It's YOU! Hello! Nice to see you! Here you will find stuff about living a creative life in country Australia. I create with watercolour, pen, collage, mixed media and photos. I teach, hosts workshops, collect, dream. I love cheese, travel, my garden, faffing, colour and whimsy. I am crap at time management, and do way too many things, but it is all good. Oh yes, all pictures and photos on here by me too, just saying.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

BITE SIZE SNACK BLOG (or the conundrum of Life Vs. Blogging)

(or the conundrum of Life Vs. Blogging)

Oh Dear. Oh my. Oh my goodness. I am sitting here typing with LONG NAILS (another story) which is really hard to do, with the clock ticking - I am supposed to be on the way to Forbes - and a guilty guilty conscious.Why guilty? Because I have not blogged for about a zillion years. And I feel awful about it. 


I have been doing lots of fun, fabulous, weird, boring, crazy, ordinary, brilliant, wacky, mundanely fab things. Life has thrown so many great things for me to blog about, and a few scary serious ones too. And haveI blogged? NOPE. Nada. Not a word.

I have in fact been so busy, that at the end of the day, even the middle of the day... all those days I said GUNNA BLOG TODAY!... it just went poof! All good intentions flew out the window( the ones plastered with filth and handprints), or collapsed on the sofa, or disappeared under a mountain of washing, or got put on hold while something else happened....

So...instead of words (tick tock clock), here are some photos of my last month...a little snack size bite of my life. And this does NOT even contain the MOST EXCITING BIT! (which warrants a proper blog post of its very own.)

Okay... gotta go...put out some washing, drop off an artwork, pick up a script, pack a bag, put on clean sheets for Grandma....GAH!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

#shareaustralia #myessentials Kidspot Voices of 2015

Kidspot Voices of 2015

I do not think of myself as a high maintenance kinda lady. Not too many essentials needed, although my hubby may well disagree. 

Truthfully, I spend hardly anything on clothes, shoes, handbags, make-up, designer stuff and these types of lovely. I do LOVE them, but they are not essential to me. There are many other things that I choose to spend time, money and energy on - a fact that my appearance will no doubt display! 

For this post I have been thinking long and hard about the word ESSENTIAL, and what it means. And although it is true that cheese, sleeping in, dreaming, stripy stockings, a red mini-cooper, Turkish delight, wifi, flannelette pyjamas and iced coffee were tempting to add to the list, I did abstain in the end. Instead I came up with some things that I really could not be without. So here they are...


Of course, I put my family and friends right at the top of the list, (you know they would be uber cranky if I did not!) So I guess it is in a kind of order, but really when I look at them like this I feel a little strange, separating them all out. Because all these things, they criss and cross, they merge, they intersect, overlap and colide, rub shoulders and borrow from each other. Each gives meaning to the other. 

Its kind of like a Shani soup of happy, each being a vital ingredient, and without any one of them, life would just not taste so good!

But not one to ignore a challenge (the stubborn Taurean in me) I am going to self reflect a bit more, and try to get to the heart of why they might be important. I really have NO IDEA what I am about to type! Here goes...

my kidlets


My family - hubby and 3 kids - are nutters. Lovely, noisy, crazy, wonderful nutters. They make me laugh and giggle, fill me with pride and disbelief at their awesomeness. They also drive me crazy, frustrate, infuriate, twist my heart with emotion so raw that at times I almost resent their power over me. Parenting and marriage is so bloody tough, hardest gig ever. And yet the most incredible too. These 4 people are my everything, without them the way I define myself would be incomplete, just a shadow of what they have made me today. 

For many years I suffered terribly with endometriosis and was told by specialists that there was a solid chance I would never have children naturally. It turned out that I only had to use hubby's toothbrush and I fell preggars. So the doctors were a little off the mark with that prediction. Thankfully.

Sometimes when I collapse into bed at night, groaning and complaining about the ludicrous and revolting children we live with my hubby will say, in a sage - like voice

"Well Shani, we are exactly where we said we wanted to be, and lots of others would like to be. So really, we should not complain".

Damn him. I hate it when he is right.( Way too often, but please don't tell him that.) It is true though... I love them all to bits and pieces. With all my mushy heart.

