Sunday, June 22, 2008

Can't believe it's almost half way through the year!

This entry isn't particularly about the fact that it's almost half way through the year (although I honestly can't believe that it's almost half way through the year), but I needed to call this entry something other than 'hello again' or 'sorry I haven't written for ages', so I decided to mention the date... Maybe I'll title my next blog entry 'so how about that weather?'

Anyway, I am sorry that I haven't written for ages... again. Sometimes I feel like my blog is just another area of my life that I'm failing in! But then, like all of those other failing areas, I guess I'll just try again :)

So... my week... Well, more jobs just keep pouring in the door at work, so I'm being kept busy there and it's all good. Sometimes I wish they'd stop pouring in, just for a few days even, but I can't complain. I spent a few days up in Mt. Isa again, and it was the second time in 2 weeks that I've been up in Mt. Isa. The thing I like most about Mt. Isa is knowing that I'm 'way out in the outback' :) It probably doesn't mean tooooo much to anyone who doesn't know Australia very well, but it's a very long way from Brisbane. I got this map of Australia off the Internet, and I added in Mt. Isa (in blue) since it wasn't on the map (since it's a tiny place). As you can see, Brisbane is halfway down the east coast, and it's 1829 km (or 1,136 miles) from Mt. Isa.
Last time I went to Mt. Isa, I think I told you that I didn't think too much of the town itself (I thought it was old and not very pretty) but that the surrounding country was fabulous. Well, this trip was to do some shooting at the mines (it's a mining town) and to interview and spend some time shooting with the ex-mayor of Mt. Isa (he finished up 3 months ago). Well, he was a lovely old fellow, and I really enjoyed my day. He's originally from Ireland (so he has a wonderful accent) but he's been living in Mt. Isa for about 40 years now, and he LOVES Mt. Isa. He was so enthusiastic about it, and all the projects they've worked on there and the community facilities etc. He honestly isn't interested in ever living anywhere else. He's convinced he lives in paradise. He was very understated and subtle about it, but as the day progressed I started wondering how on earth I missed the magic of the place on my last visit! How did I not notice it's charm, it's beauty, it's history and heritage? I was telling the camera man later that it was a good thing the day didn't last any longer than it did, because if it had, I reckon I'd have bought myself a property in Mt. Isa and refused to ever leave :)
I thought he was a wonderful example of a civic servant: When it was decided they'd build a tourist mine to give people the chance to see what it was like in the mines, and when funds were tight, his wife would often find him at 3am in the morning down in the tourist mine laying track or working the digging machines all by himself. I really love meeting new people and learning about them. That was so fun.
The other cool thing, of course, was spending some time at the mines. The first mine I went to was an underground mine, and we suited up and headed down. I didn't take any pictures of myself, but I found this picture online, and it was taken in the same place ( I recognize it actually!) So I looked like this - except for that weird thing the guy is holding in his hand.... I'm not actually sure what that is.... and of course I did up the extra button on my shirt...
Turns out I'm not claustrophobic, so that's good :) There was one slightly unnerving moment though, when we were in a section with no lighting, and the guy we were with had us turn of our helmet lights just to see how dark it gets. In case you've ever wondered, it gets very dark. I sat there 'not panicing' for what seemed like an extremely long time saying things like the other guys were saying ('yeah, it's dark alright' and 'I can imagine it would be a little scary if you were trapped down here' etc. etc.) and I did a very good job of not letting my voice crack and squeak with fear. I was very relieved when we turned the lights back on. Yep. Pretty sure I'll never work in an underground mine.
The other Mines up at Mt. Isa are open cut mines, and they have processing and smelting plants on site too. Boy - is that place dirty! At the end of the day when I took off my steel capped boots (yes - I have a pair of steel capped boots that I take with me when ever I'm on 'dangerous sites' - haha, I know, I know, it's very un-Tammy of me!), I smacked them together to shake off any dirt before putting them in my suitcase, and a huge cloud of black dust came off my shoes. So I banged them together again. Another cloud of dust. Again, another. Again, another. I gave up after about 10 bangs and just put my very dust filled shoes in a plastic bag before putting them in my suitcase! Those open cut mines are HUGE, and there are so many HUGE trucks and machines working down there. The processing plants were huge too. I really can't describe just how big these places are. I think you really have to see it for yourself (which you'll do if you ever come and visit me one day - since I'm moving to Mt. Isa and all).
At one point, we stopped up on a higher part of the site and got out of the truck so we could get some shots of an open-aired (no walls) smelting plant that was down the hill from us. Again, I didn't take photos, but I found this online. Basically the smelting is where they melt the metal. As we were standing there (probably about 500 metres from the plant) I guess the wind changed and brought the fumes up to us, and I almost died! I've never experienced something so horrible before. I was a terrible, terrible smell, but it was much more than just a smell - it was like a noxious gas that got down into my lungs and I could barely breath! Me, the client and the sound guy ran back to the car, while our heroic camera man got the shots. I think I yelled something like 'just get 4 or 5 nice ones' over my shoulder as I cowardly saved myself - poor fellow. I was chesty for the next several hours and still had that horrible taste in my mouth a few days later.
People always talk about how much money people who work up in the mines make - well let me tell you this: they deserve it! I can't imagine doing it day after day like that! (you'll notice the guy in the photo is wearing a gas mask, just like the guys on site were doing, but I think that it would still be like working in a nuclear holocaust of something!)
Anyway, all in all I enjoyed the trip. I love to see and do new things, and this was fun. Mr Mayor has convinced me to retire to the mining town of Mt. Isa one day, so you'll all get to see the mines for yourself when you come to visit me :) Lucky!
Till next time!
xo Tammy
PS. Oh, I was going to tell you something that made me laugh: I stayed in the same (really nice) hotel I was in last time, and last time we all noticed that there was a channel on the TV that seemed to be playing the same movie (staring Jim Beluchi and a dog? Justin do you know what it is?) over and over again. We were there for 3 days last time, and the movie was on every time you checked. One time, I flicked to the channel just as the movie was finishing and saw that it just started right over again! Well anyway this time, 2 weeks later, I was delighted to discover that the same channel was still playing the same movie . I thought that was great :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chuggin' Along

