29 January 2009

I get my back into my living....


So, I'm feeling rather excited today - I've been working on my business cards! As I might or might not have mentioned, I offer a photography service: Weddings, and now Pets.

Pet photography has always been a great love of mine, and what better way to spend a day, than gamboling with various pets! I simply love capturing them in their element, capturing the quizzical expressions, and seeing the look of the owner when he/she views the images. I simply love it! So, I've decided to focus more on promoting myself in this regard, and have finally stepped up to the plate to design a business card! About bloody time, if I do say so myself! I do get people asking me for cards when I tell them about my small passion, so the time is right!

Now, as I said, I also do wedding photography. This is a rather difficult area to break into, as although the market is saturated with "wedding photographers" (I use quotation marks because these days, anyone with a camera is a wedding photographer), its difficult to actually get people to book you. Without people booking you, you dont have a portfolio, and without a portfolio, people dont want to book you. Its a catch-22 situation. Sigh. But, nevertheless, I will prevail!

I am designing two main business cards, one for wedding clients, and one for pet clients. Its simply not possible for me to put all my details on one card, and appeal to both brides and pet owners, without compromising one or the other. Although, and this only came to me right now, I could have each "card" on each side. Wedding on one side, pets on the other...hmmm......

But for now, I've designed a pet card I'm proud of! Every time I look at it, I smile and feel happy and confident. And best of all, its got my Gizmo on the card (see photo above)! She's so gorgeous! Will post examples of them when I've had them printed!

Still need to blog about a carriage ride I had on Sunday (was fantastic!) and post a photo of my bonsai haha its still alive - yay!

Title chosen from CSI's theme song, "Baba O'Riley", performed by The Who, from the album Who's Next.

24 January 2009

I am a Bonsai expert!

The entrance to the bonsai garden

Ok not quite, but I do know a little more about the practical side of Bonsai keeping than I did before today. Haha!

So, as I said in the last post, myself and the bf were attending a bonsai class today, which we did. The bf nodded off once or twice (our instructor spoke rather softly haha) but we both enjoyed it thoroughly. If thats all you wanted to know, you can stop reading and move on to your next blog, but if you wanted to know more about the day itself, keep reading.

We managed to be on time for a change, and got there nice and early, found a spot on the lawn, set up our chairs and sat down. The first couple of hours were spent listening to various points about bonsais and bonsai-keeping, from their history, to the styles, to the tools. Then we took a short break from sitting, and were escorted through the bonsai garden where our instructor explained the different trees and techniques.

On our return, we had some tea and/or coffee and biscuits and then continued our lesson. We went over more aspects of bonsai, including an in-depth look at the soil options, fertilisers, how trees gather nutrients (hmm, reminded me of high school biology!), general caring for your bonsai, and potting, pruning, and wiring (as well as had a short demo, which proved very helpful). We broke for lunch and potting our own bonsai's were next on the agenda!

Choosing our bonsais was fun, as we had a bunch to choose from, and then it was on to finding its style. To do this, you have to clear away the soil from the base to see what the root system is like. In bonsai, you want to give a feeling of age, so you need to make sure you're showing the start of the main roots, and base which was previously under soil. Once thats completed, you select a "front" for viewing the tree and start pruning - you might want to take your time on that part. Once you've pruned (selectively and probably not enough, if you're anything like me), its time for wiring. The wire must be properly anchored before you continue, which either means its stuck into the soil and wound around the tree twice, or if wiring a higher branch, wound around a lower branch before moving onto the branch you want to shape. The thickness should be slightly tougher than the branch you want to bend/shape.

Once your soiling, planning, pruning and wiring is finished, you loosen it from the pot and once its out, you remove as much soil as possible from the root system. Trim down a small percentage of the outside roots (and the tap root, if necessary), and you're ready to pot. Bonsai pots have either one or two holes, and you have to place a piece of plastic mesh over them to prevent the soil from draining out. Once thats done, cover the base with a little soil, in goes your bonsai, then fill and pack with more soil.

