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30 July 2013

Sleepy? Me?

It's after midnight.  I'm still up, and my mind still ticks away.  I just did my dishes, and tidied up a bit, and watched (I love this fancy iView thing my brother hooked up) the Nathan Tinkler Four Corners report.   And then, because I didn't feel like going to bed quite yet, I returned to wrestle with my Walkley Awards entry.  Single image, or put a few in.....  It's tricky, v tricky...  Do they need more work?  I don't know..There are no easy answers to be had at this time of night.

29 July 2013

Awards and a Jumping Lesson

I had my jumping lesson this morning with Grant. Was I stupidly pleased to see Snips? That's a definite yes. I'm getting very fond of this boy. It is a very bad habit of mine. I'd forgotten to grab his carrots out of the fridge before I left home. But I was rescued by the box of sugar cubes I has successfully planted in my handbag for Freelance. And I'm happy to report that Snips is a horse who knows about the humble sugar cube. Good boy!!  I gave him a couple just as I got on, and after this he kept turning his head hopefully back towards me while I was on top of him. But I didn't think Grant would approve of mid lesson sugars so I resisted the urge to lean forward and give him while before we got serious.  But I was sorely tempted.

Having only ridden once in the last 3 and a half weeks I didn't feel super balanced to begin with. But Grant said we did great and that is ridden him much better than last time and he thinks we are getting better. So I was v pleased with that.

I still get my lefts and rights hopelessly confused and Grant thinks it is funny that I have to be already on the rein I'm going to start an exercise on because I can't visualise it and then I get it back the front. So when Grant is giving me my "course" instructions and the course starts with me riding on the left rein, I have to be already riding Snips on the left rein to be able to understand the instructions and which jumps I'm doing and from which direction. If I'm not I bugger it up.

Snips and I had a big cuddle when we finished, and I gave him the remaining sugars cubes from my pocket. He's gorgeous. As I left and paid for my lesson I laughed to the girls in the office that Grant said I am getting better not worse.  And I admit that I think about Snips quite a lot.

After my lesson I had some work to get through. And I have finally started my Walkley Award entry. But that narrowing down thingy..... It kills me! There are a few stand out images that are easy to choose. But with others I find myself saying "this one, or this one??? What about that one? Oh dear, but she looks lovely in this one too?? Now what???"

I am half way through one entry, and am trying to pick which beach image to include. I am truly terrible. I like too many of them. Just because of the subtle differences in The Famous Pony in each image. I took these beach images on 24th of January this year. A tough day.

I've also got some re-photoshopping and/or touching up to do to make some of the images look their best. Which will keep me out of trouble. And I'm getting my 2012-2013 Tax Return done nice and early, with my appointment already booked in for a fortnight's time. Who's impressed????

I stretch my aching left arm and shoulder. Yes. Snips is still heavy on that left rein. I haven't mastered that yet. But it did feel a bit better than last time. Which, seeing I haven't ridden in a few weeks, is probably a good sign.

28 July 2013

Giving up in despair?

There are days where I think I'm back at square one.  And I've really made no progress in the last 6 months. But mornings like today, when nothing seem to go quite right, only adds to my sense of frustration.  I'm working on a couple of projects.  They require concentration.  And that's hard to come by some days.  And it's not just because I get interrupted by my children every 90 seconds, but also by my own thoughts.  And in addition to the few software hiccups and errors, when I just can't work out how to do something, it's easy to feel that nothing is going right.  Or perhaps it was walking by, after an attempt at straightening up the house, and looking at the new equipment I've bought but haven't used yet.  I'm still to take it all out of it's bags and then work out how to put it all together, without that guiding voice or that truly ace ability that some luck people have that allows them to instantly guess (correctly!) which way something goes into something else.  My ability at this frequently reduces others to tears of laughter, and they shake their head and say 'Bron, that wasn't even close'.  I guess it's just one of those days, and one of those periods where it feels difficult.   

So I'm trying to take a deep breath, and I've decided that washing my hair and heading out with my brother is the best thing to do.

Until we leave we've put the music on the iPhone on our little player (we really wish we had one that went a bit louder for these days), and Heath's chosen one of the new songs that I've downloaded recently, Rudimental's "Feel the Love" - it's funky and dancy, and we love it....