I don't really have anything exciting to write about, but I realize it's been about 10 days (or 12 posts on Brecken's blog) since I've last written, and I felt bad for neglecting you all, so I thought I'd better write.

We've got an American visitor staying with us at the moment - he's a 17 year old Idaho boy who's dad was mission companions with my Dad in Auckland NZ many moons ago :) My parents stayed with his family last year when they were overseas, and when he met them, young Jason started saving up to come and visit Australia. He arrived almost 2 weeks ago now, and will be here for a month. His first week was spent checking out Brisbane. This week, Mum, Dad, Abby, James and Jason are down in Victoria visiting the great ocean road (along Australian's southern cost). It's supposed to be gorgeous and I was jealous, but I had too much going on at work to take the time out. They'll get back on Monday, after a week, and they'll be here for a day before Mum, Dad, Jason, Ben and Oliver head up to North QLD to spend 6 days in Cairns where they'll go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and white water rafting among their other adventures. Jason's having a fabulous holiday!

Why do I bring this up? Oh, I don't know. I guess it's just to point out how well we Munro's look after any Americans who decide to come and visit us.... :)

Nothing much is new in my world - work work work. I've been shooting locally for the last three days - so it's been nice to be shooting during the day and sleeping in my own bed at night. Now I've got a few days in the office, and then next week I'll be back up to Mt. Isa for a few days. This time the job will be to shoot down in the underground mines - that should be interesting. I don't think I'm particularly claustrophobic, but I guess I'll find out ;)

Hope everything's well with all of you!
xo Tammy

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pictures I owe you...

Since starting a blog, I always keep my camera in my handbag (you know, the bag I take with me EVERYWHERE). I do this so that I can ALWAYS take a quick photo of whatever is going on around me and show it to you :) You'll be surprised, but I actually DO take these photos. The problem is that they rarely make it to you.... *sigh*
So I thought I'd play a little catchup and show you some of the photos with a brief blurb of what they are! Enjoy :)

YARD WORK
As I've mentioned a few times, this last month has been 'major re-haul of the house and yard' spring cleaning (yes Emily - complete with Von Trapp outfits). We've laid new carpet, got the old carpet (staying in some rooms) cleaned, re-plastered and painted walls, cleaned every cupboard in the house and then some, hung new pictures, redecorated certain rooms, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Our house now looks VERY nice, and I'm so very glad it's DONE! My favourite though, is yard work, because then I get a tan, and I get to feel all 'outdoorsy and sportsy' for the duration :)
Anyway, here's a couple of pictures of Dad and James working up on the lattice work over an outdoor patio in the yard. You can see the neighbours house (the tall one) in the back ground. I actually took these photos for Dad - he was going to put them on his blog - but that was weeks ago, and he still hasn't posted them so..... :)
WARD ACTIVITIES
We have a LOT of ward activities in our ward! I took a little video recently of the youth in our ward doing a dance they'd made up for a ward activity. They're really into costumes, and even the boys like to sing and dance! It was fun to watch them :)
video



Then, about an hour later, I walked into the kitchen and found all of the youth - still in their costumes - doing all the washing up. I thought that was so wonderful that I took another picture!


