We were warned not to submit any more. These were not what he is looking for. 

Jak wants reflections in water. It would be good if it would rain, I could do with a puddle or two. I am five minutes from the sea but anytime I have gone there it has been breezy or the sun has been too high. 

I have all the excuses in the world. For two weeks I have been building a garden....not finished by the way. And now I have finally started to spring clean the house. Again doing photography homework for "Portraits" I was horrified to see how the camera exaggerated - not -  the dirt and sand blown onto my windows. My story is, "I am a pensioner and I cannot afford net curtains." After all, there are 10 windows and 5 sets of double patio doors in this house. It is much more cost effective to let the dust build up and stop the neighbours peeping in. That is until visitors come.

So with a visit to Ireland looming, cat sitters coming and Reflections homework to do I decided it was time for the spring clean. In spite of what Jak said about reflections in water - I have a few of those in the archive - I thought I would capture a few reflections in all the glass.

Unfortunately I submitted this one when the topic was trees.

So there is this one, though I have not got the sky right.

My evil grin.
After all windows are not mirrors and I can be creative by how much I angle the window. And it just might mess a little with Jak's head.

Not my door but they are my cats, reflected, if you look carefully. 

Decided to go the whole hog and do a reflected selfie!

Which led me to my present plight. I have successfully cleaned the middle floor of my house, my main living space. Today, the plan was to clean the cat sitter's room, the one which originally called attention to the grimed windows - think in terms of Dickens - and the dust elephants and hippos that gamboled under the bed.

 I am pleased to announce that the hippos have been reduced to bunnies. I know all their secret hangouts and now deal with them on a slightly more regular basis. Which led me to the shutters and the windows. 

Shutters no problem. Water, sponge and Cif had them shining in minutes. The windows should have been no problem. With my trusty Karcher window Vac I should have them dealt with in half an hour. That is about as long as the battery lasts which is good news for me. It gives me time for a leisurely coffee break while waiting for it to recharge.

I would be lost without my Karcher, It cleans windows in a jiffy and insists on being recharged at regular intervals, perfect for those who need a coffee break! Please ignore the colour of the water......and you thought I might be exaggerating!

I started well.  The first window, the offending one from the portrait shoot, was dealt with in minutes. So on to the next one. This is where disaster befell. FLY SPOTS!!

Half way through cleaning I was writing this blog post in my head. I grabbed my phone and snapped a couple of pictures for the post. Those black dots to the side, by the way, are on an electricity pole, they are not the offending spots.

The window is a double window. Amazingly there is not a single fly spot on the left hand pane, whereas the outside of the right hand pane was dotted with them. I tried everything. I soaked them in hot water, I used window cleaner, I used Cif cleaner. I tried gently scraping with a knife, knowing I was likely to scratch the glass. But fly spots? How would I ever capture a clear reflection in the window? Oh dear, Jak will not be pleased.

I swear the window was not this bad. This is just the way the light fell trying to take the photograph with my phone.

  In the end I sat down and googled easy ways to remove baked on fly spots. Believe me they are baked in this heat. It was 29C yesterday, and who knows maybe they are there since last summer...oops did I actually write that. Not true, not true at all.

Consulting Google, I learned that  apart from lots of water and elbow grease there is no easy solution. I also learned the fly specks could be a) fly poo b) fly spit.....after it regurgitates its food or c) be nothing at all to do with flies but shooting spores from the cannon fungus projected on to my windows. To be honest I don't care what causes them. I want to know how to remove them!

I have managed to bleach them from all the household products I sprayed on them, I removed some, I have also slightly scratched the glass in places. At one stage I considered getting a marker and joining the dots. I think it might have made a pretty picture. If there are glow in the dark markers I definitely would have done it. It would have resembled several new constellations. I could drive my visitors mad by telling them I had drawn a map of them for them to locate these constellations in the night sky.

What the window could have looked like, only I didn't fancy cleaning it when the novelty wore off.