It's now Sunday afternoon.  Late.  Again, my bins are out and I'm finishing the washing for the weekend.  And I am again sitting, with my lovely MacBook on my lap, on my front step (with a cushion because it's cold and there's no sun) while Maxie plays outside.  My new laptop doesn't make my head hurt, although the program I am working on at the moment is another matter completely.  It's absolutely making my head hurt, by refusing to add any more than one image at a time to the library I'm uploading to.  And that is annoying the heck out of me!

Maxie as usual ran bounding and purring up to me when he knew we were going outside, by the little soft jangle of his bell on his harness.  I've had to unwind him from the rose bush, while muttering "If I get thorns in my hands when I'm next lungeing Freelance you're in trouble Maxie...", but he's playing very happily out here.

I had a nice lunch with my brother et al, and my gorgeous friend rang and we had a chat for half an hour, about many things.  She and I do lots of things together, not just work related, and apart from being a fiercely loyal friend, she's great fun, a terrific judge of character (better than I am it would appear) and wise counsel as well.  I also had a good talk with my lovely uncle as well.

My friend Kaylene, who's paddock Freelance is sharing at present, took Freelance's rugs off this morning, and the mare's had a nice 'naked' day today.  And she nickered in delight when she saw me (ok, that's because it's also dinner time, I know, I know...).  Heath finally cleaned up his room, and Jessica did a nice job too.

Tonight I have some work to finish, and I've begun work on some books which will be gifts for some special people.  So I hope that their software program is less temperamental this evening than it was earlier today.  I'm using a different company at the moment, because I like the quality.  I have some other books to do minor adjustments to in the next week or so, so that I can run new copies off.

One of these companies now has an Adobe Lightroom Plug-In and templates.  Ok, ok...  I can hear you ask, have you got your head around Lightroom yet??????????   Don't ask, is my reply, and I'm sure you probably know that the answer is that it's still in my 'too hard' tray.  I hate that tray!  Trying to empty it, bit by bit!

Tomorrow is a Busy Day.  Starting off with my showjumping lesson with Grant.  It's been 3 weeks since I last jumped and saw Snips.  Lets hope I don't fall off..  Legs on.  Riding positively.  Forward into the jumps.  Don't be a chicken!  And don't let him take off on me!  

27 July 2013

New books, and a key ring to die for..

I'm not sure that I've achieved all that much today.  I decided against taking the camera to soccer today, because I wanted to call in at Myer to try to get the kids some clothes and some shoes, seeing as they had their final markdowns on a lot of things.  And we called in to the ABC Shop, which is always fun, just for good measure. 

I bought a couple of books published by ABC Books.  One is Shane Jacobsen's new book "The Long Road to Overnight Success".  I love him as an actor, he's ace, and he's also in one of my favourite shows that's currently on ABC, called The Time of Their Lives (mostly I watch it on iView after my brother set up the clever networky extender thingy, that connects into the posh Blue Ray DVD player that he also gave us as another hand-me-down.  

I really need to start sitting down with a good book, especially at night, and I've loved working with the team at ABC Books so much over this past 12 months, so buying 2 books published by them seemed like a great idea.  I also bought a super cool diecast Dalek keyring, which we all (ESPECIALLY Heath!) think is ace. 

I let the kids choose something small from Myer, and while I was waiting for them, I phoned a friend in Melbourne.  I like the the fact that even though he is almost always very busy he almost always answers my phone call, and he phones me back if he was too busy when I called.  It's a nicer experience than being friends with people who only ever bother to talk via lazier mediums, like text messages, emails or other messaging mediums, or who don't even bother to answer a message.

26 July 2013

Getting Back in the Saddle?

I'm sitting watching Jessica ride. The last of the sunshine is gone and it feels very cold all of a sudden. The white pony, Tinsel, she's riding has reminded me, as I pick the long white hairs off my black jumper, not to buy a grey horse.

The last couple of days have felt a little gloomy, and today I found myself struggling with that subject of getting back in the saddle.  It was cold and foggy this morning and my neck has been pinching and sore.  I have to admit the cold, on top of the 3 week break in my routine and my riding, made me feel like making excuses, initially telling myself my day was too busy to work Freelance. But not doing the things you know will make you feel better, because you're too complacent, tentative or just feeling downcast doesn't do me any good. My show jumping lesson had already been cancelled on Monday because Grant was busy. 