MELBOURNE TRIP





I always mean to take great photos on each of my work trips, but I usually get too busy working, and I forget! I did take a photo of my hotel room though, because I liked the reds, and because it was nice. I've stayed in some lovely places, and I've stayed in some real dives! The horrible ones are usually the 'only ones' ...

LUNCH WITH JESSIMA
Jessima (my sister-in-law) works across the river from me in the city, so whenever we can both make it (which isn't all that often unfortunately) we both meet for a bit of lunch. I work right on the river, so I cross the river in the City Cat (ferry) and she works down to the river and meets me at the dock. Then we eat at the Coffee Club and enjoy a yummy lunch together. Anyway, we had lunch last week, and I took some photos for you all to enjoy :)
This photo is the view from the ferry of the city.

This photo is the Coffe Club on the pier as I pulled up in the ferry.













This is Jessima at lunch - looking very pregnant (yay!)

On the way back, I was so distracted taking photos, that I got on the wrong ferry, headed to the WRONG station. *sigh* This is the view back towards the city during my half hour walk BACK to work after taking the wrong ferry and getting off at the wrong ferry station!
These are some of the lovely apartments I passed on my walk back to work... I wonder how much they cost? They're right on the river with a great view of the city :)

MT. ISA
I just got back from a trip to Mt. Isa. Did any of you look it up to see where it is?! I didn't realize it, but it's actually way way in the outback :) In fact it would have only been a two hour drive from Mt. Isa to the Northern Territory border (I really wanted to go - but I couldn't convince the camera man and client that it was worthwhile *sigh* I know there'd have been nothing there but desert and scrubs and maybe some crocodiles and Crocodile Dundee, but STILL, I think it would have been VERY cool!). Anyway, Mt. Isa is a small town, in the middle of the nowhere, surrounded by red rock hills with bush trees and scrubs dotting them. The town isn't a nice town - the houses are all old and little and run down - but from the town lookout, you can see that there are lots of green trees in the town, and they really stand out from the deserty red hills surrounding the town. I really loved the country, even though I didn't love the town. I was there to film at the Power Station just out of town (This was my forth power station, and I'm starting to find them quite beautiful! But when you go anywhere with the intent to shoot it, you start looking at the place as if you're looking at it through a lens, and before you know it, you're seeing beauty where you never would have seen it before! I'm afraid that beautiful light on shiny towers is starting to be very exciting!), but most of the people in town work at the mine. And this is what was funny- the mine is right there in the town! Usually there's a space of some sort separating them, but the town comes right up to the mine - there's only a normal road separating them - and I found that very unusual. The stacks were spewing out some scary looking smoke! I think I'll be back in Mt. Isa in the next few weeks to shoot at the mine, but I'll let you know if that happens.
Our hotel was very nice (sorry no pictures) - apparently it was a 5 star place, which is surprising considering I was in Mt. Isa! But it was very nice. My favourite part of the trip though, is that they flew us back to Brisbane in business class. I LOVE business class! There were only 12 business class seats on the plane, and the seat us first. They they come round (having memorized our 12 names) and say things like 'Ms. Munro, can I get you a drink before take-off?' So I sit there sipping orange juice from a champaign flute, and watching all of the other poor economy fliers walk through my fancy cabin on their slums out the back. The longer I sat, sipped and pitied, the higher my nose rose into the air! :) I understand why I'm not mega rich now - I'd be too proud and end up in hell! But it was lovely while it lasted :) They fed us yummy yummy food on real china *sigh* It was heaven. Our little toilet actually had fresh flowers in it! When we got off the plane, our luggage all comes through first, because it's got bright pink 'business class' tags on it. So I had to step forward - with the economy hoards watching - and collect my bag, which was hard to see because (again) my nose was pointing straight up and my bag was down on the conveyor belt. I was a bit surprised, actually, that someone didn't come and collect my bags for me - I really shouldn't have to bend down like that!
Yep. Definitely going to Hell.