Sunday, May 27, 2012

Doubly Blessed

Ever since I can remember I have wanted my own piece of NZ Jade - or Greenstone/Pounamu as it is called here. I recall as a child looking at a wonderful piece my grandmother had in her jewelry collection & later wondering what happened to that when she passed away.

Recently I expressed my desire to have something to take with me to Australia & my two wonderful sons bought me this gorgeous piece of carved Greenstone/Pounamu - a Fish Hook (Hei-Matau) with a Fern frond (Koru) worked into it. 

All I knew was that I wanted a Hei-Matau & it wasn't until after this piece chose me that I realised there was a Koru worked into it as well.

When I was told of the traditional Maori meaning of the two symbols worked into this piece I understood why this piece had caught my eye &, more importantly, that of my son.

Hei-Matau, the fish hook, represents strength & prosperity and is said to represent good luck and safety when travelling over water.

The Koru, or fern frond, represents peace and tranquillity along with a strong sense of regrowth or new beginnings. 

There is a long history surrounding Pounamu & requirements that must be met before it can be sold. According to ancient lore it should be gifted....with love.

For a lovely excerpt from a Barry Brailsfords Book "The Story of Pounamu The Sacred Stone of Aotearoa"  scroll down the page in the link.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happy Birthday & Welcome Home

My baby boy turns 27 as this publishes (all going well). At 6.03 am on ANZAC Day, 1985 he made his debut into this world.
This ANZAC Day he arrives back home from a 7 1/2 month deployment in Afghanistan. I can't wait to see him!!

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!!
I love you to pieces!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You'd Admit to a Woman?

Sometimes it is really just too darn difficult to take some men seriously. Honestly - it is!
This isn't me being sexist, or manist or whatever other 'ist' you can think of. This is me telling a true story of two men and a washing machine.... or is that four men?

It all began a week or so back when I put my washing machine up for auction (or Buy Now) on our local auction website. Someone hit the Buy Now button the day after I listed it & duly rang me a day later to arrange pick up. I gave him my address & asked what day he wanted to come - which typically was the day everyone else seemed to want to do their pick-ups of some of the larger items I've been selling.....same time too. What is it about 11.00am anyway??

The next day 11.00am rolled around & the lady who had bought my two huge yuccas had been & gone, the people that wanted to pick up the upright freezer arrived & paid,  the guy that had bought my scroll saw arrived & paid...& so on. I even sold another couple of things with out having to list them - so far so good.

Mr washing machine man still hadn't turned up at lunch time..... just before 1.00pm the phone rang with him asking for the street name again. Why,  because they were out the other side of town in the wrong street. Apparently NavMan said there was no such street as mine..but I guess that depends on how you spell it.
Now, how hard is it to spell Palm? Obviously quite difficult because I had to spell it out for him.... 4 times. After he repeated it to me correctly it was only a matter of a few minutes before they were pulling into my driveway, handing over the cash & loading up the washing machine into the back of their van. So far so good!

Two days later I get a phone call saying the washing machine wasn't working. UGH! I asked him what it wasn't doing - was it not filling, washing but not spinning, not draining or what?... ( symptoms guys - I need symptoms!!)

The response: It's not working & we didn't drop it or anything.(how reassuring)
Me: Is it filling?
Mr Wmm: It's starts to, but then it stops & does nothing.
Me: OK, have you tried changing the inlet hoses over (thinking he could have them the wrong way around)
Mr Wmm: What good is that going to do? I just want to do some washing!

By this stage I was somewhat exasperated & figured if he had to ask then it was no good trying to explain that it would "make the darn thing work". 

I asked for his address & offered to go over & see what it was doing. I was informed that would be good - but it would have to be the next day as he was busy....any time after 1.00pm would suit. No thank you, no nothing. Hmmmmm!!

As it turned out at 1.00pm the next day I was waiting for someone to arrive to pick up some plants - they were late. The phone rang & Mr Wmm quite bluntly stated that he was waiting to go out & I'd said I'd be there at 1.00pm. Say what??? Well shoot, I corrected him on that one!

I duly trotted over to look at the delinquent washing machine. Turned it on & voilĂ ' no sound of water going into it at all. I turned it off, turned off the taps at the wall, pulled it out & swapped over the inlet hoses - while he stood there & once again said "what difference will that make? water's water". I just bit my tongue,  hid my smile & said "We'll see", as I pushed the machine back in, turned it one & put it through it's paces.

It filled & ran perfectly - it isn't called a "SmartDrive" for nothing  .

There was still no "Thank you" forthcoming. However what he said next made up for it because it's made me smile every time I think about it for the past  few days...

"I don't know how you did that, four of us guys stood here trying to figure out how changing the hoses would make a difference......"