This story does not end well. The "fly spots" remain though they are now bleached. I spent over an hour wrestling with one window pane. I have checked my room, it's next on the list and yep, they are on the lower left hand pane of one of the windows there too. So if anyone, anyone, knows of a way to remove them easily please let me know as soon as possible.  There most be a home brew, a natural concoction that can cope with pooing, spitting flies or fungi. The sun is shining, I want to go out and play.

View through the cleaned window. I can't see the fly spots. All occupants of this room will have to look at the view through the camera lens.

The reflection of the opposite hill. Hard to find those bleached fly spots. I might even go back and play with this reflection with my "real" camera, if time allows.

....and the reflection through the other window.

Seriously Jak, instead of saying you have a lot to answer for, I should tell you I am very grateful for all your hard work putting the workshops together.. You are challenging me creatively and also inspiring me to finally clean my house! I hope you are learning to deal with the Irish sense of humour.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Friday Reflections : Go Confidently in the Direction of your dreams.

My choice for this weeks post is the quotation by Henry Thoreau, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."

Last April, I took a flight from Kathmandu to see Everest. This is the photo I took. It is the closest I want to get to that mountain peak!
I am so sad to see the devastation now in the city where I spent several days this time last year.

This quotation is on a plaque on my kitchen wall. My brother gave it to me Christmas 2013, not long after I retired.  I had just been through a stressful time, I had moved country and and spent two months camping out in the bedroom while I renovated the house and made it fit for winter living.

The house is actually looking quite tidy here. It was much worse and it was November. Not the time to be missing a window!
This was a post I really wanted to write about. I wanted to give it due care and consideration but as usual I seem to have run out of time. Why?

When my kids were small, I dreamed of the day when they would be grown up, independent and I would be retired.  I dreamed of lazy mornings, lots of books, and travel. Just look at the clipart I found when I googled. Are all retired teachers the same? This just describes it perfectly. I worked to live, not lived to work.
Got it in one!
I drafted this post. As I did I realised something. I am not moving confidently in the direction of my dreams. And this is why my time seems so scarce.

I have spent the past couple of weeks making a new garden. I had some help with the structural work but the rest I have done myself.

I have barrowed tons of earth. I have planned, dug and planted the new beds.

The herb wheel I bargained like hell for. Had done the deal on  a bigger one but couldn't get it into the car. This one fits the patch perfectly

Basil is in, am waiting to get the rest of my herbs.

The veggie patch is prepared. It's next.

The veggie patch is prepared. I have visions of juicy tomatoes dancing in my head.

Through the work, there have been countless coffee breaks. The garden seems to be a magnet and so is the smell of coffee. It seems to bring everyone passing in to sit and chat. Lots of Turkish practice for me.  Lots of coffee and cake for them.

The terrace waiting to be planted.
In addition, I have been following my passion for photography. While I haven't got to the sea yet this week, to do my "reflections in water" homework. I have revamped some of my older photos and am learning to edit.

 Kyemore Abbey in the West of Ireland, great reflection but the sky was overexposed.

Improvement but still needs some work.
Sikh Temple in Delhi 

Better fits the homework brief when cropped in tight.
These swans became.......

........these, using the drama filter in Snapseed.

Random girl at the Taj Mahal

I inverted the reflection to make for a more interesting photograph , in my opinion.

Today I spent in the kitchen. Tomorrow I have planned a picnic with friends. We will meet, with our cameras and have a ramble. I am even bringing my swimsuit with me, In hope of having my first swim of the season..........on the 29th of April .

This is where we will go tomorrow.
My home wafts with the scent of fresh bread, brownies and muffins.

Hot out of the oven, Garlic, herb and cheese rolls.

Lemon Cream Cheese Muffins, easy to make and nice and light.

Chocolate brownies.......look my hand shook taking these, not so easy to make, definitely not nice and light but seriously good. Did I mention one never made it back safely to the tin? 

I love these ginger snaps, especially as they have sour pomegranate sauce to add a little kick to them.