Friends are the cream on top, who sustain, nurture, empower, and provide laughs and giggles when needed. They empathise, criticise (wisely), provide insight and general loveliness. It does not matter whether they are real life or on-line, these people are truly the  cherry on top of the cream and the icing on the cake (did someone say cake?) Love them.

my home, our home, full of life, colour, art and stuff


My home, our home. Home sweet home. No place like it. Our home is in Central West NSW, Cowra to be exact. It is a hundred (or so) year old brick building, with wide deep bullnose verandahs on 3 sides, french shutters, high ceilings, old wooden floor boards, lots of dust and cracks and full of character. We have filled it with noise and colour, art, pets, collections and plants. 

When I was having our first bub, the nesting instinct bit me HARD, and has never let go. I still love looking at images of houses, pour over inspiring magazines and books of peoples abodes. When we extended the house a few years ago, with a big modern architect designed thing on the back, I was a little infatuated with Kevin Macleod. Indeed, I met the man in Sydney, and told him I loved him.(We share a birthday, and I used to live near where he resides in Somerset, UK. So we have a special connection don't you know...) He signed my books, and smiled sweetly at yet another middle aged fangirl. Awesome.

This place of bricks and mortar (and zinc allume) my home, is where I rest, recover, revive, dream, faff, create, and feel safe. I adore it. It is not perfect, or finished, and is always messier than it should be. But it my favourite place to be.

my beautiful surroundings, lucky old me


I see beauty everywhere - in the colour of a glowing red vine leaf,  a curl on the neck of my youngest child, in the patterns of shadows,  the colours of lichen, the movement of waves washing over my feet. I am inspired by the beauty of where I live, the contrast of the big deep blue sky and the golds and yellows of wheat and canola, the vastness of the space.

me with my camera, like an extension of my body, and my feet and some of the places they have taken me to that inspire me so

I try to be grateful for these things, to recognise them and pay attention to them. I take photos like a mad woman, snapping away constantly, capturing these big and little moments. I carry pencils and paints and sketchbook with me in my bag a lot of the time, for making drawings and notes which I file away, so they can percolate to the surface again sometimes, and inspire me later. I try to record these things when I can because beauty fills me up, I crave it, and it helps me to live in the moment. An ugly world would just be soul destroying, and the things I create would be very different. Which brings me to number 4! 

inspired by the land around me, some watercolours and a collage

some of my illustrations, inspired by collections, experiences, feelings, things I find. They become work for rare pear studio. 


Wowsers, how do I quantify this one? Since childhood I have painted and drawn, created and made things (much to my parents horror at times I am sure) just like most kids. Except that as I grew up and older, the need to self express did not wane, but grew. There were times when I did not do 'art' as much, like when I was breeding and doing my second degree by distance education (simultaneously - what was I thinking!) but the need to create leaked out in other ways, like my garden, decorating the house, dressing my kids in funky clothes, putting things into exhibitions and in local shows, and doing ace colouring in and painting with my kids.

Then a few years ago, external forces, beyond my control began to have a slow creeping and ultimately terrifically damaging effect on my life and well-being. I found myself in a world of sadness and loss, helplessness and despair. Luckily for me, I had my art and creativity to find solace in, and it was one of the main strategies I had to grain my confidence and get some balance back. 

It was this at this time that I had to stand back and take stock of what I really wanted in life. What I really needed in life... what was essential for me to be happy and healthy. Of course those things on my list - number 1, and 2, and 3 were critical. However it became patently obvious that what really made me passionate and fizzy inside, the thing that made me feel fulfilled in a way I could not adequately describe, was my art, photography, illustrating, collaging... all that making and creating. And how without it I feel hollow, and flat like a saggy old deflated balloon. So you see, that's why it is on my list, it really is essential for me.

Kosciuszko National Park, & an abstract watercolour inspired by  snow gum trees 


As a kid I travelled lots, and the thrill of going to new places has never left me. It does not matter if it is jut going for a drive down a country road not seen before, finding a new little village, or going to a big new city, it is all new and exciting. 

It's like going somewhere new makes me feel that my senses are all switched on, and that the everyday autopilot switches off. It's invigorating, and inspiring (like in number 3!), and often leads to something else (like number 4!). It also makes me appreciate coming home (number 2!). And even better when shared with family and friends( number 1!)

In the last few years I have been blessed with having the opportunity to go to some brilliant places, that now live like little movies in my head. It's amazing to think that all these places are in the one country!