First I tried to stay focused on my bookwork for a couple of hours, and tried not to look at things that only make me feel yukky. Then after lunch I rounded up my saddle, bridle, lungeing and grooming things (yes with the lovely Black Caviar kit) and, with the sun now shining brightly, I hopped in Dan, patted his dashboard and drove to the paddock.

Freelance is still in Rosie's paddock. And we're still working out the best way of doing things. Rosie carried on as we left. Freelance was jumpy but not too silly and we headed for the arena. Watching the tremendous sets of bucks she kept doing made me glad I hadn't tried to be a hero by just jumping straight on her. We all know how that would have ended.

She was so fresh and silly, and so prone to bucking that I had to make her work hard, and keep her concentrating on the lunge. Lots of little then big circles.  And lots of transitions.  She kept wanting to look, bog eyed, into the monster's corner, and each time she did and then bucked, she had to work on a smaller circle, and use her hindquarters.  After about 30 mins on the lunge i jumped on her.

My physio had suggested this morning, that due to my pinched nerve, perhaps I should only ride for 10 mins. This is easier said than done when the mare decides she is up to no good. Truth be told, when I did get on, she wasn't all bad. But we went full arena, that made her want to duck and weave at her own reflection in the mirrors. Then she determinedly wanted to canter on the spot when I changed rein across the diagonal and we changed to that dodgy left side of mine.

Finally I said "OH JUST GO FORWARD!!" and put my legs on her, and she said said, mutinously and through clenched teeth,  "I can't!!!  Oh maybe I might" and then finally "Oh ok, I will". And I thought on the whole, we did pretty well, and she finished off with a long rein in the trot on a circle, with that lovely bouncy stretching down trot that tells me she's worked properly for me, and then we hurried back.And yes, of course I feel much better for riding. 


I'm sitting at my desk, with a cup of tea and a Harry Potter DVD on (ok, so I don't feel like anything complicated tonight), while Maxie plays with a pipe cleaner that the kids haven't packed up from their craft box.  I'm going through the images in a book being published soon.  It's an amazing book. 

25 July 2013

Bookwork and that Driving in Huge Circles Thing

Ok...  Yes.. I am trying to find excuses not to concentrate.  Ah ha!  You've guessed correctly, it must be because I am doing bookwork and data entry, and you are absolutely right, it is again boring me stupid.  And it's providing the usual little reminders, some pleasant, some not so pleasant, of where we've been and what we've been doing.  

I am, again, reminded that it is Northland, NOT Northlands..  And entering the receipt from the Croydon Hotel where we had the Christmas in July lunch made me pause to smile wryly about getting lost on the way home due to that completely non-existent internal compass.  

I'd stayed talking to my cousin Tim, and promptly forgotten to ask how I got home.  It was pouring rain and my iPhone had run completely flat by using Apple Maps on the way there with the kids using the power port for their DVD player.  I sat in the car for 5 minutes waiting patiently (ok, that's a complete lie because I don't really ever do anything patiently.....) for it to charge up enough to turn on, so that I could use my Apple Maps to tell me which way to turn out of the Hotel's front entrance so that I was kind of sort of heading the right way.  

The iPhone seemed to be taking forever and the kids were getting impatient about getting to their cousins' house, so in the end I drove off thinking 'how hard can it be, left or right??' I paused, then hopefully turned left and kept heading up the Maroondah Highway thinking I was heading in the right direction, and that I'd see a sign soon for a suburb I recognised and I could wing it...  Wrong.....

I didn't see a single suburb name that was even remotely familiar.  It was still pouring with rain, and getting late.  Finally my iPhone lurched back to life, and so I pulled over into these cool service off road side streety things, entered the iPhone's security code thingy, and launched Apple Maps.  I then discovered I was heading completely in the wrong direction, absolutely all upside down and back the front.  Are you surprised????????  Probably not a bit... So I did my allowable 1 u-Turn, and followed Apple Maps back to my sister's house.

Incidentally, you'll also probably laugh out loud, like Lyn did, when I admitted to driving back from Rosebud to Main Ridge not via the suggested Apple Maps route, but by insisting on going back to the freeway, and then back around the White Hill Road way as if I was coming from Melbourne.  Because that's the way I know, right????  A great big circle???? You bet it was....

