May 22, 2011

I’d never heard of Steampunks until last weekend when I went to the Lithgow Ironfest. Braving overnight temperatures of minus 8 degrees , the Blacksmithing group which my husband belongs to, forged away for 2 days, while I manned the stall selling our eclectic range of His and Hers: his wrought iron and her (my) Forge Fire Jewellery.

As I stood behind the stall in my politically incorrect but very snuggly fur coat, I watched the passing parade of punters with increasing bemusement. First there were the knights in shining armour, then the  Redcoats with their black boots and shiny brass buttons, then the vikings and so on. But the most interesting of all were the bustled corseted women escorted by dapper gentlemen in top hats or pith helmets, with all manner of gadgetry hanging on and off them. Where did these people fit into the scheme of things I wondered.

It wasn’t until I posted a picture of one particularly colourful couple on facebook and got a comment back from a young Ukrainian contact: “steampunks! :)” that I was introduced to their beautiful and bizarre culture. According to the wikipedia entry, it has been around since the 1980’s, so why haven’t I heard of it? Obviously mixing in the wrong , or at least different, circles!!

So, firstly, What is Ironfest? This year’s Official Ironfest website describes the event thus:
Ironfest is an arts festival with a metal edge, featuring art exhibitions, stalls, live music, dance, street performance, historical re-enactments, (including St George’s Day Jousting and a Napoleonic battle re-enactment entitled ‘The Battle of Lithgow’ featuring infantry, cannons and cavalry), blacksmithing demonstrations, workshops, busking competitions, automotive displays, educational, historical and technological displays and lots more..

In the Official program for this, the 12th Annual event, Macgregor Ross (known affectionatley to his friends as “Mac”), in his “Director’s Welcome” partly answers my question, “What is Steampunk?” He writes: “Steampunk is Jules Verne meets JR Tolkein; the Golden Compass; HG Wells. Steampunk is striking a pose, sci-fi, eccentricity, quirky, looking good.”  But it also harks back to the Victorian Age when steam was the main form of power, hence the “steam” in the name, and the link with the event at Lithgow,  a town with a strong link to coal mining, iron production and steam technology, including the historic Zig Zag Steam Railway. On the Saturday night, all the steampunks and partners, hop on this small train and ride up and down the mountain while imbibing their absinthe or particular drug of preference. I asked one well-dressed fellow: “When does it finish?”, and he replied with a smile: “When we run out of steam”.

2010 in review – not really very active blogger but hanging in …

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Minty-Fresh™.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 2 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 30 posts. There was 1 picture uploaded, taking a total of 61kb.

The busiest day of the year was April 28th with 28 views. The most popular post that day was Tale of a snake and a mosaic.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for mosaic, inspirational graffiti, honu meaning, snake scales, and floating city.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Tale of a snake and a mosaic August 2007


Honouring Honu February 2007


Carnage at dog fight February 2008


fortress ruins, Khulm August 2007
1 comment


The Situation in Sudan April 2009

Tibetan Time

October 4, 2010

It was the Global Carnival Weekend in Bellingen, and we were very fortunate to be billeting this wonderful Tibetan Trio, Tenzin Choegyal, and two Tibetan monks from Tibet, via Nepal, South India and New Zealand. Karma was a party monk, who said “cool” to everything you said. Geshi Jamyang, was quieter and more serious, but still had an engaging twinkle in his eye. Tenzin is a really talented musician, based in Brisbane, who has done so much to promote Tibetan culture and music in his new homeland, Australia.

Here we all are posing for a photo out the front of our house, looking out over the misty mountain, just before they all left. Colin and I are wearing the white Tibetan scarves we were just presented with by the monks. What an honour it was to have hosted them.