I sat in Adelaide Central markets, sipping on a cappuccino and was bamboozled and blown away by it's hugeness, variety, cosmopolitan deliciousness(remember - I live in a small country town!).

I sat atop Mt. Wellington in Tasmania and was scoured to the bone by icy winds but wowed by the spectacular views of Hobart and beyond.

I walked through verdant rain forests in the hinterlands of Northern NSW, and in complete contrast hiked in Outback NSW and stood small and insignificant in its vastness and unyielding dry harshness. 

Outback NSW, and sketches done while camping in Mutawinji national Park

I walked in Kosciuszko National Park and breathed in crisp air (and gasped with my unfit lungs as I lurched to reached Mt. Kosciusko itself) and marvelled at the alpine flowers that I knew would disappear come Winter. Then a few weeks ago, I unexpectedly got to see and play in the snow just near home, at Orange and Bathurst.

I have stood with my lily white soft feet in the sand as salty water waves washed over them on the beach, while staying on the South Coast of NSW, witnessed my little brother's wedding (with divine coastal scenery) at Seal Rocks NSW, and  walked Nobby's breakwater with my kids in my hometown of Newcastle

coastal collage and watercolour, inspired by a beach on the South Coast NSW, and my son walking at Nobby's Beach, Newcastle

Closer to home, our escapes to Canberra,(only just over 2 hours way from us) both with and without the kids are always loved and appreciated, because we wander through art galleries, picnic by Lake Burly Griffin, and just enjoyed all the fantastic things this capital of Australia offers.
There was a day spent lounging on the beach and eating Messina gelato, and gorging at local eateries in Bondi, topped off by walking around with hubby in Sydney, at Circular Quay at night, looking at the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, all lit up  and twinkly, with that insane pride and thinking "THIS IS MY COUNTRY ISN'T IT BRILLIANT!"

All in all, a pretty good array of places to have visited, but rather than think... okay ... enough now... it just makes me want to see even more! And the best thing? My own little family shares this love and curiosity of the new. Perfect!

watercolour, comforts of home - says it all really!


I love people. I am a happy labrador type of person myself. I can talk underwater, under concrete, whatever the saying is. This aspect of my personality has caused me an amount of self-consciousness and embarrassment that is hard to shake. I am never sure whether people perceive me as happy and joyous or just annoying and too much. I read a blog post recently about how hard it is being an extrovert, and it left me gobsmacked that others feel like this too.

The irony is that although I do like people, I am actually far happier being on my own.

Without time alone to ponder, procrastinate, faff, think... I go rather icky. It is when the kids have gone to school, and hubby to work, that I have quiet time to process my ideas and re-balance, to create and imagine. At night time, when I tend to get a second wind, I stay up far, far later than I sensibly should, just because I like the stillness and quiet of being alone. I love it. Truly.

I really am  most comfortable when I am at home, pottering about, and have my own company to entertain. There is a part of me that recognises there is a strong hermit-like tendency within. It is not an accident that my hubby goes to the shops far more than I do! 

I worry that one day I will be that old crazy lady at home, who navigates her way through her collections, her stuff, her plants and her dead flowers, and stray cold cuppas in various stages of science  - like mildew production are littered amongst it all. I will slowly retreat from the real world until I evaporate like the desiccating flowers on the sideboard of life. Like a garden variety, far less magnificent and interesting Margaret Olley - type creature.

I am hoping that it is all the other essentials on my list - the family and friends, the new and travelling, the beauty and inspiration of beyond the front gate that will lure me out of home and my comfort zone, that these things keeps me making and creating - and prevent my complete withdrawal from the world. Because there is so much out there to love. 

Hold on. OH MY! I gosh! Oh dear! I have just realised something. Something really so obvious that I am astounded at my ignorance.I have missed one very very very important thing, completely forget to add to my list of essentials! 


You know, that thing that makes our heart pound, and gets us out of bed in the morning. The thing, the person, people, past-time, hobby, occupation, event, place, object, animal, experience...whatever... that we care about more than we understand? That is the thing. That is the essential thing that completes my list. The thing we all need. The one true essential. Right? 

As some famous dude sang...

(and maybe cheese!?)