Oh yes, the salad greens. This is  my carbon offset, sorry, sugar overload offset!

Of course there is a very healthy salad first!

Thursday is singing group and on Friday I will meet with my knitting ladies. That leaves the weekend to get my tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and courgettes planted.

One last thing for today, I have booked my flights to Bangkok for the end of September, the first leg of my upcoming trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. This was going to be a solo trip but in December a friend decided to come with me. We will be away for a month.

Looking forward to this trip in October. Vietnam and Cambodia with a brief stop in Thailand.

 I have planned a photography day tour in Hanoi, we will cruise Halong Bay, take the sleeper train to Da Nang, bus it from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh as well as fly to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat. 

We have booked a four night stay at the Secret Paradise Resort on Koh Rong Samloem pictured above.
This will a penance for me.....very limited internet access...I am going into rehab!!

I think I can safely say, I am not  moving confidently in the direction of my dreams. I am living my dream every day, be it digging the garden, baking, singing or knitting with friends, recording it all on camera. 

This is why I have so litle time to sit in front of the computer and write As I sit on my garden swing I realise my dreams are actually my reality. I am living them every day. Lucky me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Friday Reflections. Carpe Diem.

Firstly I would like to thank Mackenzie and Janine for choosing me as their  featured writer last week. I was surprised and very pleased. Next I must apologise as my Friday reflection has become a Tuesday one.

 Last week was a good but very busy. The H3A group here on the Bodrum peninsula was celebrating their 5th Year Anniversary last Thursday and I was busy sewing my  hexis together to put on display. I also had several photos in the photography exhibition. I received many compliments for both the hexis and the photographs.

The two on the left are mine.

The knitting display. Thanks to Cheryl for the photograph.

Whilst there, I also had the chance to work on tomorrows photo homework, "Shadows" The evening light reflecting on the dome of the hamam was too good an opportunity to resist for the Irish contingent.

The Irish contingent play with the shadows.
Unknown to us we were caught in the act by another member of the group who is a very well respected blogger. She lived in Bodrum for a number of years, in the early 80's, and returned again in 2012 to a very changed scene. Back to Bodrum

However it was back to earth, literally, the following day as I struggled to move a truck load of earth. I am making a new vegetable garden. This left little time for blogging and even less energy.

Proof!  My family were in disbelief. The shovel was way to big for me.
A vegetable garden in the making.

So my reflection this week is of lessons learned.

I was talking to a young friend a while ago. He hadn't long set out on a his teaching career. He had just got engaged and life was stretching out in front of him, full of  excitement and promise.

I on the other hand was just about to retire, My life too was in a period of change and for me also full of excitement and promise. As we were talked, I passed a comment about me being lazy. He said he couldn't believe that. As our chat went on I told him I wouldn't want to be young again for all the tea in China. He was astonished, Why ever not? Youth was everything. I replied that I would not want to start from the beginning again and have to learn all of life's lessons again. He then jokingly agreed that my initial statement was correct and that I was indeed lazy.

From the time we are born we begin to learn and these "life" lessons continue until we die. The question is, do we learn or do we repeat the same mistakes over and over again?

When I was teaching, the main message I used to try to pass on to my pupils was, never be afraid to try. It is from our mistakes that we learn more. I think this true for anything. For example, in a photography workshop you submit two photographs, one really good and the other not so. When people look at the first, they say wonderful photo, it may have been just a lucky shot . Looking at the other photo, if you are lucky people may say, you needed to have changed your aperture, ISO, crop it differently etc. It is from this we learn. If we are open to making mistakes to not being afraid to try then we can make our greatest discoveries. How many of us sat in a classroom afraid to raise our hand when the teacher asked a question and then kicked ourselves when someone else gave the answer that we would have given and received all the praise?

But I digress. There are so many lessons I have learned and so many still to be learned. While the above lesson is a very important one, the most important for me has been to "seize the day." Carpe Diem.

Sunrise in Bandipur Nepal.