You'd admit to that?? To a woman who has just fixed your washing machine by doing what she suggested you try in the first place??

Well there's your problem - Do, or Do Not. There is no try . 

Gratuitous car shot - because this is far nicer than a photo of a washing machine.
And I need it!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Moving to Morocco

 Life, such as it is, seems to be happening around me. While I've been sorting, minimising & packing I've had a lot of outside influences to factor into my choices of what to take with me, what things need me to find another place to store them here & what to let go of completely.

It's almost 6 weeks since I first started on this post at the beginning of March & I still find the title apt for the way I have come to think of things. 

It would be far easier if I were moving to Morocco - or anywhere in the world where the culture was significantly different to here. For my purposes I'm saying Morocco because I have wanted to go there ever since I can remember....along with pretty much everywhere else in North Africa.

As I have sifted through 'stuff', with vague recollections wanting to be an archaeologist at some point in my childhood, I've realised the decision making on pretty much every level would be a lot easier if I were moving somewhere that wasn't quite so 'westernised'. It's difficult not to make comparisons between New Zealand & Australia as our cultures & lifestyles are very similar. 

We have homes & we fill them with stuff. A lot of that stuff is electronics & appliances. So while I'm making decisions I can rationalise taking "such & such" as I have a whole container to fill & if I leave it I will just have to replace it on the other side of the ditch which will end up costing me more than the space that it takes in the container.

Now if I were going to Morocco to live,  a whole heap of that very same stuff would be superfluous.Even if it wasn't & could be used there, I know in my heart that I wouldn't want to take it as I'd rather immerse myself in their culture & do things in the way of their culture.

Perhaps I'd ship over my torches & a bit of glass, some metalworking tools & such - but that would be about it.

Me, a backpack, a few items of clothing (because it'd be wrong to travel naked & could cause a whole heap of hold ups - not to mention mass exodus at airports & traumatized passengers), a laptop & my camera.

 Dammit - I wish I was going to Morocco!

Monday, March 26, 2012

"How does one become a butterfly?"...

she asked. "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."~Anonymous

Imagine spending your days flying around, alighting on flowers & drifting on gentle air currents (yes - I am studiously ignoring any negatives here!!). Butterflies transfix me, sighting one will cause me to be still, almost holding my breath without realising I am doing so, & just watch. And I could watch for hours, gentle, silent, beautiful creatures that could teach us humans a lesson or two .....& have if we stop to think about it.

If nothing ever changed there'd be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown

"The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.  ~Rabindranath Tagore

When I grow up - I want to be a butterfly. Besides being able to fly, be free & for the most part beautiful,  they get to hang around a whole heap of orange from what I observed today ;) Rarely do we get to see admirals & monarchs at the same time so they must be attracted to this plant.

And with that Deb quietly toddles off to bed making a mental note to plant some Tithonia rotundifolia in her next garden.....

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Keeper Of The Memories

I do not hoard!! I accumulate stuff! OK, so sometimes I find that stuff hard to get rid of...just in case I might want to use it again/ fit back into it/ need it/re-appropriate it for some other use. But I do not hoard.

It became obvious when I got my first quote to ship my 'stuff' across the ditch to Australia that quite a bit was going to have to go. I'd already decided that the beds, my big ass lounge suite, the freezer, washing machine & one lot of bookshelves weren't going with me. Some other large items were optional &, fortunately, quite a bit of what I definitely wanted to take can be flat packed.

I was given two options for shipping; the first involves shipping the, lot minus the items I'd stated weren't going, in shared containers. It turns out that I have 39 cubic meters of 'stuff'. Yikes!!
Option 2 was to have a 20 ' container to myself. Now a 20'ft container technically  holds 32 cubic meters.... if you were to fill it with water that's how much it would hold anyway. With wrapped furniture & boxes it's realistically something like 28-29 cubic meters.
Even I know that 39 cubic meters isn't going to reduce to 29 without some really serious minimising. Looks like some of those 'optionals' will be staying in Kiwiland...& then some.

But it's the small stuff that is holding me up. There are 8 boxes full of 'small stuff'.Things I rarely look at, but are there & I know they are there. It's easy for some to carelessly say get rid of what you don't need.
That sort of blasé comment will usually come from someone that hasn't created their family memories yet...or doesn't have a family ( or any interest in art or crafts - but that's a whole different story!! lol!)

Turns out I've saved everything from small beaded felt Christmas decorations I made 33 years ago when I was a young single Mother & too darn poor to buy anything, but determined to give my toddler some 'pretty' for his second Christmas - through to the all of the kids first artworks, birth cards, albums, inscribed books, a few special baby clothes & once much loved, but now outgrown, soft toys..... & on the list grows. We haven't even got to their early school books yet.....