Just a quick note:

This post was originally posted on the Kidspot website, and done as part of the #voices0f2015 blog challenge, for me as one of the TOP3 finalists. For this challenge I had to complete 4 blogs with the underlying theme of #shareaustralia.Find them here:

I also completed 3 blogs as part of the #fordthinking blog challenge. Each blog has a little film! Find them here:

I was also successful at securing a place as one of the #shareaustralia #mycornerofaustralia Finalists.Find the blog here:

If you would like to support my chances of securing a win in any of these categories, PLEASE go to the link and like, comment or SHARE. I would love you forever...and will send good karma MWAH's to you x

Thursday, 12 November 2015

#mychildhood #shareaustralia for Kidspot Voices of 2015

That's me swinging at my grandparents as a kid in the pink dress with chubby knees,with Dad and  some awesome red shoes, and  with the cat (looking not too pleased to be on the swing.) The others are my kids !

for Kidspot Voices of 2015

Childhood - that part of your life that is the bedrock for whatever follows. Where nature and nurture cannot be easily separated. Now as a parent myself, to 3 little people, the ENORMITY of how important this part of their life is is ever present. How the hell do we get it right? No manual came with my babies!

So we (hubby and I) cherry-pick the advice, ideas,  strategies, viewpoints and experiences that we think fit best, and hope like crazy we are doing okay. 

Now that I know how hard this parenting gig is, I look back on my own childhood and am gobsmacked at all the wonderful things my parents did for my siblings and I. I think YES, these are some of the things I want for my own kids, these are the things I want to emulate!

So I have. Mind you, it is a tall order - I am not exaggerating or boasting when I say that my childhood was one of those lucky ones. Safe, secure, a tight family unit with  parents who worked hard in good jobs. They were both teachers, and our house was full to the brim with art, books, souvenirs from travels, posters from exhibitions, galleries and museums we had been to, colour and loads of interesting curios. We had fantastic holidays, overseas and within Australia, we were always going off camping, having picnics and BBQ's, going for walks and seeing new things. It was a rich, lush tapestry of experiences. 

The black and whites are me as a bub with my Mum and Dad. That's me too with the roly poly thing looking like  I have my hand up answering a question. The other pics are my hubby and I with our son and middle daughter on picnics. So cute! ( I seem to like stripes?) By the way, see that teddy thing I am munching on in one of these pics, it was imaginatively called "Teddy". Remember it.

Today my siblings, like me, are creative and imaginative, with a lust and curiosity about the world, and I have to believe a lot of it came from the way we were raised. 

Even more amazing is that I was conceived while my mum was still a schoolgirl, and my dad a young Uni student. It was a shotgun wedding, with me as the facilitator of their union. 45 years later, these two though, (despite all the naysayers) are still in love, still married, committed,  having adventures, travelling the world and learning. Pretty great role models to have, don't you think? 

So please indulge me while I get a bit sentimental, and stroll down memory lane. I'd love you to come with me, really. I'll try not to bore you too much!

Imaginative kids... playing dress ups.From top left - Me as a kid (go the red high heels, my youngest (more red heels), my brother, my sister and I ( me on the bottom! ), my two adorable girls carrying on the tradition. 

My early years were spent around Maitland and Beresfield,(on the outskirts of Newcastle). I spent lots of time with my Paternal Grandparents in Maitland, being spoiled with love, sung to sleep in a rocking chair and playing with their black labrador, Snoopy. My Nan also managed a cinema, and I have vivid memories of being in the candy shop, the thrill of sneaking peeks at the movies, and being given the odd sly treat. Later, living in Beresfield highlights included hanging at the local pool and walking home through the Beresfield crematorium on a dare! Then, when  I was going into 4th class,at about age 9 we moved to Newcastle.

     The top photo on the left, is me with that Teddy I was munching on in another photo. It's that yellow thing. And that scary looking thing with the white eyes below that photo... that is Teddy today. Poor Teddy.These are momentous of my childhood - my Game boys, red sunglasses (my Great Grandmother and Aunty with me) postcard from my dad, a fan from Bali circa 1975, a sketch I did as a kid, a flower girl doll and some random lady my Mum and I in the dresses that match the doll from the same wedding.

