Stuff I see, which you might not.

Taxidermy with a difference

A recent sale at Fab.com shared the work of C.G.Sparks (no relation) with the caption ‘artful animal-free taxidermy’. A niche market, to be sure. But I do like these wall trophies, celebrating someone’s skill with recycled rope and creative accessories rather than someone’s skill with a powerful weapon aimed at an animal just chillaxing in the woods. And although I’ve not yet seen a bear or lion or elephant in the wild, I’m tipping these ropey versions come in much cooler colours.

The C.G. Sparks version of a deer.  [image from fab.com]

The deer, according to C.G. Sparks.
[image from fab.com]

The mountain lion. Still scary, even in rope form. [image from fab.com]

The mountain lion. Still scary, even in rope form.
[image from fab.com]

Say what? Nah, it's not ivory - it's 'medium density fibreboard'. Phew. [image from fab.com]

Say what? Nah, it’s not ivory – it’s ‘medium density fibreboard’. Phew.
[image from fab.com]

You can check out other cool things via the curated sales at fab.com here – and although I can’t find these taxidermy friends on the C.G. Sparks website, they do have lots of other pretty great stuff (they call it ‘furniture with soul’) for your home here.


Whistle While You Walk

This isn’t really a book club, I just wanted to show you this excerpt from the book I’m currently reading on how to pack for the Camino de Santiago. I hadn’t expected there to be so much to learn about the topic, but it’s quite a long book. Like a lot of the reading I’ve done about the Camino, it’s super-informative, but parts of it are slightly disturbing.

Sounds like a plan.

Sounds like a plan.

Just look at that dude on the cover, trotting along the Way, with a little bird helping lift the burden of his (already tiny) backpack. Happy days on the Camino, yes? Well, not every day, if page 106 of this book is to be believed. I’m off to buy a whistle. Or a high-tech sound device.




Who you gonna call, possum?

The other day, I was driving behind a truck featuring a business name that caught my eye. Then I pulled up a little closer and saw the logo. Genius.

Who you gonna call?

Who you gonna call?

A classic Australian problem – our kiwi cousins do have possums, of course, but seemingly they are not obliged to treat them like small furry gods, they can turn them into mittens and scarves and winter coats without any social (or legal) stigma. Still, I guess the sounds of possums in the trees and the roof are part of living in an Australian house – pests they may be, but they’re our pests.

Anyways, the Possum Busters website does not disappoint. They are clearly very passionate about the work that they do – offering humane possum removal and even a free possum advice hotline. I bet they get some hilarious calls. There’s a page of FAQs, which are all very interesting, starting with the following warning as an answer to what I’m tipping is the most Frequently Asked Question by residents who haven’t slept for weeks due to their possum terrorist:

Q. Do you / can you / can I kill the possum?
A. No, it is against the law. They are a protected species.

And then there’s this fun fact about possums, which is why the Busters also offer a roof repair service and a 12 month guarantee once they remove a possum from your home:

Q. Can you take the possum away?
A. No, we can only remove it 25m from where we catch it. It is a territorial animal and will die if taken out side of its territory.

25 metres isn’t actually that far, is it? In most suburban areas, it’s probably only a couple of houses down the street, which presumably means that the Busters will get a call from Bill & Betty at number 15 a couple of weeks after the possum problem has shifted from your place to theirs.

Anyways, the website is worth a look if you’re interested in finding out more about this unique service – they also have a gallery of pics of possums they’ve discovered in cupboards, baths (imagine!) and roof cavities. The website is here.


Friday Foto – Things I never thought I’d own…

Happy Friday to you! I was very excited to receive a package from Kathmandu this morning. (That’s the big Australian outdoor retailer, not the capital of Nepal.) We started our Camino trekking training last weekend with a fantastic 18km round trip from The Spit to Manly. I wanted to take photos of the bzillion beautiful spots along the way, but I didn’t want to mess with our momentum. Next time.

Anyways, this walk made me realise that I need some more outdoorsy trekking gear if I want to do this thing properly. So, in the first of what I’m sure will be many, here’s a pic of something that I have bought that I never thought I’d own in this lifetime. It’s a 2 litre water bladder. So I don’t have to carry pesky water bottles and stop to drink – no way man, now I can just suck water through this tube and KEEP ON TREKKIN’.

Now I just have to work out how to fill it and make sure it doesn't leak through my backpack...

Now I just have to work out how to fill it and make sure it doesn’t leak through my backpack…


Stormy Sydney

So, Sydney was hit with a whopper of a storm on Saturday. It rained pretty much all day, usually heavily, and was super windy. I’m no weather guru, but on the scale of bring-an-umbrella to just-stay-home, I would officially classify this storm as start-building-that-ark. As the rain pelted down through the night, the wind was howling and things were banging and crashing and flying around outside. Not exactly Wizard of Oz-style, but it was definitely pretty wild in my neck of the woods.