Once its properly packed (not too tightly, mind you) then its time to (gently) dunk your bonsai into a bucket of water. This is a sure-fire way of making sure all the gas pockets are pushed from the soil. It's complete when no more bubbles eminate from the submerged soil. You remove your pot and watch how the water drains. It should take no longer than a minute at the most (mine took about 20-30 seconds). You now add moss and gravel to decorate. Incidently, the moss never should cover more than 40-50% of your bonsai's base. After you're happy with that, you're done!

Once everyone had finished, we said our thanks, and were free to leave or wander around if we wished. I'd definately recommend a bonsai course to anyone wanting to get a more hands-on feel for bonsai keeping. I felt very nervous at the prospect of starting my own bonsai alone, but now after the course, I feel confident to start another, should I find one.

One of their main group plantings

A cascade-style bonsai

Some of the roosters and hens and chickies roaming about the nursery

Cleaning and detangling the root system before potting

Another couple putting the final touches of moss and gravel on their trees

That same couple took their two trees and joined them together. Over time, these trunks will merge to make one large, thick trunk.

Some of the finished bonsais...the bf's one is in the middle

Most of the finished bonsais from the day! Mine is the dark, rectangular pot in the front row. You cant see it too well in the photo, but I decided on a slanting/leaning style due to the natural way the roots were formed.

22 January 2009


Ficus Fig Tree Photo from Bonsai4me.com

So every few days I think about something to write, and then I always seem to put it off, thinking I'll be adding more news the next time I post. I'm not sure why I do it, but this will be the year I try my best not to procrastinate! Hold thumbs for me!

"Yea yea, but why are you excited?", you ask. I'm doing a bonsai course with the bf this Saturday. Also Viia and her bf/my cousin will be joining :) I'm uber excited, even though I have to wake up at sparrow's fart to get there (its a long drive and the course starts at 9am sharp!).

I think I did mention this in a previous post, but its R550 per couple and you get a manual, a bonsai each, and a day's worth of schooling. Its a little odd that you have to supply your own snacks/drinks and even your own chair though. I mean, for that price, surely they can invest in 10 chairs or something?? If you book late, bring your own chair, but if you book early, you get a seat provided? I dont know, just seems odd. But, I'm still excited and by Sat eve will be owning my own bonsai tree (probably Ficus/Wild Fig, as this is what they told me over the phone).

12 January 2009

Didi, my aunt, my angel

Diane (you'll always be Didi to me!)
16 May 1960 - 09 Jan 2009

This is a very difficult post for me. On the 9th of January 2009, I had to say goodbye for the final time to my beloved aunt. She passed away at 8:45pm after a long battle with cancer, which she very nearly overcame.

Memories of this beautiful woman will be with me forever. She's been in my life pretty much since I was born, and has always, always been there for me when I needed her. My sister and I lived with her for a while when we made the move from JHB to CT, and since then, I've always looked up to her. She was, is, my role model. The beauty this woman had inside her is difficult to voice, and it pains me that she was taken so soon. Her ability to love unconditionally, her compassion, her ability to forgive, everything about her is inspiring. I use present tense as I write this, because she will continue to inspire me throughout my life, as she did before.

I remember her voice clearly, especially her using my full, hyphenated name, which I rarely used, often opting to go by the shorter version. She always addressed my cards to my full name, and only in the past year have I started doing the same. Her laughter will forever ring in my ears, including her unique snort. Her laughter was infectious, I adored it. There were so many things I loved about her, too many things to write down. Even if I could, it saddens me that no one would fully understand just how special she was.

She had many dreams, some of which were mirrored by me. She loved animals, and gave extensively of herself to the benefit of animals in need in whichever way she could. Her kindness is something I wish to keep within myself, and always remember her for it.