When I was younger I used to wish my life away. If only I was old enough to join the youth club...... if only I was old enough to go to the discos...... if only I was finished college...... if only I could get a job......if only my babies could dress and feed themselves, if only they could get themselves to their activities, if only the summer holidays would come, if only the summer holidays wouldn't come to an end........ The list was endless.

It also consisted of " when the children are older I will....... when I retire I will......."

I had my children shortly after I married, at what is now considered a young age. By 25 I had three babies under 15 months - I hadn't counted on availing of the "buy one, get one free" offer!  My plan was to have a relatively large family, to have them young and then later enjoy an early retirement, the children would be grown up and independent, if not gone; and then it would be my turn! No empty nest syndrome for me. All plans for the future, I was going to wait 35 years for my day to come,

But then life happened. I worked in a small school. We were a staff of four. My Principal's wife died in her forties, of cancer. My close colleague was in a horrific car accident, with her husband. They turned a corner and a racing jeep, on the wrong side of the road crashed straight into them. They were not sure if she would survive. Then they thought they would have to amputate her foot. Luckily she came through and intact. Then my third colleague lost her husband to brain cancer. Again he was in his forties.

I got a call one day to say my husband had had a "turn" and was in the cardiac care unit of the local hospital. I said I would be straight down. I was told not to move as his boss was on his way to collect me. I was sure he was dead or dying, if not why couldn't I drive myself? Luckily it was not a heart attack. He was sent home the next day and told to watch his diet. A bad attack of gastritis combined with taking bloods had knocked him out for the count.

This all had a profound effect on me. What were the odds that two of a staff of four would lose their spouses at a young age? That another would be in a life threatening accident.  Tomorrow was not guaranteed. Life, with all it's ups and downs, was sweet and to be enjoyed now. It was time to live in the moment, to seize the day, carpe diem.

I stopped procrastinating and started to make my dreams come true. I began to "make hay while the sun shines" if the weather was good, I would go out for the day. The housework could wait until the  evening  or the next rainy day.I started to live and enjoy the moments, when holidays weren't possible, a day out here and there. Money saved for a holiday abroad became a deposit on a mobile home by the sea. Later,as time went on, this was exchanged for a holiday home in the sun.   Each stage of the children's lives was to be enjoyed, tucking them in at night and reading them their favourite bedtime story. Taking them and their friends out for a picnic by the sea, the excitement as they headed out to a local disco with their friends, waving them off to college, attending their graduations, sitting down at the table with four wonderful young women and listening to them talk. 

I became proactive in my own life. I was never one to look backwards. When I met a setback, I would head for a corner and either have a good cry or a good rant and then emerge with a new plan. My problem was I was always looking to the distant future.  While I still tend to make plans for the future I now find it hard to tell you what I will be doing next week. I let life unfold.

 I have been lucky that as I imagined, I took early retirement.I am now living abroad, in Turkey.  What was a holiday home has become my real home. Somethings are not as I dreamed,some are better,  life goes on. When asked will I live here for the rest of my life I say I don't know, I no longer think in terms of where I will be, what will I be doing in five years time? I don't know. For now I enjoy the view from my bedroom window each morning I wake up. I consider myself lucky.
My morning view.

And I do not worry. I believe we are authors of our own fate. Yes it is true, sometimes we have no control over things that happen. But we do control how we react to them.  I believe that if we seize the moment, then we live our lives fully, the bad as well as the good. So much time was wasted dreaming of tomorrow. Now, even if I dream for tomorrow, I enjoy the day that I have and try to live it so that as night falls I can say, that was a good day. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Diary of a Desperate housewife.

Do I feel desperate? Absolutely not! I am just a desperate housewife, that is to say desperate at being a housewife. Sometimes I wonder why begin a job that I know I will have to do again tomorrow or at the very least the following day after that!