The beginning...

The beginning…

I’m lucky to live in a very tree-y part of Sydney and I’m used to seeing some leaves and small branches on the grass after a windy night. When I looked out the window this morning and saw a fairly large branch on the ground outside, it seemed like a pretty big deal. And then as I went on my morning walk, a friendly lady (a) made eye contact, (b) smiled and (c) spoke. Imagine that! Anyways, she said “look out, there are huge trees down along the path – it’s pretty incredible”. I thanked her and smiled – thinking that she looked like the kind of fancy lady who would be bothered by stepping over a twig and getting her Prada sneakers dirty. Huge trees, I thought, uh huh.

Like a well-organised collection for the Council Cleanup, all along the path.

Like a well-organised collection for the Council Cleanup, all along the path.

And then I got to the corner of the path and it was like a war zone. Except, instead of people, tanks and guns, there were huge trees (yep, that lady was right) split away from their trunks and fallen over the path. Lying heavily over the power lines, which were then sagging way too close to the ground. It was both incredible and a little sad to see these poor, grand old trees who had lost their battle with the ferocious winds. And then there was the water – the little creek, normally dry, was gushing and water was tumbling over rocks.

So, yeah, after this morning, I guess you could say I’m a jungle trekker.


It’s hard to get the scale in my phone photos, but that lady in red just past the tree was not a tiny pixie.


Yes, that makes things a bit trickier...

Yes, well, that makes this walk a bit trickier…

Like intrepid explorers, the morning walkers will find a way...

Like intrepid explorers, the morning walkers will find a way…

And lean to the right...

Today was a good day to be short.

Ok, fine, I'll go around then.

Ok, fine, I’ll go around then.

So that's how it's meant to look here...

Aha, so that’s how it’s meant to look here…

And this is normally dry. So I think it's safe to say we had a fair bit of rain.

And this is normally dry. So I think it’s safe to say we had a fair bit of rain.

Just like match sticks.

Just snapped like a twig.

This was not damaged in the storm. It's been like this for months. It used to be a normal bench, but now I'm not sure if they're still waiting to fix it, or if it's a modern art installation? You know, poking fun at the urban experience, or something incomprehensible like that...

This was not damaged in the storm. It’s been like this for months. It used to be a normal bench, but now I’m not sure if they’re still waiting to fix it, or if it’s a modern art installation? You know, poking fun at the urban experience, man’s inhumanity to man, or something incomprehensible like that…


A unique urban forest in Melbourne

I’m in Melbourne for a few days and yesterday as I walked past the little City Square part of town, I noticed some brightly coloured trees. I was on my way to meet a friend though, so couldn’t stop to check them out. This morning, I went back to have a look at these amazing beauties that are brightening up the CBD – a yarn bombing initiative to draw attention to Melbourne’s urban forest plans, as far as I can work out. Whatever about the plans to preserve the city’s trees over the next 20 years (see, I did actually have a look at the website that was advertised on the trees, so their clever plan is working), these colourful tree cardigans and quilts have won me.

And it does get quite cold here in the winter, so I hope that they leave them on for a while – am sure the trees will feel quite naked without them. Good job, city of Melbourne – your razzle dazzle urban forest attention-grabber is fabulous!

A yarn-bombed City Square, Melbourne.

A yarn-bombed City Square, Melbourne.

A bizarre rainbow of woolly trees...

A bizarre rainbow of woolly trees…

A blue granny blanket at the tram and bus stop.

A blue granny tree blanket at the tram and bus stop.

Keeping it green.

Keeping it green.

Sure brightens up this part of the CBD, with lots of trees wrapped down the street.

Sure brightens up this part of the CBD, with lots of trees wrapped down the street.


EverydaySparks, Herb Gardener

Last year I was part of a group of bloggers who posted about Hope and what it meant to them. Amongst the pictures that I included in my post was a picture of my herb garden in its infancy – I had hope that the teeny tiny basil, parsley and coriander plants would grow into impressive market gardens. Well, the coriander got knocked over and eaten by a possum or bush rat or some other weasel-type character in a daring night-time raid on my balcony and that was the end of that.

But I am pleased to report that, largely due to the herb-sitting efforts of my lovely folks and sister-in-law Jo, I now have a basil tree and a parsley patch. I have even become the herb providore to my ancient neighbours – I may soon open a roadside stall, EverydayHerbs. Life on the land is very satisfying, so I wanted to share it with you – hopes and dreams can come true, my friends!

The way they were, back in the day...

The way they were, back in the day…

The Basil Tree.

The Basil Tree.

The Parsley Patch.

The Parsley Patch.

And I don’t actually really like coriander anyway, so HA HA HA to that thieving possum / bush rat / weasel.

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Happy 2013!