Didi, you were taken from me far too soon. I cried so much by your bedside, but I know you are in a better place. Your heart needed to be free, and you are now reunited with those who passed before you. May they hold you close and keep you safe until we meet again. I am thankful for the time we spent together, the wise words you gave me, and the special bond between us. I'm thankful I got to know you properly, adult to adult, and it breaks my heart that you wont be around for my milestones like getting engaged, married, and having kids. I will tell my children about you, though my heart breaks knowing they will never know one of the greatest person I ever had the privilage of sharing a world with.

Didi, you taught me so much, and you will never know how much you will be missed, though I know you'll always be there by my side in spirit. I shall still speak to you, as I always did, and I will treasure my memories of you. You were such an amazing person, and you fought (however stubbornly) to the bitter end. You gave us all a chance to say goodbye, and I can never tell you how grateful I am to have spent those quiet moments alone by your bedside, watching over you. You were so beautiful right up until I left you. I was told you even looked beautiful in death, which I have no trouble believing.

Rest in peace, Didi. Thank you for a lifetime of happiness. I will never, ever forget you and I love you so much more than words can express. I still cant believe you're gone, but you live on inside all of us. Until we meet again...say hi to Brutus, Cleo, and the rest of the gang for me! I know they we're ecstatic to see you!

A special moment between you and Munchkin, that I captured - I'm not sure if you ever got to see this photo...

02 January 2009

Happy New Year

The view from our New Year's Booze Cruise

So unfortunately, (or is it fortunately), I dont have any photos from New Years Eve itself, but rest assured a great time was had by all! ;)

We were invited out to the Misverstand Dam by a Warwick, a friend of the bf's, and we happily agreed to go! Its a holiday resort with, well, a huge dam where people can waterski/wakeboard/swim/fish/etc. The last time I was there was around 9 years ago so I was keen to go back and see what had changed.

The evening was started with a "Booze Cruise" in our hosts' speedboat, where we anchored few km's out into the river. After being joined by two other boats and tying them together, we were ready to bring out the booze and chill. Most of the time was spent bobbing about in the river with our lifejackets being worn as nappies which enabled us to sit comfortably with our drinks in hand whilst floating about. I'm sure we all looked rather silly, but it was great fun!
After about an hour or two, we headed back, had a braai and got ready for the party ahead, which was a little rougher than I thought haha! My poor bf got two drinks spilt on him whilst we were inside dancing, so we ended up hanging out outside the place with a bunch of other people. Drinks were flowing and being passed around and thankfully I actually didnt get drunk! My drinks for the evening were as follows: 3x glasses of Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne (though I may be incorrect about which champagne exactly - its the only label that looked familiar now), numerous swigs of champagne from the bottles being passed around (by people I knew, not just anyone haha), 1x SoCo & Lime, 3x Redds, 1x Jagermeister, 3x Jagerbombs (Jagermeister & Red Bull), swigs of tequila from a bottle being passed around, swigs of Po10cy (a caffine-fueled alcholic shooter), and a swig or two of a double brandy and creme soda.

Ended up going to bed at around 2am and woke up at around 9.30ish and had a fantastic breakfast of bacon and eggs! Then got ready to take the bf out to learn how to wakeboard!! Warwick graciously taught the bf to wakeboard, and by his 3rd try he was up!! Albeit for about 3 seconds hehe but on the 5th time he had an awesome ride of a good minute or few, which sound short, but really isnt while you're out there - I was so proud of him! He eventually tired and let go by choice, sinking graciously into the water, giving me a nice photo op! Then we headed home to laze about for the rest of the day. Another quieter booze cruise followed later that afternoon, where I took my camera along and got some scenic photos. We left promptly afterwards as the sun was setting and the drive back home was a long one, and got home at around 9.30pm. My bed never looked so good before! Hehe.

So, I hope you saw in the new year in a great way, and may the best of last year be the worst of this year!

The view from our place

The bf learning to wakeboard

Comfortably going on his 5th try!


Yes, I was there too ;P

Our host, Warwick, going Titanic-style

More photos in Recent Photos...