Saturday, 31 October 2009

Preschool Hallowe'en

Today, Friday the 30th October is, strictly speaking, not Hallowe'en,  though the preschool celebrated it today with costumes and treats.  Fiona (who lives at least half time as "Chocolate the horse") was of course in her horse costume that Louise made from a thrift shop sweater.  Devon made the hoofs.  Fiona doesn't usually go to school on Fridays,  so we (Louise, "Chocolate" and I) arrived in time for the party and even in time to prepare a few of the goodies.



Those people who still had to put on their costumes retired to the "nap room" and when I looked through  the door,  there was a swirling mass of costumes and children and helpers....



As soon as all was ready... parents who were part of the show and children were dressed, they come down the stairs and into the yard....



First stop was the gnome who was digging gold in what is usually the sand pit.   Everyone received a nugget and a bag for treasure....



Mother Earth (Gaia) gave everyone a plant...



The Queen of Hearts had candy and help from the White Rabbit...



There were pumpkins handing out meringues, a baker giving cookies and the piece de resistance... the ocean where one could cast a line for golden fish!
Here is Teacher Rick helping someone to retrieve the hook...  and the "Ocean"  aka Louise,  attaching something to the clothes peg at the end of the line...



Here a Fireman and a Puppy go fishing....



... and here is "Chocolate" (aka Fiona) having a go.



Playing the part of the ocean is not as easy s it looks!



People can catch pieces of seaweed...



... boots...



... but for anyone who perservered, a golden fish!  (Candy fish wrapped in gold foil.)



Tigger climbed a tree.



There was a good witch.



And eventually, the Ocean and Chocolate got to socialise....



Teacher Laura has beautiful flowers in her garden,  and I couldn't help myself... I always end up in the garden.  Fuschias...



... and Mexican Marigolds....


Tomorrow will be the "real" Hallowe'en.  We still haven't carved the pumpkins, though we do have a mountain of candy to give away.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Thursday

I missed posting yesterday.  I took Fiona to her swimming class and spent a quiet afternoon.  I felt tired, and blamed it on the previous busy day and my advancing age!  I still went out for yet another celebratory dinner with a friend,  and arrived home at about 10 feeling tired but happy.
This morning I awoke with the latest head cold from preschool...  no wonder I felt a bit wierd yesterday.  Perhaps I'm not so old after all!
Today I am spending a quiet day with some ibuprophen and sudafed, and plans for a happier weekend.

I have checked the weather forcast for Kapunda and it is 33 (91F) there today (Friday) and predicted to be the same on Saturday, with 36 (97F) for Sunday.  Spring is well and truly there, and summer is on the way.  

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Sixty-two today


Today (oct 27th) was my actual birthday, and Louise and I went for the day to San Francisco.... to the New Academy of Science building and to the de Young gallery.
We drove up the coast road.  I hadn't been that way for a very long time as that road had been closed after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.  Parts of the road were so badly damaged that it was decided to replace it with a tunnel under some of the mountainous trerrain.

This is part of the road that  will be replaced.


The work is progressing and a hole is being cut through this hill.  It is taking years, but I suppose that is what such works require.  The whole hill is being stabilised and the tunnel hollowed out beneath a huge amount of overburden.



Coming into the city... and there are so many familiar spots....  each "new" inersection and off-ramp is familiar,  despite the years...



....  and the first glimpse of the bridge along 19th Avenue.



Once at the Academy of Sciences, we went straight on into the rainforest exhibit... it was good to be in the warm humid air of  the rainforest...  we walked up through the forest, full of birds and other animals...

The main rainforest was called "Madagascar"



This tiny frog lives in a bromilliad....


Right down the bottom,   there is a "river" with fish... but underneath there are shadows of people walking through the underwater tunnel...

Then on to the canopy....


.... once at the top,  the only exit is through the "river" below....
and once down there,  you can see through the fishy water to the circular windows in the rainforest roof.

We wandered through the watery part, different from the aquarium at Monterey, with a different variety of kelp in the "forest" tank, but including jellyfish, leafy sea dragons and all kinds of fish.
Then on to the roof....

....once on the roof,  the windows (the ones that we'd seen, even through the water) become apparent and native plants cover the roof.



The bumps on the roof replicate the small hills that are natural in the area.  (You might need to look very carefully to see one here... but it's there.)


