Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Heaven is Only 45 Minutes Drive Away

Yesterday we made it by dingy to Dangar Island. It was perfect, a shabby, beachfront holiday shack with an overgrown garden, friendly, down-to-earth folk, simple food, lots of children and sun and water. The view was glorious, looking south across the mighty Hawkesbury towards Cowan Waters. The tide was at maximum height but soon after we arrived it began receding off the beach and not long after some cherries and strawberries there was space to play.

We all swam in the warm, brown waters which I haven't enjoyed in many years. The children responded to my joy with double their own. We built a sandcastle Christmas Tree together, and decorated it with sticks and flowers, and they made rolled up balls of sand as 'presents' which we later 'opened' to reveal whatever their imaginations wanted - chocolates and bowling sets (!)

Lunch was delicious and simple, around a wooden table on the verandah. Salad, bbq sausages and garlicky potato salad, wine and the children eating cucumber! Near us the bucket of yabbies twitched. Grandad John joined us whilst Linda caught up on her sleep in the shaded hut.

We heard stories that had often breezed about Dangar Island - like the one about the Baron's Crescent bloke who drank two bottles of rum and started a third - his last, for he as not long in this world after that. Or the mysterious history of Matthew's grandfather (details still foggy) who'd won the land in a poker game, the only time he ever won. I loved Mark's quip then how 'it'd be cheaper to buy the place' (meaning he'd wasted much money on poker games). There were more stories over the long afternoon, the men talking on the beach as the children streaked past, racing from one end to the other. About how there there had once been no hut, just the land and they'd slept in a boat shed, and how Matthew had been coming since he was four. Now his own four year old daughter took that spot. They camped at night in the garden, this new generation, the big, private garden with towering trees still uncut, that had seen all these stories unfold.

The tide reversed so far to reveal the muddy flat teeming with oddities. Armies of blue soldier crabs marching for food, strange sponges, hermit crabs shells, sea snails and large crabs encrusted with barnacles and vegetation, so heavy and yet a disguise. I poked one for the children, leaning down close and saying "haha, look at this plant, it looks like a crab - poke - ARGHHHH!!" for it moved like a crab upon that poke and its eight legs erected itself into an unmistakingly defensive crab pose.

A kayak was pulled from under the house complete with two sets of paddles and we were offered its use. Mark and I began to squabble, still on land, about which way to go. I said right, he said left, it was settled by Matthew, and we headed right but ten strokes later the current and wind made us go left. It was a new perspective for me, from such a tiny craft on the big river, that for once, was not so strange, but now a warm, close thing that I knew much better.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stripped Studs down to their Bare Nuts

Nothing worse than having your nuts stripped, as we found out today. Hmmm, stranded in Drummoyne amidst a lot of non-existent pedestrian crossings, loud construction work for the new Rozelle bridge, and our second attempt at two new front tyres thwarted again.

The first time the K-Mart auto tyre chaps couldn't get them off, then on the next visit those stud's tight nuts were given a beating. It warranted many phone calls around town to find some replacements, which Moshe of VW King was always going to offer the best deal to fix. A drive out to Canterbury tomorrow for a whole new rim $30. Sigh, it's not easy looking after a 38 year old sometimes.

Much more fun was hanging with my 3 year old. We killed time at the 'Christmas Shop' who were primped and ready with every kind of glow in the dark decoration, we even checked out the Vespa showroom and got a free magazine with poster just for being their only customers. Even the rainbow Paddlepop at the petrol station could not make the tyre change go quicker. Bacon and egg sandwich at The Cove cafe, play at the park....I was running out of ideas here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Wobbygone day 1
Originally uploaded by marksp54
Relaxing on the Hawkesbury River, in a holiday house, amongst the vines. We have several Shangri Las to hideaway in, all of them in the country, all of them beautiful. This one has a wooden hot tub and a fantastic garlic crusher. Other places have kangeroo mobs or trailertrash bongsmokers next door. The main thing is they are all rented and all mine for the time we are there. Caravan, tent, deck or dive.....take the kids and the man and get some fresh air x

Monday, September 28, 2009

Visibility Poor

I learnt a lot this week, I am amazed by the power of the internet, the speed with which so many locals responded and recorded the Sydney Dust Storm, the truth that rang loud with so many different photographers coming up with the same 'red' that couldn't possibly be faked by touch ups. But mostly, for me, not only just following 'the call' to get in my car, badly dressed and GO (I ended up walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge), but after seeing thousands of images from all sorts of photographers, both amateur and professional, the STAY came loud and clear at last, stay where you are too, and see the beauty in that, be here now, love your life, love the light in your life, it doesn't need the Opera House or the bridge, it just needs love. I thought later that night 'oh my god, I should have gone to the swamp', my favourite place in the last year. How I wish I could have photographed that. So I shall file this little piece of self-earned knowledge away for the next time.

