Today was interesting. It started out reasonably boring with the standard wake-up and breakfast, but it quickly turned into a good day for me. But don’t let me jump to far ahead, there’s more to this story than just what happened today…
The wife and I have annual membership with ZooSA, enabling us to visit various Zoo’s around Australia – including Monarto Zoo. What we like most about this zoo is that caters for both the professional and amateur photographer.
The amateurs take their children and sit on the old school bus, shooting the back end of Zebra and Antelope as the driver tells you the history, native lands and nocturnal habits of each animal as you bump your way around the tracks.
The professional photographer who visits a zoo is not necessarily a published nor practiced camera user – but they do have more than a simple happy-snap camera. These photographers have something like or better than a Canon EOS 400D. They have a battery grip with leather handgrip attached. They have a colourful lanyard that proclaims the make and model of their choice of weapon.
Ok, ok, I sound a little harsh. Yes, I’d like to be more professional than what I am, but, pray tell, how much more serious do I need to be? I have all the gear and then some more. Heck, I even sold a spare camera bag last month! OK, so I don’t have a superduper long lens for spotting whiskers on a cheetah from across the tundra. But I would love to have either a Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USMor Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX DG HSM!!
Anyhow, my lovely wife, SWMBO, allowed us both to go to the zoo together. Arriving mid morning, I made one mistake: I allowed her to have my Canon 200mm lens whilst I shot with the Canon 28-105mm lens. Not a bad lens, but it has neither IS nor USM, so long distance shots are not so perfect. Erecting the tripod was a waste of time: Before I finished tightening the final leg into position, each animal was bored of my human antics and had walked onto the next funny dressed human.
Around midday we finished photographing the strange little Lemur. I’d achieved a location where I could shoot children prodding and licking the opposing side of the glass, thereby displaying the view the Lemurs had of us. A young 4yo girl was most amusingly poking her tongue out at a lemur who’d sat back on his hunches to enjoy the spectacle.
Wandering back to the tourist-trap (shop), we purveyed the stuffed toys that resembled African animals. A long-necked giraffe with an over-sized head. A hand puppet of a Rhino. And a panda and seal, presumably there to entice us to visit other zoo’s around Australia!
Enjoying a few cold drinks, she discovered the tourist-bus. Against my better judgment, we took a seat toward the back where we discovered that arm room to swing a lens was near impossible. Yet we did. Every time the driver stopped to allow the microphone-holder to speak about the animal that presented its rear to us, I strode down the aisle to a clearer window that had less lick-marks from eccentric children. Amazingly I avoided photographs of children’s swinging arms and heads.
Around 4.00pm I should have noticed the signs. Her arm-watch was regularly checked, the sweaty forehead, the urgency increased. Yet I hadn’t recognised the signs as anything more than a wife who was angry with a world that knew not her tight schedule.
After a semi-quick walk to the Rhino enclosure, a dozen photographs each of two Rhino that didn’t really care if we existed, we strolled back down the track back to the main building. Not wanting to see the pile of polyester pilling, we we around the native fauna track, back past the Lemur one more time (and she got a dozen more amazing photographs), back to the car and onto the drive back to Adelaide.
The afternoon was still quite warm, so we barely spoke. The air-conditioning spat out more warm than cool air, but at least it was cooler than the 40degree heat of the day we’d enjoyed at Monarto Zoo.
But this is not where my journey ends. No, it would soon appear why my wife was so willing to take me to Monarto Zoo and why her parents had stayed over the night before.
I should explain at this point that a few days earlier I had celebrated reaching the big FOUR ZERO. Yep, that’s right: I am forty. Wow, what a milestone, almost half a century of a life gone, whizzed by like the wind (beneath my wings). But no party had been had at that time, nothing special had happened. After all, it was mid working week and both of us had long hard days to worry about. Today is the first day of a two week holiday, so why not let it go till another time. She’d said I’d not celebrated her 35th last year, so why bother?
Coming down our road, I spotted a blue BMW. Wait, my dad has one exactly the same! My smiled beamed left and right as I spotted a stack of plastic chairs upon our porch! The game was up, I realised in an instant what was going on. Surprise, Suprise, I WAS HAVING A PARTY!
Pulling in the drive-way, I almost bounded out of the car to welcome those who had arrived … but soon discovered that many had been there all day getting our home ready. My MIL had made salads, both fruit and vegetable based. Much bread and meats were already supplied as entrees. And those of my family who’d been there only a month earlier for Xmas were there again to celebrate my 40th.
People came and went for a few hours, until the main crowd settled down in our unfinished pergola to sip red wine and cider.
My wife had been smart: She’d asked that everyone contribute financially to a big gift that I would appreciate, rather than lots of little gifts that may not suit the age-group. Yeah, I don’t care much for SUDOKO toilet paper any more, nor fly-killing elastic band guns. My office is full of trashy little gifts either given or found over the last 20 years, I needed nil more of such gifts.
So around 9.00pm a large gift appeared on my lap from my gorgeous 4yo niece. She wanted to help unwrap, as she always does, so I let her rip and shred to her hearts content. That was alright for a while … the large green and black woolen bed cover (knitted by my wife (yes, I did ask for this … about two years ago!)) was not breakable. But I soon realised there was more to this package than was apparent. A small cardboard box, around the size of a DELL Mini Notepad 9″ revealed itself. My father laughed as I visibly lifted out of my seat with excitement and my teethy grin was apparent.
Yes, I had asked for either a DELL Mini Notepad or a Canon 50D. Seems it does pay to ask for more than can be afforded. People are more inclined to purchase the cheaper option but not realising you were wishing that all along.
So the night ended earlier than expected, but with all the flair that one can expect for anyone’s 40th Birthday. Compared with my 21st birthday (which I remember vividly), my 40th was non-alcoholic and boring … but we can’t all have Dame Edna Everage and Auntie Jack (note: impersonators) put on flamboyant acts at our 21st Birthday. Heck, I do recall some fancy dancing involving chopsticks with my GF at that time. Wow, how life changes!
Suddenly I am reminded how old I am, how much time has flown by and that I still have a long way to go. Life really does begin at forty!
This blog was typed in one hour on the train home. Other commuters were either thumbing their mobile phones or hogging an entire seat with the larger laptops. Whereas I merrily 8-finger tapped at around 50wpm, slowly adjusting to the smaller keyboard that I truly love getting for my surprise 40th birthday party!
I’m still adjusting to the intricacies of this little device! Function keys are oddly aligned, making ALT+F4 a 3-key combination! Thus a more elaborate write-up will follow in due course … which I will publish at Plurkfiends.com.
For now, I will continue to type up my articles upon my DELL Notepad during train-rides and at lunch on work-days, thereby improving my financial situation.