Happy New Year to you, my blog buddy. I hope that you and yours have a fantastic year ahead, full of lots of everyday sparks! Now, back to me. I would like to state for the record that I have gone for a run every day this year. And done my physio-prescribed stretches every day this year. And blogged every day this year. And drunk lots of water every day this year. It’s a great feeling – now, to keep it up for the rest of 2013…

It was a swell party, Sydney.

It was a swell party, Sydney.

I am very lucky to live near a public park with a pretty good view of the fireworks, so it was very crowded yesterday on what was a beautifully sunny New Year’s Eve day in Sydney and a night that was perfect for fireworks. It’s always a great people-watching opportunity as the human traffic gathers on the grass – old people, young people; skinny people, fat people; people dressed in very little, people dressed strangely for arctic conditions; party poppers, party poopers; sober people, drunk people; super-organised-tent-and-catered-food people, super-chillaxed-chips-and-beach-towel people.

Portaloos and bins, the foundation of any good public party.

Portaloos and bins, the foundation of any good public party.

A guy was selling glow sticks, it was meant to be an alcohol-free zone and there were lots of families around – an excited buzz grew in the leadup to the 9pm family fireworks and then most of the people seemed to stick around for the midnight show. With the exception of a pretty scary incident with a group of swearing, drunk teenagers outside at 3.30am, which had me and the poor guy next door calling the police as a lunatic jumped the fence and started smashing things, it was a really nice night and a great way to see in the new year. Except for the lunatic bit, I guess. But I did get to watch that from the safety of my kitchen in my pyjamas, so it wasn’t too bad.

Yes, a whole bus for police. The kids round 'ere had glow sticks and were prepared to use them.

Yes, a whole bus for police. The kids round ‘ere had glow sticks and were prepared to use them.

When I went for my run this morning, it felt like the city had a hangover. There were hardly any people out and about at 7am, but those that were on the running track were full of smiles – probably feeling smug that they too have run every day this year and have kept all of their 2013 resolutions. The park area was a different story – it looked like a cyclone had torn through a rubbish dump. Along with the usual types of rubbish, there were full champagne glasses, shoes, clothes, metal chairs, tents and of course party hats, poppers and horns that had seen a better day back in 2012.


People sleeping amongst the rubbish. Ah, this is the life.

And a good time was had by all.

And a good time was had by all.

So, here are some pics from my morning to mark the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 – thanks to those who will come this morning and make this area beautiful again, thanks to those who visited and enjoyed NYE in Sydney, thanks to the brilliant Foti Fireworks people who keep coming up with innovations that can make gunpowder magic. Happy new year – may 2013 bring lots of fun, laughter and good times with your families and friends.

The sparks are there, if we look for them...

NewYear’sDay Sparks.

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No sour grapes here

You may know that we are about four weeks into the 7 Eleven Slurpee promotion – 13 Flavours in 13 Weeks. Some of my nieces and I have taken it upon ourselves to try as many of the 13 flavours as we can get our hands on, after school on Mondays. This week though, I went to visit a friend and so the Slurpee Run has been postponed ’til Wednesday afternoon. Today, the official Slurpee site revealed the flavour for this week and almost everyone in our family is excited. It is the one we had been hoping for – Sour Cherry.

It’s amazing how life throws you little signs – this is a sign to me that the week ahead is going to be a good one. I’ll be away for the next three Mondays as I am heading over to the States for Thanksgiving, so we were wondering if Sour Cherry would make an appearance before I left, or if the girls would have to save one in the freezer for my return. And here it is, like a ‘bon voyage’ message from the Slurpee gods. Who must know that I’m heading to east coast USA, where they’re predicting even more storms to roll in this week.

Anyways, my dear old Dad and I went to their local Slurpee outlet to try it this evening. Our verdict: top notes of cherry, with a hint of sour-ness and a undertone of cola, all in the form of a cup of icy goodness that is just the thing on a hot Sydney day. To be fair, it was never going to live up to the hype that we had created around it, but as the kids say: whatevs. Our Slurpee Gang is all about trying new flavours and drinking out of brightly coloured straws, getting brain freezes and laughing like nutters as the sugar rush hits. Ah, this is the life!


Like herding cats…

This morning at work was one of those mornings, when you know it would have been better for everyone if you’d just stayed at home in bed. After a particularly annoying email, as I tipped my head back and released a silent scream, I was reminded of a You Tube clip that someone had sent me years ago. The term was used a lot when working in professional services HR, but could apply to pretty much any workplace/looking after kids/organising an event/managing home renovations: “This is sooooo hard, it’s like herding cats”. I’ve always felt it was a powerful image to sum up that point of utter frustration and despair, when people just would not agree or fall in to line. Here’s the video that still makes me laugh every time I see it – I think it was released as one of those magical SuperBowl ads, back in 2009. Enjoy!