Do you know what? I asked the universe for this. Remember the copper skies of around 2002 from bushfires. I was tiring of photography, as you do, and I just couldn't be bothered to take many photos, even though I could really appreciate the beauty of the red light from the haze, I never took advantage of it. The day before this dust storm I lamented that and told the skies I wouldn't miss that opportunity ever again. Instant rewards. This photo is out the front of my house in the first minute after my family woke up and realised what was happening, after the three year old alerted us loudly to the fact the sky was orange and creeping around the edges of the venetian blinds like an alien light source. They have never seen me leap so fast out of bed. Those rubbish bins are in order L-R yellow, blue, red and green. I thought it was a good measure of how crazy the light was that you could hardly distinguish their true colours. After this shot I grabbed my car keys and just started driving, initially heading to our local bridge which has a fine view of the city, but visibility was so poor you couldn't see more than 100-200m so I kept following the city traffic and had this 'call' to walk over the Harbour Bridge. By the time I made it there and a few stop offs on the way to snap, they intensity of the red light had faded, so this shot here was the most red, and captures my daughter's fear, she went inside after this and started putting lots and lots of clothes on, too many, leggings, winter jackets, as if to protect herself. It was like waking up in a disturbing dream.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Where Are They Now?

Letter says "Tess Peni is working as a photographer for Australian Associated Press and will be travelling with the Prime Minster today." - on the campaign bus to the western suburbs MacMansion territories September 5, 2004

'Children Overboard' John Howard on the 2004 re-election campaign trail, Sydney, Australia 5 Sept 2004 (c) TESS PENI / Australian Associated Press

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One Can Dream

I'm having a Kombi fantasy right now.. it involves a lot of rust removal, and paint and phat tyres with shiny hubcaps, tinted windows.....mmmm.

I just watched 'The Secret' again.... so I'm thinking of how my Kombi might benefit if a spare 20 thou were spent on it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Towtrucks and Tickets

Oh dear, a bad ending to a pretty lousy week. I got a parking ticket by a nasty piece of work in Hall St, Bondi. She was already writing the ticket as I was crossing the road to buy an envelope. I came back in 2 minutes to see it being stuffed under my (not very well working) window wiper. Then she turned on me like cobra who is used to being cornered on a daily basis. I gave her the look - I was two minutes gone (I calculate at $4.40 per hour parking meter time, I should have really put in 6.5 cents), then she did this, she said "you've left your child in the car" (the sun had gone down), "I've recorded it and taken a photo" (so I did too) and "it's illegal - you know it is" (do I?). I said "he just woke up, I was two minutes!" (I really was) and she said "I've got four kids" and gave me a cobra spit. Depressing, so what will happen to me, will I get my kids taken off me? Will I go to hell, jail or worse - court.

All this after feeling so chipper about breaking down yesterday with a snapped clutch cable in the middle of the shopping centre, stuck at the exit with a line of cars up my bumper. I was rescued by a sweet Norfolk Islander that rounded up a car fulla of Maori council fellas who pushed me out of the way, he then drove me and my kid and the shopping home and gave me a free pencil made out of Norfolk pine. He said "up there things are a bit different and if somebody is in trouble, people pitch in and help". Not like the old bitch in the queue saying "Do you mind moving it! I'm in a hurry!!". I really would like her and the Hall St Cobra to connect sometime.