Speaking of big trips and driving in circles, I'm again in the planning process for the Stallion Parade Weekend at the end of August.  As usual it makes my head hurt a little bit in the planning, but one the plus side, at least I know my way there and I know my way back, and that should mean no big circles and no u-turns..  Good plan?  It will be really great to see all my friends at Darley's Kelvinside Stud.  They are great people, and I'm sure they will be buoyed by the visit of The Famous Pony.  It's 2 months since I've seen her. There are times I miss her so much that it makes me ache.   I don't like counting how many days or months it's been between seeing people or animals that mean a lot to me.

I'm thinking of running a little competition, with a great photo of The Famous Pony as the prize, for the best (ie nicest and funniest) comment and guess of how many extra kms the Famous Dan has had to do as a result of my Huge Circles bad habit.  But they can only be nice or funny comments. Because I am really very nice..  No mean ones that say 'stupid!'  It should be a bit like guessing how many jelly beans are in the jar, right????

Here's the maths..  Dan joined me in May 2003, with only 81,000km on his Speed-O-Meter thingy.  Ten years on, he's up to about 344,000 (give or take a little bit!).  I do lots of kms chasing Ponies.  How many did I add through unnecessary big circles?  It's tricky, v tricky???  Humm..  maybe I should post it on my FB page too...

The lovely Dan during our travels.  He's nearing 350,000kms.  I'm sure I can hear him mutter mutinously under his breath 'wrong way stupid' when my non-existent compass mucks me up utterly.

The More Joyous Saga - Part II.

The More Joyous Saga found itself back in the limelight yesterday.  It's not my role, or desire, to weigh into the debate.  However the 2nd installment of this saga was because it came to light that More Joyous went into the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes on Golden Slipper day, as a $1.70 favourite, after not being able to gallop all week due to a hoof abscess.

I realise that there are degrees of seriousness to hoof abcesses.  My 2nd riding/dressage horse, and ex-racer thoroughbred had one once.  Wow...  He was as lame as a duck!!!  Incidentally, that's a funny saying really, isn't it?  Ducks never strike me as looking particularly lame, but they certainly waddle as well as the next overweight person.  Waddling looks cute in a duck though..  Anyway, back to my lame horse..  He couldn't put an ounce of weight on it and was pathetically miserable.  Once the farrier burst and drained the abcess, he was instantly more conmfortable.  However the foot still required significant treatment, poulticing and bandaging, and I'm pretty sure he needed antibiotics.  He also had the best part of a week off work, and was confined to a yard.  So I kind of feel I know a little bit about the subject.

This was the quote from Gai Waterhouse the day before the race:
"Singo's mare More Joyous will be a worthy odds-on chance in the Group One Queen of the Turf. What a perennial star she is.  Under the set weight conditions, only bad luck will beat her.  She is too good".  Gai Waterhouse.  5 April 2013.
More Joyous did not win the race, and mostly opinion seemed to be united in that bad luck stopped her from winning after a chequered run in transit.  This is a summary of the race:
"Nash Rawiller has had many magic moments on More Joyous (NZ) but Saturday was not one of them when he was unable to force a passage through a wall of horses in the Group 1 Inglis Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1500m).  Past achievements do not open doors on the racetrack and there was certainly no door to be even opened for Rawiller. He might have been better to have gone outside and around to achieve the aim." Rob Burnett.  7 April 2013.
Of course More Joyous later ran terribly in the G1 All Aged Stakes and was at the centre of the spectacular ending to the long and close friendship between Gai Waterhouse and John Singleton.