And here I am,  on top of the roof of the building where there is a living roof of native plants growing.  The building behind is the de Young,  with its tower showing itself above my head, and more of that later.

Back down in the building, we saw a number of the other exhibits.  Even the dioramas from the "old" academy museum are there (the more moth-eaten examples appear to have been refurbished) and the railing with the seahorses and the pendulum that knocks the metal pegs over as the earth turns is still there...  we saw two pegs fall!


One of the most important exhibits in the Academy building is this graph showing the exponential increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since industrialisation and the profligate burning of fossil fuels.

The widely recognised "safe" level of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is generally thought to be 350 parts per million as this is thought to correlate with a 2degC rise in temperature.  In fact, the level is currently around 380 parts per million and heading for 460 by the year 2030.  If this does happen, it will be a disaster for all of us.
Unless this climate emergency is recognised and significant action taken, all life on earth is threatened.... and so far the emergency is not being recognised.

We had lunch at the "academy" (I had pozole) and then wandered across the "parisian" style park between there and the de Young museum.

... and here I am in the de Young tower (in the photograph from the academy roof above) with a view across Golden Gate park.



Louise,   looking out across the city....



... and more of the city....

... and another glimpse of the bridge....


 looking back towards the Academy of Sciences building, one can see the "bumps" on the roof where the rainforest dome and the planetarium are....


The new de Young is like a maze apparently designed to confuse and lose people in the strange corridors and dead ends...  even with the map it was not altogether straightforward.  I'm sure we'd have learned after a few laps, but it really is tricky.
We managed to find much of what we were looking for....
 ....three Diebenkorn paintings on one wall... I love the colours here.  These are the paintings that I get the "I could live with that" feeling.


Near to those was this Rothko that reminded me of some of Nick's recent paintings.  (Perhaps it is the soft edges and the feeling that that evokes.)


This trompe d'oeil example reminded me that  the Melbourne cup is due to be run in another week or so. It is actually quite flat, amazingly realistic in a beautiful green and quite witty.


There were a number of paintings that I enjoyed greatly and that I'd love to re-visit.  There is an amazing Georgia O'Keefe (Petunias) and this painting by Diego Rivera of two women and a baby just across the gallery....


A cup of coffee, and a stroll through the Japanese Garden (looking for the spot that I'd painted the "last cherry blossom" painting, and we headed home.  (I'm not sure that I found the spot,  but I'll look at the painting again and see if it has the same "feel"... I think it might.)

It had been amazing to see San Francisco on such a sunny day.  The city is known for its fog,  and I have often been there when one can't see far as far as a "view" goes.  I remember reading Herb Caen's comment in the Chronicle, years ago,  referring to living in the city as being inside the "grey pearl"  an apt metaphor for the damp velvety and dull light that is usual.

On the way home,  the wind began to blow harder and the fog blew in from the ocean.



Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Monday life drawing

Today's been a funny day.  I have been receiving a lot of birthday wishes from friends in Australia as it is my birthday there already.  Here,  it's still the day before and I'm still waiting to be another year older (in the 27th.)
It has been a quiet couple of days, with household events.

This evening I went to life drawing at the Santa Cruz Art League.  I hadn't done any for quite a while, and it was good to be able to draw without interruption for three hours.  The time flew and it felt like about twenty minutes.  I made a number of drawings, but only a couple that I'm pleased with...





I want to go again next week,  and if I can find somewhere else before then,  I'll do some more... I feel so  out of practice!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Pumpkin hunting on Saturday

This morning we set off for a trip to the dump, and after leaving the parts of the tree that fell last eek in the storm,  we went pumpkin hunting here....




As fast as the pumpkins were unloaded from the trailer, they were being chosen by the crowds of people claiming them for next week's celebration of Hallowe'en.



It is harder than choosing a Christmas tree!  Here are Devon, Fiona and Louise trying to decide.



It can be so hard.....



Eventually we had a wagon full of pumpkins....



Pricing is tricky.  It is done by size,  using this scale...






This one was truly enormous!  and such prize winners cost up to $80!



I found some that looked like Australian pumpkins....



and more...



... but here we are on the way to the car with the wagon full of pumpkins.



And here is Fiona at home with our four specimens....   from the left...  Fiona's, Devon's,  Louise's and my own!