January 8, 2010

Originally uploaded by Kristina ✪

This was the photo that began my gallery: THE EYES HAVE IT
and now … I just want to have a short rave about the wonderful photo sharing site – flickr!! Yesterday I discovered flickr “galleries” – and I created a couple of galleries using the group’s pool “my best shots 2009” – in fact I was up until 1.30 in the morning, looking through photos, choosing photos and reordering my galleries. The time just flew. (And that is not mentioning the time I was looking at flickr while I was supposed to be working during the day!! shhhh) There were so many wonderful photos!! and so many talented photographers. And most people are so willing to share their photos and skills and knowledge.
And then … one of my galleries was chosen to be featured on the flickr blog:
and then a heap of flickr members commented, messaged me and viewed my gallery and photos. My site was viewed 671 times (up from 72 the day before) …
So … isn’t flickr wonderful? What a fantastic on-line community!!!

Protected: RIP Michael Jackson

June 26, 2009

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

The Situation in Sudan

April 23, 2009

Today I bumped into a Sudanese friend (a woman who comes to English classes at the local Community College where I work) , and we greeted each other with the usual pleasantries. I asked her how her holidays had been going (Easter) and she said it had been bad. Assuming she was talking about the weather, and the flooding we had just had, I said, “yes, hasn’t it been wet” .. and then she proceeded to tell me that she had just heard that 2 of her “cousins” and 3 of her husband’s “cousins” in Southern Sudan had been killed. Wow, I thought … that is much worse than a bit of soggy carpet or a boggy road. Were they soldiers? I asked. No they just looked after cows, she said. It seems things are getting bad again in Sothern Sudan – and its not just in Darfur, which is the area currently being reported on. And the Sudanese community were so euphoric in February 2005, when it seemed a certain PEACE had been Here are some scenes from the celebrations in Coffs Harbour at that time of hope. women-dancing



I was particularly moved by her news, as I am currently reading a novel by Dave Eggers called “What is the What” – an autobiography of one of the Lost Boys, Valentino Achak Deng. I asked Yar where her “cousins” were. A small village called Yirol, she said, but I wouldn’t find it on a map as it was too small. I asked was it near Marial Bai, the town which Valentino came from,  and amazingly, she knew this town, and said her teenage daughter was reading a book about a Lost Boy who came from that town. What an incredible co-incidence, I thought – that we were reading the same book, at the same time. The other amazing thing that she told me, was that this current round of fighting did not involve the militia or the Northern Islamists or even the rebels, but was between southern Sudanese tribes.  What chance has that troubled region got, I thought.


The ultimate in ocean views

March 12, 2009

Clubstead – Exterior View

Originally uploaded by ipsafictura





While driving to work yesterday, I heard an interesting story on the new ABC radio national program Future Tense (12/3/09) : entitled Life on the ocean wavesabout a new concept called “Seasteading” – see offical website –
This is NOT really a new idea. In Halong Bay in Vietnam, in 2005, I saw whole floating villages, complete with fish farms, clothes lines and seafaring dogs.floating-village 
  So ….. if the recent Victorian bushfires have put you off the idea of a “tree change”, maybe seasteading is a more desirable option. If you want a new life and a new freedom, both physical and political, you could live on a huge floating city in international waters. Those just beyond the 12 mile limit would be anchored (eg off the coast of California – but don’t think too much about the San Andreas fault and possible tsunamis ). Those in the deep oceans would be floating, and possibly migrating to follow the good weather. What a bizarre concept!! Imagine a lone sailor, far from the worries of the world, coming across one on a misty morning!!!
Am I lacking in imagination and vision, if I remain a bit sceptical, even cynical about such a venture? If you read the quotes on the official website – Albert Camus: “Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better” or Balthasar Gracian: “Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit” – it would seem that I am certainly not the visionary dreamer they are looking for to people these new civilisations.


November 29, 2008

90daygeishaI have just finished reading this fascinating book, by Chelsea Haywood, about hostess clubs in Japan, but with insights into many things Japanese, including the psyche of that enigmatic place and its enigmatic people. Having been in Japan only months ago, I found that it brought back lots of wonderful memories. Admittedly, I never had the experiences that she did (and frankly, I wouldn’t have done that to my body and my mind!! – the number of times she ends up in a drunken and drugged stupor – even if it was “for the book” – is frightening) – but I did experience a hostess club in Kobe. The father of my Japanese friend, who I was staying with, owned and ran quite an exclusive one in the centre of Kobe, and we went there one evening. I observed all the wierd behaviour described in the book, but only now, vaguely understand it … if it is something that can ever really be understood.