My parents are still there, still living in the family home, on the edge of a brilliant nature reserve called Blackbutt. It is a green, native bush oasis, with picnic areas and walking tracks. It's a great place, and gets better every year, even now. Perfect for my greenie parents and lucky us - as kids we spent hours exploring there, pretending we were lost in some wild jungle, or making cubby houses, collecting bush tucker and hunting down wild animals(!)
      Climbing... me with the one red shoe, my son, and my two daughters.

Newcastle is a coastal town, so because it's only a short drive to the beach from the family home, my summers were inevitably spent hanging out at, Susan Gilmore (nudie!) Beach, Nobby's Beach... or some beach somewhere. Usually though it was Bar Beach. We would spend the day swimming, playing in rock pools, sticking our fingers into slimy anemones and watching them close up, collecting seastars, making castles and moats, jumping from rocks into waves, feeling the outgoing tide pull us around. We would get hot chips from the surf club drowning in sauce, and buy Splice ice blocks and Summer Rolls from the little shop near the car park on the way home. It was a cruisey way to spend the summer.

Beach memories - Terigal, Avoca, Kingscliff, Collaroy, Mystery Bay, Bar Beach, Fingal Bay. That's me in the middle row with the hairy bloke (Dad) and my Mum, and me trying to stop the paparazzi. The other photos are my hubby and I with our kids. And that's my dad now, wave jumping with my son.

I truly did not appreciate it at the time though, and as I became a teenager and self conscious, I actually loathed it with every fibre of my being. I hated wearing swimmers, and felt like everyone was looking at me and my awkwardly developing body. I hated the feel of sand stuck to my skin. I hated the tightness of sunburn, and I hated the way the rest of my family still loved it!

Then I moved away, far from this place, to where there is no beach and now I miss it.  When we go back to Newcastle, my heart is never fuller than when I watch my own kids jumping off the very same rock at Bar Beach that I did, and playing in the rock pools that I did. We buy hot chips and sit at Nobby's and watch the ships, and I feel nostalgic about my childhood. I breathe in the salt, and realise this nostalgia will  stay with me. I remind myself that I was  born in a hospital right on a beach in Newcastle(no longer there though, demolished after the Newcastle earthquake of 1989). So in my first week of life I would have breathed in that same salty Newcastle beach air. But I still hate wearing swimmers!

Going to the beach though was not the only family ritual. Some of my strongest childhood memories are of our camping trips, around bloody amazing and brilliant National Parks all over the place. Dharug, Warrumbungles, Crowdy Bay, Barrington Tops, Kanangra Boyd, Grampians, Myall Lakes, Oxley Wild Rivers, Warrabah, Lamington, Sturt, Fraser Island... these are just some of the of places we spent time at. 

Camping and hiking fun... from top left - My youngest daughter the grot, my sister Mum and I, me in the army poncho in the rain in the Grampians Nationa Park, Mum behind me, my sister sitting up higher, and last but not least my own little lovely family about to walk Cradle Mountain, Tasmania in the rain. We loved it! 

We camped and walked through rain forests, sand dunes, rocks, bush, dry desert, coastal heath, gibber rocks and salt lakes in rain, hail and sunshine. We went spotlighting at night (with me driving!) had raging campfires and ate lots of deb(mashed potato rehydrated with water...mmmmm...nom nom nom) and sucked back condensed milk in tubes.

Every school holidays, and most weekends, seemed to be some new adventure. Sometimes I longed to just stay home like other kids! But I always loved it, and I know how much this has added to my love and appreciation of nature, the environment, of wild places and my understanding that the world extends beyond the little space we live in during our everyday lives.

With this knowledge though comes the lure and desire to see the incredible wonders in our own country. This urge to get out and see it  has never diminished. With such a diversity of environments all around us, so many amazing places to explore, in a land so very vast(the only nation that is an entire continent, as well as being the largest island on Earth) even now, I love being a tourist in my own country.

And yes, I wish we did it more. I wish we had more money, more time, more energy. I also wish my kids looked out the window more... because yep, although I had GAMEBOYS to play with sometimes, in contrast these days I  battle with my kids over screens and devices continually. I am amazed at the way when we were kids, we just sat in the car, content to look out the window and daydream. It drives me TOTALLY BONKERS that my own kids can't seem to do that. And they do not spend hours outside, climbing trees, hanging about like ragamuffins in the street with other kids, rollerskating, riding my bike... you know, the things I did in my childhood. Sigh.