On the subject of relationships and friendships, last night I watched two clever and funny send ups of  Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull on the ABC's Wednesday Night Fever.  And I found myself recalling this comment from the current Leader of the Opposition:
"TONY ABBOTT: If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband. Not withstanding all his or her faults, you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss."
Is Tony Abbott right about this?????   Should we keep friends, jobs or relationship that are bad and/or toxic?  Surely if we do we inadvertently perpetuating the behaviour, because accepting the behaviour means you're ok with it?  That doesn't strike me as good for anyone if you consider below:
"Life requires consequences and it is the only way that we learn from our actions and get to connect the dots with what results... Shady folk don’t experience enough natural consequences. If they did, they’d have to address their issues. Instead, where one person won’t put up with their behaviour, someone else will.... There are no negative consequences".
Of course I'm not implying or suggesting Gai Waterhouse is shady.  That's not my place.  Personally I like Gai.  She's always warm and friendly to me.  Should the public have been made aware of More Joyous' problems?  Given that she started at $1.70, at the risk of taking sides, I think they should have.  We'll never know if she'd have won the race anyway because she got cluttered up in traffic and most analysis said this cost her the race.  But knowing about the absence and the missed trackwork and lameness, there's a little question mark in my head now that wonders had she gotten a better run in transit, perhaps with the issues she'd experienced she wouldn't have beaten Appearance anyway?

24 July 2013

Which Boy?

I'm sitting in the car with Jessica while Heath is at soccer training. He's in the next pitch over and the light is dimmer and I have trouble making him out. And Jessica and I find it too cold to stand and watch on the sidelines. My eyes are beginning to struggle a tiny bit in dim light. Too many hours squinting through a view finder, and then negative and/or computer screen I guess. These days when we drive on the highway I prefer to have the trip over and done with by dark. Particularly when there's no back up driver. And sadly more often than not there is no one to share the driving with.

I have to try to remember to watch Gerard Whateley's football show at 7.30pm tonight (please don't ask me to remember what it's called, I know you know I cannot remember it), and watch the announcement of which stallion has been chosen for the great Black Caviar, in what will be her first year at stud.

Black Caviar is not an ordinary horse, is she? She is Extraordinary. As Gerard frequently reminds us, in that lovely eloquent speak he has become renowned for. His voice, when speaking, has a gentle tone. He is articulate. Well educated and researched.


It was indeed Exceed and Excel

Short listed:  Casino Prince (Flying Spur - Lady Capel).  Sire of All Too Hard.
Short listed:  Fastnet Rock (Danehill - Piccadilly Circus).  Coolmore Australia.

Short listed:  More Than Ready (Southern Halo - Woodman's Girl).  My Prince..  Vinery Stud.

Short Listed:  Redoute's Choice (Danehill - Shantha's Choice).  "My Boy".. Arrowfield Stud.
  And below his son, Not a Single Doubt (Redoute's Choice - Singles Bar)

AND THE WINNER WAS?  EXCEED AND EXCEL (Danehill - Patrona).  Darley Australia.

Black Caviar. 

22 July 2013

The Creamy Kitty

My creamy kitty Maxie was overjoyed to see us when we walked through the door last night.  He's been well cared for by my terrific neighbours, but these long trips are hard.  He was like glue last night.  Wherever I went, he went, as a constant, purring, kitty on my lap.  This is him today helping me with the washing, which there seemed to be loads of.  

Yes, my washing and housework still lacks finesse.  As always, my defence is that you can't be good at everything.  However the groceries have been done, all the washing done, and the horse fed.  I'm trying to get through the mountain of things I have to get through.  And Maxie has just made it harder for me to type, by joining me at my desk again, and sitting purring on my lap.

This afternoon the kids and I watched one of my favourite movies from when I was growing up, the rabbit story Watership Down.  The kids have gotten very keen on rabbits since our trip.  And this evening we started reading the book as our night time story.  I'm insanely pleased to be reading it again.  And they are loving it, and asking lots of questions about the world of the rabbits in Watership Down.  They particularly like the use of 'rah' at the end of the rabbit who becomes Chief Rabbit's name. 

No, I am not the sort of person who could ever be accused of wanting to do mean things to rabbits.  I know that they (in the wild) are pests and a real problem and need controlling.  But I always get excited when I see a rabbit on my paddock trips.  And when I used to work at CSIRO, I really liked the fact that a little rabbit that took up residence outside my office window.

Maxie helps me do the washing.  He actually looks quite 'blue' in some light, and then beautifully creamy in other lights.

21 July 2013

The Road to Gundagai

We are at Gundagai. The kids were given $10 each by my lovely cousin Simon, who we kept bumping into at Phillip Island, so we are in the gift shop at The Dog on the Tuckerbox.