Then there is Dad's 'stuff' - a beautiful hand tailored sailor top purchased at Ballantynes when he was little... probably around 1932, his wonderful old tobacco jar & scree's of other bits & pieces of his that Mum gave to me.

I'd already started sorting & getting rid of the more obvious months back, thinking that I best start sorting things out earlier rather than leaving it closer to the anticipated time of departure.A lot of Dad's things I've given to my boys, really just keeping the two things I mentioned above for myself. Dad was more like a father to those two & a huge influence in their lives. I know they'll look after those bits & pieces.

As to the rest it's really a matter of trust. I thought about giving the kids their stuff, but the time just isn't right.Things that were theirs when they were younger wont have so much meaning until they have children of their own. This I know from experience as I well recall regretting, much later, giving away all the things I deemed babyish or such as a teenager or even later as an adult.
I also recall the feigned disgust & the inner warm fuzzies whenever Mum would whip out one of my early notebooks filled with a 7 year olds first attempts at writing poems or fantastical stories, to show one of my kids.

It's those things that the kids have done that I'm finding hardest to even go through - let alone think of parting with, or entrusting to their creators. Not only do I smile at some of the things that were written, or marvel at the vivid imaginations of the very young,  I'm also transported back in time & memories are evoked of things that I had forgotten. I know when I show a special letter or card written by a 5 year old to their Mum to them as teens & adults that they have forgotten too.

No, I don't hoard stuff - 
I am keeper of the memories.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Last Chance & New Opportunities

I think summer finally came to Christchurch this weekend - we've had a spectacular couple of days. It's been far too nice to waste sitting & working inside for the most part, but that is what I've been doing.

What I wanted to be doing was something entirely different. This was the last weekend to take the chance to walk through the red-zone of the central city & view our Cathedral before it is demolished.Yes, the Anglican church has decided that the Cathedral that gives this city it's name isn't worth saving. I'm not sure what to think about that - aside from the fact that we may have to change our city's name to Christchurchless.

I really felt the need to say goodbye - but had no one to go with & it's not particularly the sort of thing I wanted to do alone. 

Over the last year I have questioned why I feel such strong ties to so many of the buildings in the city, why the CBD as a whole seems such a part of me when really it is, after all, just buildings....inanimate objects that can be replaced. 

I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that 51 years ago there was a 19 year old student working towards her art degree whose city this was too. Many of the same buildings were there in the early 1960's, the structure & the layout have changed not at all. Subconsciously I have always been aware that many of the paths walked by me, would have been walked by my birth mother before me. The city itself is a connection of sorts.

On the other hand I have absolutely no idea at all why I have always been drawn to the many Churches, aside from the fact that I have always liked the Gothic revival architecture so many of them offered & often quietly wished that I was confidant enough to attempt them in pen & ink.

With all that said there are Churches whose architecture I can to look forward too exploring in Brisbane. Here are a few I spotted in the CBD there in December.

This one took the prize for flamboyance - from the side it was more like a castle from a fairytale.

 Sometimes you really have to look to find them among all the tall buildings!

 At other times you find one in an unexpected open space (with a big glassy backdrop!)

This is the first church & in the background is the Soleil Tower, 243 meters high. It's the tallest building in Brisbane & the second tallest in Australia & was completed earlier this year.

This is a zoom in of the Brisbane CBD from the Mount Coot-Tha lookout, you can see the Soleil Tower on the left....just to put it all into perspective.

It has to be said that I'd far rather be viewing the tower from the top of a  mountain (albeit a small one), than viewing the mountain from the top of the tower....

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Back End of a Bus...

Ever heard the idiom "Looks like the back end of a bus"? It's a very British figurative saying & I have to admit I heard it more than once growing up ( thanks Mum & Nana!!), but not in reference to people - rather to things. These days we'd just use "fugly" in it's place ;)

Of course some bus ends can be quite interesting - especially when it's an Army bus & it's your son pictured on the back end of it! A somewhat dubious honour in light of the above - & boy am I going to have fun with it when someone gets back. Of course that's after I'm forgiven for showing it here.....

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Last Day of Summer

As I sit here ruminating over the fact that it's the last hour of the last day of February - I also suddenly realise that it's officially the last day of Summer for us down here in the Southern Hemisphere.
I feel cheated!!! What the heck has happened to this last month. It certainly hasn't been very summery - in fact most of our Summer hasn't been very summery at all. I also realise that I'm now running about two weeks behind on my "moving plan". Yes, shocking I know, I actually had a plan.