I remind myself though that we are doing the best we can. I remind myself that my kids are doing okay. That they do indeed do lots of the things that I did as a kid. We have travelled, including to Tassie numerous times, and Queensland. They go to their paternal grandparents and help Poppa in the garden, and pick flowers and go on swings. My girls go and raid their Nanna's garden. Just as I did, when I tenderly picked all my grandmother's geraniums, offering them up as gifts, graciously accepted despite me having denuded the entire garden! My lucky kids spend time with my parents too, who take them to zoos, galleries and museums, theatre shows bike rides, bush walks and mini-adventures.

From top left- my middle daughter as a flower girl at my her Aunty (my sister's) wedding, me as a flower girl at my Aunty's wedding, Mum and Dad and I at a garden wedding, and my little tribe in Tasmania at my sister's beautiful wedding. My kidshad just been found sneaking and eating all the chocolate from the table treats !

We go camping too, replicating my own adventures. Around Easter last year we embarked on a road trip to Broken Hill with my parents. 

Broken Hill is totally fascinating, and is Australia's first national heritage listed city, but what made going here truly meaningful to us, even more exciting, was that my maternal grandfather spent his own childhood here. As a family we discovered my great grandparent's grave, saw the school grandpa had attended, and found the location where my grandfather grew up between Broken Hill and Silverton ( Australia'a outback Hollywood!) I built a little sculpture there, and laid some bleached bones down as a tribute to them. 

His parents, my great grandparents, did it tough in that beautiful, sparse, harsh place. Grandpa rode to ride to school on a bike with rope tyres, 25km each way! It really put it into perspectives how cushy my own childhood was, my kids childhood too... and they got it. We sat and watched the sun go down together, my kids and I, discussing what it would have been like to live there, with the bazillion flies, and heat and cold. And no screens.

Outback adventures - from top left-my feet, me sitting on a sand dune, my youngest at sunset, my eldest reaching a summit on a walk in Mutawinji National park, bleached bones for remembering, my dad and my middle daughter,creek bed walking both in Mootwingee, campfire breakfast in tupperware bowls circa 1985, temporary sculpture, I made last year near the place my grandfather lived outside of broken Hill .

A few days later we camped and hiked in the rugged Mutawinji National Park, rich in Aboriginal culture and dominated by the rocky Bynguano Range. The rusty cogs turned,jarring in my brain memories, sights and sounds...  from when we did similar things in my youth. Seeing my kids here - No wifi, not a device in sight, grotty with red dirt, spotting roos, getting firewood, toasting marshmallows around the campfire... was awesome sauce.  Brilliant.

But that's not the only thing we have done that harks back to my childhood. For example.. .

We've taken them overseas too, and are soon to head off on another trip.

Our house is full to bursting with books, colour, art, curios and interesting things.

We take them to the beach(okay, not as much as I used to go there as a kid...)as often as we can.

We take them to galleries, museums and on picnics.

I yell at them to "Shut that bloody door, you were not born in a tent!" the way my mum did. 

I nag them continually to clean their rooms(oh mum, I am so sorry...guess you call this sweet karma!)

Perhaps the weirdest thing, or funniest, is that my Dad was a high school teacher. Guess what my husband is? My mum was a primary teacher. Guess what I do? Yep, same same. Freaky.

Overseas memories - top left, getting familiar with local wildlife - monkey on my back, Indonesia, my kids on an elephant, Thailand. My brother and I with a local Javanese lady, my kids with our tuk-tuk driver, Bangkok.

And yet... we live very differently my parents too.Of course.Hubby and I have chosen a different path in many ways, with different influences, and different choices. And that's okay. We are doing the best we can in our very own way. There are many many things about me that my parents do not understand, that are not part of the way I was brought up, as I have gone on to become my own person, still finding my way. Still stumbling through parenthood and life. 

But in my heart, my soul, my bones... there is always that hankering to be in the bush, to travel, to camp, to have books around me, to fill my space with memories, to collect them, to have my family around me. And I know that my childhood is the reason I see things like I do. I know that. 

And I am so grateful, so very, very grateful.

PS. On that trip to Broken Hill... we bought home a little souvenir. A puppy. A black labrador. Just like the one my Granparents had. Fancy that. And you know, I did not even realise until later. Sigmund would have a field day!