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 garden....camera 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 sent...one 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"...you get the picture.

Somehow the old stock standard childhood answer "of who is bigger...you 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!!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Rajasthan - an Impulse Buy

 or "Where Do You Get Your Inspiration" (there really should be a space for subtitles on blogger!!).

On a somewhat frantic & rushed Christmas Eve, in an attempt to avoid the larger malls by visiting more out of the way places, I happened upon a book store that I hadn't been into before. Oh dear!!
In my defense I was looking for a particular item that they would have normally stocked - so I wasn't just killing time browsing ;)

A book caught my eye as I entered the store & the thought went briefly through my head that I should buy it for myself, but it looked as though it would be a rather expensive volume, so the thought was quickly dismissed. Searching for the gift tags that I'd gone in to look for I came across the book again & discovered that it was surprisingly reasonable price wise. When I further discovered that there was 30% off store wide it suddenly became a done deal - I bought a Christmas gift to myself ......

For quite some time I took the volume to bed with me each night & lost myself in the panoramic images of a place & culture so very different & so very much older than mine. Conjuring images from a Thousand and One Nights I read the descriptions of each city, of the history, the people, of Maharajas & Moguls - their festivals, their traditions. This kind of thing spins my wheels - I can't help it & I really don't ever want to!!

When I look at the gorgeous panoramic images I cant help but notice the exotic contrasts in both landscape & buildings from the warm earth tones of some through to the refreshing white of others.The shape & style of the architecture is amazing & the hugely decorative detail  inside & outside buildings is something else - especially when you stop to consider how long ago many of them were built.
There is art & colour everywhere in "The Land of Kings"....& it seems I have managed to add another destination to my bucket list.

I find books such as this hugely inspirational, as I find myself tracing certain shapes on images with my fingers, or admiring the way a colour has aged I realise that I am trying to figure how I could include that element in a bead or a painting & before I know it I'm reaching for my sketch book!

What sort of images inspire you?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Goddess In My Garden

Sitting outside on an overcast but warm day it was hard to ignore unmistakeable buzz of the bee's as they busily flew from bloom to bloom gathering pollen. The breeze gently moved the plants & grasses while I was planning what had to be tied back or deadheaded before what looked like the threat of rain became a reality.

Rather than stick with the job at hand my thoughts drifted to melting glass (isn't that always the way?!) then, in turn, to a gift I had received some time ago. Bear with me here.....

I've never had much by way of statuary in my gardens, but was rather taken with some of the Indonesian garden statues I had seen in Brisbane. They'd lent an air of calm grace & peacefulness to what were otherwise hot & vibrant gardens. I'd decided that "one day" I would have one.
The gift, which normally graces my windowsill in the kitchen where she sits framed against a backdrop of greenery & catches the light play all day long, that my mind went to was one of the lovely & super talented Angela Greer Garren's glass sculptures "Pillar of the Sun". I realised that I already had a beautiful piece of garden art - even if only while I was out there during the day.
So out she came to watch over me & enjoy some filtered sunlight.

Ang - if you read this I'd just like to say "Thank You" again - you've no idea how much pleasure this particular piece of glass has given me.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Earth Laughs in Flowers....

Quite frankly the scent & sight of flowers in the house is pretty hard to beat......something else I had forgotten. Ideally I'd be cutting my own flowers from my garden as I used to do but since at this this time of year buying fresh cut flowers becomes relatively reasonably priced I've decided that every so often I'm going to fill a vase & bring earths laughter inside.

These lightly scented asiatic hybrids have hit the post perfectly. Next I think I might just see if I can find some martagons.....

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Big City

Brisbane Central Business District is beautiful. The approaches into it - meh, not so much, but the actual hub of business & city stores interspersed with parks & green areas is actually quite lovely.
That came as a surprise to me as it was pretty much contrary to everything I've been told. I'd been told that it was packed with commercial buildings & thronging with people....& it was, but it was also very much more. Then again I guess it depends what you are looking for ;)

Thankfully a like minded friend had also told me of the Botanic Gardens & my desire to visit them was enough that I was easily lured into the thronging mass of tall buildings & people that is the Brisbane CBD. 

Bordered on two sides by the Brisbane River the actual land area isn't that huge. What it lacks in space it certainly makes up for in height.

 If you need a breathing space away from those tall buildings the City Botanic Gardens is the right place to put everything into perspective.

 The gardens are also bordered by the Brisbane River & it was refreshing to note that the buildings on the other side were considerably shorter in stature.

The city itself is a mix of old & new buildings - some with interesting names.

Shops to suit all tastes (& wallets!!!) - except perhaps the maillemans since I didn't get a chance to go in this one. 

Interesting Bronze Sculptures

 King Edward Park - one of a number of wonderful green spaces right in the middle of the city.

Transport to suit all tastes - we stuck with the train ;)

All within the space you see in the middle of this photo taken from the Mount Coot-Tha  look out.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

And The Cat Came Back!!