It was quite simple really - nothing to radical or structured.
Plan A went something like this;
  • Get quotes for International move & discover what sort of cost we are up for.
  • Decide what I can live without & what needs replacing anyway
  • Find out cubic meterage from quotes & figure what to sell off/get rid of.
  • Assemble cartons & packing gear
  • Start sorting through 33 years of photos, keepsakes & memorabilia  stuff'
  • Clean items that have been stored ready for listing.
  • Photograph & List what is being sold on local auction site
  • Sort kitchen, pack crockery, cutlery & pans that are going with us, leaving the stuff I am giving away to use until we leave. Ditto with small appliances.
  • Start on prepack of belongings that aren't needed in the interim
  • Torch - play with glass & fire
  • Paint
  • Beat up Metal
  • Torch More
  • Paint more - may as well take some those canvases over the ditch with something on them & use some of my paints up in the process.
  • Beat Up metal more
  • Torch even more
  • Pack Studio
  • Tidy Garden
  • Clean House
It was also a little selfish in a way. I wanted to allow myself March to get some serious torching in before packing up my studio for goodness knows how long & to complete some other projects that have been floating around in my head for goodness knows how long.

There wasn't a "Plan B" &, as you will no doubt notice, "Plan A" didn't involve stuffing up of a rotator cuff, bursitis, the discovery of calcium deposits, surgical procedures or cortisone injections. Ten days completely out of action - & now I'm forced to behave because it still hurts to reach too far or lift heavy stuff (truth be told it hurts to lift even light stuff) among a whole heap of other things. But at least I can type again without almost crying at every movement....& lift up my camera :)

I'm not so sure I'm going to get any melting of glass in, I definitely wont be pounding metal & I'm mightily bummed about both of those things. Maybe I'll be able to paint a little - my big easel is fully adjustable in all respects & angles.

Meanwhile a certain someone seems to feel that he is is more than ready to go at any time....
Nestled among the packed cartons in the garage indeed! Why isn't he packing, or lifting heavy schit.....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lego - It's Dangerous!!

Seriously it is, & I'm not just talking about the one block that never made it back into the box after the kids finished playing with it that you happen to stand on while making a mad dash to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Oh yeah - I remember those nasty wake up calls as the nice sharp angular edge of a tiny piece of lego meets with the tender sole of your bare foot, causing you to hop & mutter bad, bad words under your breath....or out loud, as you stumbled around in the dark trying to find the offending block so as not to step on it again.

Aside from that though, I'll bet you thought lego was cute little coloured blocks that, given a little imagination & a whole lot of time, incredible things could be made out of.... even if it never got to look like the image on the box front ( except for that one time that you spent hours helping to put it all together the first time when fresh & new)  in it's life time again.

Lego is all of that & more. You see what happens after the kids grow & stop playing with it is that it only comes out for visitors with children. The rest of the time it sits stored in it's under the bed size plastic slider bin on top off the vertical freezer in the garage plotting rebellion. Not only does it muddle up all the previously carefully sorted colours but I'm also quite certain that it  multiplies while thus shut away.

In fact it multiplies to such a point that when you decide that you must get this stuff sorted, condensed & packed in something smaller (perhaps because you are moving internationally or such) - you manage to tweak something in your shoulder while lifting it down. No big deal at the time, just a small popping sensation. But later that day the pain starts. 

The next day the pill hating you finds yourself at the pharmacy seeking the strongest pain relief they can sell you....& it's about then that you realise the Lego is not only dangerous, but quite vindictive as well.That 34 years worth of the stuff has indeed increased in weight to such a point that you should not have been lifting it down.

And there you have why I have been very quiet until yesterday. After a week of not being able to move my arm any more than about an inch without inflicting one of the nastiest pains I have ever felt (let alone type, lift my camera, wash my hair or do numerous other things - such as function with any degree of normality) I finally knew that I had to visit the Doctor & fess up to injuring myself playing with lego.... 

He mumbled something about rotator cuff tear & I vaguely recall thinking I sounded like a broken helicopter.

This week has been spent in more pain, sleepless nights, a drug induced haze caused by messing around with some really heavy duty meds that didn't work, having xrays & ultrasounds of my shoulder.  The pain is a little better during the day now - but at night it really likes to party. Let me tell you that trying to sleep sitting bolt upright & having absolutely nothing touching my shoulder is no fun......none whatsoever. 

Tomorrow afternoon that should all be resolved to some degree as I'm having an Ultra Sound guided steroid injection (really looking forward to that) & a small procedure done. Well I hope it's small!! The Doctor has kind of freaked me a little today with his response "It's not for the faint hearted" when I asked if it would hurt. Then again I figured that he hasn't given birth ;)

In the mean time I can't help but think of  an email that made me laugh years ago.The bottom line is that men really are better suited at lifting heavy schit - especially when the lego has multiplied ;)

One Year On

The Governor General of New Zealand", Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae said of Christchurch in his memorial speech today, "We have seen this community of people endure so much, it has been repeatedly tested, and it has not been found wanting."