The river at Gundagai is full still. Many of the rivers have been full actually. It's been v cold the whole way home. Dan puts his heart into it as he battles the strong head wind. We've broken the back of it now, but the kids are over it and I'm tired. Jessica has chosen a clever pen, a couple of crystals and a lantern pencil. And as usual poor Heath is agonizing over his choice and taking forever.

20 July 2013

Family Days, Farm Days, and Christmas in July Days

The kids are tucked in bed.  We're at my sister's house for the last night of our Melbourne Trip.  And heading home on the Highway to the cold that will be Canberra.  The drive home is the gloomiest part of our trip, and we are all always sad to be heading north on the Hume Highway. Will I sleep tonight?  I can only hope, as it is a long drive home.

We spent a really great 3 days on my friend Lyn's farm on the Peninsula.  The kids just thrived.  You can see it in their faces.  What a great part of the world.  I've been struck by how much importance is placed on outdoor, sporting, environmental, music and animal activities at all the schools we visited.  And by the sheer quality of them.  And spending time with Lyn and all our animals was  lovely and gave us our much needed horsey fix.  

The weather turned truly evil, and the riding didn't happen.  But we did lots of fun things anyway, with the ride on the quad bike around the farm feeding all the animals a huge hit.  I took lots of photos, which Lyn loved, because her animals and precious to her and Neil.  Lyn spent lots of time with my kids, and they respond so well to her (who doesn't respond well to Lyn, she's a great friend and person, and immensely talented artist).  She spent a lot of time stressing kindness to Heath with animals, and Neil spent a lot of time with Heath the morning we left.

On leaving Lyn's house I paused to check Facebook briefly as I'd had a couple of messages come in. One of my friends had posted a cute photograph of his new family goat, which had wandered onto his balcony.  I've been to his farm, it's ace, and he's terrific. I scowled angrily at a couple of stupid comments suggesting goat curry would be a good idea.  I suppose it was supposed to be funny, but a small part of me wanted to suggest rug-rat soup instead of the goat curry, but that seemed unfair on innocent rug-rats.  Perhaps I was just being snarly and sensitive.

We drove in the heavy rain to Croydon, where we went to the McInerney Family Christmas in July lunch.  Being isolated in Canberra has made keeping in touch harder, and most of my cousins I've seen once or twice in 15 years.  We've all got multiple children now, and it was a really ace get together.  My aunt Anne was funny.  She kept introducing me as 'she's the famous photographer, you know, the Black Caviar photographer'.  I'm not sure I'm all that famous, but it made me remember getting her text message from the stamp show, saying "I'm a very proud aunty standing in the line to buy your stamp and Gerard's book", and telling everyone around her that her niece took the photo on the stamp they were all buying.  I had a great chat with a couple of my cousins who work in similar fields to me (one's a photographer as well, and two of my Heffernan cousins worked/work in the media industry), and it's always amazing when you discover you know a  lot of the same people.

Speaking of rug-rats.  I went over to our little home away from home to collect a few stray things we'd left behind.  Lottie, the cocker spaniel, or perhaps King Charles spaniel (note - I am not a dog expert), leapt up into my arms in delight.  And I have to admit, I was stupidly pleased to see her!!!!!  Of course I am missing Maxie off the scale, but it was nice to see Lottie.  She spent the entire time I was there trying to be in my arms, and I was much softer on her than I'd been, and let her jump up on me, just because I was pleased to see her.  It was lovely to meet Verity, but I can't believe that my sister didn't remind me that she's married to the brother of a pretty cool and handsome Australian actor.   I kept looking at him thinking 'now who does he look like?', yes, my memory still works like a sieve at times...

The famous Dan, my little Jessica outside the famous Kingston Park Stud.  Birthplace of my hero.  The mighty champion Kingston Town.  Note how I had to take a photo with Dan in it..

I think we need a mailbox like this...

Lottie..   'our' little rug rat.  Hopefully no one wants to make rug rat soup or curry jokes about her.

Rug Rat...   Lottie..  She learnt not to pull on the walks with me.  After the sheer power that used to be Buzzi and Jilly, she was a breeze...  I had to have a little laugh at Verity's gorgeous note, warning me that she pulls and that they hoped she wouldn't pull me over.

the very tough but also soft and friendly (on his terms!) Astroid