Postscript....these things, if you are superstitious, got to happen in threes. The next day I was dropping off a couple of guinea pigs we had been minding for friends who were holidaying. Pipsqueak and Dizzy, pretty casual, hungry, furry girls...who had obviously never been in a VW before. Pipsqueak began to show the signs of irrational terror and leapt out of her travelling box in the front, she was petrified by the roaring sound of my ultra-mega engine (one can dream) and started to run about unleashed, heading straight for the shade under the brake pedal. I did a 'drop off' manoeuvre, the sort of "I'm just pulling slowly to the side with all indicators blazing because I have a small animal under my brake pedal and can't use it right now or two little kids will come home from Thailand to find their pet squashed" sort of road tactic. Needless to say the pigs were happy when they got home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wake Me Up Before You GoGo

I heard the possum get caught in the trap this morning, at dawn. At first I felt pity, hearing it shouting in possum 'WTF?!&*%$##', then a faint schadenfreude set in as I packed up my earplugs, hopefully forever, never to be woken again by scratchy native feet coming and going in the night through a portal that is positioned exactly above my insomniac head.

It's up there now, in a cage, probably sleeping, waiting for its release, which thankfully the Possum Man will give as required by law, somewhere within a two hundred metre radius. It might find a comfy tree to crawl into, or someone else's roof peeling at the edges. I dread it may even try to break back into the patched-up roof above it used to, until this night, call home.

I know how it feels, being moved on. Renters, we who act like we own the place and taint the joint with our bothersome animality.

I wish I could take a little hot joe up there into the roof and stroke the sad thing, explain how it has to leave because I can't bear to lay awake every night in fear it will wake me up. How I've had to strain to find any wandering earplugs that've fallen to the farthest corner under my bed, embedded in dust. I'm tired of looking up from my pillow at the stains from excrement piled up and seeping through. I'm tired of being moved on too, from developers, rent hikers, divorcing owners who want to sell. I want this small corner of our new house, this pretty lady-cave I've claimed, all to myself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Eyesight Salad

At 37 my eyesight is starting to have bad days - usually fatigued depending on the Facebooking action from the night before. Being a photographer, I need pinhole sharp peepers.  I can always flick the digi camera dial to autofocus - if I can find the damn thing - anything under 15cm is a bit fuzzy now and makes my head hurt.

Focus used to be possible at a lovely visually acute 10cm, apparently the distance between a mother's loving gaze into her newborn's whilst breastfeeding in a glowing reverie. Well those days are way over. Now it's more likely I can just register an incoming headbutt at 10 o'clock at a k.p.h. hard to judge whilst I wait for my vision to pull focus. 

The $20 cheapie glasses at the newsagency give me superhero vision until I take them off and start dry retching from the naseau they induce into the mints and jellybean section, and before I march into the optometrist and pay $800 for a Calvin Klein look I have been thinking about what I can do to improve my eyes au natural.

I have invented the 'Eyesight Salad' - full of food that will give you bouncy, stretchy, muscular (eye)balls and keep macular degeneration still waiting in the nightclub queue.


2 handfuls of washed baby spinach
125g small tin of Red Salmon (check label, get Wild Red Sockeye - Coles have a good brand)
1 advocado sliced
1/2 pear sliced
1/2 small red onion finely sliced
sprinkle of pine nuts or any chopped nuts
toss ingredients together and use a dressing of your choice, eg. Balsamic vinegar with Olive oil and garlic

Devour  blindly

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Random Acts of Weirdness

This entry is just a really bad effort to get back to blogging, I've been distracted lately by FlickR, Facebook and my new webpage, y'know how it goes, but all this time I've been busy I've still been driving around town in my beloved VW and enjoying being tall on the road (as opposed to short in life).

Except when I walked to the pizza shop, I spotted this really cool car that I'm thinking when the VW finally goes to Kombie heaven, I want one like it, it'll be my early mid-life crises car, definately something like a Charger, with a tiny back seat that has no room for baby seats.

Other than the usual photographing of spiders and children I had a 'Steve Irwin sighting'....is he really dead. Or is he adventure sporting with Elvis. Till I find the definative answer, all I have is this fuzzy shot taken recently.

Finally, you never know when you number is up so I have a luckly $8 to give away via Kombie Kash which should bring a tear to any VW (pre-1972) lover's eye.  Come to think of it, I have been watching a lot of 'My Name is Earl' DVD box set, perhaps there is a link between all these random acts of weirdness.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Psychedelic History of the VW

Think one of those pesky kids took this, very creative little chicks.