I don't feel that anyone has said it better than that. There were many speeches & letters from around that world that spoke glowingly & with the highest respect of this community - & it was well deserved.
Those of us that have stuck it out, been here through thick, thin & a whole heap of aftershocks, either by choice or by circumstance over the last year will know what I mean. Today was a milestone. An official new beginning where the only way is forward.

All that was new a year ago isn't new now & even the resolve & resilience is feeling a bit old in some quarters. But after "the year of firsts" that all experience when they grieve, whether it be for the loss of loved ones, a way of life, jobs or homes you realise that life does go on, different to what it was before that moment when everything familiar & safe changed. 

From here on in the idea's & innovations that have arisen from this natural disaster are only going to get better. Simply because us stubborn, proud, bloody minded Cantabrians are determined that it should.

I thought that a particularly nice touch in the memorial service was the choice of realsing 185 Monarch Butterflies to represent each life lost in the earthquake & also to mark new beginnings.

Geurrilla Gardening on the corner of Stanmore Road & Worcester Streets where a row shops once stood.
I think I prefer seeing the cosmos, poppies, calendulas, rudebeckia & such to an empty weed infested section - don't you?

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Sumpin's Up!

A certain cat seems to know that something is happening - that a change is coming. I really feel for this guy, the earthquakes have changed him. Hercules is somehow less settled & a lot jumpier than he used to be....& a whole heap thinner. I know he'd be my constant companion when he's here.... if only it wasn't for that darn dog that keeps hanging around his human.

Today, right when I was feeling a little peeved at the lack of a man around to help lift & move the "heavy schit" which it appears I'm not much good at at the moment, Hercules reminded me exactly what use men are when something needs to be done that only I can do because I want it done a certain way (& we all know men have selective hearing) or only I know where stuff has to go.

In this instance I was trying to restore a semblance of order to my desk as it seems that it has been piled with books & paperwork in the throes of 'being sorted' for far too long now. Ok - so in my little world two hours is far too long.....  can you imagine what two weeks has done to my brain???

I'm almost there, getting excited because I can actually see the surface of my desk & have such a short way to go....when up jumps Hercules & what does he do?

Bookish Hercules  5.35pm

Yep, he settles down on top of the books I was about to go through!!! I petted him for a few minutes & not having the heart to disturb him, thought "Ok - I'll go out to the garage & make a start on tidying my workstation" which got landed with a whole heap of glass frit & other objects during our pre Christmas shake up...& I did. The first time I turned away to get something out of the cupboard look what happens....

"I'll get her attention somehow while feigning disinterest" Hercules 5.48pm

And he kept that exact place & pose while I returned inside to grab my camera. Oh the parallels I could draw between this & the human male.....

Friday, February 03, 2012


Last night was a little chilly here.....& it is way to early in the season for the nights to be getting cooler if you ask me....which you didn't.  But hey it's my blog & if I want to voice my disgust at the lack of a real summer I jolly well shall ( all the wile blatantly disregarding the fact that I have spent the last few weeks stuck inside sorting things!).

So while I'm sorting & shivering, trying to arrange for vast amounts of possessions, people & pets to be shipped across the sea, the man is sitting over there in Brisbane talking (daily!!!) of the heat & the balmy evenings. Every time I mention the wind or the cold - I get told exactly what temperature it is there, what the wind is & the relative humidity - the whole 9 yards. Yeah - real subtle!

As if that isn't enough I get sent photos such as this;

The man was called outside on a frog alert & went armed with his cell phone. Now why couldn't a frog have come that close while I was there??

 Later a much better photo was sent through taken with a bigger camera (well done Blake!!!)

The contrast here is the fact that while the mailleman sits outside (while I'm shivering inside remember) looking at cool critters one of the two furry feline critters, who shall remain nameless, here that share my bed has kindly bestowed me with a 'gift' - possibly so that I don't feel too unloved or short changed.

Upon walking into my bedroom last night there on the floor at the end of my bed is a pieces, many pieces. I'll spare you a photo of that & let you use your imagination.
Oh yeah  -  I feel so loved...

Thanks so much Bizkit - I know it was you & have your number buckwheat!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Time Rushes On

As I type this January is about to roll over into February. I can't believe it - I'm pretty sure the last time I looked at a calendar was over a week ago, it was around the 20th January & I recall thinking well there's still 1/3 of the month to go.....

That was immediately before I started pulling the house to bits - or rather the roof space which was home to about 30 boxes full of stuff.  I'll touch more on that particular subject later. Suffice to say the rest of the month has since rushed by in a blur of being surrounded by boxes & an ever growing pile of 'stuff'' in the garage that I need to start selling.