Housework, I hate it!! I would love to have a nice clean shiny house but I would like it to be the result of a quick wave of a magic wand. Who wants to hoover floors and iron piles of clothing when I could be knitting, out taking photographs, planting the garden, trying out new recipes. or just plain old curl up in a corner with a good book. There are so many things I would rather do.


So I usually clean on an "essential" basis, there are visitors coming or I can't see the table for the pile of ironing. If I don't wash the windows it saves on the necessity for net curtains. It is no co-incidence that this magnet has pride of place on my fridge.


 Recently, a couple of friends came to stay for the night. We had a photo expedition planned for the next day. So I gave a quick whizz around the spare room with a duster and the hoover. Did I mention I live with two cats and they shed hair by the sackful?

Unfortunately, our photo walk had to be postponed. So we set up a "studio" in the their room as the theme of our photography homework was portraits. We decided to use each other as models.  Room set up we were ready to begin. I am trying to break out of my normal "stand in front and shoot" I have been experimenting with angles.  I got down on my knees to take an upward shot. I found the edge of the bed was in the frame. So I suggested we move the bed. Bad move!!!

Most people have heard of the Easter bunny. Well, have you heard of dust bunnies? They sometimes live in corners and hard to get to places in our homes. We  moved the bed. Let me tell you, there were no dust bunnies hiding under the bed. There were dust elephants, rhinos, hippos, herds of them galloping around under the bed. The shame of it. Red with embarrassment, I quickly grabbed a brush and tried to catch them. They wanted to roll around the floor. I had to chase them. Add a cat who thought the sweeping brush was a new toy for him ( He obviously hadn't seen it in action much) I was disgraced.

As for the windows, they were okay, or so I thought, until we reviewed the photographs on the computer. The camera never lies they say. Shame, shame, shame!

The following day, I decided it was time for a change,  not to be such a desperate housewife. I would make my house sparkle and shine starting with the sitting room and kitchen. After all it is officially Spring. Time for a good spring clean. Time to break out the hoover!

I have had a very bad run of luck with electrical items recently. And my hoover was no exception. In spite of cleaning the two filters I could.access easily, it still was not sucking up the dust as before. And I needed every watt of power available to me. My hoover is bagless. I sat and stared at the centre of the cylinder and guessed there must be a way to,access it. But how?

No problem accessing this filter.

Very gingerly I began to twist and turn and pull, afraid that I would worsen my run of bad luck and actually break the thing! Lo and behold, after several minutes of puzzlement, I found a couple of arrows, gave a quick twist and I was in! I had found the main filter.

I gave it a tap. The resulting dust cloud resembled that dreaded nuclear mushroom cloud. But I persevered. I continued to tap away, marvelling that one little filter could hold so much dust. I filled the dustpan three times. How had I not burnt out the motor making the hoover work so hard, fruitlessly.

At the same time I was so proud of myself for solving the problem. I gave the centre piece one final tap. "I must have all the dust out by now", I thought,  Then the top fell off. Oh no, the dreaded curse again. I need to stay away from all things electrical.

Luckily I discovered it too had arrows. Why don't they make those arrows a different colour so they stand out? It would make life a lot easier for anyone like me who is a little slow. I digress.

 The top of the filter was supposed to come off. And you would believe what was inside? It was a whole herd of dust hippos.

 After one final clean, I quickly reassembled the Hoover and tried it out. It almost lifted the tiles off the floor it was working that well. I finished the hoovering, did the dusting and steam cleaned the floor. Not even a dust spider now to be seen, never mind the bunnies.
I should have taken photographic evidence of a job well done. Instead I collapsed spreadeagled on to the nearest couch, too tired to move. A whole Saturday gone, if not wasted. But my sitting room was sparkling. I am not a desperate housewife. You could eat your dinner off my floor.


 What a pity it was such a waste of time. Two days later it needed to be done again.

But now the sun is shining, time to gather up the hexipuffs, head out to the garden swing, sit in the sun and keep on puffing. Until the next emergency clean up.

A small collection of the hexis

P.S.  Ironic or what, my car is a Dacia DUSTER!