It’s only natural to reflect on the year as it comes to a close. So here’s some highlights – and lowlights – of 2011.
It’s hard to believe that Andrew has only had Pickle a year! He arrived in mid-January 2011 and was a playful and bitey kitten.
Now look at him… all grown up!
Then came Gesso! Much smaller than Pickle had ever been and far more sooky from day one.
His deafness has brought a few new challenges. Getting Pickle to steer clear of walksticks and wheelchairs was difficult enough. Gesso has taken ‘challenge’ to a whole new dimension; culminating on Christmas Day when he got too close to Andrew while he was standing and ended up being trod on. He sunk his teeth in to Andrew’s foot in protest. Fortunately, Gesso was unharmed and although left with a nasty bite, Andrew’s foot is healing. I’m hoping that after that experience, Gesso will learn to dodge feet, walking sticks and wheelchairs as well as Pickle does.
My girls, Licorice and Saffron, continued to be good company; for me and for each other:
There were few surprises in the artistic area. I continued my pattern of putting things in paintings and then removing them. (The daschund below first had a skateboard; later replaced by stilts.)
I rediscovered an old canvas and turned it from this:
Andrew started art school (of which I am more than a little jealous). I don’t have many photographs of his work… I wish I had more. Here’s just three from this year:
These two oil paintings are still in progress:
New Sewing projects
Some things never change. Saffron continued her dressmaking assistance into 2011. Her favourite habit is sitting on the fabric one is trying to sew!
I embarked on some heirloom work for a white cotton sateen slip:
and completed a thoroughly indulgent silk slip.
Somehow I quickly forgot how difficult it is working with slippery and lightweight fabrics, for I moved on to this 1940 pattern:
which, as at the time of writing, remains incomplete (needs sleeves, facings and a hem!)
I explored some other parts of Sydney in 2011 and we ventured a little further afield. First to Fitzroy Falls (reasonable disabled access):
then to Mogo Zoo: (access was a bit dodgy due to uneven and steep paths combined with recent rain!)
To Balls Point Reserve in Sydney: (inaccessible!)
Of course, I couldn’t forget the Dubbo trip! (Dubbo Zoo is wonderfully accessible and we had such great experiences photographing countryside on the way there and back).
La Perouse was not new but offered up some beautiful sunsets for us.
Looking back on this, I have to laugh. Below is a cake I made to celebrate receiving news that Andrew would get a new wheelchair.
We received confirmation we would get a chair back in April. Naively, I made this cake in May thinking the chair would arrive any day! We finally took delivery in September!
For anyone wondering why the mm’s on this cake are lime green and orange… well that was the colour choice being debated. The triffid, as I like to call it, brought much needed relief in the form of a more lightweight chair. It also caused a crisis by being too wide to fit through the bathroom door.
Once it became clear that the bathroom door could not be widened, after much drama, it was time to move house! Now I can only be thankful that Andrew has nowhere near as much crap in his place as I do in mine. Even so, packing was not easy. Pickle helped by packing himself in a crate.
Not content with expanding our feline family, my brother and sister-in-law, gave me a niece as well!
A minor little thing that happened this year!
This is one ‘new’ thing 2011 brought that my family could have done without. However, we don’t get to choose these things, so I went about learning what I could about MS and being as supportive as possible.
Well, put like that, it was one hell of a year. Here’s to 2012.
Finding wheelchair accessible travel destinations is always somewhat challenging. I think the main reason for this is that so many people with a disability have different needs. Even if you narrow it to physical disabilities which impair mobility, there’s such a range. Where someone can go in an electric wheelchair may be impossible for someone in a manual chair. So embarking on a new adventure always come with a bit of anxiety.
I wasn’t surprised to read that Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is listed as one of the Top Five Accessible Travel Destinations in Australia. My childhood memory of a trip to the zoo is only that of flat, ridiculously hot and lots of animals sleeping in the shade. As Andrew and I elected to go in Winter, we successfully eliminated the hot and ‘sleeping in the shade’ part.
Instead most of the animals opted for any part of the enclosures with sun!
Oh, except for the galapagos turtle. He was in his hut trying to get warm. Consequently, I missed him. This was probably also because by the 5km mark where the tortoise rested, I too felt like resting!
While generally flat it is markedly better than Mogo’s entrance and I dare say that nearly every Zoo in the world would be flatter than Taronga (although who can beat those views!). For us, all of the uphill areas of Western Plains Zoo were accessible with the exception of the pathway to the Lion enclosure. It not only has a steep gradient but is covered in loose gravel.
So Andrew skipped the Lion exhibit and for this I’ve lopped off half a star.
It’s not Andrew really wanted to see the lions. It’s that we had already selected the child we intended to feed to them. What a shame.
3 days; about 700 photos. I’m not sure how I accumulate so many and why I find it difficult to cull them, but it’s a fact: I do. So Andrew has challenged me to select my top 10 photos from the weekend. He hasn’t defined ‘top’… is it the best photograph, the most interesting subject, the most avant-guarde? Who knows. It took a huge effort. I started with about 40. I got it down to 21 ok, but getting it to the final 10 was tricky…
Firstly, it’s not clear exactly what it is (the back of the cab of a white truck in the blue mountains). I think it could easily be mistaken for the bark of a tree.
Secondly I just love the texture and colour.
Thirdly, I took it while travelling at speed. (Andrew was driving). It’s often quite a challenge to get a clear picture when in the car. This is one of my better efforts.
Being stuck in traffic due to roadworks turned into an opportunity! These guys were laying sandstone tiles up a retaining wall for the new road through the Blue Mountains. I was quite surprised that it was being done in the manner it was… guess I assumed it would be fake sandstone sheeting or the like.
Great job being done… perhaps this guy could at least be rewarded with a hat that fits?
3: Oberon; the 115km detour dog
We took the scenic route for 115km. Our reward was this little dog; his curtain and his flag.
The gaol sits high on the hill and driving up to the main gates has that intimidating effect it’s original builders probably intended.
I had very little time to compose this shot. I’m confident the circular polarizer helped to create the richness in the blue background.
5: Bell River Church Brambles
I’m not sure whether there is a town of Bell River or just the creek called that. It’s between Wellington and Orange and littered with many derelict buildings and overgrown areas.
Thanks to Andrew I learn how to trick my camera into focussing on the foreground.
6: Weird Wellington Sculpture
This is just one ‘flower’ of a very large sculpture at Wellington. I’m sure there is much debate about whether it is an attraction or an eyesore.
I like the monochromatic style of this photograph.
These guys move quickly enough to present a challenge in photographing them yet they are such peculiar looking birds I wonder who could resist trying?
9. The Dish: Parkes
10. My lovable fool
Convinced that one loses 70% of body temperature through the top of our head, Andrew emerged from the bathroom in the motel with what he assured me was the perfect solution. He’d located a plastic beanie which had kindly been left for us. I declined the offer of wearing it out to dinner.