I'm not particularly looking forward to this month - I know it too is going to whizz by. I realised today that I'd almost forgotten my own mantra of taking time out to stop & smell the roses. I've spent very little time outside over the last ten days & it probably accounts for why I'm feeling a little 'blah', so I remedied it with a quick tour around the in hand.

The tiny piece of Astilbe I got out of my Mother in Laws garden back in October has settled in well & has even given me a flower.

Ipomoea Grandpa Ott is doing his thing again this year & providing a daily splash of vivid purple wherever he decides he wants to.

Self seeded sunflowers from last years deliberate planting of of the (non) Dwarf Moulin Rouge variety are displaying a variety of colours this year as seeds from hybrids do....& they are still not that keen on being dwarf either!!!

Of course I remembered to stop photographing & actually smell the roses while I was out there. Just as well I can't walk past Abraham Darby without doing so!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Weekend

May yours be as bright & cheery as a bunch of daisies!
I had a somewhat humorous blog post planned for last night - but I couldn't find the images I had intended to use...again! It appears that my computer tidy skills are not quite in line with what I 'think' my memory retention is - need I say more?

Today has been pretty much the same around the house....put something down, forget where I put it, 30 minutes later I'm either still searching or hopelessly side tracked.
Lets just say that I'm eternally grateful for the peace the garden gives me, the enjoyment I get from checking on what has come into flower every day - so I thought that this wee group of Gazanias that are busy flowering while waiting to be planted out amongst the boring old grey stones out the front might be just what you need too.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Other Boyfriend

As he lays snoring, like a....well, like a man really, at my feet I can't help but try & recollect what life was like before he came into it. In short I can't imagine it without the naughty wee rotter stealing things when I'm not looking or rearranging the vege garden (& vegetables!!) so he can bury one of his bones.

Perhaps it is just as well that I haven't gardened for years so can't really recall how much faster things got done without having to run after a dog to retrieve my tools every few minutes, because he's decided the secateurs or trowel is a toy...
or what it's like to have lavender bushes that aren't broken in some places because someone has been chasing the bees & put a paw in them!! 

Every once in a while he stands still & manages to even look a little majestic....enough so for me to get a decent shot.

When I'm in the garden - there he is right beside me (unless he's taken off with something).... or he's prancing around the back yard chasing bees. Belive me when I say that is hilarious to see!! He's a nut most of the time - doing the most ridiculous things & rarely staying still.

But then there are the times that he is either laying at my feet if I'm at the computer - or curled up like a tiny puppy on his bean bag. He's my constant companion - & I don't even want to imagine life without him. I wonder how he's going to like Australia. (haven't told him yet that bees are tame compared to some of the critters over there & he might have to pull his head in as far as chasing them goes!!)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anzac Square - Brisbane

I think of all the green spaces within the Brisbane Central Business District the one that captivated me most was probably Anzac Square. My first glimpse of it was caught on our way to catch the train home after our first trip into the CBD & Botanic Gardens.

A  pretty green space viewed from a balcony on the way to the train station - I didn't realise the name or significance of the area. The next day we ventured into the city again  & approached the space from another direction. Reading the signage I realised that it was an area dedicated as a memorial to the Queensland men and women who participated in overseas armed service, named in honour of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

The Greek Classic Revival columned structure in the middle distance is "The Shrine of Remembrance", the 18 columns of the Shrine represent the year of peace after World War 1 - 1918. The steps leading up to it also represent the year 1918 with 19 stairs in the first row and 18 stairs in the second row.

Tucked away behind the wall & under the Shrine of Remembrance is the The Shrine of  Memories. While the external wall is dedicated to those who served in WWI, the inside of the shrine is dedicated to those who served in WWII. Walking through here one can't help notice the many lives sacrificed to protect a commonwealth country.

Within The Shrine of Memories is the Eternal Flame of Remembrance held within this Bronze Urn. Carved in the coping around the top of the shrine are the battles that those from the ANZAC units figured predominantly in Cocos Islands, Romani, Jerusalem, Damascus, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines, Ypres, Amiens, Villers-Bretonneaux, Mont St Quentin & Hindenburg Line.

Building started in 1928, taking two years to complete before it was dedicated on Armistice Day in 1930. I couldn't help but feel that this city has grown around it - yet the square was not out of place.

The structure itself is made of beautiful  Helidon sandstone with stairs in Queensland granite, mellow, gentle & extremely peaceful - quite the opposite to what it is memorialising  I imagine that a Dawn Service in this setting would be quite something.

Everything about this area has been so thoughtfully planned & has such significance that I couldn't help but wish that both of my boys were there with me to see it - so this post is for them.