It was a very readable book and her style very natural. But, I did get a bit annoyed at how many times she mentions how beautiful she is (quoting her customers of course). She was only 21 when she was there (4 years ago), and she was a model, so she probably WAS beautiful, but was she THAT beautiful???


I found this interesting photo of Chelsea on Flickr by mattbooy. It was taken in an underpass near Waterloo Station in London, for promotional purposes. I recognised the location as I had been there, also on my last trip, and had taken photos of this same artistic graffiti, which adorns the walls, the whole length of the underpass. 


This is my picture.

Barack Obama the man

November 8, 2008

Originally uploaded by Barack Obama


This photo shows the human side of this man, who is soon to become the most powerful man in the world. He is now the president elect of the United States, but he is also a Flickr contact of mine.
Will it be like Kevin Rudd, who was everyone’s facebook friend (including mine), until he became the Prime Minister of Australia?? Will it be seen by his aides as a security threat, to have such a public profile? This photo alone, had 151 comments, and another, also posted on 7 Nov 08 – election night – of he and his wife on the couch smiling into the camera, had 423 comments. He has a list of testimonials that scrolls down forever, but it just goes to show that the tide is changing in politics. Barack Obama is young and vital and charismatic. Girls scream and cry when they see him, like a pop idol. The fact that he is black, I think, is irrelevant.
Not that I have any illusions that Barack Obama spends any time on Flickr, uploading his own photos, and checking out his contacts’ photos (he has 7,142 contacts). I realise that it is just another arm of his publicity machine – but for a Pro Account of $30 per year, it is a lot cheaper that an ad on prime time TV. The first of his 50,423 items was posted on 3 Feb 07, at the start of his campaign, and after scrolling though all his sets, I can see they are all pictures of him on the campaign trail. There is not one set entitled “Christmas with the Folks” or “Picnic in the Park”. Though I will admit that he did take time out from his campaign to visit his ailing grandmother. I also admit that the cynic in me saw this as a clever ploy to attract the older voters, until I found out that she died 2 days before his election win.
What for me is amazing though, is that the internet is changing EVERYTHING. Social networking sites are becoming a significant form of communication for millions of people. So, why shouldn’t the pollies get onto the bandwagon???

www = wonderful wicked wierd

November 4, 2008

I never cease to be amazed at the power of the www – to link people, places and ideas.
Ever since I first posted my old scanned slides from Afghanistan in 1974 onto Flickr last year, there has been a snowballing effect. I have had a fascination for that country ever since I visited it back then. I read any book on Afghanistan that I could get my hands on and watched documentaries and films about it. And of course, followed with dismay and horror … the war on terror that was waged there after September 11, 2001. But after the flickr posting, I was contacted by Afghanis all over the world, many of whom had never seen as much of their homeland as I had. Many of them had been forced to leave it as children, and many have very bitter or sad memories of it. So, they were grateful to me, for having preserved this slice of history of their country. I was invited to join Afghanistan flickr groups, and facebook groups, and kept in contact with my growing circle of Afghan friends in our virtual Afghan country. I attended a book launch in Sydney, when my facebook friend, Mahvish Khan, was on a promotional tour of Australia. I bought and read her book My Guantanamo Diary, about Afghan detainees in Guantanamo Bay, with great interest.
Then the latest chapter, in this ever widening story, came when one of my photos was posted on a flickr blog. Then a whole lot more people looked at my Afghanistan set, and the daily views went up to 500 or so on that day and I made a few new contacts. Then futurowoman, a historian/photographer, posted a blog about it, and lo and behold ….. a heap more views (2,076 on one day in fact).
I can’t help but feel that this virtual journey will again take me back, in real space and time, to that timeless land … and I hope it will be a much happier and more peaceful place.