Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our Great Green Transgression

This is our great green transgression.

I know, I know... how can we claim to be trying to live more sustainably and yet drive around in a monster beast of a 4WD? We really don't have any excuses.

We both spent many childhood hours traversing 4WD tracks to get to different points of interest.

RJ's first car was a beaten up hunk of a fisherman's model Land Rover.

Still, we managed to travel around Australia in a standard Mitsubishi Magna and off roaded it well beyond what was advisable without any problem. So why did we then buy a beastly 4WD? RJ's dream I suppose. I'd have been happy with a much smaller, fuel efficient model.

Yet I must confess... I like this car. Terrible I know, but it is lovely being up high enough to see the ocean as I drive past. Putting the pram in the back simply entails folding it, hoicking it up and and shoving it in. None of the taking off of wheels and weaving below child restraint straps like I have to do when travelling in my sisters Astra's. We are able to (just barely) squeeze three child seats into the back. One baby one, one toddler one and one side less booster tucked into the middle and used with a safety harness. I honestly don't know how they'd fit into a smaller car.

I don't feel guilty about owning a 4WD. Ours has been off roaded and it will be off roaded again - more so as the kids get older.
I do feel guilty about driving it as an everyday car.
I try to minimise it's use by making sure that any journeys are for multiple purposes. I try to walk places where possible (quite a challenge with 3 little ones and lots of big, tiring hills to traipse up and down). I make sure not to wantonly let it idle. I started the year aiming for at least 1 car free day a week. These days we usually manage 3 or 4.
Now I can finally say that I also offset our carbon emissions. Greenfleet will plant some trees on our behalf.
I purchased a few extra too - just to play it safe.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Downside of Digital

I've been thinking about camera's and photography a bit lately. Largely because I have thousands of photo's that I need to sort through and the task is so big and so time consuming that I have been very effectively putting it off for quite some time now (thereby making it an even larger task by adding to the collection all the while!).
I remember when I got my first camera that a roll of 24 film would sometimes last me a year or more. Developing was expensive and basic cameras didn't have a great zoom so portrait shots often turned out to be a bit disappointing.
Not so now! I have a budget variety 8.3mpx Fujifilm point and shoot. I can snap off 24 photo's in a matter of minutes and my 4x optical zoom allows me to compose my picture how I want it. Printing is cheap but even better, I can create digital albums and slide shows or still movies, thereby saving all that paper and ink.
So what's the downside?
Too many good quality photo's! Sure, the advantage of digital is that if they don't work out you can simply delete them. But most of them work out - unless of course the subject closes their eyes or moves last minute. So most of them are worth holding onto and often the others can be 'fixed' with a little digital editing. Hence my dilemma of thousands of photo's needing my attention.
This wouldn't be so terrible if I hadn't gone and created a very thorough, printed account of Chookies first year. It's great! wonderful pictures and little snippets of things she did and said. Something for her to cherish when she gets older and to pass onto her children one day.
Of course I started one for Little Dude but am yet to get beyond his second week and as for Noodles, well hers is still in the too hard basket.
I'm trying to take it out of there and cross this project off my list, but first I need to sort through the thousands!
When I've selected and printed the best pictures and their first year albums are sorted out, I'll create some movies with the rest.
Then I'll have to edit the latest five hours of video tapes that are also sitting in that basket.
The downside of digital - a few minutes can create a few hours of work!
Yet, rather than learn my lesson and take fewer photo's, I covet a DSLR camera - we have one of the film varieties and I know how the feel of one of these in your hands can make you want to snap away like a pro.
Lucky our budget wont allow for one of these for a while.
I'd best get sorting before it does.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Forest Fortune

We are very fortunate in that we live near a beautiful, remnant of rainforest, tucked into the side of the Illawarra escarpment. With a range of rainforest types, including; riparian, subtropical, warm temperate and dry.
Chookie, Little Dude, Noodles and I often pack a picnic and head out for a morning adventure in the 'Jungle' as Chookie calls it. We set off on our walk with a search for snakes and crocodiles in mind.

Carefully placed and well built boardwalks allow us to meander through the understory where we see many plants, including ferns, mosses, lichens and funghi. We also keep a look out for a Superb Lyrebird. We usually see a male, tail feathers spread in a showy display or busy at work scratching in the ground. Occasionally we see an echidna shuffling through the leaf litter.

Crossing suspension bridges, we jump with joy and marvel at the cascading waterfalls and bubbling brook below. At another bridge we always see some Eastern Water Dragons, 'soaking up the sun's rays on a moss-covered river boulder' (NSW DECC). Occasionally we spot an eel or some small fish swimming in one of the waterholes.

'Along the Minnamurra Rainforest track, you can see large sandstone boulders. As the cliffs have weathered away over millions of years, these boulders have tumbled from the cliffs into the forest below' (NSW DECC).

Among the many and varied vegetation types, we gaze at Tree Ferns and Elks, Red Cedars and Figs, Eucalypts and palms. We look up, we look down and we hug a tree trunk along the way.

A sensual delight, we breathe in the fresh, crisp smells and run our fingers along the different textures of leaves and bark. We move from dark, shadowy areas to those dappled with light before emerging into fully exposed sunshine. We hear the calls of birds, the rustle of leaves, scratching in the undergrowth, insects chirruping and water burbling.
Usually we complete the lower loop walk which takes us from the understory to high up in the trees and back again. Sometimes we brave the steep climb all the way to the top of the Falls walk where we are rewarded with the glorious sight and sound of a tumbling waterfall, complete with a beautiful rainbow at the base.

We always have a wonderful, yet exhausting time when we go to the 'jungle'.

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