ANZAC Square - Circa late 1920's.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Oh, My - A BIG Load for a Little Guy!

This is a bit how I feel right now! Not carrying a burden - but the load is quite huge. I've been trying (& failing!!) to minimise things.
On Monday I have a man coming to give me a quote on shipping my "stuff" to Australia. I'm not making any firm descisions on what will be kept & what will go until I have the cubic meterage worked out on what is here. No use in pondering what there will be room for beforehand. I know what I'm prepared to get rid of (pretty much every bit of furniture that remains from my marriage!!lol! - that was surprisingly easy) & what I really want to keep.

After that there will be a whole lot to think about..... & a whole heap to do. Strangely enough this little guy popped into focus a few days back when I was asked a question by a friend. More about that later though - strangely enough he fits into the tale of minimising quite nicely!!

In turn the wee tramping mouse reminded me of my son & his bloody great big Army packs...packs that they carry around quite a bit of the time...especially when they go away on exercise. This isn't even the full kit - there is also a bedroll & whatever professional equipment they carry as well.

When this photo was taken (almost a year ago today) he was checking out how he'd fit everything into his pack to go on one of New Zealands biggest military exercises in years - due to start the next month. (That exercise never eventuated - we had an earthquake that changed things somewhat & Army, Navy & Airforce were all needed here in Christchurch.) I tried on his pack this night & was staggered at the weight of it....ok, so I might have had help getting it on & off....

But one thing I do know, looking at this photo, is that we do what we have to do & carry what we need to carry in order to fulfill our dreams & desires.

Baby Boy - stand up straight, shoulders back 
(&  suck that tummy in....)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Femme Fatale

A few weeks ago I was in the general vacinity of one of my favourite plant nurseres - so decided to take the slight detour to have a quick look around & perhaps buy a succulent to fill a gap in a big bowl I have. Hey, 23 kilometers is only a slight detour.....

I didn't end up buying a small succulents. Oh no, stayed focussed & resist temptation is NOT in my current garden vocabulary.
I was lured, nay seduced, by the mysterious charms of a plant I have long dreamed of growing.  A plant that I have been unsuccessful in striking from seed I was that I know darn well doesn't particularly like cold or frosts & will sulk when moved from it's accustomed climate (in this case a huge sheltered tunnel house). But I bought it anyway.

She is sulking in as much as her lower leaves are turning yellow & dropping, as I was warned they may do. I'm not too perturbed & have a feeling that will stop soon  as there are signs of improvement.
She is also gradually putting on a display of flowers that blow my mind. 

From a rich cream when they first start to open in the morning...

Through to a deep salmon pink as they open further the on the same day...

To a wonderful combination of the two when she fully opens to exude her astounding scent in the evening.

I so wasn't prepared for that perfume. It's subtle, alluring & I can only wonder at what it would be like on a warm balmy evening (ours are somewhat crisp for this time of year!). But still it is there & so begins my love affair with this femme fatale.

I just hope I can find somewhere in Brisbane that isn't asking the same price as I paid for this 1 meter tall beauty for a small cutting!!

Off for a final sniff before bed ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rose Tinted Glasses

Love that expression!! To be honest I'd far rather view the world that way than the alternative. But really this isn't about viewing the world through rose tinted glass, rather it's about viewing things with fresh eye's.

When we are young everything is brand new & life is full if firsts. As we get older we begin to take those things for granted or at least relegate them to ordinary or normal, unless we stop & look closer. If we go on holiday to a new location everything is new & different. Trees & animals are exotic, architecture & culture can be vastly different & it is all very exciting. It has the potential to make a life long impression (& often a desire to return to that place).

This is how it was for me with Brisbane in Australia. I'd traveled there twice before for holidays had loved everything about it from the heat through to the wildlife. Alas there is more to life than heat & widlife, & with the mailleman working over there for the last 5 1/2 months, I was also well aware that as a tourist taking time out to have break you aren't looking at the things that really matter should you decide to move there to live. Hence the last trip.

I needed to look at things with fresh eyes - from a different perspective. I did & although the descision has been made to move there in my heart the jury is still out.

 My new glasses - see,  no rose tinting at all, but they too have made a huge difference to how I see things!

Disclaimer: I didn't take my rose tinted glasses with me ....heck I don't even have rose tinted glasses unless you count my Didymiums.  My sunglasses are orange &that is about the last colour lens you need to wear in Brisbane!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It Took a Spider

To do what earthquakes can't!! Are you wondering what a (no doubt very small) spider could do that an earthquake couldn't? Probably not - but I am going to tell you anyway.