About an hour ago a certain feline walked through the door after his longest absence yet. Never have I been so happy to see him. He's a lot thinner than he was & his very distinctive & usually quite loud "meow" was more of a kittens mewl at the front door - so much so that I wondered if I was hearing things & didn't think it was Hercules!

No one is quite sure how long he's been gone, whether it was during last Saturdays 4.8 (he usually takes off & hides but doesn't stay away if it's under a 5 mag) or before that. I know that this Mondays 5.5 mag wouldn't have helped. At any rate it's been at least 5 days & he seems a little weak so I'm hoping that things stay quiet so he'll hang around long enough to build up his reserves again.

Welcome Home Hercules.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Life - it's for the Birds

Dance as if no one is watching

 Sing as if no one is listening

Live each day as if it were your last

I have some great photo's of my trip to Brisbane in December, some of which I have put on Facebook. It seems that now, with the timeline format, later additions to your albums don't appear on it when you upload them (either that or there is yet another bug with it) so I thought I'd post some of them here over the next few weeks.

Once again  the birds captivated me & held me spellbound. They are far more raucous than the birds we have here for sure but also a lot more colourful &, even in the wild, unafraid of humans. Of course not all of them are as bold & bright as the parrots but each & every one was inspirational in it's own way.
They certainly know how to have fun, living their wee bird lives to the fullest, that's for sure.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Attention to Detail

or stop & take a closer look.

Something I have learned relatively recently is that planning & planting a garden doesn't always work out quite how you had envisioned it. It can also be a whole new level of anticlimax when you are gardening in pots & the city is put on water restrictions for the summer. 
Terracotta & clay pots become a nightmare as they dry out particularly quickly compared to plastic pots ....which I loathe - so I'm betting you can guess which kind of pots I have. So pots & water restrictions just don't play nice together...unless you have planted cactus....which I hadn't.

Years ago, in my gardening hey day, I learned how to zoom in from a less than ideal large garden grouping (often a grouping that looked a little too formal for my taste or simply an error in the choice of a certain plant) & focus on the individual plants, look closer & take them for what they had to offer rather than as how they fitted within the bigger picture of a group.To focus on the each plants unique features you can't help but view them in a positive light.

It's not something I consciously learned to do it just happened - perhaps to avoid disappointment or, more likely, the constant disturbance of plants as I felt the need to move them to somewhere they might fit in better ;)

Somewhere along the way it gave it me a good grounding for life in general. Again it wasn't a conscious effort - it just evolved somehow. I've realised that recently I've applied the zooming in process in light of what is happening here. The ability to zoom in, shut out the bigger picture, & take a closer look at things & see if I can find positives - and I always do.

Taking a 'macro' look at one thing in particular forces the brain to shut out the rest in order to be able to absorb the detail. This is not a bad thing. I've realised that no matter what, there is always beauty somewhere & often all we have to do to find it is look a little closer....pay attention to detail.

You just never know what you might find!!

A Blank Canvas

A New Year brings with it the opportunity to start afresh, nothing more, nothing less. For many it’s a time to reflect on the year that has just passed & look forward to the New Year with renewed hope & faith.

Never has this been truer than in this city. What a Year!! A  year that will be remembered as the one that our city came tumbling down, it has truly left it’s mark on both the city & on many, many of lives of those living in it.

If we Cantabrians thought that  in saying goodbye to 2010 it would be the end of a tough year, nothing prepared us for what 2011 was about to bring. It simply paled into insignificance.

On a city level many have spent the year mourning the loss of loved ones & friends, the loss of homes, jobs, incomes, schools & security. Many have left because they’ve had to & many because they felt they couldn’t go on living here.

The face of the city has changed almost beyond recognition. Once known for some of the best heritage buildings in the country - the majority have now gone, as have so many of the amenities we often took for granted. Everywhere you look people seem to be running out of the resilience we Cantabrians are said to have.

On a personal level the changes have been pretty profound as well. Job loss, health issues, upheaval  & the loss of more family members & family friends in the last 10 months than in the preceding 5 years. One almost has to wonder if the stress hastened them.

All of that said, it has also brought out the best in people. From the volunteers & groups that continue to help out through to the thousands of complete strangers showing each other a kindness, helping neighbours to clean up the silt resulting from liquefaction (yet again!) to a friendly pat on the arm, an “are you ok? “ or a hug. New connections have been made and a deeper understanding of what it is like for others going through this has been formed.

Even though we are all completely & utterly “over it” ( a nice 5.1 mag rolled through a few minutes ago as I was typing this & I’ve now lost my train of thought…again!) we’re still here, stronger, wiser, more compassionate  people because of it & right now I wouldn’t change that for anything.

If nothing else the last year has made me realise that no matter what is happening in your life, no matter how bad it may seem – you are not the only one going through it.

The New Year may not make a difference in the physical sense – but with the right attitude, & a whole heap of positive outlook it is a time to look forward & plan toward new hopes, new joys & new beginnings. A clean slate, a blank canvas full of wonderful unlimited potential….

This sunflower has reached it’s full potential simply because no one told it that it was meant to be a dwarf sunflower ;)