Poor spidey managed to scare a certain 14 year old enough for her to ask "Mummy - can I sleep in your bed tonight?".lol! Well I was led to believe that (s)he was a scary spider - because in truth I could find no evidence upon being summoned to liberate said spider from her wall & into the critter wilderness outside. And therein lay the problem.

What once was had disappeared to who knows where....probably more scared of her than she was of him. It seems that a disappearing spider is of more concern that a visible one as "it could be anywhere...and crawl into my mouth in the night" get the picture.

Somehow the old stock standard childhood answer "of who is or the spider" didn't wash.... or put rest to her fears. In my bed she slept peacefully & undisturbed. Her Mother, on the other hand will say no more than "Thank goodness the earthquakes don't trigger bed sharing requests".

I guess the fear of spiders both of my girls seem to have is a somewhat valid one - I just can''t understand how/when/why they have it. It's certainly not inherited from me & I'm pretty sure their father, although he didn't actually 'embrace' spiders as far as critters go, never showed a distaste or jumpiness around them in front of the girls.

Where is all this going? Nowhere really - it just amuses me how different we all are in our tolerance of things. I don't fear the earthquakes (well not until one starts & the old heart starts pounding all over again), but they'd be more likely to be the cause of me not wanting to sleep alone than any critter big or small, hairy or slithery.

No spider photo I'm afraid - you'll just have to make do with this. Obviously someone isn't worried about Kangaroos - even though they give her more bang for buck if it came to it than our local harmless spiders ;)

Monday, January 09, 2012

Antonias Garden

There is something about gardening & gardeners that makes it amazingly simple to connect with others similarly inclined no matter where you go in the world.Gardeners are also chatty people by nature, so no special arrangements need to be made to meet up - it just happens somehow. I guess one could say that depends on where you hang out, plant nurseries, garden centres & botanical gardens are, of course, going to increase the chance of you meeting someone of a similar mind. Complete strangers connecting on a more than passing level. 

In dropping the mailleman to the train station in the early hours of Brisbane's balmy mornings I had noticed a garden that stood out in my still half asleep state. Admittedly it took a while to register (probably about 4 trips past it in all truth) that here was a real garden - one planted with an eye to design & lavished with care & attention. 

Instead of the usual few tropical trees & a bit of struggling lawn this garden looked full & lush with a house somehow blending seamlessly into it. I started to look closer each time I passed in the car & finally decided to take a walk, camera in hand, to explore some of the plants that bordered the street more closely. 

 When it comes to private gardens & peoples property I am a somewhat reluctant photographer not wanting to intrude on their privacy so I stuck to a shot from along the street & a couple of close ups of individual flowers.

 Caesalpinia pulcherrima - Pride of Barbados ( a member of the pea family!)

While I was busy trying to capture the true beauty & deep almost indigo blue of the above flower I became aware of someone watching me. I look up to see a figure at an open upstairs window, so I waved out & asked in hand motions if it was ok to take some photo's. I took the smile & nod I got in response as a "yes".

Shortly afterwards I met Antonia, the lovely owner of this garden & I was invited in to photograph to my hearts content. I had loads of  questions about specific plants so I asked them & I guess that Antoinia realized I was not merely  interested in taking a few good photos, but rather genuinely interested in plants & gardening. I was invited to stay for a coffee which Antoina suggested she'd make while I explored & photographed....& explore I did. 

A sloping section interlaced with rock edged gravel & grass pathways & steps it was a wonderland to me. So much so that I didn't take the usual amount of photos as I was so absorbed in the magic, the beauty...the utter peacefulness of it all.
I knew that there were many critters & a resident snake or two inhabiting the garden so I trod carefully for fear of disturbing them. Butterflies were busy fluttering around in the cool lush tropical rainforest area that Antonia had lovingly recreated out the back of her property.

It turns out that it has taken Antonia 20 years to turn what was a bare sloping section than ran with small rivers of water into what you see here. Quite obviously she is woman of determination, knowledge &  respect for the indigenous flora & fauna of her adopted country.

She has planted thoughtfully, knowing what will grow in this hot climate carefully interspersing the abundance of vividly coloured plants with plants that display the greener/cooler palettes or bloom at different times to create a environment that looks as though it has just happened naturally.

Just the right amount of man made structures to add interest, & focal points but not overwhelm the plantings.

Meandering pathways that separate only to merge again later after leading you through to a new area, each of which in turn would make me stop & hold my breath for fear of disturbing the lush beauty that lay before me.

Later, sitting on Antonia's balcony, sipping coffee & chatting (it turned out that we had more in common than just plants, both sharing a love of reading with similar tastes in authors), overlooking the tranquility of the rainforest garden she commented "Why would I ever need to go on holiday when I get to wake up to this every morning?". Why indeed!!